What Helps, What Harms Maryland A Young Adult Peer- Led Quality Improvement Project Who We Are Jayme Severn Transitional Age Youth Outreach Project Coordinator On Our Own of Marylands TAY Project Christi Halpin Youth Engagement Specialist Taking Flight/MCF
Rowan Powell Youth Engagement Specialist Taking Flight/MCF The What What Helps, What Harms Maryland is a quality improvement project launched in August 2014 by OOOMDs Transitional Age Youth Outreach Project in partnership with Taking Flight, the Maryland Coalition of Families Young Adult Advisory Board. This initiative was designed to infuse the youth and young adult voice into strategic policy actions and planning processes for systemic change in the state of
Maryland through convening discussion groups and forums to learn about and make recommendations to address young adult peer needs. The Who 94 Young Adults, 18-29 years 16 Discussion Groups
15 Programs 12 Jurisdictions The How The What Helps What Harms Maryland Project utilized a simple discussion prompt during these groups to facilitate a free-flowing conversation that participants directed. The prompt asked:
Of all the systems and services you have been involved with (education, mental health, physical disability services, juvenile justice, peer-run services, supported employment/education services, etc.) What about its set-up, services, and service delivery has helped you move forward (into adulthood, recovery etc.)? What has harmed you or created barriers for you moving forward?
What changes would you make that would have benefitted you in reaching your goals for your recovery and your adult life? The Report Published in February 2016 Policy Crosswalk with BHAs TAY Model
Guidelines 8 Sections Applicable across Systems Relationships & Connection as overarching Theme
Dissemination & Presentations SECTION 1: HOSPITALIZA TION Recommendations #1 Eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint.
#2 Transform seclusion and/or quiet rooms and the policies surrounding them into voluntary sanctuary/comfort rooms. Have youth involved in the creation of these rooms. #3 Implement training, policies, and protocols that address and remediate neglect, threats, and ridicule by staff working in hospitals and institute a responsive mechanism by which young adults can lodge concerns and complaints. #4
Make hospitals more recovery- oriented. Quotes I was too scared to move most of the time. Like if I made any sudden movements, theyd stick me with a needle. So I just sat as still as possible. If I was to go back to that hospital again, like tomorrow, I would kill myself. Stop calling us names. This may be funny to you, but this
is our lives. The last time I was on the eating disorders unit, they would call me Starvin Marvin, like, Send out Starvin Marvin. You cant build any kind of relationship with the counselors. They told me once, This isnt a place where you get treated. Go to therapy when you get out if you want to get treatment. SECTION 2: MENTAL HEALTH
Recommendations #1 Actively involve youth in the decision-making process about medication - every time, every change, every new symptom. #2 Increase access to alternative therapies and community involvement initiatives for youth. #3
Implement policies which address and seek to lessen the impact of staff turnover on youth. Quotes The hardest thing for me was having doctors just shoving pills down your throat just to see what works. They just want to get you on the next prescription and move on. Assessments arent used to get to know you, what happened to you, or why you do the things you do.
We got to interview the people applying to take the [directors] job. The one lady I met and was like, oh no, shes [stuffy ] and doesnt get us at all. It was kinda cool to be involved even though we all new we wanted [current staff member] to move up into the [directors] place. SECTION 3: SUBSTANCE USE Recommendations #1
Implement realistic drug education in middle and high schools. #2 Implement staff training, policies, and protocols to address and remediate the use of punishment over treatment and help. #3 Increase linkages to recovery supports and harm reduction resources before, during and after treatment.
#4 Increase age-specific resources, access points, outreach strategies, and treatment options. Quotes I think one of the biggest things missing in the education system is real, non-sugar-coated facts about alcohol, drugs and what they do to youto your body and to your life, your family, your person. I think starting in middle school, when they start teaching kids about sex and health issues, they need to start talking straight about drugs and
alcohol. We all have to find our own thing and I think that is a big part of getting clean. For me it was the peers in the 12step program SECTION 4: EDUCATION Recommendations #1 Provide individualized, person-centered options in all aspects of education.
