Tuesday, September 29, 2015

More Support For Murphy's Crisis Mental Health Bill

(Washington D.C.) – Culminating the last few days of Suicide Prevention Month, Congressman Tim Murphy’s bipartisan Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, H.R. 2646, continues to galvanize support in the media and amongst national organizations. D.J. Jaffe, Executive Director of Mental Illness Policy Org writes in an op-ed for the National Review how H.R. 2646 increases the efficacy of existing mental health dollars by redirecting them towards serving the 4 percent of patients who are the most seriously mentally ill. 

The American Jail Association, representing over 4,000 members in 3,800 correctional facilities across the country, expressed their support for H.R. 2646 in a letter noting how the bill takes necessary steps to include correction and detention officers in reforming the broken mental health system. 

Further, Alisa Bernard and Muffy Walker of the International Bipolar Foundation describe in a letter to Reps Murphy and Johnson how the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act will have a positive impact on the foundation and families they assist in the United States, noting ways the legislation promotes early intervention and authorizes the Garrett Lee Smith Act and National Child Traumatic Stress Network. 

With 123 co-sponsors, H.R. 2646 has been endorsed by national organizations including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Treatment Advocacy Center, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association. Nationwide support for the legislation has come from newspaper editorsphysicians, and parents of children with mental illness. More information can be found here

Let’s Get Moving on Treating the Seriously Mentally Ill
September 24, 2015
Homelessness, hospitalization, arrest, incarceration, suicide, and violence are often associated with people who are known to have serious mental illness and were allowed to go untreated. The pressing importance of getting treatment to these individuals led 118 compassionate Republicans and Democrats to co-sponsor the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 2646), proposed by Representatives Tim Murphy (R., Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D., Texas). Rather than throw more money at the ephemeral issue of “improving the mental wellness of all Americans,” which is what the mental-health industry wants, this bill increases the efficacy of existing mental-health dollars by redirecting them towards serving the 4 percent of patients who are the most seriously mentally ill. It replaces mission creep with mission control. – D.J. Jaffe, National Review 

Letter of Support
September 28, 2015
 

The American Jail Association is pleased the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 makes correction and detention officers an active part of the process from consulting with the departments of correction when prioritizing the integration of services, to early diagnosis, intervention and workforce development. Having the Assistant Secretary coordinate with the justice and correction systems when building evidence-based practices and service delivery models, brings correction and detention officers unique mental health perspective to the table. – Robert Kasbian, Executive Director

Letter of Support 
September 15, 2015

As a worldwide leader in providing mental health resources, we are immensely encouraged by provisions in H.R. 2646 that authorize funding for law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical services workers, and other first responders to recognize and properly intervene with individuals in crisis. – Alisa Bernard and Muffy Walker, International Bipolar Foundation.
###
In his seventh term representing Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district encompassing suburban Pittsburgh including parts of Allegheny, Washington, Westmoreland and Greene Counties, Rep. Tim Murphy also serves as a Commander in the Navy Reserve Medical Service Corps as a psychologist treating Wounded Warriors with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

How one NJ town implemented AOT ... with help from the local Mental Health Association ... a partnership, as it should be.

Morris County Initiates Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program for Persons with Serious Mental Illness

Morris County has instituted a new Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program in compliance with a state law that seeks to reduce institutionalization of mentally ill persons, and create a safer and healthier environment for patients, their families and the community.

The new program, which began this month and is provided by the Mental Health Association of Morris County (MHAMC) is a treatment plan for the recovery of mental illness through court-approved individual plans, especially for individuals with a history of medication non-compliance and who are unwilling to accept treatment voluntarily.

Through a judge’s order, an adult is committed to treatment in an outpatient setting, providing treatment in a “least restrictive setting, as an alternative to hospitalization at a private hospital or state institution.” The patient must adhere to the program to remain in the community and not be hospitalized.

“The hope is that AOT will act as an early intervention program for eligible individuals who, if left untreated, could need hospitalization or end up in the criminal justice system,’’ said Morris County Mental Health Administrator Laurie Becker.

“Especially at a time when there is a severe shortage of hospital beds, this program is an alternative treatment resource for some individuals and their families. Though too early to know, AOT may decrease the overall cost of psychiatric hospitalizations for the State and County,” Becker added.

The program is based on the state’s Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), which was adopted in New Jersey in 2009 and is now being implemented in all 21 New Jersey counties.

