Monday, September 30, 2013

"What happened to my son was predictable and preventable," she said. "I've always said a mother's love is going to change this. I have prayed all the time that goodness would come out of my son's story."

"If my son had autism I could advocate for him and get services," said Palafox, a nurse. "If my mother had Alzheimer's I could advocate and get services for her. I had to wait for him to deteriorate to the point that I could legally take his rights away in conservatorship and that occurred only after the charges." - Mary Palafox

Mary is a fellow "mom advocate" in California.  Read her entire story here: The tipping point for mental illness

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dr. Torrey speaks out on 60 Minutes: When Schizophrenia Leads to Violence.

Untreated Illness an Imminent Danger?

How many of the recent mass shootings in the U.S. were preventable tragedies, symptoms of a failing mental health system? Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes reports.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


60-minuesDon't miss Treatment Advocacy Center founder Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and correspondent Steve Kroft in "Imminent Danger," the fall premiere of 60 Minutes this Sunday, September 29. Airing in most markets at 7 pm on CBS.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Deadly Force - Police & the Mentally Ill: A must-read series in the Portland Press Herald.

    Five separate fatal shootings of mentally ill people by Maine police in 2011 prompted the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram to examine law enforcement's use of deadly force. Since 1990, police have fired on 101 people, many of them mentally ill, and in every case the state attorney general ruled that the shooting was justified. The newspaper sought to find out why so many mentally ill Mainers were being shot and whether the outcomes were avoidable. The investigation, involving hundreds of interviews and thousands of pages of documents, revealed that Maine and the rest of the country have failed to employ methods or invest in training that could defuse life-threatening situations with mentally impaired people.

Read the Four Part Series here:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

“Police officers are not mental health workers, and forcing them into that role is illogical, unfair and implicitly dangerous,” says the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Don’t Blame the Police

(Sept. 26, 2013) “Inevitably, news that the shooter in the Navy Yard rampage killings had called Newport police in a delusional state barely a month before the rampage that left 13 dead in Washington raised the question: ‘Were the Rhode Island police to blame?’” the Treatment Advocacy Center asks in a Providence Journal op-ed (“Navy Yard shooting reveals flaw in RI law,” Sept. 25).
justifiable homicideThe answer, we conclude, is “No.”
“Police officers are not mental health workers, and forcing them into that role is illogical, unfair and implicitly dangerous,” we say.
What is the role of mental illness in the 67% increase of “justifiable homicides” resulting from an attack on a law enforcement officer – commonly involving a person with untreated mental illness – we ask in our latest study, “Justifiable Homicides by Law Enforcement Officers,” issued this week with the National Sheriffs’ Association.
“The transfer of responsibility for persons with mental illness from mental health professionals to law enforcement officers … harms both the patients and the officers,” we conclude.
How many Americans live in communities where law enforcement officers likely to be pressed into duty as first-responders in psychiatric crisis get specialized Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) education and training to handle these emergencies? Less than half, our state survey, “Prevalence of Mental Health Diversion Practices,” reported in August.
A Canadian law enforcement official recently summed up the problem nicely. “We went from the agency of last resort to the mental-health service agency of first resort,” Jim Chu, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, told the National Post in Canada. “And that’s wrong. That’s failing those who are mentally ill and who deserve better care” (“Police should not be front-line on mental health” (August 21).
They do deserve better care. But as long as we continue leaving their care to law enforcement, we will continue failing them – and are in no position to blame the police.
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FBI report released: Law Enforcement Shares Findings of the Investigation into the Washington Navy Yard Shootings

There are multiple indicators that Alexis held a delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic waves. The etching of “My ELF weapon!” on the left side of the receiver of the Remington 870 shotgun is believed to reference these electromagnetic waves. In addition, a document retrieved from his electronic media stated, “Ultra low frequency attack is what I’ve been subject to for the last 3 months, and to be perfectly honest that is what has driven me to this.”
Read the complete report here:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Results of joint study released today between Treatment Advocacy Center & National Sheriff's Association sends a LOUD and CLEAR message to Tennessee: ENACT & USE AOT LAWS!


