Coordinated Behavioral Care (CBC) values the role of volunteers and cultivates opportunities to support active participation of volunteer members comprising its Consumer Advisory Board (CAB).
CBC was launched in 2011 by innovative NYC not-for-profit behavioral health organizations to meaningfully participate in NYS’s Medicaid redesign and Value-Based Purchasing initiatives. In the following years, CBC developed a citywide Health Home, which is currently the largest of its type in NYC. CBC has launched effective gap-filling service programs for low-income New Yorkers that build on the expertise of its community-based service network. CBC “knits together” affiliated programs to holistically address individuals’ treatment and recovery needs, while assessing community deficiencies and connecting individuals to needed support.
CBC’s CAB Charter states that members “provide feedback and voice an informed perspective on issues that impact the recovery, resiliency, and rights of persons with mental illness or substance use disorders in navigating the health care industry.”
The CAB is comprised of a cross-section of volunteers from the CBC network (close to 70 agencies total) who identify as a consumer of behavioral health services, including Peers and Peer Specialists. CAB members contribute their skills, insights, and experience at monthly online meetings, and in turn, CBC uses CAB recommendations to improve care coordination practices and member-engaging supports. Meetings are co-facilitated by leadership from across CBC programs and departments.
Robert (Bob) Potter, Performance Manager at CBC and newly appointed CAB Chair, has volunteered at the National Alliance on Mental Illness of NYC (NAMI-NYC) as a leader of their peer-to-peer course and various support groups, as well as at other community-based and advocacy organizations. In a recent NAMI-NYC video, Bob shares that “NAMI-NYC programs have made a real difference in my life, starting from when I was first a participant, 15 years ago.”
Thanks to CAB volunteer members’ input, the CAB has completed several important projects including:
- Extensive revisions to the Adult Health Home comprehensive assessment used with all members at intake and periodically thereafter, to include person-centered language and reflect greater member diversity. The revised assessment is now incorporated in the Health Information technology (HIT) platform used by CBC and several other Designated Lead Health Homes.
- Identified barriers to online resources under quarantine and made available 60 pieces of computer equipment including used laptops, PCs, monitors, and keyboards for Health Home members’ at-home learning, job development, and telehealth needs.
- Contributed their lived experiences to CBC’s Pathway Home™ research to reduce their members’ hospital readmissions.
- Reviewed member-facing brochures and materials to ensure person-centered services and full inclusion.
- Provided valuable feedback on training topics for continued workforce development.
CAB Members Vanessa Brockman and Yuriy Schneiderman have participated in nearly all CAB meetings in 2021. Vanessa, Certified Peer Specialist at The Jewish Board, commented “Volunteering is wherever you turn, even if it is a little thing, doing something for which there is no pay, just the privilege of helping others.” Yuriy, HARP Specialist at Interborough Developmental & Consultation Center (IDCC), also noted that “Volunteering on the CAB has broadened my horizons and enabled me to better assist people in need.”
Robert Potter is a mental health professional working as Performance Manager at Coordinated Behavioral Care, a Lead Health Home. Prior to joining CBC in 2018, he worked as Data Analyst and Peer Supervisor with a CBC network Health Home Care Management Agency. He joined that agency in 2011, supporting direct care as a Peer Specialist with the CMA’s SAMHSA-funded onsite integrated medicine clinic. He considers himself fortunate to pass along the support he received in his recovery from a mental health diagnosis, and as a volunteer at NAMI-NYC and other advocacy organizations. He can be contacted at email@example.com.