This court-ordered program is designed for a small number of individuals with serious mental illness who have a history of success with clinically prescribed treatment but struggle to stay adherent. It is estimated this new program will serve several dozen Morris County clients annually.

Available in almost every state, research demonstrates that Assisted Outpatient Treatment reduces the risk of hospitalization, victimization, arrest, crime and violence. It also increases treatment adherence and eases the strain placed on family members or other primary caregivers.

Typically, violation of the court-ordered conditions can result in the individual being hospitalized for further treatment.

Research also demonstrates that AOT reduces the risks of hospitalization, arrest, incarceration, crime, victimization, and violence, while easing the strain placed on family members or other primary caregivers.

AOT provides the following to patients:
• Case management, psychiatrists
• Monitors client adherence to the court order
• Coordination with treatment providers
• Transportation to court hearings (initial and review hearings)
• Regular contact with all involved mental health providers
• Testimony at court hearings on individual progress
• Develops/modifies treatment plan as needed.

”We are excited to bring this new program into two counties and help give hope and support to people with mental illness and their families,’’ said Lou Schwarcz, President and CEO of the Mental Health Association of Morris County.

“It is especially good to announce the start of this program during National Recovery Month in Morris County, which calls attention to efforts to achieve success in dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues,” said Morris County Freeholder Hank Lyon, who is the county governing board’s liaison on Human Services issues.

The Mental Health Association of Morris County received funding from the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addictions Services to implement programs in both Morris and Sussex.

For more information on the program, contact Jennifer Malec, MHAMC Clinical Director at 973-334-3496 x418. Or contact the Morris County Division of Mental Health at 973-285-6852.

For more information on mental health services in Morris County, visit: http://www.mhamorris.org/ and http://www.morrishumanservices.org/mentalhealth.asp

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

College note to home: "Dear Parent, your child has had a psychotic break." It's the news no parent wants to hear but should have the right to hear.

(Sept. 23, 2015) I sit in my small office at the university counseling center, sighing as I pick up the phone to make the call that I always dread. I have worked as a psychiatrist with college students for 20 years, and this part never gets easier. One, two, three rings, and the mother of a student who had been in my office minutes earlier answers the phone.
helpI introduce myself and then deliver the news: “I’ve had to hospitalize your son, Jacob.”
“What are you talking about?” she says. “There’s nothing wrong with my son.”
I explain that his roommates brought him in earlier that day. They told me that he hadn’t slept in a week and had barely had anything to eat or drink.
“I know,” she says. “They called me. But he’s just adjusting to school. He arrived a month ago. He’s a freshman, for God’s sake.”
I concede that freshmen can have a tough time adjusting, but emphasize that Jacob is having a psychotic episode. He was afraid to leave my office, I tell her, because he felt he was being followed on campus. He said he had not been able to get any work done because he was confused and distracted by voices in his head. The hospital, I explain, is the safest place for him right now.
I understand her denial. I have college-age children. If one of them became psychotic, I would be in shock. And I would be angry with the messenger.
In an ideal world, there would be somewhere else for Jacob to go until his mother arrived, someplace other than a hospital, where he could get support and be encouraged to eat, sleep and take some medication. But we don’t have anything like that on campus or in our city.
I had spent over two hours with Jacob. I called in another psychiatrist to meet with him and offer her opinion. She agreed that he needed help in a hospital setting right away. If only his mother could have seen him, disheveled, wearing a heavy sweatshirt even though it was 90 degrees out, looking away from us and mumbling at voices only he could hear.
I have seen many scenarios play out when young adults have psychotic episodes. The toughest cases stick with you the most.
I had another patient, a thoughtful young man, a psychology major, who had bipolar disorder. Before I started working with him, he became psychotic and made a serious suicide attempt. After a week in the intensive care unit, two weeks in a psychiatric hospital and a semester at home, he returned to school on a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic.
We talked about any stressful situation he was experiencing and about ways to cope. I never had to alter his medication. In fact, he felt the medication was so helpful that he never wanted to lower the dose. I was very happy for him when he was accepted into a Ph.D. program in neuroscience.
How will Jacob’s story unfold? I don’t know. But I want Jacob and his mother to know that there is always hope. I see it every day.
MARCIA MORRIS
PSYCHIATRIST, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA COUNSELING AND WELLNESS CENTER
(Photo: Denise P.S./Flickr)
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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Another Virginia Tragedy: Congressman Murphy Responds

History of mental illness noted by family members

For Immediate Release: September 22, 2015
Contact: Gretchen Andersen 202.225.2301

(Pittsburgh, PA) – Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) released the following statement regarding the shooting Tuesday afternoon in Bowling Green, Virginia, in which the son of former Virginia state senator Edward Houck killed himself after he shot and killed the boyfriend of his estranged wife. 