As a consequence of the failed mental illness treatment system, an increasing number of individuals with untreated serious mental illness are encountering law enforcement officers, sometimes with tragic results. “Justifiable homicides,” in which an individual is killed by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty, may occur when criminals are being pursued, as in a bank robbery, or when an officer is threatened with a weapon, in other situations. We assessed available data on justifiable homicides between 1980 and 2008 and found the following:
- Although the total number of justifiable homicides decreased by 5% between 1980 and 2008, those resulting from an attack on a law enforcement officer increased by 67%, from an average of 153 to 255 such homicides per year.
- Although no national data is collected, multiple informal studies and accounts support the conclusion that “at least half of the people shot and killed by police each year in this country have mental health problems.”
- There are suggestions that many of the mentally ill individuals who were shot were not taking their medications. Some of them were also well-known to the law enforcement officers from previous encounters.
- Studies suggest that approximately one-third of the shootings by law enforcement officers results from the victim attempting to commit “suicide-by-cop.”
- The transfer of responsibility for persons with mental illness from mental health professionals to law enforcement officers is both illogical and unfair and harms both the patients and the officers.

In view of these conditions, it is recommended that:
1. The Department of Justice resolve to collect more complete and detailed information on justifiable homicides.
2. Mental health agencies be clearly assigned the ultimate responsibility for the care of persons with mental illness in their communities and held accountable for providing it.
3. More widespread use be made of assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) under which atrisk individuals who meet criteria established by the state are court-ordered to remain in treatment as a condition of living in the community – in the 45 states where it is authorized.
4. The five states without AOT laws on their books (Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Tennessee) enact and use them.

Untreated severe mental illness is an increasing factor in officer-involved homicides, according to a new joint study released today by the Treatment Advocacy Center with the National Sheriffs’ Association.

Untreated severe mental illness is an increasing factor in officer-involved homicides, according to a new joint study released today with the National Sheriffs’ Association.
Justifiable Homicides: What is the Role of Mental Illness?” reports that, while the total number of incidents classed as “justifiable homicides” decreased from 1980-2008, the number resulting from an attack on an officer increased by 67%. At least half the people shot and killed by police each year are believed to have mental health problems, the report said.
“The responsibility of law enforcement officers for seriously mentally ill persons has increased sharply in recent years and is continuing to increase,” the authors wrote. “Inevitably, the increasing number of confrontations between law enforcement officers and persons with serious mental illness leads to some unfortunate outcomes. Among the most tragic are officer-related shootings of the mentally ill individuals, many of which are fatal.”
The report makes three recommendations for decreasing the number of justifiable homicides associated with severe mental illness. 
  • Collect better data in order to increase information about the issue.
  • Return the responsibility for individuals with serious mental illness to the mental health system.
  • Use assisted outpatient treatment (AOT).
 “Justifiable homicides involving people with untreated mental illness are a symptom of our failed mental illness treatment system,” said Doris A. Fuller, executive director. “Fewer officers would come under attack and fewer people with mental illness would die from these encounters if more people with mental illness were getting the treatment they need when they need it.”
Read the full report on our website dedicated to Treatment Advocacy Center research and reports.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Excellent Series in the Post Gazette. Pittsburgh's Mayview & Knoxville's Lakeshore: are their closures producing similar results? Time will tell.

The approaching five-year anniversary of Mayview State Hospital's closure provided a jumping-off point for an examination of mental-health services in the five counties - Allegheny, Beaver, Greene, Lawrence and Washington - served by the hospital. 

Reporter Joe Smydo interviewed former Mayview patients who agreed to talk about how their lives had changed. He also interviewed dozens of mental-health professionals, hospital administrators and law-enforcement officials about the impact that the hospital's closing and state budget cuts have had on their work. 

The seven-month project yielded a portrait of a mental-health delivery system strained by budget cuts and debates over treatment philosophy. 

