The Four Walls: Mark Ragins

Here’s another great blog from one of my favourite psychiatrists, Mark Ragins of The Village fame. I first posted this article that Mark wrote on Recovery Stories back in October 2013.  Mark wrote the original article in 1998. [NB. I have broken up some of the original paragraphs to make it easier to read online.]

‘In 1989, the California State Legislature authorized the funding for three model mental health programs, including the Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach, in part to answer the question, “Does anything work?”

We created a radical departure from traditional mental health services basing our entire system on psychosocial rehabilitation principles, quality of life outcomes and community integration. Arguably, we have created the most comprehensive, integrated and effective recovery based mental health program anywhere.

In recent years, encouraged by our success, both our attention and the legislature’s have turned to the further question of “How can our whole system be more like the Village?” Undoubtedly, there are numerous serious beaurocratic, funding, and system design issues relevant to that question, but I would like to focus on the personal issues staff must face.

I believe that basing mental health services on recovery is the paradigm shift that can finally make the dream of deinstitutionalization a reality.

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‘Dr Mark and The Village’ by Mark Ragins

I was going through some of my old blog posts and came across a 2014 post from one of my favourite people in the mental health field, award-winning psychiatrist Mark Ragins. I thought it was time to post it again. First a few words from Mark about himself which I consider particularly pertinent:

‘I am a recovery-based psychiatrist.  After 27 years working as the Medical Director at the MHALA Village in Long Beach, California, an award-winning model of recovery based mental health care, I moved on in 2017 to be the only psychiatrist at CSU Long Beach providing innovative psychiatric services for the students there.  I also continue to work as an independent trainer, consultant, speaker, writer, and transformation leader in the Mental Health Recovery Movement. I believe that:

> My work should be person-centered, working to help people grow and develop into the person they are meant to be, not just to treat mental illnesses or conditions.

> My relationship with the people I work with should be collaborative and client-driven working on your goals, rather than pressuring for compliance with my treatment.

> People recover because of the strengths and resilience that they use and develop, not because I took care of them and fixed what was wrong with them.

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‘Dr Mark and The Village’ by Mark Ragins

Unknown-3Here is an article by one of my favourite people in the mental health field, Mark Ragins on Mad in America. Mark is the Medical Director at the MHA Village Integrated Service Agency, a model of recovery based mental health care.  His practice has been grounded in 20 years+ with some of the most underserved and difficult to engage people in our community.

‘My name is Mark Ragins.  Most people at The Village call me Dr. Mark, except those who have known me long enough to forego that pedestal and just call me Mark.  I’m a psychiatrist, a story teller, and the kid who used to drive his parents and teachers crazy asking “Why?” unendingly and then, never satisfied with their answers, looked for my own answers and returned to tell them that their answers were wrong.

When I meet someone new I usually try not to tell them I’m a psychiatrist too soon.  There are so many strange and scary ideas about psychiatrists and mental illnesses out there that I’m afraid I’ll be rejected before I even have a chance.

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