Department of Mental Health hosts annual advocacy forum at Massachusetts State House
Boston, MA – March 13, 2013 – In the Great Hall of the Massachusetts State House, hundreds of legislators, mental health providers, supporters, and persons living with mental illness joined to attend the highly anticipated Department of Mental Health (DMH) Metro-Southeast Area Citizen Legislative Breakfast. The event, co-hosted by FHR’s (Fellowship Health Resources) Corporate Director of Peer Recovery Services, Bob Rousseau, underscored the importance of continued funding and advocacy to support recovery.
“We have all come together today to reflect on why we do what we do, which is to provide top quality services to individuals with psychiatric challenges and mental illness,” said Rousseau. “This breakfast allows those to share their story of how the services that we provide have impacted them and enabled them to move forward with their lives.”
Massachusetts State Representative Paul Heroux, who sponsored the event, shared inspirational sentiments, encouraging, “If we don’t ask for change we won’t get it. People should not be discriminated against based on their mental status. I think that this is wrong, and I think that this needs to change.”
One individual shared her heartfelt story, explaining that recovery, often like life, is not always linear. “Dreams don’t have to be just dreams, they can come true, it just takes a lot of hard work. I want to give a message to anyone who has been in my shoes, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are not important. We all have a journey and a reason for being here.”
FHR President and CEO Joe Dziobek, along with FHR staff and persons served from New Bedford, Fall River, and Cape Cod were in attendance, representing the agency’s strong presence in the state of Massachusetts. “It is imperative that the legislators hear that the programs in place are productive, and that they really do help to improve the lives of individuals we serve,” Dziobek explained. “Legislators that have joined us here today are debating bills and budgets, and ultimately making decisions about where funds need to be spent. This event allows for direct feedback to what a profound difference their choices are making.”
As the event drew to a close, Rousseau asked all of those living with mental illness to stand and be recognized. Individuals began to rise, standing proud for who they were. As the audience applauded with heartfelt conviction, Rousseau smiled and shared, “To all of you standing, you are the reason why we are here.”
Patricia Kenny, Area Director for the Metro-Southeast Area DMH explained that the turnout of the event greatly exceeded her expectations. “Every time we convince one more person who has a powerful voice, we are ahead of the game. Looking forward, I am very optimistic.”