Initial reporting indicates the perpetrator had a history of mental illness, violence and arrest, including drug offenses and a 12-hour standoff with law enforcement in 1999. 

“I am so saddened by this incident and my deepest sympathies go out to the Houck family and all those impacted by this tragic turn of events. As the details unfold by the hour, we do know that once again we are being confronted with another incident where the perpetrator had a history of long term untreated mental illness issues,” said Murphy. “Following the horrific events this summer in Lafayette, Louisiana and Roanoke, Virginia, I ask my colleagues: What line must be crossed for Congress to take action on my crisis mental health bill? How  many more will needlessly die as Congress sits idly by? My bill is ready to be voted on and I’m calling on my colleagues, including House leadership on both sides of the aisle, to stop the foot-dragging and take up my Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act immediately.” 

With 118 co-sponsors, H.R. 2646 has earned support  from national organizations including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Treatment Advocacy Center, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association. Nationwide support for the legislation has come from newspaper editorsphysicians, and parents of children with mental illness. More information can be found here
###
In his seventh term representing Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district encompassing suburban Pittsburgh including parts of Allegheny, Washington, Westmoreland and Greene Counties, Rep. Tim Murphy also serves as a Commander in the Navy Reserve Medical Service Corps as a psychologist treating Wounded Warriors with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.


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Monday, September 21, 2015

As Mental Health Services Decline, Jail Numbers Rise in Tennessee

(Sept. 21, 2015) An estimated two out of every ten inmates at the Rutherford County Jail in Tennessee are being treated for a mental illness. Due to jail overcrowding, these mentally ill inmates are being packed into crowded cells, sleeping on floors, and spending days with little to nothing to occupy their time (“Mental illness harder to handle as jail crowding rises,” Daily News Journal, Sept. 18).
jail-hands“Of our total inmate population, 20 percent have mental health disorders,” said Ken Tucker, director of health services at the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office. “Those statistics have been fairly consistent for the past 10 years.”
But Deputy Mayor Jeff Davidson, who heads the Jail Population Reduction Committee, believes the numbers are much higher when you count those inmates suffering from mental illness who are not being treated.
“I’m told nationwide and here the percentage is 40 percent of the incarcerated population has mental health issues,” Davidson said. “That’s a significant number.”
Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold says the problem is getting worse, and creating unsafe conditions for inmates.
“We’ve seen fights go up in the past few months,” Sheriff Arnold said. “When you’ve got three to a cell, tempers get short; it’s not a humane condition.”
But these issues are not unique to Rutherford County.
“We have a lot of the same issues in the county jails throughout the state, throughout the nation,” said Sheriff Arnold. “We as a society need to adapt to deal with it.”
As mental health services decline, jail populations rise accordingly.
Indeed, the number of individuals with serious mental illness in jails and prisons across the country now exceeds the number in public psychiatric hospitals tenfold.
We have seen countless examples in which a lack of mental health resources led to tragic results, but warehousing those with the most severe mental illnesses in jails in prisons is not the solution.
Tennessee is one of only five states that do not currently authorize involuntary treatment in the community, often called “assisted outpatient treatment (AOT).”
To be sure, the answer to Tennessee’s overcrowded jails and prisons lies in establishing AOT laws in the state and reducing this and other consequences of untreated serious mental illness.
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Friday, September 18, 2015

Listen to the Treatment Advocacy Center on National Public Radio.

 "Jails and prisons are not designed to care for people with psychiatric illnesses that cause them to act out or not understand their environment. Incarceration also places the severely ill in a situation where other people might want to harm them," said Treatment Advocacy Center Executive Director John Snook.
http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/thepulse/item/86191-the-implications-of-putting-the-mentally-ill-behind-bars-instead-of-in-hospitals

Monday, September 14, 2015

Smallwood was "out of it", not even aware of his surroundings.