Some believe that there's still a need for Mayview.

Read more:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"We can't arrest people just because they're psychotic. No, they shouldn't be arrested any more than we'd arrest someone with a heart attack. But they should get treatment."

Doris Fuller, Executive Director of Treatment Advocacy Center, commenting tonight on NBC's Nightly News:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thanks to the persistent efforts of Congressman Tim Murphy, our Senate and House of Representatives are coming around ... “background checks do not even begin to deal with the millions of people who have a psychiatric illness and go untreated,” Murphy said. “There is a lack of inpatient and outpatient treatment options and we need to begin, finally, to deal with these problems.”

“It is unfortunate another tragedy had to occur to again show the need to strengthen mental health services in America,” said Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo. “Our bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act expands access to care and improves quality of care so people living with mental illness can get the treatment they need.”

On Wednesday, Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., similarly released a statement pressing for action on the Senate HELP mental health legislation, which included provisions of their bill (S 153) on mental health first-aid training.

“Given the clear connection between recent mass shootings and mental illness, the Senate should not delay bipartisan legislation that would help address this issue,” they said. “The Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act previously passed the Senate with near unanimous support, and we urge Leader Reid and Leader McConnell to work together to bring this bill to the Senate floor as a stand-alone bill that could be voted on and passed immediately.”

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mental Illness Policy Org: Rep. Tim Murphy Announces Important Mental Health ...

Mental Illness Policy Org: Rep. Tim Murphy Announces Important Mental Health ...: This is big news. Rep Tim Murphy (R. PA) is a former child psychologist, and head of the Mental "Health" Caucus. In spite of th...

Congressman Murphy Presents His Mental Health Reform Agenda

Seattle mayor "gets it".

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn called untreated mentally ill people on Seattle’s streets an emergency at a Monday news conference and called for increased funding for mental-health treatment beds.
McGinn said an effort to fund mental health services in the 2011 Legislature through repeal of an out-of-state sales tax exemption was defeated by business. The mayor called on the Seattle business community, which has been critical of his inaction on downtown crime, to help identify a funding source to support additional treatment beds.
“This is a longstanding issue for the city, the county and the state,” McGinn said, adding that he wanted people to feel safe downtown.
Read about it here:  McGinn calls untreated mentally ill on Seattle streets an ‘emergency’: News, weather, traffic, events and photos from the City Desk at The Seattle Times.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"It is now clearly established that people with severe mental illnesses who are being treated are no more dangerous than the general population. But some with severe illnesses who are not being treated are more dangerous. Therefore, if we ensure treatment for those who are known to be potentially dangerous, we may not eliminate mass killings but we would reduce them significantly. ~ Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2012

There are many good reasons to improve gun control in the United States, including the obscene firepower available in many weapons. But better gun control will do little to prevent many mass killings, such as occurred last week in Newtown, Conn. Even if you ban guns completely, there are many alternative weapons available for use by untreated severely mentally ill persons who are so inclined.

Knives, for example. On the same day Adam Lanza killed 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Min Yingjun stabbed 22 children at an elementary school in central China. Similar assaults using knives killed about 20 and wounded more than 50 children in China last year. Almost all the attacks were carried out by severely mentally ill men. So maybe we should ban knives.

What about cars? In 1999 Steven Abrams, diagnosed with schizophrenia, drove his car onto a school playground in California, killing two young children. He had been hospitalized for psychiatric problems and had talked of killing children. Also in California, Marie West, diagnosed with bipolar disorder and with 19 previous hospitalizations, intentionally ran over an elderly man in 2000. The following year David Attias, diagnosed with bipolar disorder and previously hospitalized, drove his car onto a sidewalk in the Golden State, killing four and injuring nine. He then got out of his car and said he was an "angel of death." Perhaps we should ban cars as well.

The heart of this problem is not the availability of weapons but the abundance of individuals with severe mental disorders who are not being treated.

