Jennifer Jones first exhibited signs of mental illness as young child, but she was not properly diagnosed until her 30s. Her high school years were very difficult and she ended up dropping out. Jennifer took a proficiency exam and started classes at community college. She did so well she was able to transfer to UC Berkeley, eventually earning her master’s degree in clinical psychology. California Department of Rehabilitation connected Jennifer to Momentum for Mental Health, and now she is the manager of Consumer Affairs in Santa Clara Mental Health Department, pursing a second master's degree in licensed clinical social work.
What motivates me? Hmm..I was motivated by my experience. The thing that got me into this whole consumer empowerment movement was that I had this bad experience. I was living in Sacramento at that time and I had a really bad restraint experience in the hospital; in the ER. Later on... when I got into the Mental Health Advocacy Project, being a patients’ rights advocate, that made me realize, “oh, that was the reason why that happened to me.” To give me a kind of compassion and understanding of what it’s like, to be there and to help other people and to give back.
It’s just to give perspective of consumers, of people knowing what it’s like to live on benefits or... knowing what it’s like to struggle to get a job or... knowing what it’s like to have symptoms and not being able to cope and do the basic functions of your life. With Department of Rehab, I feel that it was just good to have someone in my court helping me. I’m in recovery, I have a good life, I have a full life, but still struggle with my illness. It’s not like it’s gone away, it’s still there. I just have achieved a lot of things and I do a lot of things.