A street reporter spends the vast majority of his time talking about endings. Sure, the language is active – live, breaking, happening now – but he’s really telling you about outcomes. The outcome of an angry ongoing conflict is a headline-grabbing murder. A devastating fire might be the end result of a careless smoker dozing-off one too many times with a red-tipped cigarette dangling from her lips. The crumpled remains of a sports car littering a residential street at two in the morning represent the culmination of a night of drinking combined with youthful hubris. For 23 years, prior to coming to Netsmart, I reported on endings for news radio stations in San Francisco, Kansas City, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
I worked downstream.
In my last year of reporting before putting the microphone away, I stood on the bank of the Anacostia River watching across the water as a helicopter descended near the roof of a D.C. Navy Yard building to pick up victims and to lower police after a mentally ill gunman went on a rampage that claimed 12 lives. Another morning in the pre-dawn hours I stood in a middle class neighborhood watching as the second floor window of a home intermittently lit up – an indication that a forensics team was taking pictures inside where a husband had shot his wife, then himself … the couple’s teenage children had fled the home when they heard the sounds. Months earlier at Quantico, a young soldier had killed two fellow service members before taking his own life.
While I believe that reporting has the power to bring about positive change, I had a growing desire to learn about the greater context of those stories and to address issues before they reached their natural conclusion. One of those issues? Mental health.
At Netsmart the words “hope,” “passion,” “opportunity,” and “obligation” get used a lot. Knowing that there is hope for those who are, say, mired in depression is empowering. Seeing that there’s a huge opportunity to improve the dissemination of information between behavioral and primary care providers underscores our collective obligation to streamline the system.
Recently a colleague explained that the era of electronic records, data analysis and integrated healthcare will have an impact akin to the introduction of sanitation or the adoption of anti-biotics as a treatment tool. Talk about an opportunity!
The change our client’s seek won’t come easy but a challenge is different than a conclusion. Sharing those client’s tales, our partner’s stories, and Netsmart’s vision is a pleasure because there is so much potential in spreading those meaningful words.
It’s good to be working upstream.
Kevin Patrick Allen – Netsmart Senior Writer/Editor