(WBIR - KNOXVILLE) Knoxville police are investigating a report of a stabbing on Monday morning at Physicians Regional Medical Center in North Knoxville.
Hospital spokesman Jerry Askew told WBIR that it happened around 6:30 a.m. Monday.
The alleged attacker is Gary Michael Smallwood, 40, of Covington, Ky. Smallwood was a patient at the facility, located at 900 E. Oak Hill Ave., according to the Knoxville Police Department.
Smallwood is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Knoxville police said Smallwood had scissors and a knife.
Askew said both nurses attacked are in stable condition. Hospital officials are working to determine what happened in the moments leading up to the stabbing. KPD said they aren't sure what motivated Smallwood to attack the staff.
KPD said one male nurse and one female nurse suffered non-life threatening injuries in the incident. The female nurse suffered a puncture wound to her upper chest. The male nurse had more significant injuries and lacerations that occurred in a struggle over the knife with Smallwood.
In a news release, Askew said both hospital employees are expected to make a full recovery.
KPD said the incident happened in room No. 266 on the second floor of the central wing of the complex.
Smallwood is in KPD custody, and is currently being interviewed by investigators.
Smallwood was initially admitted to Physicians Regional Medical Center on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday, police responded to a call from a Greyhound bus station to investigate a call of Smallwood acting belligerent.

Friday, September 11, 2015

It touches us all. So why so much misunderstanding?

11 Quotes That Perfectly Sum Up The Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness:

Mother's Battle to Save Son Lost to Preventable Suicide

(Sept. 11, 2015) Cindy Thomas visited practically every court, hospital, mental health center, and police station in Baltimore, Maryland while fighting to get treatment for her two sons with severe mental illness.
yellow-cracksBut help was hard to come by, and the battle was ultimately lost when Thomas’ eldest son, Jordan McBride, ended his own life at just 30 years old (“Confronting barriers to suicide prevention,” Baltimore Sun, Sept. 9).
McBride developed severe depression with psychosis in his late teens and early 20s. Over the course of his illness, his behavior became increasingly erratic and he attempted suicide several times.
"Despite many hospitalizations and trials of medications, the depression was always there," Thomas said. "He felt hopeless and that he would never get any better. There were brief times of happiness, but they were fleeting and would not last."
Thomas tried her best to help her son, but encountered obstacles at every turn.
"My biggest one was getting my kids admitted to the hospital and keeping them there long enough until they were stable to come home," she said.
Cost was another issue. At times, Thomas had to pay out of pocket for her son’s outpatient therapy.
Thomas said her health insurance company regularly denied her claims her son’s medical bills, once refusing to pay a bill because it listed "self-harm" as the reason for Jordan's hospitalization.
Sadly, in February 2013 McBride successfully committed suicide.
"It was the thing I feared for so many years, and it finally happened," Thomas said.
In 2013, 569 people died of suicide in the state of Maryland. It is the 11th leading cause of death overall in the state.
It should also be noted that Maryland is one of only five states that do not currently authorize assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), or outpatient commitment.
In order to ensure that Maryland residents with severe mental illness and their families do not fall victim to suicide and other preventable tragedies, the state must:
  • Pass AOT in Maryland,
  • Restore a sufficient number of beds to create access to inpatient care for qualifying individuals in crisis, and
  • Make active use of the state’s civil commitment laws to provide more timely treatment to individuals in psychiatric crisis and reduce the consequences of non-treatment on them, their families and their communities.
(Photo: Christian Ostrosky/Flickr)
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RESEARCH: Ex-Inmates with Serious Mental Illness More Likely to be Violent

