Entering the Real World

 

Opening Exploration

We don’t really have a collective ideology as much as we would like to believe it. We stand up for America the Beautiful but there are many places within America where it is not so beautiful. It may be found in poverty, racist strongholds and corporate greed among many. But let’s proceed from the place of ideological conflict and the fact of blessing and curse.

A Lesson

Naively we may enter adult life believing we have a firm ideological path. If our eyes remain open we find that the landscape is blurred. An attractive ideology may be undercut by the real orientation of an individual or a group. 

Deep in the inner city poverty of Baltimore my eyes were opened. Among others there were people who were naive and well intentioned, people who claimed liberal orientation but were thieves and conservatives who were dedicated only to self interest.

As such a scene opens it is essential to evaluate it and learn rather than walk away. That is our real world at all levels and it must be mastered throughout life.

The Lesson of Children

Let me turn a page with an illustration. Many people have children expecting that a “little me” will arrive. In a sense they are all little mes but the biggest lesson is that your child or children will simply be who arrives at your home. They must be loved, tended and guided. And from that experience the richness of your life evolves. In some ways your work life is no different. Take what comes, assess, shape and learn.

Conservative Versus Progressive

The view I came away with is that these opposed positions and ideologies are essential. A sound conservative preserving essential values is to be valued. And in the world at large there is inevitable change which currently is rapidly accelerating. That means that progressives cannot seize the moment such as it is and race forward without balance or decision. 

That is where the conservative comes in. When we come together and negotiate we bring together a functional future. 

Our Current World

But now my view is that true conservatives seem to have been forced into hiding. The people who call themselves conservatives now do not strike me as bringing firm and productive values. There has been a revolution in which corruption has taken hold along with a narrow, unproductive view of the world.

We have lost the valuable negotiations of the past and badly need them back. We need our devoted conservative sisters and brothers back. The field of the future is strewn with barriers and misapprehensions. We must see the potential and that we have to restore our ability to negotiate and balance. The future is rushing at us and I firmly believe that the transformation on the horizon can be devastating or utterly fulfilling. Much more later.

 #####

Coming Soon

Gaia’s Majesty-Transformation: Life Forces Revealed

(Book 3 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy)

The child of prophesy is coming of age.

Earth has descended into almost biblical chaos.

        Then comes an opening to a future never anticipated.

 

 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1  (Click to See)

Avery’s life of dedication is enhanced when she meets the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was ordained.

      Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2   (Click to See)

 The Tethyan people of the sea have been joined by the Andromeda warrior women. They fight for the future of humankind. Then will come the Child of Prophesy.

Available now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon.Coming Soon

The Tyranny of Older White Men

 

The Rule of Men

Throughout history mostly it is older men who have ruled. They sent their people into endless wars, took the riches for themselves and dominated women. Currently in America the domination is clearly in the hands of older white men. While I am an older white man my eyes remain on a time of discovery I had over fifty years ago.

Forced Awareness

Early in life can be a time of discovery but it may also may be a time of innocence from which we have to recover. For me the awakening came in stages. While I am an intuitive personality type and seek what may be, I also begin with an acceptance of how things are until forced to reassess. As I have said, moving to North Carolina in the 1960s was a time of coming to see entrenched racism  But when I took the job in the impoverished inner city of Baltimore it became a time of new discovery.

End of Innocence

I had never been close to poverty and what I saw in Baltimore was deeply disturbing. But I thought there was hope. I had taken the job to bring much needed mental health services through the dynamic community mental health movement. How naive we all were!

Our staff was a racially mixed batch of twenty somethings both male and female. We had been given a structure that we had to dispense with immediately. It was a grand idea but we had come not understanding that the biggest enemy of mental health was poverty. We had to implement a whole new agenda.

The Grand Impediment

We went to work to respond to how things were and what was needed but there were people who did not see it our way. The management of the program was in the hands of men in the university and the state. Those systems were ruled by older white man who cared not at all for our mission. They basked in the glory of having gained the grant from the federal government and wanted to use the funds as they saw fit, not as they were needed. We were young, dedicated and intransigent.