#2 Train and support students to be active participants in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process. Provide students the opportunity to have a young adult peer assigned as an advocate for them during the IEP process. #3 Require ongoing quality, trauma-informed mental health and crisis training for teachers. #4 Increase accessibility to the smaller one-on-one alternative education and treatment programs sooner. Quotes
The day you hear You have an IEP meeting today, thats the day you want to kill yourself. You sit in a room with all these people who look at your files instead of at you, and you rehash all the things youve ever done and want to forget. Your grades, your mistakes, the things that werent mistakes but they talk about in a bad way anyway because they dont bother to ask. When I was in the public school system going through awful IEP meetings, they wouldnt tell us about this school. It was considered the last resort. If I hadnt found this school Id
have dropped out entirely and I would imagine Id be in bad shape. ..This option should be available before things get out of control. SECTION 5: EMPLOYMEN T& INDEPENDEN CE Recommendations #1 Design and offer services to young adults assuming that they do not have transportation.
#2 Increase access to young adult-specific supported employment programs. #3 Include hands-on life skills training in realistic settings. #4 Involve young adults in shared decision-making about their lives in a way that promotes independence and dignity, and that respects their privacy. Quotes I told myself I was never going to get a job, and now I have one. The job at Office Depot makes me have to talk to people, which is usually really hard for me because of
my anxiety, but I dont have panic attacks anymore doing it. I really like the feeling of being able to say Im going to work! when I leave the house. I take a lot of pride in it. Theres a lady that takes pictures of our rooms. She doesnt even ask. They took pictures of the kitchen, our bedrooms, and they dont even tell you what they are doing or why. They just invade your space like nothing belongs to you. SECTION 6:
LAW ENFORCEMENT/ POLICE Recommendations #1 Require quality mental health, substance use, trauma informed care, stigma and crisis training for all law enforcement officers. #2 Implement staff training, policies, and protocols to address
and remediate the use of punishment over treatment and help. Quotes I was upset and called my counselor and something I said must have made her feel that she needed to report that. They called the mobile crisis team, but they were busy so the police came. I was freaked outand I started to cry because there were four police cars around me. I wasnt crying because I was crazy but because cops were surrounding me.and it raised my anxiety. Then they handcuffed me and took met o the hospital. They didnt take the time to actually figure out what was going on. They didnt ask me a single question or care what I needed.
They just took me straight to the hospital. SECTION 7: STAFF Recommendations #1 Eliminate the use of negative reinforcement and other punitive measures that create barriers to relationships, treatment, and recovery. #2 Employ staff and volunteers close in age and with relatable experiences to the young adults being served and create
opportunities for alumni to fill staff and volunteer positions and to utilize their lived experience. #3 Implement training, policies, and protocols for staff and organizations that promote respect, credibility, and dignity for youth. Quotes You have to find that one person who gets it. They are out there. Theres a zillion more who dont or dont want to, but if you find that one who does and who is willing to kind of advocate for you, it can make all the difference.
We werent approached like, [young adult], I noticed that youve got some stuff going on. Would you like to sit down and see if we can get some resources to help you out? No, they came at me with the attitude like, Aha! I caught you! Youre pregnant or on drugs or whatever the case may be. Who wants help from that person then? Not me. SECTION 8: YOUTH VOICE
Recommendations #1 Build the infrastructure for authentic and wellsupported youth engagement and leadership that treats youth as equal partners at local, state, and national system levels. Build the capacity for youth peer advisory councils at organization and system levels. #2 Expand training for young adults in public policy, advocacy, and peer support. Increase capacity of statewide youth peer leadership advocacy projects.
Quotes This project [What Helps What Harms Maryland] was the first time I has ever heard of peer support. Ive been in mental health treatment and supported employment for half my life and never really thought that I could help someone with that. Flexibility makes everyone win. The system gets our ideas, we get to have fun, feel useful, and not get bored.
OOO and the TAY Project are the best because I get to make the decision that I want to be a part of everything they involve us in. Some things might be right for me and others not, and I get to make that decision. Download the Report www.onourownmd.org www.taking-flight.org www.mdcoalition.org
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