Kansas City Based Business Uses Arts and Advocacy to Address Massive Mental Health Budget Cuts in Missouri and Kansas
U.S. Olympic Team Member Corinna West is founding an advocacy business to tackle the rapidly diminishing funding in the mental health system. Wellness Wordworks offers motivational speaking, spoken word poetry, and innovative programs that enable people to find fun community connections to prevent and heal from extreme emotional experiences.
Kansas City, Missouri, January 15, 2010. Currently both the states of Missouri and Kansas are undergoing extensive cuts to their mental health system budgets. Wellness Wordworks uses spoken word poetry and motivational speaking to inspire new approaches that reduce mental health costs by increasing prevention and recovery.
Peer support, alternatives to hospitalization, call in support lines, and other services are now provided in both states by people who are themselves in recovery from mental health diagnoses. These are new research proven practices that can dramatically reduce mental health costs, but are currently not widely used. Instead, we are funding crisis-based services in jails, hospitals, nursing homes, and homeless shelters, which can cost up to 40 times as much as community based mental health care. The current system is also hampered by an over-reliance on very expensive medication that may not be as effective as advertised by pharmaceutical companies.
The business offers eight programs like the federally funded Poetry for Personal Power, which is hosting ten open mic poetry contests at universities across Missouri to encourage young adults to share how they have overcome adversity in their life. The program also sponsors a rolling bicycle based health fair display booth. This helps people to support themselves and each other by practicing wellness tools like meditation, spirituality, exercise, gardening, and of course poetry.
The Chocolate Fairy, another Wellness Wordworks program, gives away free high quality chocolate to start conversations about sugar addiction, stress eating, moderation versus abstinence, exercise, and positive self-support strategies.
“I like to encourage other people to have fun and build themselves a new place in the world,” says Wellness Wordworks founder Corinna West. “When people can find groups that share activities, then they can let their guard down, be accepted, and contribute positively to something larger than themselves. This is one of the best ways to recover from mental health diagnoses.”
Wellness Wordworks uses art to reach people’s hearts to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with mental illness. Corinna West is herself a person in recovery from schizophrenia and PTSD. “When I was so terribly ill, I would have waved a magic wand and made my diagnosis go away,” she says. “But now that I have walked through the fire and come out the other side a stronger and more compassionate person, I’m glad I’ve had those experiences. We need more people that are proud to share their difficulties so they can help others get through the valleys.”
Wellness Wordworks is a blend between a non-profit and for-profit business, with funding coming from earned income as well as grants and donations. The business is having a launch party as part of Jazz Poetry Jams, the American Jazz Museum’s monthly spoken word poetry and improvisational jazz event. This is Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm at the Blue Room at 18th and Vine. (1616 E. 18th Street, KCMO).
Contact: Corinna West
corinnawest816 at gmail.com, Eight One six 392-6074