Laurie Hallmark

Advocating for people with serious mental illness

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About Laurie Hallmark

Mental Health Lawyer, Laurie Hallmark, is committed to providing representation and advocacy for people with serious mental illness to ensure that they can access critically important support and services to live integrated lives within their communities. By developing highly personalized Psychiatric Advance Directives (PADs)—the foundation for self-determination based advocacy—Laurie is providing a mechanism to address the underlying issues leading to the cycle of incarceration, hospitalization and homelessness recidivism. Laurie is the Special Project Director for Mental Health Programs for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid which serves sixty-eight counties in the state of Texas, from Austin to El Paso and the entire border region. Through a commitment to human and civil rights for people with serious mental illness, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s Mental Health Programs seek to invert the system’s power structure, making it accountable to the human beings it exists to serve. Currently, Laurie is an advisor to the state of California on the use of psychiatric advance directives.

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About This Talk

Many years have passed since the broad scale deinstitutionalization of long term mental health care, but have these institutions really gone away? Laurie Hallmark, Mental Health Rights Defender, argues that deinstitutionalization simply turned old institutions into new ones — shifting those with serious mental illness from long term hospital care into homelessness, short term hospital commitments, and the criminal justice system. At its core, Laurie suggests, the systems in place to support those with mental illness have failed. Currently, the system takes a one size fits all approach, rather than recognizing the needs of individuals and using "sensible reality solutions'' to meet folks where they are. Laurie has developed highly personalized Psychiatric Advance Directives (PADs) to support those with serious mental illness from a place of understanding, advocacy, and compassion.

With a human-centric approach, Laurie believes that the mental health system can be inverted to develop sustainable solutions that integrate those with serious mental illness into our society. Learn more about her approach by watching her TEDMED 2020 Talk "Advocating for people with serious mental illness".

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