Some Examples

The mental health system generally worked on two levels. There were people who could pay for services or use insurance to get mental health services. Then there were the impoverished people. At the time in Baltimore they were seen by psychiatric residences who generally did not give therapy but medication. And these people were seen as being there for helping to train medical students who passed through on six week rotations. The students knew nothing about the real life of these people and six weeks is much too short to really begin to work with an individual or a family. We found a variety of ways to block the residents and medical students from dominating our program. For that we were not at all popular.

My “Elevation”

We had a resident in our unit who did not particularly like his job and shortly he resigned. By then our intransigence was known but I was elevated to head the unit. I knew it was not an accolade. Psychologists fall just below psychiatric residents in the metal health hierarchy so I was next in line. The new position was fine with me and the staff but was clearly not an affirmation of my abilities. But it put me, along with my staff, in a position to see the operations of senior staff were actually not in the interests of our clientele.

The Bottom Line

I could go into extensive details but the point is already made. My naivete was gone. In my twenties I saw the domination of older white men as they served their own interests and not the interests of the people. This lesson has been carried forward through my life and I consider it entrenched corruption. 

The other major event was the women in the program who began to work for their empowerment. My support of that movement has also been carried forward. I believe their empowerment is going to be important in overcoming the often corrupt rule of older white men.

These life lessons fueled my interest in writing my magical realism series, Gaia’s Majesty. 

The Overlords represent the older white men I had seen and the activist women the dedicated women I had seen and suggested the future I believe we must see.

In time the dedicated and rebellious twenty somethings moved on and were replaced by more compliant staff. The system and the innovation collapsed and it moved back to the origin system. The breadth and revolution had been destroyed. What has not changed is that we are still ruled by the older white men. Need I say I believe its time to have them taken down from power?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Studying Our Future

 

Being Taken Back

This past weekend has highlighted essential problems in our country. But what happened does not stand alone. Yes, we have a racist president who is fomenting hatred and discord.

But there is a larger context. I have been choking back tears the last few days. I am buffeted by conflicted feelings. I find myself reeling back to the 1960s when there was deep conflict and commitment to change and reform. At that time I was working on the impoverished streets of inner city Baltimore.

A Difficult Reality

I had just finished my studies at Duke University and was still deeply troubled by the entrenched racism I had experienced in North Carolina. This privileged young white man had, for the first time, experienced personally directed racism because he was a “Yankee”. My impression of entrenched problems has been enduring.

When I went to Baltimore I have to say I was an innocent. The idea of bringing mental health services to those people was alluring. And then came the reality of poverty and the meaning of life on those streets. 

On The Streets

Not everyone came to an office for help. We went out to their homes frequently. When I went to a building I learned that the facade told me little but I could know something about what things were like inside by the condition of the front door. At times I also went to the high rises. Often the elevators weren’t working so I would stop at the base of the stairs look, study, sniff and listen for clues about activities in the stairwell. 

Fortunately I had some good people around me to offer guidance and advice. And often they were women and together we fought the entrenched special interests of older white men who had little commitment to our mission but were committed to their own privilege and aggrandizement. The commonality of what is happening in our country now is stunning me. In that focused sense nothing has changed.

A Danger Point

I also must say from my decades long perspective that I see us at a serious danger point. It can be focused nationally but also at the world level. Suddenly after this last weekend we are gaining clarity about special challenge in America. Will we respond or will racism and corruption continue to rule? 

I didn’t realize it at the time but fundamental themes I have experienced in life directed my fiction writing in the Gaia’s Majesty Series. As I’ve said before, empowerment of women was central but so too was the corrupt rule of older white men. And now that I am an older white man, my commitment to our future and overcoming detriments to our future has not abated.

Transformation and Challenge

The third book in the series is called Gaia’s Majesty-Transformation and transformation is the key word I am looking at in our present crises. We can descend into decades of war and utter destruction as we have before or we can rise up with renewed commitment such as we saw in the 1960s. Now that men can ally themselves with women in a committed alliance we have the chance to have an important transformation which will benefit not just America but the world. Our leadership in the world is being sabotaged and it is essential that we take it back.

