One of the good things that Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare has done over the years for Consumers of the services they provide is to take Consumer involvement seriously enough to create a management-level position to support it. The first person to hold this position was Donita Diamata. One of the most important things Donita did was to lead the effort to create Cascadia’s Consumer/Survivor Advisory Council.
Over the years, the Council has, among other things, organized Forums to give Cascadia Clients a chance to have their voices heard; taken surveys of Clients to inform Cascadia management about Client needs; made presentations about their work to Cascadia’s Board of Directors; and received grants to enhance their ability to do their important work.
The job title has changed a bit over the years, but Meghan Caughey will, as our new Senior Director of Peer & Wellness Services, continue like her predecessors to help Consumers by providing support to the Council. Meghan will also work directly with the top management of Cascadia to ensure that ‘peer specialists’ (Consumers and Survivors of the mental health system who work within that system) will be used in the provision of Cascadia’s services. She will also help develop the policies that guide the recruitment, employment, training, and supervision of peer specialists.
This would be a big job for anybody, but Meghan Caughey is a woman of many talents.
She has received awards for her work in the field of mental health. Most recently, the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs gave her an award at an inaugural celebration in Salem on June 22nd. Also honored were her boss, Derald Walker, CEO of Cascadia; and Senator Alan Bates.
Meghan also received the ‘Howie the Harp’ Award at the 2010 Alternatives Conference. It speaks volumes about Meghan that she would receive an award named after Howie the Harp, who was a legendary Consumer/Survivor activist starting back before many of us were even born.
The Wellness Model
Prior to working at Cascadia, Meghan worked as Benton County’s Peer Wellness Coordinator. On their website it says ‘Our goal is to excite, inspire and support clients of Benton County Health Department to have the interest, courage and ability to move their lives on the path of greater health, recovery and wellness.’ Couldn’t we all use some of that philosophy?
On Meghan’s own website, it says ‘Meghan created the Wellness Model as a way to help mental health consumers/survivors and mental health providers reach a new way of thinking about what the possibilities are for our lives and well-being’.
Meghan’s full professional credentials are Meghan Caughey MA, MFA. ‘MFA’ is ‘Master of Fine Arts’, and Meghan is both an accomplished artist, and a teacher. She has taught in schools in Oregon and California. Her artwork has been shown in exhibitions in California and Texas.
Meghan is also President of the Board of Mental Health America of Oregon, one of the leading Consumer/Survivor advocacy organizations in Oregon.
If you Google ‘Meghan Caughey’, you get so much good information that I didn’t have time to look at it all. Some of the more interesting included:
This website has Meghan’s own artwork, info about her consulting business, and a lot more info about her than I have been able to include in this article. She says “I survive because I am able to draw and paint the edge where I find myself.”
This is the website of VISIONS A.R.T., an organization she created that ‘will inspire persons who have lived experience of mental health challenges to create art that expresses their unique stories, creating opportunities to educate, inform, and transform public perception of what it means to have mental health challenges’. Bob & Gina Nikkel both serve as officers on its board. VISIONS A.R.T. brought Consumer/Survivor artwork to the Mental Health Day Rally in Salem recently (see the Slide Show on their website). Also, their website says ‘we have been able to reach an agreement with Oregon State Hospital administration to designate an historic cottage on the Hospital grounds to become a functioning arts studio for hospital residents’.
This is an insightful interview of Meghan that provided some of the material for this article.
This has powerful, at times painful, essays written by Meghan. Very few of us would have the courage to open ourselves up like this. The essays include:
(Excerpt from ‘Secluded and Restrained’)
Everything I know is contained inside my head and I want the hot-fire images there to extinguish. I pound my head against the wall as it is the only thing that I know that lessens the painful images and feelings that hold me and shake me like piece of meat in the jaws of a lion (…)
Like I said a lot earlier in this article, Meghan Caughey is a woman of many talents, and Cascadia is lucky to have her.