Since February, the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services has been highlighting the community inclusion model through conferences of the NC Practice Improvement Collaborative.  During the February conference, Dr. Mark Salzer provided an overview of the model, which is outlined in the document, Well Together – A Blueprint for Community Inclusion: Fundamental Concepts, Theoretical Frameworks.  Breakout groups on transition-age youth, employment, peer support, and recreation were convened so that participants could identify potential steps to implement when they returned to their communities.

The February conference was followed up with a hands-on training in May by Dr. Salzer and Richard Baron, the developer of the toolkit, Jump Starting Community Inclusion:  A Toolkit for Promoting Participation in Community Life. Dr. Salzer and Mr. Baron are faculty at Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities, a rehabilitation research and training center (RRTC), which is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.

To extend the community inclusion initiative further, the NC Division of MH/DD/SAS has awarded a contract to the i2i Center for Integrative Health to: (1) promote, statewide, stimulating innovations that encourage and support people with serious mental illness to engage in the life of their communities1 (2) and establish local adult mental health collaboratives (3) from which to develop and promote a mental health recovery movement for adults with serious mental illness.

Through this initiative, the i2i Center for Integrative Health will recruit and train representatives from various community-based human service advocacy groups, including System of Care and Stepping Up collaboratives, NAMI NC affiliates, behavioral health coalitions, civic and interfaith groups, the NC Practice Improvement Collaborative (NC PIC) on Community Inclusion, and representatives from statewide consumer and family advisory committees (CFACs). Key state agency and LME/MCO representatives also will be recruited. I2i is expected to organize and facilitate at least four regional meetings that will share the tenets of community inclusion and establish implementation workgroups. Sustainability of this project will be emphasized, and participants will be encouraged to create a structure to support their goals over time.