Severe mental disorders are defined by the National Advisory Mental Health Council as including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, autism and the severe forms of major depression, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 7.7 million Americans currently qualify for the first three diagnoses, with 3.5 million of them receiving no treatment at any given time.

Among this 3.5 million, approximately 10%, or 350,000 individuals, become societal problems because of their untreated severe mental illness. According to federal statistics or academic studies, they comprise one-third of the homeless population and one-fifth of the inmates of jails and prisons, and they are responsible for at least 10% of all homicides in the U.S.

Mass killings by individuals with severe mental illness are one tragic symptom of a much larger problem. Over the past half-century, the availability of public psychiatric beds in the U.S. has decreased to 43,000 from 559,000, even as the population has increased. When individuals with severe mental illnesses are hospitalized at all, they are not kept long enough to become stabilized because of the bed shortage. Many are eventually incarcerated for petty crimes or worse.

A 2010 survey by the Treatment Advocacy Center reported that there are over three times more severely mentally ill individuals in jails and prisons than in hospitals. The problem is further exacerbated by state commitment laws that impede the hospitalization of those who resist treatment.

At this time, Adam Lanza's psychiatric diagnosis is not publicly known. Published accounts suggest that he fits into the autism spectrum, and it is known that a small number of such individuals become violent as adults. Such individuals require medications to control their behavior.

While it isn't yet known whether Lanza was being treated, it is known that Connecticut is among the worst states to seek such treatment. It has among the weakest involuntary treatment laws and is one of only six states that doesn't have a law permitting court-ordered "assisted outpatient treatment." In study after study, AOT has been shown to decrease re-hospitalizations, incarcerations and, most importantly, episodes of violence among severely mentally ill individuals.

Would we have fewer mass killings in the U.S. if we made sure that individuals with severe mental illnesses were receiving treatment? Examining the other 10 largest mass killings suggests that the answer is yes.

Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 at Virginia Tech; Howard Unruh, who killed 13 in Camden, N.J.; and Jiverly Wong, who killed 13 in Binghamton, N.Y., all had untreated schizophrenia. James Holmes, who killed 12 in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater almost certainly was severely mentally ill, but clinical information has not yet been released. George Hennard, who killed 23 in a Killeen, Texas, cafeteria, had definite paranoid thinking. Patrick Sherill, who killed 14 in an Edmond, Okla., post office, was known as "crazy Pat" by his neighbors but never formally diagnosed.

By contrast, little or no evidence of severe mental illness exists for Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 13 at a high school in Littleton, Colo.; James Huberty, who killed 21 at a McDonald's MCD +0.08% in San Ysidro, Calif.; and U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 at the Fort Hood military base in Texas. Yet Charles Whitman, who killed 14 in Austin, Texas, was found at autopsy to have a tumor in the part of the brain that controls aggression.

It is now clearly established that people with severe mental illnesses who are being treated are no more dangerous than the general population. But some with severe illnesses who are not being treated are more dangerous. Therefore, if we ensure treatment for those who are known to be potentially dangerous, we may not eliminate mass killings but we would reduce them significantly. And perhaps if we had already done so, 20 small children in Newtown, Conn., might be alive today awaiting Christmas.

The Navy Yard massacre may renew concerns over the potential dangers of mentally ill people who don't get treatment. That issue is especially hot right now in Seattle, where the mayor has called untreated mental illness an "emergency."

Preach on, Pete, preach on.

