Spring 2008 Course Description

Policy Research Project

Section Title: Role of the Consumer in Social Policy Reform
Instructor(s): Jane Lincove
Course: P A 682B - Policy Research Project
Unique Number: 64175
Day & Time: Thursdays, 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Room: SRH 3.106
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Notes: Taught with P. Wong

This course fulfills requirements for the following specialization(s):

Description: Mental Health Transformation (MHT) is an ambitious five-year project that the State of Texas is undertaking with funding from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administation. The Texas plan is to emphasize (1) the role of consumers in steering the system and in delivering services and (2) the use of information technology for better coordination and innovation, in order to bring about system level reform. This PRP focuses on the role of consumers. There is another PRP, directed by Prof. Gary Chapman, which deals with information technology. These two PRPs will have occasional coordination.

The ?system? envisioned in MHT is not just the traditional, narrowly defined ?mental health service? system, but the broader service infrastructure that should be in place to support the needs of persons with mental health needs?from health services to housing and employment. Therefore the Governor?s Office has requested that fourteen state agencies work together to bring about changes in the broader system.

The issue of consumer participation is gaining importance throughout the social services. Education reformers call for greater parent participation in schools, health policy innovations call for consumers to take control of health care decisions, and the neighborhood council movement calls for greater citizen participation in all areas of local government.

In the mental health field, consumer participation is particularly important and complex. A movement for consumer-driven services (peer networks, peer supports, cash-for-counseling, etc.) argues that the most successful models for recovery and resiliency are consumer-led. At the same time, public mental health systems are typically top-down systems where consumers and their families are treated as patients rather than partners.

Today, the State of Texas faces the challenge of implementing consumer-driven mental health reforms in a policy environment that has historically excluded the consumer voice and discouraged participation. This PRP will examine the current status of consumer advocacy in Texas mental health policy and propose reforms to expand consumer voice. Participants will:

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