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Aspire Indiana Celebrates the Artistic Talents of Those We Serve

We are now accepting submissions from those we serve for Aspire’s 2nd Annual Consumer Art Show!  This year’s show is being held this Fall at our Brown Street Office Building.  

Our Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) will review the submissions and recommend selected works for purchase by Aspire. The purchased works will be permanently displayed at the Brown Street Office!

Last year’s show was a phenomenal success with lots of submissions, many of which now adorn the walls of our Willowbrook location in Indianapolis. CAC Chair Amy Graham brought us the idea of the Art Show, which she says is a reminder that everyone who needs help is “so much more than the issues that bring them to Aspire.”  As a member of the review panel, she says she looks for creativity, uniqueness, and the story that each piece tells.

Lori Boram submitted an art piece to last year’s show and later became a member of the Consumer Advisory Committee. Lori says she got lots of great feedback from consumers about her talent. She says, “It makes me feel good to know that one of my pieces is out there, letting others know that they can create and participate.”  

Aspire’s Staff Coordinator of the Consumer Advisory Committee, Mike Gray, is excited about the show, calling it “a great showcase for the diverse talents of many of our consumers.” Mike says the artwork goes on to inspire other clients and visitors to our offices and helps combat the stigma of mental illness. ”Because of stigma, sometimes people can be lead to believe that mental illness is what defines a person. With our Art Show, we get a chance to celebrate the amazing gifts and talents of our consumers. It was especially cool to see how art was such an integral part of the pathway to Recovery for many of our artists last year,” Mike says.

Consumers are invited to submit the dimensions and a photo of their art work by May 8 to cacartwork2017@aspireindiana.org.


Solutions Matter: Barbara Scott and Jim Skeel from Aspire Indiana discuss the Zero Suicide Initiative.

Lived Experience Involvement

Aspire is expanding the involvement of the voice of people with lived experience in our organizational structure.  Nationwide, health care providers are becoming more aware of the power ofincorporating this voice into service planning, delivery, and organizational decision making.  In the behavioral health arena, this is a move from separated support groups or consumer advocacy groups (such as NAMI, etc), to the employment of and reimbursement for Certified Recovery Support providers. It is a move toward incorporating consumer voices into the decision making and planning groups within an organization (workgroups, committees, boards of directors, etc).

After decades of working with external consumer advocacy groups such as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Key Consumers, The Indiana Federation for Families, and many others, in 2013 , Aspire formally chartered the Consumer Advisory Committee.  This is a committee within the organizational structure made up of people we serve.  Since it’s inception, this committee has assisted Aspire in numerous initiatives and projects, and completed projects of its own.  

The Consumer Advisory Committee was instrumental in the development of all of our clinical and new employee orientation programs. These programs allow us to deliver the message of our mission and values, philosophies of care, and the array of our services with the voice of the people we serve.  The committee also helped us in developing better communication tools to assist people as they transition into and out of our inpatient services, and allowed us to understand from firsthand experience the difficulties of this transition.  They further assisted us with a review of all aspects of our services, from how we meet new people to the physical environment in which we serve them.  All from the perspective of someone who has lived through a traumatic experience.

Our Consumer Advisors provide us with feedback on interactions between consumers and employees, thus helping to improve our customer satisfaction. They have been a tremendously important sounding board for ideas and they have provided feedback on toomany projects to name.  They have even assisted us in procuring artwork for our facilities by orchestrating an art exhibition of works created by those we serve.

Recently, we have expanded the scope of the Consumer Advisory Committee to become a hub for the lived experience involvement and guidance that we desperately seek in specific initiatives.  We are very pleased to have three individuals with lived experience assisting us on our Zero Suicide Committee, as they bring unique perspectives from the youth, recovery support and outpatient communities.  They provide a great opportunity to ensure the decisions, products and workflows generated for this initiative may impact people we serve.

Additionally, we are currently adding six people with lived experience to our Primary and Behavioral Healthcare Integration (PBHCI) workgroup.  This group is working to improve integration of care between our primary care and behavioral health care services as Aspire implements a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

written by Jim Skeel