Treatment Is Our Best Hope For Stopping Senseless Violence

  navyyard   I was in Dallas giving a speech when news broke that Aaron Alexis had heard voices and appeared to have a mental illness. I was asked about the Navy Yard shooter during interviews with the local NPR affiliate at KERA radio and with the Dallas Morning News. While I always point out that persons with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of violence rather than committing it, I took a different approach in both interviews.
     I said we need to acknowledge that some individuals are dangerous but what keeps most of them from acting out is that they get meaningful treatment. I hoped to tie the need for treatment to these horrific and reoccurring tragedies.
    Fortunately, NPR’s Krys Boyd and the Dallas News’ Christina Rosales didn’t sensationalize my remarks as they easily could have.
    I am grateful to both and to Dallas MetroCare for inviting me to speak at its Meal for the Minds fundraiser. Dallas is an example of how things should be done. There is great cooperation between mental health services, the jail, the police, and the judiciary. Unlike in most cities, an individual in Dallas in the midst of a psychotic break can see a Dallas MetroCare therapist within 24 to 48 hours. Dallas MetroCare also is involved in Housing First and has recently launched SNOP — Special Needs Offenders Program– to help persons with mental illnesses who are in the criminal justice system while they are incarcerated and when they are released into the community. I’ll write more about SNOP later because it is such an impressive program, but here is what I said in my interviews.
Staff Writer Dallas Morning News
Author tells Dallas crowd mental illness like Navy Yard gunman’s can be treated
Scan the halls of a community mental health treatment center, and chances are you’ll see someone like the Navy Yard shooting suspect, author Pete Earley says.
“But they don’t go out and shoot if they get the help they need,” said the mental health advocate, who spoke Wednesday in Dallas. “That person could have been stopped from doing that if someone had gotten to him and helped him.”
Earley appeared at the annual fundraising luncheon for Metrocare Services, a 45-year-old nonprofit that serves the mentally ill and developmentally disabled and offers outpatient clinics, rehabilitative programs and homeless services.
The former Washington Post reporter has written dozens of articles about the criminal justice system and several books, including Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness. In the 2006 book, the Pulitzer finalist wrote about the American criminal justice system’s relationship with the mentally ill.
In Texas, Earley said, someone with a serious mental illness is eight times more likely to be incarcerated than find help in a psychiatric hospital. And the largest mental health facility in the state? The Harris County Jail.
“In our country, someone has to be a danger to themselves or others before there can be any intervention and before they can get treatment,” the author said.
And by that time, in some cases, it can be too late.
That was the case Monday, when 34-year-old Aaron Alexis opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, killing 12 people and injuring several others. Officials said theformer Fort Worth resident had a history of hallucinations and hearing voices.
Dr. John Burruss, chief executive of Metrocare, said the common thread connecting too many of these acts of violence is mental illness.
“There are the same stories happening,” he said. “The Navy Yard, at Virginia Tech, in Tucson. But how do we know who those people are?”
Ron Stretcher, Dallas County director of criminal justice, said that many people in jail — more than 400 every day — are awaiting behavioral health treatment. And many, once released, will be incarcerated again within a few years, he said.
“You have to do something bad to get into treatment,” Stretcher said. “We have to make it so our system in this community is welcoming and recovery-oriented.”
But Burruss believes services such as the kind Metrocare offers should and can be more accessible, whether it is through a nonprofit or another health care provider.
Of the 50,000 people treated annually by Metrocare, the majority do well, Burruss said.
“You can’t know what didn’t happen,” Burruss said about the many who don’t commit acts of violence. “We don’t hear about them not doing something. And every
day we’re helping people not do something. There’s just more to be done.”

A heart attack is an emergency. A stroke is an emergency. A symptomatic & untreated severe mental illness is an emergency. When will we learn?


