TRANSFORMING THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM THROUGH PEER-STAFFED RESPITE SYSTEMS
Yana Jacobs, MFT, started her work life/ in the mental health field at Soteria House as a staff member. Her basic beliefs in the mental health field were informed and shaped by my Soteria experience. She went on to “change the world” by accepting a job in the public sector, with Santa Cruz County Mental Health in California. Yes, she was young and very naive! She worked first as a crisis worker, believing she’d be protecting everyone from locked care if she worked at the hospital “gate”, and learned a tremendous amount about both the complexities of being human as well as the mental health system. She went on to supervise the crisis team and later became the Chief of Adult Outpatient/Recovery services for the County. She never stopped speaking out and being a rebel, while also working on the inside, or as she likes to say, “within the belly of the beast.” Her final act with the public sector was to start a Peer Run Respite House, Second Story, funded by a SAMHSA Transformation Grant. She left the county in 2014 to join my peers at the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care. She breathed a sigh of relief that she wouldn’t have to watch my words, straddle the bridge between the medical model and the alternative model, but instead could finally speak openly, loudly and freely about what she truly believed without censorship or fear of becoming marginalized! She’s excited to work at the Foundation to support new funding for research and alternative models of care that respect an individual’s right to choose with dignity and to promote the truth, rather than the false information that so much of the medical model is based on.