Are we up to the challenge? Will we seize the promise of our future?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

The Work Universe 2

A Call to End Passivity and Obstruction  

Facing Facts

Human society is facing accelerating change and it seems we are in total denial. We are acting as if the job market and its requirements are fixed. In the United States we say we have a low unemployment rate but other data indicates 10% of our people have simply given up on the job market. We hear that coal jobs are going away and some people are saying we must save something that cannot be saved. We have to face the reality of climate change and must change how we generate energy. The lis of other demands is very long.

It should not be outside human consciousness to consider doing research and planning. That means researching how our technology of all kinds is changing and how that affects the kinds of jobs that will disappear and what new ones will be needed.The job picture is changing and we have only a limited idea of how it is changing and what jobs will be required. If the research is ongoing, we hear so little that it is almost as if it is secret. And then there is the matter of our not knowing who is available in the workforce and how we can use them. More on that shortly and it is much more complicated than ordinarily assumed.

An Unexpected Partnership 

Decades ago I took a job I thought was only focused on mental health, but it had a component I did not know existed. The job was in the inner city of Baltimore and the people there were largely impoverished. I learned that each of our centers had a vocational rehabilitation counselor. And since I was the only psychologist who actually worked out in the community, they called upon me to do evaluations on the people needing assistance.

Vocational Rehabilitation was a generic term because many of these people had never had meaningful gainful employment. We learned at once that the biggest enemy of mental health was poverty. It generated anxiety and depression. We had a lot to learn-and fast.

What was needed was an evaluation and construction of a plan for each person. I became a collaborator with the counselor. We shared our expertise and developed plans.

The Process

I had been trained to do testing and evaluation but it was generally focused for clinical (mental health) purposes. I screened for brain damage, got a conflict and personality picture and gave an intelligence test. I had used it previously for mental health purposes. Now It was folded into working on job issues.

Along with the counselor, I had to focus on the jobs market and the skill sets or lack thereof of the people who were coming to us for help. I sat down with the counselor and we talked about his view of the client and he gave me a view of the job availability climate. That, in itself was challenging. We had to get an expanded picture because jobs in the inner city were limited. A whole new set of problems were opening before me.

The Bottom Line

I had taken a job that I thought would revolutionize the delivery of mental health service. What I had found was a whole new world where it was clear the focus had to be on a larger world. And, even more importantly, the professionals involved had to expand their horizons, and fast. We are still waiting.

560 words

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Looking For Transformation

 

In this current era when we seem on the verge of transformation I’m going to do posts about my experience with the reform movement called community mental health long ago. I address even great details in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

Toward the Future

It was 1967 and I was finishing up my doctorate at Duke University. It was time to leave academia, get out into the “real world” and embrace a component of the reform movement following World War II.

One of the first programs of the Community Mental Health movement was beginning to hire in Baltimore. i went to take a look and was picked up at the airport by Carl Thistel, the lead community organizer. He took me on a whirlwind engaging tour of the city regaling me with the impact of poverty and drugs. I was interviewed by the engaging, enthusiastic director and the somnolent head psychologist who fell asleep while he was interviewing me. No matter. Carl had hooked me.

Plans Versus Reality

The movement had a compelling outline of its expected services and its rationale was engaging. We had the best of intentions but then there was reality. It wasn’t long before we learned that the mental health people in the State of Maryland didn’t really care and neither did the University which was managing the grant. They wanted the status and the money and to continue their business as usual.

In Opposition

On our side we had a bunch of enthusiastic, rebellious twenty somethings who included women dedicated to the Women’s Liberation movement, It was going to get very interesting.

It turned out no one really knew how to deliver services to impoverished inner city residents. The rationale sounded good but we had to figure out how to deal with reality. We devoted ourselves to the needs of these people we were to serve and had to figure out what they really needed and how we could deliver it – over the opposition of the State and the University personnel especially on the part of the older white men.

Likelong Commitment and Reservations

So, in my twenties I committed to supporting women’s liberation and harbored deep reservations about older white men even though now I are one.

In coming posts I’ll cover key elements as we hit the streets, climbed through dangerous high rise buildings and fought for what was needed. I’m also going to address the current crisis in the world and the transformation alternatives that may be coming.

