Friday, January 31, 2014

What was missing from the State of the Union

Both Gabby Giffords and President Obama missed a prime-time opportunity to urge legislation at the root of many acts of gun violence – untreated mental illness. Obama didn’t mention mental health a single time in the official transcript.

Read the entire article here:   What was missing from the State of the Union: News, weather, traffic, events and photos from the City Desk at The Seattle Times.

Anosognia is a Lack of Awareness. It is common and it is real.

Anosognosia is a common symptom of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with psychotic features. Also called "lack of awareness" or "lack of insight," it has an anatomical basis that has been confirmed in multiple scientific studies.  The word itself comes from the Greek word for disease (nosos) and knowledge (gnosis) and literally means “to not know a disease.” It affects approximately 50 percent of individuals with schizophrenia and 40 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder and is the most common reason that individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar do not take their medications. When taking medications, awareness of illness improves in some patients.  -The Treatment Advocacy Center

In this video, learn about the condition, see how it looks and hear what is needed:

Creigh Deeds: I Am So Determined that My Son Is Not Remembered by the End of His Life

Creigh Deeds: Mental Illness Took My Son

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Columbia mall tragedy: Darion Aguilar wanted mental health help, police say |

As it turns out, yet another preventable tragedy?
In a journal recovered from his College Park home, Aguilar expressed thoughts of death and a general hatred of others. Police say his writings also included the mentions of killing people. He did not mention the victims or any specific person. Aguilar indicated that he thought he needed to see a mental health professional, but never told his family. He also mentioned using marijuana and expressed an apology to his family for what he was planning to do, police say.
Read more:
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Columbia mall tragedy: Darion Aguilar wanted mental health help, police say |

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

In SOTU Response, Rep. Murphy Urges Action On Mental Health

cid:image001.gif@01CF0C94.F4722C50Tim Murphy
U.S. Congressman for the 18th District of Pennsylvania

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Contact:, 202.225.2301

(WASHINGTON, DC) — House Energy & Commerce Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (PA-18) released the following statement regarding President Obama’s State of the Union address.
“As the President asks where we can make progress together, I can think of no better or important place to start than helping families in a mental health crisis. This is a critical healthcare need facing our nation that transcends traditional political boundaries, with overwhelming recognition that our current system is failing families and patients in need.
Specifically, I welcome him to join my efforts in advancing the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act so we can address this national emergency and rebuild the nation’s broken mental health system. The mentally ill are not separated by party label: both Republicans and Democrats universally agree on the need to reform mental healthcare. The current system is a national shame and yet there was not a single reference to it by the President tonight. By ignoring what is in the minds and focusing on what is in the hands of those who commit violent acts, the President has tragically missed the point.
The problems plaguing the mental health system, and the lack of investments and reforms we have made on behalf of the millions suffering in silence, is a national embarrassment. We’ve pushed well-meaning parents out of emergency rooms, traded hospital beds for jail cells, and allowed our streets and alleyways to become the last refuge for the seriously mentally ill. It is unethical. It is immoral.
The mentally ill are no more dangerous than anyone else, but for a certain population with untreated schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, there is an increased risk of violent behavior, resulting in 38,000 annual victims of suicide, an estimated 1,500 homicides, and countless assaults. These individuals deserve our compassion, our attention, and medical help, which is why I introduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 3717).
Tomorrow, when the President comes to Pittsburgh, I urge him to take a short detour to the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) of UPMC, the nation’s leading mental health research hospital where employees know all too well the jarring consequences of untreated illness. There, the President can listen to the physicians, the parents, and the patients who have faced the barriers, the stigma, and the flaws in the mental health system. From there, the President should visit the new BRAIN Institute at the University of Pittsburgh where the country’s top scientists are working to chart the path to better treatment and recovery.
We are at the forefront of research, care, and treatment. Let's not squander the moment. Instead of the trite grip-and-greets, let's have these words followed by meaningful action. Otherwise, words are just empty gestures of delay and ambivalence.
Now is the time to address the problems of untreated mental illness directly. Since launching my Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee review of the mental health system in January 2013, I’ve repeatedly reached out to the White House to formally engage on this issue. I once again invite the President to work with me and give hope to the millions of families teetering on the verge of tragedy because of the broken mental health system.”

“I think she often felt there was nothing there. She was just on her own with no one to help her - that’s a pretty lonely place to be.”

Taking care of an adult son with a severe mental illness who refuses medications is a lonely, desperate place to be as a single mom ... most times we are their only support and that puts us in very vulnerable, and many times dangerous, positions.

