What I have been considering is an approach to systems reform that has three components:
- For systems reform to occur there must be a thorough assessment of the underlying paradigms of the current systems – systems are built on a particular way of seeing things, or a premise on how things are and what will fix it. This could be any number of things – – it could be a premise of relationships, a premise of what the cause of mental illness is, a premise of who is responsible even what the cause of mental illness is. There is a premise that “doing something different” is all that is needed, which ignores some fundamental dynamics.
- Systems reform requires a thorough assessment of the obstacles to successful reform – this is the bit that people don’t like – for example, there is a sense of burnout, or that people have given up and think- “what is the point because govt won’t really change”. So we can say that one of the obstacles to systems reform is investment by some people in the system for the system NOT to change, either because it will disrupt their position of power, or position of dominant ideology. An honest appraisal of obstacles to systems reform needs to be conducted with a “no fear” approach.
- Systems reform will never succeed if the people within the system do not LIVE and adopt that reforms – a system will only develop in truth from how people actually live – not how they propose to live. The best example that I can think of is in relation to diabetes – the govt is racking its brains about what to do about the astronomical rise in the rates of diabetes – but essentially people on an individual basis are still prepared to eat sugar in all its forms, they still choose to even though it is bad for them – and I am talking about the workers, not just clients and do not look at the underlying issues of why they are eating sugar – ie comfort, because they are tired and are looking for a pick me up.
What do we ultimately want? Not just in Partners in Recovery, but across society – basically a more loving and decent society than which we now see with all its traumas – yet how many of us have given up on living that for ourselves and building that in our own lives, including workplaces, families, focus groups etc. A lot of lip service gets paid but how many people actually WALK the talk!