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt, Ph.D.

Available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

Echoes From The Past

 

Life’s Promise

Somehow we have a dream that a stable and glorious future will open before us. It is unlikely. Our lives are not ours alone because we share it with family and intimates, but also must share it with the world at large which is not under our control. But the past has a way of reaching out to us which is not necessarily a bad thing. It may tell us about how the world is and such things as the variability of opportunity. 

From My Past

In 1967 (yikes that’s a long time ago) I took a job in the inner city of Baltimore. I was one of the first people hired in one of the first community mental health programs in the country. I was just leaving Duke with my doctorate in hand and I was definitely ready to depart academia. The whole idea of community mental health was to bring mental health services to the public using a public health model. It was a marvelous idea.

Wait a Minute!

But there was not just one problem. Communities are different, and because of that the whole idea of applying the medical model to our inner lives was flawed and established practice is not so easily changed.

I was given an office and told to give service. But there was no one there except for a woman social worker. She led me out into the city and steadily the staff grew. Young professionals learned about the community and what it needed. It was tumultuous and fascinating.

Wait Another Minute!

But in some ways the least of our problem was adapting services to a poverty environment in chaos. An even larger problem proved to be the conservatism of the mental health establishment. All they wanted was the grant money and the glory of having landed funding for a “glamorous” enterprise. They had been providing services by psychiatric residents and medical students on six week rotations. We dug in our heels. The people of that community needed reliable ongoing services, not a series of inexperienced people passing out medication. Granted, our group of twenty somethings were inexperienced, but we were dedicated as a group to learning fast and meeting real needs. 

What We Concluded

What we found was a need for life management  in a form of partnership. Many “mental health” problems were an outgrowth of the dynamics of the poverty environment more than anything else. Of course, it was much more complicated than that but that is a rough outline. But we had found that a highly beneficial set of services and programs could have been focused.

In the End

At last though, those in power are in power after all. In time the bright eyed, groundbreaking young people moved on and the higher powers invoked a retrenchment. The community based clinics were closed, staff was withdrawn to a central building and business as usual restored.

Across the country the reform movement of that era was coming to an end.  And with its end came the end of community mental health. I tell the whole story in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.

Now the Lesson

Yes, community mental health came too soon and its time is still not yet at least until we get through our present upheaval when a younger generation with vision may take power.

But, looking back we can see something. On the street we learned a huge amount about such communities, but all the data was kept in our heads and used to formulate a highly focused, problem solving service system. If a system with managers of more vision were to be devised now, the information technology at our fingertips could help us sift, store, integrate and develop data for a viable system. And it could be adapted to fit the community at hand—whatever its form. Then we would truly have a community mental health system, but probably with a more refined name. And if we had had information technology we could have documented and built.

Coming back to one of my original points, I can see that something from the past can be brought forward to a much more adapted use at a future time when new tools and vision are available.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

(Available now in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.) 

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before them.

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

(Available now in Pre-Order and goes on sale April 29 on Amazon)

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

The Coming of Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise

On April 29th. the second book of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy will be launched on Amazon.

 

Little Did I Know

Two primary elements fed the creation of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. In college I took classes from Leslie White, the father of cultural anthropology. That elderly man took the stage and completely enraptured a large room full of college students. I was mesmerized as he linked our view of the world, creative understanding and cultural flow together. 

His view led me to be particularly intrigued by such things as mermaids. Do they really exist and, if not, why do we create the images and seem to believe in them? Something is stirring in us and the images are open for our projection of their meaning.

Years later I felt the need to bring mermaids to life.

The other element, which is central, is about empowered women. When I graduated from Duke University with my doctorate I took a job in the dawning community mental health movement. Suddenly there I was in the impoverished inner city of Baltimore. The man who hired me was Japanese-American and our multiracial staff served both black and white people in desperate lives of poverty. 

What was also different in my life was the women working in the program. It was the opening era of the Women’s Liberation Movement and they were definitely on board. The setting and the people opened my life in ways I could not have expected.

