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From: "Mental Illness Policy Org" <office@mentalillnesspolicy.org>
Subject: Eliminate SAMHSA and other news
Date: July 19th 2011

Following is news from Mental Illness Policy Org. Please share widely

1. Kendra's Law Improvements Fail in NYS
2. NY consumer "empowered" to refuse treatment commits suicide
3. NAMI Conference Report
4. NY Congressman Charlie Rangel asked to investigate SAMHSA
5. Seroquel warning.
6. Twitter
7. Dr sues for "discrmination" (rather than complaining about "stigma") and wins
8. Mental Illness in Africa/Antidepressants in America
9. Sign petition to save Jared Loughner
10. NJ Governor Christie orders elderly mentally ill to leave hospital
11. How to eliminate stigma

Kendra's Law Improvements Fail in NYS
State Senator Catherine Young and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther proposed a bill that would have closed loopholes in Kendra's Law, NYS's Assisted Outpatient Legislation. It had overwhelming support in the media and massive support from legislators, Fantastic work done educating legislators by advocates like Marsha Mann (Buffalo) and Buffalo NAMI. In addition Pat Scimone (who's untreated mentally ill brother was killed by police); Vanessa Bellucci (whos untreated mentally ill brother killed both her parents); and Michael Biasotti (VP of NYS Chiefs of Police) wrote terrific op-eds calling on legislature to pass the bill.

NAMI/NYS and the Treatment Advocacy Center sat the 2011 battle out after the failure to make bill permanent in 2010. That left the field open to the other side who made personal visits to legislators. On the other (successful) side were OMH funded Mental Hygiene Directors, OMH funded trade associations (NYAPRS) and radical members of the consumertocracy. By spreading misinformationand knowingly wrong information, they were able to defeat this bill which would have required them to stop sending the seriously ill to the end of the line. Assemblyman Felix Ortiz would not let the Assembly MH Committee consider it.

A big thank you to all the following NYS legislators who supported the legislation: Peter Abbate, Thomas Abinanti, James Alesi, Carmen Arroyo, William Boyland, Nancy Calhoun, Robert Castellie, John Ceretto, James Conte, Clifford Crouch, Michael DenDekker, John DeFrancisco, Dennis Gabryszak, Aileen Gunther, Marty Golden, Ellen Jaffee, Hakeem Jeffries, Tony Jordan, Mark Johns, Tom Kirwan, George Latimer, Donna Lupardo, William Larken, Alan Maisel, Margaret Markey, David McDonough, George Miarz, John McEneny, Steven McLaughlin, Grace Meng, Donald Miller, Joan Millman, Amy Paulin, Nick Perry, Audrey Pheffer, Gary Pretlow, Annie Rabbit, Andrew Raia, Robert Reilly, Peter Rivera, Samuel Roberts, Annette Robinson, Joseph Saladino, Michelle Schimel, Mark Schroeder, Fred Thiele, Matthew Titone, Harvey Weisenberg, Catherine Young, Kenneth Zebrowski

2. NYS Consumer "empowered" to refuse treatment commits suicide.
Fortunately the family is suing the hospital for their failure to invoke Kendra's Law to prevent this needless death.

3. NAMI Conference Report
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (disclosure: I used to be on board) held their annual conference in Chicago earlier this month.

I missed the presentation by Dr. Thomas Insel, head of NIMH. NIMH was well-known for wasting money on research that was not related to serious mental illness (mating habits of birds anyone?). But under Dr. Insel, their research portfolio has become a lot more focused.

