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Look Inside Young Adult Road Map

3 Guiding Star Point

3 Guiding Star Point Three: Build Relationships Getting Help from Advocacy Groups Family advocacy organizations can help with advice or letter-writing. In some cases, a member of an organization will go with you to a meeting or appointment. One of the most useful family advocacy organizations is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which has affiliate groups all over the nation. Many NAMI affiliates also offer free classes and support groups for parents. Go to to find the closest affiliate. Another excellent source of help are chapters of the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. Go to to find one near you. What to Do When Someone’s Not Listening Sometimes, no matter what you do, a relationship isn’t working. However, it is not always easy to switch to a new person in certain agencies or clinics. You may have limited choices. There are still ways to navigate the situation. Here are five strategies that may help: 1. If you have a problem with a provider, first talk to him or her about it before going to someone higher up in the agency. Listen to the provider, and politely insist the provider listen to you. If the problem is resolved, thank the provider. If you are not satisfied, take your concern to the next level by asking to speak with a supervisor. Ask to speak with a person higher up if necessary. 2. If you are still not satisfied, file a grievance (written complaint) with the agency, government authority, or behavioral health organization. You can usually learn about grievance procedures by going to the agency’s website. You can also ask a family advocacy agency to help you. (Note: In most states, there are special agencies that help people with complaints about state health insurance/Medicaid.) 3. In your complaint (written statement of what happened) include dates, names of those involved, witnesses, and specific details. Stick to the facts. Write what happened, not what you think or feel about what happened. 4. If your complaint involves serious wrongdoing by the provider (such as anything that may be a crime or cause you serious physical or emotional harm), do not wait. Report this to a trusted person and the provider’s supervisor immediately. Give details, including the day, time, and facts concerning what was said and done. Write down these details. Also write down the name or names of those you informed about this incident, along with the date and time. 5. If something didn’t work out with a provider, take some time afterwards to think about or discuss with someone: What went wrong? Did I have other options? Is there some other strategy I might want to use next time? 40

Practicing Assertiveness The way you speak, move, dress, and react can affect how you are treated by providers. Assertiveness experts offer these tips on getting results at an appointment or meeting: l Project the right image. l Dress neatly. l Shake hands firmly. Make strong eye contact. l Take time to organize records and paperwork. l Sit or stand in an upright but relaxed way. Keep your body still and relaxed. Fidgeting will make you seem uneasy or lacking in confidence. l If you feel nervous, practice what you want to say ahead of time. l Speak with confidence. l State clearly and calmly what you believe to be true (“I think that... I feel that...”). l Speak up in a strong tone of voice without asking for permission or making apologies. l Don’t try to attack, bully, blame, or shame the other person. Your goal is to solve problems, not win arguments. l Listen to the other person carefully. Show you are listening by wearing an alert, attentive expression. l Refer to the other person’s point of view when you give a different opinion (“I understand that you feel...,but I believe...”). l When you honestly agree with the person, say so. A little stroking never hurts (“Yes, that seems like a good idea.”). l Don’t raise your voice. If you aren’t satisfied, say so politely but firmly. Make suggestions. Ask for ideas. l Do NOT text while talking with others. It makes you look like you are avoiding the conversation or not paying attention. Show you expect results l Before you leave the room, briefly sum up the discussion, describing what each person has agreed to do (action items) in a certain amount of time. Follow up on those items in the agreed upon time. l State decisions in terms of “we” and “us” (“So, as I understand it, we’ve decided to...”). Remember, you are the other vote in the room. l If you think the other person may not clearly understand or stick to the agreement, send a note that sums up the decisions made in your meeting, or get a person you trust to help you with this, if necessary. Keep a copy for your files. In case of a conflict, this letter becomes part of the record to help you get results. 41