RUMFORD — Adults dealing with mental illness or those with questions about it, mental health care and recovery services are urged to attend Wednesday’s Consumer Council System of Maine’s Local Council meeting. It will be held from 10 to 11:45 a.m. Aug. 18 in the old Veterans Administration building at 209 Lincoln Ave.

Light refreshments are provided, along with mileage reimbursements for consumers. The meeting is open to anyone, not just Rumford residents.

Local council member Charlie Ames said Thursday that the Rumford council, which meets monthly every third Wednesday, will also answer questions about state budget cuts, transportation, medication and housing.

The Consumer Council System of Maine was formed almost 20 years ago to provide an effective, independent consumer voice in an advisory capacity in the development of public policy and resource allocation, Ames said.

Whereas the system’s Rumford Local Council started last fall in the old VA building and is still being developed, only a few people attend regularly. That’s why Ames said he doesn’t think many people know they have this “tool” to use to advocate on their behalf.

“I’m trying to raise awareness of this opportunity,” Ames said. “I’d just like more people in the community to be aware of this.

“Everybody’s aware of the bad things that happen not only around the state but also the country, but I’d like to help people be aware of the good things that happen, that are a product of the actions and the work of people with mild to severe mental illness.”

He said the state council system and local councils are responsible for providing feedback on policies, procedures, laws and proposals dealing with mental health, to the state, the governor, the Department of Health and Human Services commissioner, the Office of Adult Mental Health Services, and Office of Consumer Affairs.

They give consumers a voice so they can communicate their needs on issues directly impacting their lives.

“The purpose of the council is to kind of be a watchdog and influence the formation of policy, like if a policy isn’t a good one or needs to be changed, or a law that’s coming up and needs to be kept or changed, or reallocated or replaced,” Ames said.

“There are people that can utilize this. You don’t necessarily have to have an official diagnosis. This is controversial ground we’re walking on right now, but you don’t have to have receipts from going to Tri County (Mental Health) or Oxford County or St. Mary’s or Spring Harbor. You might go to somebody that’s an alternative medicines practitioner that you’ve dealt with.”

He said people may attend the meetings and bring experience, or ask questions, or bring a particular issue.

“The main thing is, this is an opportunity for people with these kinds of (mental health) difficulties to have a voice on a potential impact that might be affecting their lives or the life or lives of someone they know,” Ames said.

“I often talk about this as a lottery that everybody has won, but not everybody knows about it yet.”

For more information, contact Ames at 418-5853 or Dorie Oakes at 357-4075, or visit www.maineccsm.org.

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