(Sept. 8, 2015) Former prisoners with psychiatric disorders or substance abuse are “substantially more likely” to commit a violent crime after release than other prisoners, according to a new study published in Lancet.
mental-illness-and-crimeThere could be 1 million fewer violent crimes a year in the US if prisoners with these conditions received better health care behind bars and after release to the community, the research team said.
“One in seven prisoners have a psychotic illness or major depression and around one in five enter prison with clinically significant substance abuse disorders,” Seena Fazel, lead author and professor of forensic psychiatry at the University of Oxford in the UK, commented after publication of the article.
“As these disorders are common and mostly treatable, better screening and mental health services before and after release are essential to prevent future violence and improve both public health and safety.”
Men diagnosed with psychiatric disorders were “potentially responsible” for up to 20% of violent offenses among males released from prison; women ex-inmates were linked to 40% of violent offenses among females released (“Long-term study links common psychiatric disorders with increased risk of violent reoffending in ex-prisoners,” Sept. 3, 2015).
All psychiatric diagnoses were found to be associated with an increased rate of re-offending after release, but six psychiatric diagnoses – including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and substance abuse – carried the highest risk. Former prisoners with mental health issues also were found to re-offend much sooner after release than other ex-inmates.
Providing appropriate treatment for inmates was the number one recommendation of our 2014 study, “The Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Jails and Prisons.” 
“Just as inmates should be treated for tuberculosis, diabetes, and hypertension, so also should they be treated for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression,” the Treatment Advocacy Center report said.
The study by the team led by Fazel was based on nearly 48,000 ex-inmates released in Sweden from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2009.
Fazel focused on the relationship between mental illness and violent crime, the mental health of prisoners, and violence risk assessment. In September 2014, Lancet reported on his study of the relationship of antipsychotic medications, mood stabilizers and the risk of violent crime.
(Photo: [AndreasS]/Flickr)
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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

ICYMI: Murphy’s HR 2646 ‘Most Substantive’ Crisis Mental Health Legislation


For Immediate Release: September 9, 2015
Contact: Gretchen Andersen, 202.225.2301
(Washington D.C.) – In the aftermath of the tragedies in Roanoke, Virginia and Houston, Texas, the nation’s attention has once again turned to gaps in our broken mental health system and Congressman Tim Murphy’s legislative solution, the bipartisan Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, H.R. 2646. From radio editorials to guest columns and local television station stories, Americans are calling on Congress to make the bill a priority now that lawmakers have returned from August recess. 
With 105 co-sponsors, H.R. 2646 has been endorsed by national organizations including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Treatment Advocacy Center, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association. Nationwide support for the legislation has come from newspaper editors, physicians, and parents of children with mental illness. More information can be found here. 
Mass killings could revive bill on mental health reformPaige Winfield Cunningham
September 8, 2015
Murphy's bill aims to improve the situation by providing additional psychiatric hospital beds for those experiencing mental health crises and need a place to stay where they get treatment and can't do harm to themselves or others. It provides states with extra mental health funding if they run high-quality assisted outpatient treatment programs, which allow a judge to order a severely mentally ill person to receive treatment even if he or she is unable or refuses to give consent. -- Paige Cunningham, Washington Examiner
Across much of US, a serious shortage of psychiatristsDavid Crary
September 8, 2015

"We simply don't have enough people who are professionally trained," said Rep. Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican who remains active as a psychologist and is lead sponsor of the House bill. His measure would, among other steps, help child psychiatrists pay off their student loans and promote wider use of telepsychiatry. -- David Crary, Associated Press
KDKA Urges Congress To Pass Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act 
Michael Young
August 31, 2015 
Congressman Tim Murphy sees the attack and Flanagan’s subsequent suicide as another example of a failed mental health system. murphy is frustrated that Congress doesn’t feel the same urgency and a sense of guilt, every time there is another tragedy like this one. He’s introduced his Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act twice, and it is still stuck in committee. Congress needs to get off their collective keister and approve H.R. 2646. --Michael Young, KDKA
Murphy Touts Mental Health Bill on Cleveland VisitJulie Miller
September 4, 2015
Murphy noted that H.R. 2646 aims to create a new Office of the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders that would be responsible for getting more out of federal spending on behavioral health. For example, he said, the federal government spends $130 billion on mental health today—mostly on disability payments—meanwhile, its funding is allocated to seemingly bizarre programs that aren’t being tracked for effectiveness, such as fruit smoothies and sing alongs. -- Julie Miller, Behavioral Healthcare
Mental health advocates see momentum for reform after deadly summerBrianna Ehley
September 3, 2015 
“I don’t know why it’s taking so long but I sure as hell am not going to stop pushing,” Rep. Tim Murphy said. “These [shootings] are happening so frequently now that it’s gotten to the point where members of Congress can’t ignore it anymore.” The action is likely to start in the House, where Energy and Commerce staff has been working on Murphy’s bill over the summer. -- Brianna Ehley, Politico Pro
Mental Health Care Reform Requires Families to Speak UpRachel Pruchno September 4, 2015 