DEEP RIVER - Margaret Rohner worried about her troubled adult son not taking his psychiatric medications and told a friend he needed to be hospitalized. But she was eager to see him over Christmas and, despite earlier reservations, agreed to let him come to her home to open presents and spend the night.
The day after Christmas, the 45-year-old Rohner was viciously attacked with a fireplace poker and knife, her eviscerated body left in the living room of her Deep River home. Her 23-year-old son, Robert O. Rankin, was charged with murder.
Treatment Before Tragedy! Read the story here: 
Slain Deep River Woman Sought Psychiatric Care For Son

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A 60 Minutes Report: Nowhere to Go

"I really don't want Gus to be defined by his illness. I don't want Gus to be defined by what happened on the 19th. Gus was a great kid. He was a perfect son. It’s clear the system failed. It's clear that it failed Gus. It killed Gus."

A 60 Minutes Report:

Nowhere to Go: Mentally ill youth in crisis

Scott Pelley reports on severe shortcomings in the state of mental health care for young people in the U.S.

"So many people expect autistic people to all be the same -- that it’s a brain disorder so we can’t function in society." Alexis Wineman, Miss Montana

alexis wineman
Earlier this year, Miss Montana became the first Miss America contestant with autism to compete in the pageant. At age 11, Wineman was diagnosed with pervasive development disorder, CNN reported.
"My path may not be one that another person would choose, but I challenged myself to enter the Miss America competition because it seemed like the peak to my own personal Everest," she wrote for CNN in January. "It also seemed kind of ironic: a girl who was told she was different and considered an outcast by many, in the nation's biggest beauty pageant."
She reached the top 15 in the competition, and won the America's Choice Award,according to CNN, for garnering the most online viewer votes. "So many people expect autistic people to all be the same -- that it’s a brain disorder so we can’t function in society," she told Time. "I want people to realize there’s a whole spectrum of people who live with autism. There are high-functioning people and low-functioning people."
Read: These 8 Inspiring People Will Change The Way You Think About Autism And Asperger's

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Loudon County Sheriff's Office is asking for help in locating a missing woman who left for errand, never returned

Jan Follansbee glasses
Update: Loudon County investigators said Barbara "Jan" Follansbee was found safe at a relative's house on Sunday, January 26th. No further details were released.

Investigators say Barbara "Jan" Follansbee, 58, of Colliersville, left her mother's house on Dasher Lane in Oak Ridge Wednesday evening to go to Walmart. She never returned, and has not contacted her family.
Her family says Follansbee has been diagnosed as bipolar and has disappeared in the past. Once, she was located in Ohio after her car broke down. She does take medication, but her family doesn't know if she has it with her.
Follansbee has two daughters who live in Colliersville. Her sister, who lives in Knoxville, reported her missing. She says Follansbee was visiting her mother when she disappeared. She was wearing sweat pants, a red sweater, and red jacket. She was driving a 2008 maroon Honda Accord with license plate 718-VXR.
Anyone with any information is asked to call your local authorities or Loudon County dispatch at 865-458-9081.
Jan Follansbee

Thursday, January 23, 2014

City of Knoxville to pay homeless mentally ill man $200,000 in police beating

I learned of this incident as it all unfolded ... by a friend on Facebook.  It happened in front of her house and as her teenage son videotaped it on his cell phone.  

This concerned mother notified our Chief of Police, David Rausch, who - because of this outside tip made by a concerned citizen - did a full investigation, that eventually led to firing the officers.  

Kudos to the mother and her son for standing up for a mentally ill, homeless man and kudos to Police Chief David Rausch for his ethical actions in stopping a cover up.

Details here in the Knoxville News Sentinel:
Police Chief Praised for Halting Beating Cover Up
Background story referring to Mr. Mallicoat's history of mental illness: KPD Disciplines 7 in Beating Probe

Michael Mallicoat lies on the ground after being beaten by Knoxville Police Department officers on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013.  (COURTESY KNOXVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT)
Michael Mallicoat lies on the ground after being beaten by Knoxville Police Department officers on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. (COURTESY KNOXVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT)

Group spending nearly $500K for 'mental illness first responders'

Money well spent to educate, raise awareness and prevent future tragedies:

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A grant for nearly a half-million dollars will help train so-called mental health first responders.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

“To walk in and feel like every other person I’m interviewing is mentally ill on any given day, I can’t wrap my brain around it." - Elli Montgomery, deputy director of mental health policy For Cook County Jail.

