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My BHAB Public Comment | Focus on New Members

Good afternoon Chair Judith, BHAB Members, Board Chair Fletcher, BHS staff and other stakeholders. My name is Jerry Hall, former BHAB Member, current ACCESS Ambassador, and blogger at BHABrehab.com (this blog).

I wanted to welcome all the new BHAB Members, as well as express my sincere thanks to fellow Members who have also been transitioned out.

I speak today about this BHAB’s duties revolving around the premise, guided by law, that ensures all stakeholders are meaningfully engaged throughout the year in a mental health system deployed to serve their needs, and one designed by them. That premise also informs us stakeholders are given all the information, tools, and ability on a timely basis to contribute on an informed basis as to how we will address challenges they as stakeholders prioritize.  

In practice however, evidenced by the many critical challenges in our communities, much of the work our BHS has designed and deployed was done primarily by a relative handful of smart people, at times with insight from other advisory boards, and relatively minimal other-stakeholder engagement.

Our BHS in reality tells us what level of engagement and with what stakeholders they decide to engage, as well as when, where and how they deem that engagement as adequate, is their decision. BHAB Members are welcome to ask a question or two, or share an idea every now and then in meetings but, are effectively sidelined.  

This isn’t about process as much as it is about who manages crucial information, data, and decisions.

And, most importantly, this is about long-held practices of marginalizing voices of those in need, their families and networks, as well as stakeholders in and out of the county’s BHS network, to have opportunities to give insightful and critical feedback to help us as a community get and stay well.

Systemic racism is sustained through structure and processes just like this. We know we could be doing much better, yet why aren’t we working to dismantle these dysfunctional elements that ensure the more faint voices among us remain unheard?

The good news is some of this is recognized, much is being done outside of our view unfortunately to change systems and processes. BHAB and other stakeholders however will experience these pivotal transitions as spectators, having had little opportunity to contribute in their design or development over the past two years. We’ll ultimately be handed a set of tools those few smart people think we as stakeholders need to serve our BHAB’s and our communities mental health needs.

Legislators created Mental Health Advisory Boards to act in an oversight capacity. I urge you to understand BHAB as an autonomous body, get trained, and participate in as many events and programs as you can.

I have big hopes for our BHS and this county. To that end, I am dedicated to support any Member, leader, or other stakeholder that is pulling in the same direction.

Thank you and don’t forget to check out BHABrehab.com (this blog)!

Note: This was my entire comment, which I was unable to share entirely as the public comment period was cut by a third down to two minutes.

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