Friday, December 26, 2014

Criminal Deviance or Psychiatric Illness?

cid:image001.gif@01CE6085.30391FD0Tim Murphy
U.S. Congressman for the 18th District of Pennsylvania

Click here to watch Dr. Michael Welner discuss the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

Criminal Deviance or Psychiatric Illness?
Dr. Michael Welner Examines Murder of NYPD Officers, Points to HR3717

(PITTSBURGH, PA) — This morning on CNN New Day, Dr. Michael Welner, Chairman of the Forensic Panel and author of the Depravity Scale, explained the different motivating factors for recent violent crimes involving perpetrators who may have exhibited signs of mental illness. Welner distinguished between crimes resulting from malicious intent and those from a psychiatric illness, as well instances where both are at play.

“A mental illness-driven crime has a quality of irrationality to it in a way that nobody could relate to it except the perpetrator himself because he’s playing to himself and his own needs,” said Welner who went onto describe how in many instances a crisis situation has emerged where families should be able to intervene.

In the murder of two New York City police officers, Welner explained that the shooter had been arrested on 19 different occasions and had seen one or more psychiatrists during his run-ins with law enforcement. Although there is no evidence currently of the perpetrator having a mental illness treatment plan, his sister maintained in an interview that he was “an emotionally troubled kid” who “needed help [and] didn’t get it.”

When asked how it is possible for families to get help for loved ones with untreated mental illness, Welner responded, “We absolutely have solutions available to enhance the ability of families to deal with people who are in crisis…but there are laws that need to be passed, [like] Congressman Tim Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act…I would encourage your viewers to call their Congressmen and support H.R. 3717.”

Rep. Murphy’s bipartisan Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, which has 115 cosponsors, would make two significant reforms. First, it fixes the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to increase family access to information and eliminate barriers to communication between families and providers. Second, H.R. 3717 modifies involuntary treatment laws so families and clinicians could intercede to provide medical care when an individual exhibit signs of severe mental illness and whose condition is deteriorating. Most states only permit intervention when an individual is imminently dangerous — even if they have a history of psychiatric illness, hospitalizations, arrests, and are incapable of caring for themselves.

Nationwide support for Dr. Murphy’s legislation continues to grow from newspaper editorsphysiciansand parents of children with mental illness. The bill also increases access to hospital beds and proper care while decreasing criminalization for people with serious types of mental illness; permits federal Medicaid dollars to be used to pay for acute inpatient psychiatric treatment by creating an exception to the current Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion in Medicaid; expands effective Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) services; increases funding to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); re-appropriates the budget of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to increase support for programs designed to help those with the most severe cases of mental illness.

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