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A message from Thomas Lane, NCPS, CRPS, Magellan Healthcare senior director, community and recovery supports

For November National Family Caregivers Month, we are pleased to share our e-interview with Pat Hunt, Family Run Executive Director Leadership Association FREDLA executive director, on family support organizations and how they help families who are dealing with mental health issues.

e4W: Pat, so glad to have you with us today. Tell us a little about how you came to the work of family leadership.

Pat Hunt: It’s always a pleasure to spend time with folks at Magellan. Like family leaders across the nation, my lived experience has continued to shape the pathway. As a parent, I didn’t want anyone else’s child to struggle the way mine did – or for other parents to have a similar experience as mine. I was so fortunate to have the benefit of allies in my state – other parents, people in state government, providers – all willing to be courageous and develop solutions together. I worked with 16 families across my state to develop a statewide family network with a vision toward positive change. As a family leader, I applied what I had learned from my experience as an advocate – which may be a misunderstood word today – to help other families understand the impact of policy on service array, practice, access, quality, etc. and to have the information, opportunities, skills and resources to effectively participate. This foundation took me to national organizations, such as the Federation of Families, Magellan and FREDLA.

e4W: You became the executive director at FREDLA almost two years ago. What are you passionate about in your work at FREDLA?

Pat Hunt: Family-run organizations across the nation are the bloodline of the family experience – flowing from the heart of every family they serve. THEY touch lives in amazing ways. FREDLA is here to nourish and support their work – to ensure they have the tools and support they need to be successful, viable and sustainable. That means we also help states, counties, practitioners, health plans and management organizations by providing consultation and training – because they are interdependent in achieving the positive outcomes for children, youth and their families.

e4W: What should we be looking forward to in the next year on developments in the family support field?

Pat Hunt: 2020 has taught us that the efforts of peer family support partners have been nothing short of herculean during the most challenging of times. They are innovative, dedicated and resilient. The results of FREDLA’s recent national survey will be released soon and used to inform workforce development, technical assistance, national advocacy efforts and research programs. In March, we will be hosting a national event to respond to the needs of parent peer support providers, their supervisors and the funders and management of their programs. Stay tuned, and we hope your audience will as well.

e4W: We just wrapped up National Depression and Mental Health Awareness and Screening Month in October. How are family support partners uniquely positioned to improve awareness and screening?

Pat Hunt: They, and their organizations, have direct links to families and the opportunity to provide current information and link them with resources. Our current environment of isolation and disconnection makes it ever more important for families to:

  • Be informed about things that promote mental health and well being, find new activities and develop new traditions, and have new conversations
  • Be aware of depression and what it can look like at various developmental stages, i.e. How is a six-year-old dealing with not having friends to play with for seven months? Or, how is a 13-year-old who struggled to come out of his shell through boxing adapting to being separated from the young men who support him, his “boxing family”?
  • Know that screening is for all age groups, and provide information that relates to various ages, stages and generations of families

Family support partners can be equipped with this kind of information and link families to the necessary resources.

e4W: Thank you very much for your time and sharing insights into family support organizations and resources.

About Pat Hunt: Pat Hunt is the executive director of FREDLA, the national Family Run Executive Director Leadership Association, a non-profit union of leaders of grassroots family-run organizations across the nation. Along with her lived experience as a parent, Pat brings over 25 years of experiences as an advocate for children with behavioral health needs and their caregivers. During this time, she had extensive experience overseeing both federal and state grants and served as the founding director of a family-run organization.

Pat has provided technical assistance in 42 states regarding policy issues that affect children’s behavioral health. Her skilled facilitation has helped families, state and local leadership develop and sustain best practices through local systems of care for children, adolescents and their families. Her leadership at a managed care organization advanced national recognition and solution building in arenas such as the appropriate use of psychotropic medication with children and youth, and with outcomes and efficiencies associated with preventing undue reliance on out-of-home care.

Pat’s experience includes over 10 years in a corporate leadership role at Magellan Healthcare to advance best practices for children, youth and their families, and to ensure that their experiences informed policies, practices and program development. She previously held a senior leadership position as a conduit for local grassroots experience to inform national policy decisions at the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. She has served as a VISTA Volunteer, directed a federally funded rural substance abuse prevention project, managed a statewide family-run organization, served as president of the Maine’s mental health planning council, and was the only non-state employee member invited to the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet.

Pat served as a member of the steering committee for Georgetown University’s Communities Can Leadership Academy and as faculty to several policy academies and training institutes. Pat was appointed by the president of Maine’s senate to a legislative committee charged with oversight of landmark legislation for children and youth with behavioral health challenges and is a past nominee for both the Robert Woods Johnson and Lewis Hine Awards for Service to Children and Youth.

Be sure to check out the important work of FREDLA at https://www.fredla.org/ for more on how it’s helping to build strong, sustainable family-run organizations and together influence policy and practice to support children and families.

We hope you enjoyed this feature article from the Magellan Healthcare eMpowered for Wellness November newsletter.

Access the full November newsletter

Magellan’s eMpowered for Wellness newsletter provides an in-depth look into the critical behavioral health and social issues individuals in our country are facing today. Information and valuable resources are included to help improve overall health through peer support, whole health and working toward wellness.

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