I did get to see the presentation of Pete Earley, author of Crazy, who writes a terrific blog and is a great speaker. NAMI had him interview NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick in front of the audience. It was an effective format. Earley tried (gently) to press Fitzpatrick on what we should do about Laughner types, "Do we deny an asoociation between mental illness and violence for fear of stigma?" Early asked. Fitzpatrick was vague saying we have to do more education. "It seems that NAMI is focusing more on reforming the criminal justice system (CIT, MH Courts, etc) than the MH system. Is that right place for us?" Fitzpatrick was vague. What is difference between NAMI and MHA, Earley asked. Fitzpatrick was definitive: "NAMI focuses on serious mental illness". It's a great answer, but don't think it reflects reality. I kind of think NAMI and MHA will eventually merge. The difference whereby NAMI advocated for the seriously ill and MHA all others, has largely disappeared.

NAMI Counsel Ron Honburg ran a brilliant session on how to start a mental health court diversion program on a dime and NAMI Legislative Leader Andrew Sperling created a fab session on the impact of Medicare reform. The rest of conference was not so good. NAMI is populated by aging parents--heros who are on front line of taking care of MI kids-but don't have time or energy left to change system. In fact, NAMI couldn't get enough people to run to fill the empty seats on the board. The workshops were generally softball.

4. Congressman Charlie Rangel asked to investigate SAMHSA
I had the opportunity to ask my Congressman, Charlie Rangel a question at his Town Hall meeting earlier this evening.

I told him, with the budget deficit in mind, that there are people with serious mental illness on our streets eating out of dumpsters, who can't get help, because the mental health system only wants to treat high functioning people with mental "health" issues versus people with truly serious mental "illness". SAMHSA spends money to prevent the most seriously mentally ill from getting treatment and wastes much of the remainder on those who need services the least. I believe eliminating SAMHSA will save taxpayers money and improve care for people with serious mental illness. I pointed out that The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency is the worst. Congressman Rangel said Mental health is a big issue. America doesn't know how big a problem mental health is. People won't talk about it. When he was a kid it was you were depressed, or whatever. He mentioned members of the military not getting evaluated before they leave.

My feeling was that Congressman Rangel, like most Americans, does not understand that the billions going to 'mental health' services is not going to the seriously mentally ill. How could he? SAMHSA alone gives out $3 billion to make the worried-well worry less, and the recipients tell Congress all is well, they just need more money. Meanwhile the seriously mentally ill are left to fend for themselves and eat out of dumpsters.

Dr. Fuller Torrey, the nation's leading schizophrenia researcher, recently wrote a terrific article, Bureaucratic Insanity, that exposed some of SAMHSA's waste and efforts to prevent treatment. He also recorded a short video on problems at SAMHSA.

5. Twitter
You can follow us on Twitter: @mentalillPolicy. But I also strongly suggest you follow @psychlaw who is doing a terrific job distributing the most important information that is affecting the quality of care received by the most seriously ill.

6. Seroquel Warning for heart patients

Dr sues for discrimination, rather than bemoan 'stigma"
A Canadian doctor, rather than complaining about 'stigma', sued for 'discrimination'. He won $100K. I wish American advocates would follow this approach Read about "Stigma vs. Discrimination"

7. Mental Ilness in Africa/Antidepressants in America One of the tenets of the anti-treatment consumertocracy is that in Africa people with mental illness are cured by spirituality. This article examines and destroys that myth. Relatedly the NY Times did an article debunking the myth that anti-depressants don't work

9. Petition to save Jared Lougner
Jared Lougner was not aware he was ill due to his illness. The law prevents such individuals from being treated until after they are danger to self or others. Loughner accomplished that by shooting Gabrielle Giffords. A petition is now circulating to ask that he not be given death sentence.

10. NJ Governor Christie joins anti-treatment movement
Governor Christie announced that he will balance budget by closing Hagedorn hospital that provides care for elderly individuals with mental illness. A short moving video on effect of closing was created.

11. How to eliminate stigma forever
Dr. Fuller Torrey wrote an article in Schizophrenia Bulletin on how to eliminate stigma. His premise, (like that of the Surgeon General) is that violence causes stigma and by reducing violence we can reduce stigma. The article is not online, but you can see a synopsis on Huffington Post

DJ Jaffe
Executive Director
Mental Illness Policy Org.

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