Effects That Would Not Be Stilled

The experience in Baltimore reframed my life and stayed with me. And for a reason or reasons I could not define, I found decades later a story was stirring. And so came strong dedicated mermaids. But they didn’t just show up to swim around in the sea. They had a purpose and that purpose had to do with a beautiful planet and the future of that planet and its inhabitants.

A World of Growing Crisis

I think part of what happened was that one age was ending and another opening. For a time threat appeared to have declined and the new age seemed more peaceful and promising. But that was not to endure. 

I thought I was writing a book but soon it became apparent that there was more than one book. Now there is a trilogy and perhaps more.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

The first book proved to be a place to introduce a larger cast of characters than I had expected and set the scene. At the center was an innocent woman who had a heritage she knew nothing about. And also what was opening was the revelation of an Earth Goddess (Gaia) who was determined that her planet would not be decimated. 

The people Gaia reserved to save the future were called Tethyans and serving with them were a dedicated class of warrior women called the Andromeda. The most immediate threat was the men called the Overlords who were devoted to self aggrandizement and greed. Does that sound familiar? But I created them in the books before our most recent events.

The Dawning

The second book leads us into the depths of conflict. The deception of central greedy characters is clear and what is being revealed goes beyond a simple response to crisis. Something fundamental is happening and there is a totally unexpected future becoming apparent. Come join in. It’s an intriguing ride of both reality and myth. I refer to the books as works of Magical Realism.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Tragedy of Older White Men

 

Roger B. Burt

Facing the Future

Yes, that’s a picture of me at the top. I’m an older white man and I’ve been upset with my colleagues for over fifty years. And now the issues are coming to a head.

An Enduring Lesson

I hadn’t thought about men and power much until I took a job in the inner city of Baltimore in the 1960s. At the time the Women’s Liberation Movement was beginning and I found myself working with young, bright women among the men. Our mission in behalf of delivering mental health services to impoverished citizens brought it all to a head. 

Naturally the heads of the program were older white men and they had no dedication to our mission to serve the people of Baltimore. They wanted the grant money, preservation of their status and continuation of the type of program they had been offering. In fact, that program was not what our people needed. And so we fought back and the lessons I learned were carried forward with me.

See It For What It Is

And now the fight continues and this fall it seems there may be what is called “a blue wave” in the interim election. I object to the term because it politicizes an important change which is NOT political. Certainly there is politics involved but we are seeing a worldwide movement to empower women at last. 

To put it bluntly I want to see the power of older white mean eroded and for women to come to equality and power because it is my firm belief that they will bring much needed change and equality of all kinds in a country which is changing rapidly with growing numbers of minorities.

Waves of Change

This is truly a wave of change and I relish these waves we have seen over human history. We have an ongoing wave within the black community. Yes, I refer to them as black because I was part of the reform movement when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and that was the year black was declared to be beautiful. It has special meaning.

And now women are coming to the fore. I am stunned to see smart women showing up on television as commentators in the news and business arenas. And, yes, they may be pretty as well in ways of their choosing.

Time For Men to Face the Future

Now it is time for men to choose a revolution of their own. And  by that I do not mean choosing to fight to retain their hold on power. Instead I strongly recommend introspection, recognition of alternative benefits and devotion to study the male culture. Surely there are benefits but there have also been marked negatives.

These changes are coming at us and we would do well to tend the benefits and seek understanding. It will benefit us all in unforeseen ways. It is time for change guys. Turn away from the grasp of power to a more diverse and glorious future!

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Our New Age Blossoming – 2

 

Looking Back

It is now over 50 years later than when I went to work in Baltimore. For me time offers not perspective as much as confirmation. The only perspective I find is that I can now clearly see the roots of my deep mistrust of the truth and wisdom of older white men. In fairness there is diversity among them but in our present age the fact of their rule is distressing in so many regards.

Designing a Delivery System

The community mental health movement came with a multi-part design. I was stationed in an outpatient facility which meant I was to consult with the community and deliver services. That seems simple enough. Go out and get acquainted so you get referrals and then give therapy with the psychiatrists giving medication as necessary. What fools we mortals be!

What we found immediately was that we had a lot of learning to do. The community was challenging to put it mildly. They were in serious need and mental health services were not at the top of their list.

