BGSU alumnus to address important mental health issues

William Harper


BOWLING GREEN, O.–One of Bowling Green State University’s Prominent Alumni is the featured speaker for the College of Health and Human Services Centennial Homecoming Lecture on Friday, Oct. 1.

William P. Harper, a 1976 graduate and one of the 100 Most Prominent Alumni recognized as part of the University’s centennial celebration, will discuss the impact of health care reform on consumer empowerment in the mental health field. Joining him will be a guest panel comprised of mental health professionals and three consumers who will share their experiences.

The presentation runs from 8:45 a.m. to noon Friday in 228 Bowen-Thompson Student Union. There is no cost to attend the presentation and three continuing education credits are offered for counselors, marriage and family therapists, nurses, psychologists, rehabilitation counselors, social workers and substance abuse counselors. 

Interest in the topic stems from major national policy and advocacy initiatives that have called for the support and development of opportunities for consumers of mental health services to use their experience of recovery to benefit their peers. The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health noted, “Recovery-oriented services and supports are often successfully provided by consumers through consumer-run organizations.”

Continuing the momentum gained by mental health consumers and the recovery movement in the last 20 years will require trained and engaged consumer leaders who can advocate effectively in the context of national health insurance reform and budget deficits. Harper’s presentation will review the rise of the mental health consumer movement, methods of empowering consumer leaders and evaluate possible future scenarios for self-care and peer support as a central part of an effective mental health system.

Harper was trained as a social worker at BGSU and Ohio State University. He became interested in the field when serving as a drug abuse hotline volunteer from 1974-76. His career includes five years in the state hospital system as a clinician, supervisor and department head. From 1983-87, he gained valuable experience in understanding the human capacity for recovery from disabilities as the program director of a vocational rehabilitation center.

From 1987-2007, Harper served as executive director of three different county behavioral health authorities in Ohio. His assignments took him from rural, primarily agricultural settings to urban, economically challenged areas. During this time he served in a variety of leadership positions with local, state and national service and advocacy organizations. He was recognized as “Administrator of the Year” by Ohio Advocates for Mental Health in 1999 and 2007. Governor Ted Strickland appointed Harper as assistant director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health in 2007. He retired in July after 33 years of public service and accepted a position as executive director of The United Way of Greater Lorain County.
 
RSVPs are required by emailing jawagne@bgsu.edu. The event is co-sponsored by the College of Health and Human Services and the Center of Excellence for Health and Wellness Across the Lifespan.

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(Posted September 28, 2010 )