Shot by a man whose hallucinations were so serious he called police in terror barely a month ago, the 12 people killed Monday at the Navy Yard in Washington September 16 are the latest victims of America’s failed mental health policies and civil commitment laws that need to be improved
aaron-alexis“This is a classic example of the failure of our mental health system – and the price we all pay for that failure,” said Doris A. Fuller. “Aaron Alexis was clearly suffering an acute psychiatric crisis. He was like a man in the grip of a terrible heart attack. But because of our dysfunctional approach to mental illness treatment and weak civil commitment laws in the state where he was deteriorating, he wasn’t treated like the victim of a severe medical emergency in need of intervention. Now 13 people including Alexis are dead, eight more are injured, and the lives of innumerable others are forever changed.”
Passage of the Community Mental Health Centers Act of 1963 and the resulting wholesale closure of public psychiatric hospitals decimated the inpatient system that once provided care for the most acutely and chronically mentally ill individuals. Today, the nation has 5% the number of public beds it had in the late 1950s, and untreated mental illness is a factor in an estimated 50% of rampage killings and 10% of all homicides. It is also a major contributor to homelessness, jail and prison overcrowding, victimization of individuals with mental illness and suicide.
Research shows that individuals receiving effective mental illness treatment are no more likely to commit violent acts than the general public, but the system for providing timely and effective treatment to those most at risk for violence has been dismantled and nothing has replaced it.
At the same time we were emptying the nation’s psychiatric hospitals, civil commitment became increasingly limited to individuals demonstrating an imminent danger to themselves or others.
Rhode Island provides a case in point. Just over a month ago, Newport, Rhode Island, police responded to a call from shooter Aaron Alexis’s hotel room, where he told officers he was being followed by someone who “had sent three people to follow him and to keep him awake by talking to him and sending vibrations to his body” via a microwave. Alexis, 34, moved to three different hotels in a single night to elude the voices and the people he believed were sending the vibrations, according to a police report.
The responding officers told Alexis to stay away from the individuals he thought were following him and concluded, “No further action was required.”
“Under the laws of some states, Alexis could have been taken to a hospital for emergency evaluation,” said Fuller, “but in the absence of violent or suicidal acts or threats, it appears he was not considered committable in Rhode Island,” which requires that an individual with mental illness demonstrate “likelihood of serious harm” to qualify for involuntary treatment.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This is Exactly Why Timely, Effective Treatment is Critical ...

Another mass shooting has been perpetrated by another mentally ill man who, every shred of my 20 years of experience as a forensic psychiatrist, tells me was under-treated or improperly treated.  
And, now, those who wish to waste our time on irrelevant arguments about gun control will argue we should focus on the weapon the man used, rather than the man himself.  
Such people are dangerous because they distract us from the real issue at hand: Our broken mental health care system and the folly of military psychiatry that focuses on making soldiers “resilient,” rather than keeping them safe from psychosis and suicide and homicide.
Read more:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Too Many Deja Vu's

Dr. E Fuller Torrey's response to the Navy Yard Shootings in the National Review:

Mass Killing at Navy Yard: Horrifying but Not Surprising

(Sept. 17, 2013) Reports that Navy Yard mass killer Aaron Alexis, 34, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia should not surprise us. Mental illness has emerged as a factor in an estimated 50% of rampage killings and 10% of all homicides since the wholesale closure of public psychiatric hospitals began a half century ago.
navy yard shooting“The federal government in 1963 dedicated itself to bringing an end to the mental health system that had provided treatment to individuals with acute or severe mental illness for the preceding 100 years,” said Doris A. Fuller, executive director. “It succeeded. Today, the nation has 5% the number of public beds we had in the late 1950s and exponentially more mass homicides, among other dreadful consequences.”
Only one mass killing occurred in the 1940s, the last decade before deinstitutionalization; 73 occurred in the 1990s. Six of the nation’s 12 deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the last six years; severe mental illness has been implicated in two-thirds of those tragedies.
Research shows that individuals receiving effective mental illness treatment are no more likely to be violent than anyone else, but the system for providing timely and effective treatment to those most at risk for violence has essentially been dismantled without being replaced. 
The Treatment Advocacy Center in 2012 called for a moratorium on state hospital bed closures until replacement facilities to meet inpatient treatment need are created. We also promote improved civil commitment standards to increase treatment access for people too ill to volunteer for treatment and the universal use of court-ordered treatment in the community – often called “assisted outpatient treatment” or “AOT” – for qualifying at-risk individuals with the most severe mental illnesses. AOT is a less-restrictive and less-costly alternative to hospitalization and to the homelessness, incarceration and other consequences that individuals with untreated severe mental illness often suffer.
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Important Focus Group for Community Members in the Great Falls, Virginia area! Please share with others.

