An essay by Brian McLaughlin, Advocate

Great Expectations

The words great expectations and mental illness are most likely words that have rarely if ever before been mix together. Far too many folks who carry a serious diagnosis of mental illness are encourage to hope for much.

One would be hard pressed to find another healing relationship where encouraging low expectations would be considered a sound practice. So why within the mental health system?

I believe providers have traditionally felt is kinder and perhaps more humane to encourage consumer to have what would be considered as "reasonable" or more "modest" goals once diagnosed. The fear being working towards more would prove overly stressful or disappointing. I suggest being routinely relegated to a life of low expectations is far more stressful and eventually disappointing.

As a result I assert that far too many consumer are not living or even seeking their highest potential. This higher potential may or may not include ideal symptom control, but does include a better grasp of an individual’s highest vision for their life.

Clearly, it is time to talk of "great expectations" regardless of diagnosis. Healers must learn to hold the dream of a better more fulfilling life, if and until a consumer is able to internalize it for himself. Healing interactions need to become 90% possibility and no more than 10% pessimism and pathology, instead of the other way around.

It is true what one author wrote over a half a century ago, "people become quite remarkable once they believe they can do things."

Respectfully submitted for your consideration,

Brian Patrick McLaughlin MS/CPS
MH Consumer Advocate
Erie County, PA.

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