A Glimpse Inside Cook County Jail

From the Treatment Advocacy Center:
(Jan. 22, 2014) If anyone else needs to be convinced that the United States is failing people with severe mental illness, a riveting new piece takes a close look inside Cook County Jail in Illinois where almost one-third of the inmates suffer from mental illness (“Mentally ill are often locked up in jails that can’t help,” NPR, Jan. 20).
cook county jail“To walk in and feel like every other person I’m interviewing is mentally ill on any given day, I can’t wrap my brain around it, says Elli Montgomery, deputy director of mental health policy for the jail.
“You see people who are so profoundly ill that you understand this isn’t the place for them,” Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, head of mental health, tells NPR.
Often, inmates cycle in and out of jail because of they lack support and access to medication on the outside.
"Here you have a population clearly identified as mentally ill, and you're releasing them to the street with nothing," says Sheriff Dart, who oversees Cook County Jail. “What do you think is going to happen?”
"I just find the irony so sick that that society finds it OK to put the same people in jails and prisons," Dart continues on the result of deinstitutionalization which he blames for the high number of inmates with mental illness who currently occupy his jail.
These statements highlight the sad fact that there are few places where deinstitutionalization is more evident than in our criminal justice system, where jails and prisons have replaced hospitals as the institutions housing the most psychiatric patients.
By ensuring access to treatment and recovery, individuals with mental illness will be less likely to have such a presence in our correctional systems. At the Treatment Advocacy Center we are working to make that a reality.
To comment, visit our Facebook page.
Visit our blog archive to read all our recent posts.

In wake of son’s death, Creigh Deeds makes case for reforms but meets with resistance

Read the Washington Post article here: 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Serious Brain Illness: We Can Tear Down This Wall

Wise words for today from Dr. Pippa Abston. Breaking down barriers to treatment, one brick at a time.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"Virginia is not alone in wrestling with the issue of mental illness in jails, to my knowledge, no state has solved the dilemma.”

The debate over the future of Virginia’s mental health system widened Friday to include treatment of mentally ill people in jails and long-term care of people with mental illness, not just response to psychiatric crises.
Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, once again led the charge, warning a Senate committee that the deinstitutionalization of Virginia’s mental hospitals is turning into “the reinstitutionalization of the mentally ill in jails and prisons.”
Read the article here:  Va. mental health debate widens to long-term care - Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginia News

Our view: Mental illness is not a crime - Roanoke Times: Editorials

Roanoke Times gets it right.  Listen up, Knoxville:

"Finally, the inspector general encourages localities to place a greater focus on safety and treatment of mentally ill inmates when they construct new jails or renovate existing ones. That's a sad acknowledgement that thousands of men and women will continue to struggle with the pain and terror of mental illness from behind bars for the foreseeable future.
It's also an acknowledgement that as long as state leaders refuse to do their jobs, sheriffs whose job duties aren't supposed to include psychiatric care will continue to shoulder that responsibility."
Read the entire editorial here:  Our view: Mental illness is not a crime - Roanoke Times: Editorials

Sadly, things have only gotten worse since my May 23, 2010 oped in the KNS:

Abdo Ibssa was not a monster. But the man who shot three staff members at Parkwest Hospital last month, killing one before taking his own life, lived in the grip of a monstrous disease. Severe mental illness made Mr. Ibssa believe that a doctor at Parkwest had implanted a tracking chip in his body, and propelled him to the hospital on a violent rampage.
How did we as a community allow this to happen? One might assume that Mr. Ibssa somehow slipped under the radar of an overburdened mental health care system. But the truth is even sadder.
Far from being under the radar, Mr. Ibssa was known to local authorities. According to news reports, Ibssa was accused of violently attacking a man last year, and earlier in 2010 was committed by his family to a Knoxville mental hospital. When he was deemed stable, he was released with a prescription for medication and (tragically) nothing more. After the shooting, police found the pills in his home, apparently un-utilized.
It is a pattern all too familiar to people like me, who struggle endlessly to keep a mentally ill family member out of harm's way. Our loved ones reject outpatient care, and the system does nothing to stop them until they do something to prove they are "dangerous to self and others," the standard for involuntary hospitalization.
Eventually they are released to repeat the heartbreaking cycle, unless of course their dangerous behavior included a violent crime. Then they get years of free mental health care in a prison cell.
The root of the problem is that many people with severe mental illness are incapable of recognizing that they are sick and in need of treatment. The clinical term is anosognosia, or lack of insight. In the minds of those who suffer from it, there is nothing wrong with them. When left on their own in the community, they stop taking medication.
While people with mental illness on the whole are no more violent than the general population, untreated severely mentally ill individuals are a different story. Studies show that untreated severe mental illness is among the most reliable predictors of future violence. And yet when an outpatient goes "off meds" in Tennessee, families and caregivers must stand by helplessly, knowing with certainty that dangerous behavior is around the corner, but legally powerless to prevent it.
In most states, a legal tool known as "assisted outpatient treatment" (AOT) is a potential solution. Under an AOT law, a mental health official or family member can seek a court order, requiring a severely mentally ill person to comply with treatment as a condition of remaining in the community. The purpose of the court order is not to punish the person if they should happen to stray off treatment. Quite the contrary. It is to ensure that the person's condition is constantly monitored, and to give authorities the legal right to help as soon as treatment non-compliance is detected.
These laws have been found to dramatically improve outcomes for patients. In New York, researchers have documented steep declines in rates of homelessness, hospitalization and incarceration.
Tennessee is one of only six states without some form of AOT on the books. In recent years, attempts by legislators to pass an AOT law have been stymied by the state Department of Mental Health, which has cited concern for the civil liberties of the mentally ill and the cost of comprehensive outpatient care.
The civil liberties objection is absurd to me, as it should be to anyone who has spent time in the company of an actively psychotic person. This condition is a living hell that no one would ever rationally choose for himself. These individuals are crying out for our help, even if their words and actions say the opposite.
The cost objection is incredibly short-sighted. Want to talk high cost? Look at what the state spends to hospitalize, prosecute and incarcerate people who we currently permit to become dangerous. The opportunity to spend a little up front to avoid these bills down the line should be seized by even the most hard-hearted fiscal conservative.
The time has come for Tennessee to leave the Dark Ages of mental health care and enact an AOT law. Some of us on the front lines of this issue have been saying so for years. But if the Parkwest tragedy doesn't wake up our legislators and mental health officials to this urgent need, I can't imagine what will.

More & more are recognizing the need for TREATMENT BEFORE TRAGEDY. | CTV British Columbia News

City renews plea for mental health beds after dramatic standoff | CTV British Columbia News

Untrained officers must allow CIT Officers to do their jobs. AOT Laws in TN would raise awareness & provide more training!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Call to reform Virginia mental health crisis care

Call to reform Virginia mental health crisis care
Mental health workers had six hours to find a suitable psychiatric bed for Gus Deeds, the mentally ill son of state Sen. Creigh Deeds, being held under an emergency custody order for evaluation. When the ECO time elapsed before Rockbridge County Community Services Board evaluators could locate an appropriate bed, law enforcement released him.
The November incident set off a personal tragedy for the Deeds' family. Less than 24 hours after his release, the 24-year-old Deeds stabbed his father, before taking his own life.
The violent episode highlighted the flaws in Virginia's ECO/TDO (temporary detention order) system, used for evaluating and stabilizing those in psychiatric crisis, and once again raised the issue of access to appropriate psychiatric beds since the downsizing of state hospitals.

Read here: Call to reform Virginia mental health crisis care

Untreated mental illness and CIT police clash in Memphis earlier this week. #TreatmentBeforeTragedy

Earl Jones says the family has received help for his son's mental illness in the past, but his stay at any facility has been temporary. Keeping Glen on the proper medication is difficult. Earl says he believes officers need constant training on dealing with these situations."I'm praying and hoping that I can keep myself together, my mindset will be straight where I don't have no anger or nothing toward nobody," he said. Armstrong said Memphis' CIT program is a model for the nation.
Link to video and story:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Deeds' Bill to Study Education Requirements for Mental Healthcare Professionals

Deeds' Bill to Study Education Requirements for Mental Healthcare Professionals: Senator Creigh Deeds wants to know if professionals charged with evaluating people in mental crisis are qualified to do the job.

Star Fish Story - Make a Difference Every Day

Think of one starfish as one person with a severe untreated brain disorder who is homeless or in jail. Then think of the girl throwing them back as treatment for that one person. Now you know the rest of the story.

Report: Virginia's jails not providing appropriate mental health treatment

Report: Virginia's jails not providing appropriate mental health treatment"... the Office of the State Inspector General has issued a series of recommendations for changes in the way Virginia treats the mentally ill who are incarcerated — from coordinating care better with community services boards to incentivizing the building of specialized mental health wings. To that end, state Sen. Ryan T. McDougle, R-Mechanicsville, has introduced a bill, SB301, providing "that the Commonwealth will reimburse 50 percent of the cost of constructing, enlarging, or renovating a jail or regional jail to provide mental health beds and 100 percent of the cost of treating personnel." Currently those costs, once borne largely by the state and its hospital system, are borne primarily by localities."
Read the entire article here:  Report: Virginia's jails not providing appropriate mental health treatment

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Agape Guys picked up their new truck today!

