Using Your Mission as a Guide: Thoughts From the VAPRA Conference

The tour continues, this time to Virginia and a presentation at the Virginia Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (VAPRA) 30th annual conference. What did I learn? I learned that regardless of what state you may be reading this from, you are likely experiencing similar changes and emotions as the folks in the Virginia rehabilitation community are. I am heartened to see that the feeling of uncertainty, although prevalent here like everywhere, has not derailed the focus on recovery.

Many of the changes in Virginia are, in my opinion, very positive. The State Office of Mental Health has changed its mission to reflect recovery principles and has adopted a value statement by which their decisions are judged: “A life of possibility for every Virginian.” I wish every state would adopt such a value and judge every decision and initiative against it.

And it doesn’t stop there. The State, in partnership with the community of providers and individuals with lived experience, has formed transformation teams for four different areas: Adult Mental, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Child and Adolescent, and Justice System involved individuals. Each of these teams is co-chaired by an individual with lived experience.

From the VAPRA conference I am left reflecting on how these steps forward are happening and how providers are already evolving to survive. The advice for all agencies is to be ready, ready for anything that might happen. Be involved, be a part of the decision-making process and not just a bystander. Finally, be prepared: invest in the readiness of your organization’s infrastructure and human capital to adapt to whatever comes your way.