The bipartisan Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, HR2646, introduced in June by Rep. Tim Murphy and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, is the most substantive piece of legislation. It proposes to resolve many problems within our mental health care system and will  improve  treatment of people with  SMI. These changes will significantly reduce homelessness, incarcerations, and death among people with SMI. -- Rachel Pruchno, Psychology Today
Privacy Issues Complicate Mental Health Overhaul Melissa Attias
September 4, 2015

The House effort (HR 2646) is intended to reward states that allow courts to order some people with conditions such as paranoid schizophrenia into community treatment — a tool that supporters say is critical to avert costly hospitalizations, jail time and homelessness. While the details vary by state, the practice is typically limited to adults who a judge decides, based on their track record, are unlikely to voluntarily follow the treatment they need to live safely in a community. -- Melissa Attias, CQ
### 
In his seventh term representing Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district encompassing suburban Pittsburgh including parts of Allegheny, Washington, Westmoreland and Greene Counties, Rep. Tim Murphy also serves as a Commander in the Navy Reserve Medical Service Corps as a psychologist treating Wounded Warriors with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

“Unfortunately, in most cases the number one mental health facility in the state of Tennessee is the county jail.” - Sheriff Tim Fuller, Franklin Co.

“That’s one of the disagreements I have with the state of affairs with our mental health system in the state of Tennessee,” he said. “Instead of looking at trying to enhance what we’re doing in the mental health system, for years we’ve had a history of cutting mental health, cutting the availability of services.

Read the entire article here:  
http://www.heraldchronicle.com/sheriff-mental-illness-prevalent-at-jail/


http://www.fcsheriff.org/

Treating mental illness instead of ignoring it and hoping it will take care of itself will make this A Better Mid-South. (thanks, Memphis!)

Editorial by WMC Action News 5 General Manager Tracey Rogers:
This week has been a particularly tough week for anyone who works in the broadcasting field.
Like you, we watched in horror as two journalists were gunned down on live tv this week in Roanoke, Virginia.
The pain we have felt for our fallen brother and sister is immense and has shined a bright light on the issue of mental illness.
We know firsthand the damage of mental illness to a community.
I believe many of the violent crimes we report on can be linked back to struggles with mental illness.
There are excellent sources of help in our community.
If you know someone who needs this kind of help, do not hesitate to make that call.
Treating mental illness instead of ignoring it and hoping it will take care of itself will make this A Better Mid-South.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Sheriff Daron Hall's editorial in The Tennessean

161097143

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Jails in most cities like in Nashville are the largest mental health facility in the area.
  • It costs over $100 per day to house an inmate, not including the cost of mental health treatment.
  • We have seen a steady decline in funding and options for some of our most vulnerable people.

http://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/08/28/jails-prisons-solutions-mentally/71336492/

Jails and Prisons Not Solutions for Mentally Ill People - Sheriff Daron Hall, Davidson County Tennessee

(Sept. 1, 2015) Finding the most appropriate setting to treat our mentally ill population is not a new challenge.
cook county jailFrom the asylum-building movement of the 1800s to the failed attempt at deinstitutionalization in the 1950s, society has seen changing perspectives on how to best serve some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Jails and prisons are clearly not the best solutions, though that is exactly where many of these people have ended up.
How did this happen?
Over the last several years we have seen a steady decline in funding and options for some of our most vulnerable people. In 2009, states cut $4.35 billion in mental health spending, the largest reduction since deinstitutionalization.
The reality is the criminal justice system is now the mental health institution. There are five times more severely mentally ill people in jails and prisons than in hospitals today.
Jails in most cities like here in Nashville are the largest mental health facility in the area. Many inmates with mental health issues are charged with relatively minor infractions. Many are in jail after committing crimes that could have been prevented had they had access to adequate treatment while on the street.
This only masks the real issue for society. It is easy for the general public to see the mentally ill person “off the streets” and believe the situation is being addressed, but our correctional facilities are not the best location to address this serious and complicated matter.
The cost of treating the mentally ill is dramatically higher in a correctional institution than it would be in a mental health facility. It costs over $100 per day just to house a person in jail, not including the cost of his/her mental health treatment.
It is time that we bring this issue out from behind the bars of jails and prisons and deal with it as a mental health crisis, not as a hidden criminal justice component.
Individuals who suffer mental illness need to be treated and addressed in a mental health model of care in facilities designed specifically for that purpose.
Until we all realize that the problem exists, we will continue to underserve those who need our help the most.

SHERIFF DARON HALL
DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE

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