Sept. 16, 2013

Dear Community Member:

Thank you very much for your involvement in local community activities. It's because of your commitment to the community that we are writing to invite you to participate as a volunteer in two-hour focus group meetings being held to survey opinions regarding an organizing effort revolving around mental illness. As a small token of our gratitude, a light meal will be served.

Since January 2013, a group of individuals have been meeting to discuss the possibility of creating a new national organization to address the issue of severe mental illness and its treatment. To assist the group's organizers, we are hosting a focus group of individuals from the public. The purpose of the focus group will be to provide feedback that the organizers can use to refine and finalize their organization's name and mission statement. 

Your feedback is important. Therefore, we invite you to participate in one of two focus groups to be held at Great Falls Public Library, 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls, Va., 22066 (phone: 703.757.8560).

1.   Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Focus group for individuals from the public who have not been directly affected by serious mental illness, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder, in their immediate family.

2.   Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Focus group for individuals from the public who have been directly affected by serious mental illness.

Please RSVP by Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 5 p.m., via email at if you believe you might be able to volunteer. Please include your name and phone number. We will call you for a short conversation to confirm interest and eligibility. 

If you have any questions about the focus group, please contact Asra Nomani, Focus Group Coordinator, at or304.685.2189.

If you could distribute this invitation to other members of the community, that would be much appreciated. Thank you again for your service to the community. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mental Health Court of St. Clair County, Michigan is making a difference in people's lives. A good model for Knoxville to follow.

Michael Shuler, of Port Huron, said his life had started to become a cycle of going to jail, getting out and going back again.

He has been participating in Mental Health Court for about a year. He was arrested after a domestic dispute, and deals with bipolar disorder, anxiety and agoraphobia.

“This program keeps people out of jail, and keeps people on the right path as long as you’re willing to contribute and, you know, make an effort,” Shuler said.

"The entire family was attempting to get him help."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

According to the POC's Dr. Cameron Quanbeck, it costs $250 per day to house inmates in jail, compared with $1,700 per day for hospital care.

 In March, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi testified before the Mental Health Board that the jail system had become the "default" place for people with mental illness, identifying more than 70,000 contacts with Jail Psychiatric Services in 2012 alone.

California is not the only state to turn jails into hospitals for the severely mentally ill.

Read on:  Slipping away.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

“You’ve got to get to the root of the problem: why we’re homeless.”

Evicting the Homeless is Not a Solution

(Sept. 3, 2013) Homeless people are no longer welcome on the downtown streets of Columbia, South Carolina. Earlier this week city officials unanimously approved a plan that will give homeless residents three options: go to a shelter, get out of town or go to jail.  (“South Carolina city takes steps to evict homeless from downtown,” the New York Times, Aug. 25).  
homelessness-feetThe decision was prompted by concerns from business owners who believe homeless people are a threat to their bottom lines. The thriving city has plans to develop a 181-acre campus, which ironically used to house the state’s psychiatric hospital.
But these types of “not in my backyard” policies don’t actually address the reasons why so many people are chronically homeless.
At any given time, there are many more people with untreated severe mental illness living on America’s streets than are receiving care in hospitals. People with untreated severe mental illness constitute roughly one-third of this country’s homeless population. The quality of life for these individuals is abysmal. Many are victimized regularly. One study found that 28% of homeless people with previous psychiatric hospitalizations obtained some food from garbage cans, and 8% used garbage cans as a primary food source.
Simply evicting the homeless population from Columbia will not solve the problems that many homeless people face. If the city really wants to help its bottom line and improve the lives of residents, it should focus more on providing treatment to those suffering in the streets.
“You’ve got to get to the root of the problem: why we’re homeless,” said Jaja Akair, a homeless man who spoke during a City Council session on the plan.
We agree.
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Random Act of Kindness Encourages Family of Special Needs Child

Mystery diner pays for family's dinner, leaves encouraging note - WSMV Channel 4