ors-confWhat a privilege to join VOCAL members and partners in policy, practice and advocacy last week for the 2016 Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care Conference sponsored and hosted by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services’ new-ish Office of Recovery Services.

Are you on Facebook? If so, search this hashtag to see some of VOCAL and members’ photos and quotes from the two-day event in Roanoke, VA: #varecovery2016

If you missed the “sold out” event because of distance, work, scheduling conflict, fatigue or any other reason, feel free to download and review the presenter slides from this link: http://bit.ly/varosc16

Many thanks to VOCAL’s long-term partners at “the Department” for prioritizing creation of this event.  The ROSC conference brought national speakers into Virginia to inspire us with stories of hope about what’s working in other areas to transform our behavioral health system.

What would a system look like that believes people can become and stay well — instead of one that labels people with a life-long debilitating illness?  Dr. Jack Barber, Interim Commissioner of DBHDS, was just one of many speakers who reminded us that Virginia’s public funding is still too heavily weighted on crisis care instead of long-term community supports.

Dr. Mark Salzer shared the powerful words of a person he met in his work that said “people don’t need more referrals to mental health services, they need referrals to life and community.”

Becky Sterling, Director of DBHDS Office of Recovery Services, challenged the gathering that the answer to “Are we there yet” depends on what the goal is — “Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care” can become just another buzz word unless we’re constantly asking careful questions and involving peers in all parts of the systems reform process. Not just checking off the “YES” box to “Did we hire a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist.”

For more details on the state of Virginia’s system today compared to national benchmarks and what makes a truly recovery-oriented system, feel free to download and review the presenter slides from this link: http://bit.ly/varosc16

If these issues and questions get your blood flowing and make you come alive – join VOCAL’s Advocacy work.  Learn more on this page.