The Existing System

There already was a mental health system in place. At the hospital nearby people could come for service. Since it was a medical school there were medical students who often were giving service in six week rotations—with little prior experience. Then there were residents. I’ll save you the agony of all the details but they were not acquainted with the needs of the community either and so could not respond effectively.

At the time psychiatric residents were committed to giving intensive psychotherapy. The local residents were not exactly candidates so they often simply got medication. We immediately found a fundamental truth. The biggest enemy of mental health in the area was the stress of poverty. So they suffered from depression and anxiety. Duh!!!

The System We Designed

Each of us took a morning walk-in clinic. We assessed the person’s problems and then spent the afternoon on the phone arranging appropriate services and getting information about availability among a lot of other things. For example, if they had a physically ill child who was not getting service or inappropriate service we sought appropriate help. Every center had a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who got a lot of referrals. Very many of these people needed training and/or education. A job or a better job had a very beneficial effect on their mental health along with the experience of hope.

Not So Simple

Did we have the support of higher ups? Sometimes, but often not. The older white men generally wanted to preserve the existing system and were primarily interested in the aura of getting the money for a grant to a new glamorous type of program. They loved the aura and wanted to look good to each other. Daily we were in the position of fending off orientations and demands which did not serve our community well. One of my common responses was “We’ll get back to you” or ”Let me look at alternatives.”

Allies With the Community

We  had to develop relationships with the community so we could respond to their real needs. In that era of the beginning of the civil right movement the community became contentious and interesting. Assertions of community needs and objections to the mistreatment of black men began at that time. There were issues about health services. At one point growing activism led to a difficult public hearing and I found myself sitting next to the state head of the mental health system who was clueless. Other times we were visited by arrogant “consultants” from Washington who we had to endure. 

I’ll leave it there for now. It was rough and tumble and never-ending as we fought for the people of the community. You might think we would have had allies from the professions but they were too often few and far between.

Another Major Wave of Change

In some ways we didn’t understand what we were seeing either. In the end the establishment brought down the community mental health movement. As the young rebels left, the clinics in the community were closed and the old ways resumed. I tell the full story in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.

But two things came out of the era that proved to have a long wave and import for our future. One was the civil rights movement and in the next post I’ll go into the other one. 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Orlando! The Meaning and Impact of Mental Illness IV

 

Dealing with Life

Each of us can be placed on dimensions of a set of behaviors and processes. When there is mental illness is a matter of dispute and fashion. When mental illness is defined, too often it is a function of funding and professional achievement. That sounds obscure, but think about it for a moment.

When community mental health blossomed, we learned, at least in inner city poverty, that poverty is stressful (seriously?) if not just plain overwhelming. The social workers were closest to the truth and saw our intervention as “case management”. People get depressed and anxious when they are overwhelmed and when we helped them manage their difficult lives they became less anxious and less depressed. In a poverty environment it is appropriate to be deeply concerned or even terrified regarding the future of your children.

The senior professionals above us wanted the grant money, the status and wanted to perpetuate the establishment. The young staff saw things very differently.

Guidance and Management

Through all my professional experiences I have come to see humans as functioning on a series of dimensions which instructs our personal development, defines, guides or disrupts our functioning. Stress exists and causes serious functional problems. Somewhere in there are biologically based issues and without a doubt most of us need guidance from time to time. And some people benefit from exploration of the self which they may find in some form of what is called insight therapy.

Sorting Out Reality 

Overall, I would like to see us dismiss the concept of mental illness entirely. We can focus on problems associated with biochemical processes when essential and detach severe reactions caused by trauma. It would take time to reformulate the field but we certainly could become more effective and husband our resources. Problem solving and management are basic parts of all human endeavors. What do you think would happen if we started to diagnose corporations or political candidates? I doubt there would be much approval by the objects of such activities.

What happened at Orlando was a terrible tragedy but also opened a door where we find the opportunity for reevaluation on a variety of fronts. I know I’m crying out in the wilderness because there is a huge investment of various kinds in maintaining the status quo. But I can dreams can’t I? There might be a world where we are honest with ourselves, where we can be more efficient and effective and accept our complexity and variety of potentials.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt