Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We Must Focus Resources on the Most Seriously Ill, Urge Prominent Members of the APA

From the Treatment Advocacy Center's blog
(Sept. 29, 2014) Two prominent members of the American Psychiatric Association called for major reforms to the mental illness treatment system in an editorial in JAMA Psychiatry (“Fixing the troubled mental health system,” Sept. 24).
sharfstein“The first step in reform is to focus attention and resources on the most severely ill, high-need, high-cost patients,” wrote Lloyd Sederer, MD, and Steven Sharfstein, MD. “We have to have the right structure for the delivery of care.”

Sederer is medical director of the New York State Office of Mental Health and was director of APA’s Division of Clinical Services from 2000 to 2002. Sharfstein is CEO and medical director of the Sheppard Pratt Health System and was president of APA from 2005 to 2006.

“Federal and state governments should prioritize the move of patients from the criminal justice system to the treatment system,” they urged. “Some of the neediest people who would have been institutionalized are now in the criminal justice system. This is an absolute disgrace. We need to provide incentives for people to be treated in the community and to avoid jail and prison.”

In an interview with Psychiatric News, Sharfstein argued that the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 3717) has the potential to offer some relief to the suffering of the most severely ill, their families and their communities. “In my view it tackles head-on some of the major impediments to access to care for a critical subset of individuals who are high cost and very difficult to retain in treatment, in large part because they don’t recognize they are sick,” he said.

Even though the some of the nation’s leading psychiatrists are calling for more resources and attention for the most high-need patients, the plan put forth by the leading federal agency dedicated to improving mental health efforts, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, falls short, said the current president of the APA, Paul Summergrad, MD, in this month’s issue of Psychiatric News (“SAMHSA strategic plan falls short on serious mental illness,” September).

The plan leaves out “a focus on the appropriate medical care of patients with serious mental illness,” Summergrad said.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

UT's FUTURE Program: Schedule of Open Houses

Who's the criminal here? The system.

RALEIGH: Autopsy: Mentally ill NC inmate died of thirst - WNCN: News, Weather

AOT would help "the heart of the problem"

“I think it’s very obvious for most of us who live around here, when someone seems to be suffering from a mental illness, and to continue to let these people walk around without offering them assistance, to protect them and us,” she said. “That, I think, is the heart of the problem.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Relatives Say White House Trespassers Needed Treatment, Not Incarceration

From the Treatment Advocacy Center's Blog:

(Sept. 23, 2014) With more than 800 rounds of ammunition and a machete, Omar Gonzalez, a war veteran, jumped the fence at the White House, entered the building and made his way toward the North Portico before being arrested by Secret Service last Friday. 

secretserviceGonzalez, 42, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, among other mental illnesses, according to his ex-wife Samantha Bell (Ex-wife of White House intruder Omar Gonzalez says he needs help,” NBC News, Sept. 23).

Gonzalez told a Secret Service agent that “the atmosphere was collapsing and he needed to get the information to the president of the United States so that he could get the word out to the people," according to an affidavit obtained by NBC News.

“There were telltale signs that he did need help,” said Sergeant Haslach, who described himself as one of Gonzalez’s closest friends (“Omar Gonzalez recalled as a good, if troubled neighbor,” the New York Times, Sept. 23).

“He needs proper care. He needs proper treatment and throwing him in jail is not going to do anything for him,” said his ex-wife. “He is beyond that.” 

Shockingly, or not shocking at all, Gonzalez wasn’t the first White House trespasser who reportedly suffered from mental illness this month.

Earlier in September, 26-year-old Jeffrey Grossman was arrested after jumping the White House fence in attempt to talk to the president about how mental illness is treated. Grossman has reportedly suffered from mental illness for “sometime” and was recently turned away from an out-of-state hospital because he lacked insurance coverage (“White House trespasser was seeking better mental healthcare,” examiner.com, Sept. 18).

UPCOMING EVENT: Behavioral Intervention and Autism: Dr. William Allen, Ph.D.

Treatment IS the mighty fortress.


Karen Easter, a founding member of Treatment Before Tragedy, speaks aloud what so many of us are thinking as we hear accounts in the media of how former Army sniper Omar Gonzalez, tackled after leaping into the grounds of the White House, had untreated serious mental illness.

Photo: Karen Easter, a founding member of Treatment Before Tragedy, speaks aloud what so many of us are thinking as we hear accounts in the media of how former Army sniper Omar Gonzalez, tackled after leaping into the grounds of the White House, had untreated serious mental illness. We wish every family, in The White House and beyond, safety and good health. Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18) 

#PassHR3717 #Tb4T 

Buy a card here and send it to the White House: http://tinyurl.com/kjbam53. 

Or RT the image it to your congressional leaders from our account @TreatB4Tragedy. Or share it the FB pages of your congressional representatives.

We wish every family, in The White House and beyond, safety and good health. Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18)   #PassHR3717 #Tb4T   

Buy a card here and send it to the White House: http://tinyurl.com/kjbam53.   

Or RT the image it to your congressional leaders from our account @TreatB4Tragedy. 

Or share it the FB pages of your congressional representatives.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Rebecca Deeds Shares Her Story

Rebecca Deeds knows first-hand the toll that mental illness can take. She recalls her family's struggles to care for her brother, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And she says the day her brother attacked her father, State Sen. Creigh Deeds, and then killed himself was the worst day she'll ever have.




Nowhere to Go: Creigh Deeds speaks out Mentally Ill Youth in Crisis.

Aired on 60 Minutes tonight.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Naked man running onto interstate, fighting with officers

This story reminds me of a few years ago when a man was caught on videocam walking across Market Square naked. His name was even published in the local newspaper. Reader comments were unmerciful. As it turned out, he was psychotic and delusional, suffering from an untreated serious mental illness. His name and the story were quickly retracted from the paper. I have to wonder if this is the case here? If so, what a tragic way to get someone the help they need. #Tb4T Treatment Before Tragedy

Read here:  Naked man running onto interstate, fighting with officers disrup

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hundreds of NAMI families gather for Dr. Murphy’s keynote speech on HR 3717


The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act provides grants to police departments so officers understand how to approach an individual in the midst of a psychotic episode.At a standing-room only event, Congressman Tim Murphy thanked more than 600 parents and mental health advocates at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) national convention this week for their efforts to rebuild the nation’s broken mental health system.

“You are tireless advocates for your sons, daughters, parents, brothers, and sisters who must battle each day, through no fault of their own, an illness that is misunderstood and stigmatized. And in doing so, you must also battle a system that is inherently discriminatory, cruel, and inhumane. It is a system that is caused by and causes stigma. It is a broken system that must be changed,” he told the crowd.

Murphy, who received two standing ovations, outlined his vision for how the mental health system should function. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 3717), which “delivers care to those with severe mental illness who need better treatment — real treatment — not excuses and not delays.”

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act is the result of a year’s work of research and review of the nation’s mental health system. Local Southwestern PA feedback proved crucial in drafting the bill, as Murphy held six public forums in Southwestern Pennsylvania open to all constituents, as well as town hall meetings, and dozens of events to discuss with parents, providers, and law enforcement about the committee’s findings and ideas to improve care for the severely mentally ill.

During his speech, often interrupted by spontaneous applause, Murphy emphasized fixing the federal health rules that prevent doctors from sharing information or even speaking to parents about their mentally ill child. Confusion over the privacy standard has prevented well-meaning families from helping loved ones who are unable to maintain a their own treatment plan and need help from family caregivers, such as the most basic elements of medical care like keeping scheduled doctor appointments and filling prescriptions.

Rep. Murphy explained when a patient is discharged from a hospital with anything from a minor cut to a heart transplant, there is a written treatment plan that is readily shared with family members who will assist with follow-up.

“But not so with serious mental illness. We would not do this to someone with Alzheimer's. We would not say, ‘I can't treat your grandmother until she is well enough to tell me to treat her, but I can't tell you about her treatment until she gives you permission.’ The HIPAA privacy rule was put in place to protect people from being mistreated. But now they’re used to prevent the seriously mentally ill from being treated, and keeping well-meaning family members from helping."





Family members wear "Support the Murphy Bill" pins at meetings in US Capitol


Prior to addressing the convention, Rep. Murphy hosted a dialogue with family members and supporters of the bill from across the country, including Pennsylvania, to learn more about their difficulties navigating a disjointed and broken mental health system. Many participants shared heartbreaking stories of the doors to treatment literally being shut in their face as their loved ones spiraled downwards. A particularly harrowing tale involved a seriously mentally ill young man who died tragically in an altercation with local law enforcement that did not understand the signs of psychosis and not trained in how to de-escalate a crisis situation with someone experiencing delusions.

Advocates from NAMI chapters in New York state, Oklahoma, California, and Ohio then went to other congressional offices to drum up support for the bill.

“I know we will be successful because your love is stronger than any financial interests, than ignorance, or political gamesmanship,” Rep. Murphy said.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Proud of You, Mrs. Burns!

Washington received a surprise advocacy visit this week from my dear friend, GG Burns of Kentucky. She brought a small army with her.  Washington will never be the same.

Click the links below to see her and others in action.  Way to represent us, GG!  Way to Make a Difference! TreatmentBeforeTragedy.Org



Read all about GG's Big Adventure here: