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Outside Inside program brings community resources to OSH patients

Outside Inside Speakers Bureau guest presentation to OSH patients

August 24, 2011 - When patients cannot be in the community, you bring the community to them. Oregon State Hospital is doing just that through a new program called the Outside Inside Speakers Bureau.

For some patients, the idea of reintegrating back into the community can seem overwhelming, especially for those new to the mental health system. The goal of the Outside Inside program is to ease some of those fears by educating patients about the types of community mental health resources they'll have access to after their discharge.

Once a month, a guest speaker from a community mental health program is invited to OSH to speak with patients about the various resources available in the community, where these resources can be found, and how they will help them with their ongoing recovery. Many times, the speakers themselves are living with mental illness.

"Outside Inside is really about helping people gain an exterior view – to realize there's a broader community out there, and they're going to be part of it again," Michael Hlebechuk, an outreach specialist in charge of planning the events, said. "We want to help them plan for that day and take advantage of opportunities out in the community when they leave."

While the focus of the program is patient education, Hlebechuk said OSH staff have also found the talks beneficial.

"As we are becoming a world-class, recovery-oriented hospital, our staff are becoming more interested in being involved in and learning about community recovery-oriented services," he explained.

Recently, Drake Ewbank, a peer specialist with LaneCare, a public insurance company that contracts with mental health providers in Lane County, spoke about the history of peer-run programs in Oregon and how they have transformed the state's mental health system.

Ewbank explained how a person who has recovered from mental illness is uniquely qualified to use that experience to help others. He said having that personal experience transcends any type of training a traditional mental health provider can receive.

Hlebechuk agreed, saying it's often much easier for a patient to relate to someone who has been through a similar experience, and just knowing these types of community resources are available is invaluable to patients.

"My hope is that through this program, patients and staff will be in a different mindset about what they can do with their lives, what benefits they can get out in the community, what their future can look like," he said. "I really hope for that."