Each One Teach One
June Jackson Christmas '45-4, M.D., founded the Harlem Rehabilitation Center, an innovative community-based psychiatric rehabilitation program that hired and trained local residents as change agents in mental health roles. The local residents—many of whom had been on or were on welfare, some of whom were ex-offenders—were trained to help discharged patients maneuver the health-care and welfare systems, advocate for patients, provide mental health support and counseling, conduct rehabilitative group activities and pre-vocational training, and facilitate patients' reentry into the community.
As the mental health workers helped these former in-patients, the workers were themselves helped to function successfully in the world of work, to gain a greater sense of productivity and commitment to their own communities and families, and to move up a career ladder as paraprofessionals or professionals in human services. From 1964-72, as principal investigator on research projects totaling nearly $2 million with lead funding by the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Christmas proved the effectiveness of this approach, which has since been replicated in many health and human services organizations.
VQ Winter 2002
Photo credit: VQ