Agape Outreach Homes

Find out more about Agape Outreach Homes here:

“We wait for tragedy sometimes to bring us to the point of doing something.”

A proposed joint subcommittee stands at the center of a clearly 
defined focus on mental health services in Virginia less than two months after tragedy shook the state capital.
Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-25, whose son was treated for bipolar tendencies before ultimately stabbing his father and killing himself, is the chief patron of Senate Joint Resolution 47, which seeks to establish a nine-person subcommittee to study the mental health services in the commonwealth.
Read the article here:Legislators revisit mental health services - Henrico Citizen

From Our Neighbor North Carolina: For mentally ill, some long-awaited glimmers of hope |

The American mental health system has been stuck in the rabbit hole for far too long. 
But right now, there is a pivotal opportunity to change things for the better. Preventable tragedies are all the more tragic precisely because they are preventable. On the state level and on the national stage, the Tar Heel State must act.

Read more here:

Belated kudos to Knoxville's very own Police Chief, David Rausch, for crushing a cover-up among his officers of a brutal beating in February 2013 of a homeless, mentally ill man in Knoxville, Tennessee

Editorial: Police chief earns praise for halting beating cover-up

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"The three officers involved in the beating have confessed, entering guilty pleas last week to misdemeanor assault and felony official oppression charges. Former Knoxville Police Department officers Jeremy Jinnett, Ty Compton and Chris Whitfield face an Aug. 8 sentencing hearing.

The officers beat a homeless man, Michael Allen Mallicoat, after he had been detained and hog-tied at the intersection of Grainger and Luttrell avenues on Feb. 9."
“It’s just completely inappropriate,” Rausch said at a news conference about the incident. “I feel sorry it happened. We’re sorry to Mr. Mallicoat this happened. I tell people all the time, unfortunately we have to recruit from the human race.”

Too often when our sons/daughters are in a mental health crisis we are told to call the police for help. It's time to change the way we respond to brain disease emergencies!

It is critical to let our TN Congressmen know how you feel!

With appreciation to for banner design!

Do the math: AOT (timely + effective treatment) = < SPMI offenders; therefore < need to enter criminal justice system 4 treatment

Oklahoma has begun to use mental health courts as an alternative to incarceration for non-violent, mentally ill offenders. Such courts operate in only 14 of the state’s 77 counties. In those 14 counties, mentally ill offenders can negotiate pleas that divert them to treatment and frequent court contact that help ensure program compliance.

Read more: 
Editorial: Mental health courts good for state

Monday, January 13, 2014


Unbelievable news coming out of California tonight -- a not guilty verdict in the Kelly Thomas trial.  It is clearly evident that many in this country are becoming more and more intolerant of the SPMI while families are losing their very sick loved ones to other's egos, brutality and total lack of understanding. All the more compelling reason that we must get the "Help to Families in Mental Health Crisis" bill passed!,0,5336980.story#axzz2qKycJLwG

“The freedom to be insane is a cruel hoax, perpetrated on those who cannot think clearly by those who will not think clearly.” Dr. E. Fuller Torrey

Tonight I came across the New York Times review of "American Psychosis".

The reviewer writes, "This wise and unflinching book is an object lesson in good intentions gone awry on a grand scale. It should be widely read."

Take his word for it. The book (and the review) are must reads.

Read the review here:

To Families of Loved Ones with SPMI: Be tenacious, Be persistent, Hold firm. There are walls of a broken mental health system that need to come down, even if it's only brick by brick.

"There's nothing wrong with you, It's just an illness & it's not your fault" - Samantha King

Samantha King from NAMI-NYC Metro on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Deeds returns to Richmond determined to reform mental health system

RICHMOND — State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, determined to rebound from a personal tragedy that left him gravely injured and his son lost to suicide, returns to the Capitol this week on a mission to fix the state’s mental health system.
Deeds (D-Bath) has proposed two bills intended to address what went horribly wrong in November, when his 24-year-old son, Austin, known as “Gus,” stabbed the senator and then fatally shot himself.

Read the story here:

Rep. Murphy Hopes Mental Health Bill Will Prevent Future School Tragedies « CBS Pittsburgh

Rep. Murphy Hopes Mental Health Bill Will Prevent Future School Tragedies « CBS Pittsburgh

A Father's Hope that a New Program in Louisville, KY will Help His Son Escape the Revolving Door Once and For All.