Monday, January 23, 2017

Activists Say NAMI Is Ignoring The Sickest Who Refuse Treatment and NAMI's Response

On Jan 19, 2016 my friend and hero, Pete Earley circulated our letter to NAMI on his national blog. Thanks to Pete for sharing our questions that many are afraid to ask. GG



Haunting video called The Voices of 10 Million posted at Change.org by group petitioning NAMI to “stop shunning our families and our loved ones.”

(1-19-17) Several long-time mental health activists have written an open letter to National Alliance on Mental Illness CEO Mary Gilberti and NAMI’s board of directors complaining about what they describe as the organization’s “lack of focus” on serious mental illnesses and “mission creep.” NAMI bills itself as the largest grassroots mental health organization in the nation with chapters in every state and several hundred thousand members.
Many of the letter writers are well-known NAMI members who are parents of adult children, some of whom are currently incarcerated or have died while in custody or during fatal encounters with law enforcement. Other signers represent loved ones who are stuck in a revolving door of streets and jail because they “lack the capacity to voluntarily engage in their treatment due to the fact they simply do not believe they are ill,” according to an email sent to me by one signer. (Full disclosure: I am a lifetime member of NAMI.” 
Chief among their complaints is that NAMI national’s leadership has abandoned the seriously mentally ill — who they call the 4% — who refuse treatment and, therefore, are often ignored by mental health providers and mental health organizations in favor of individuals who are not as ill, comply with treatment or are already in recovery.
In an email, G.G. Burns, a well-known Kentucky advocate wrote: “While many of the local and state NAMI affiliates work very hard to support families in the trenches, they, often do not receive the support and training they need from the national organization to address individuals and their families who are seriously ill and lack the ability to advocate for themselves.”
NAMI issued a response last night which I will post Friday morning. Meanwhile, here  is a link to the letter writers’ petition that further explains what they hope to accomplish.)

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Dear Ms. Gilberti and NAMI Board of Directors,
As local, state and national family leaders and advocates of mental illness system reforms, we write to urge that NAMI promotes needed steps to fully support and implement the mental health provisions included in the 21st Century Cures Act.
First, we thank NAMI for its support of HR 2646, The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. As families and advocates of the 4% of the most seriously mentally ill people, we came out of the shadows and told our shared tragedies on the Capitol Hill. As evidenced in our stories, videos, hearings, testimonies* and letters we urged Congress to listen to our cries for help and hope, and we are grateful that we were finally heard.
Will NAMI also hear our cries? NAMI’s motto is “you are not alone.” Yet, many of us feel that we are alone and that our loved ones have been abandoned to the streets, jails, prisons and morgues or left to linger, often untreated or inadequately treated, in the back bedrooms of our homes.
Read more here:


On Jan 20, 2016 Pete Published NAM's response to our letter, read it here:

NAMI CEO ANSWERS CRITICS; DEFENDS ACTIONS & OUTLINES TOP PRIORITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
NAMI CEO Mary Giliberti at White House forum about mental illness
NAMI CEO Mary Giliberti at White House forum about mental illness
(1-20-17) NAMI’s CEO Mary Giliberti and the board have responded to a letter and petition drive launched on the Internet by some well-known NAMI members and activists who are angry because they believe NAMI is not paying sufficient attention to the seriously mentally ill. Full disclosure: I am a NAMI member.)
NAMI’s Response to criticism
January 18, 2017
Dear Ms. Pasquini, Ms. Burns, Ms. Nanos, Ms. Pogliano, Ms. Hays, Mr. Jaffe, Ms. Hoff, Mr. Hernandez, and and co-signers:
Thank you very much for your letter and for the accompanying stories of individuals and families who were unable to get help needed in a timely way. I take calls on a weekly basis on the NAMI Helpline when I am in Arlington, and I’m sad to say that I have personally spoken with many individuals and families who are enduring similar frustrations and heartbreak. I am very appreciative of your participation in NAMI and its mission of bringing help and hope to those who are facing the results of a failed mental health system.
We share your gratitude about the enactment of HR 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. During the three years it took to achieve final passage, NAMI worked hard and generated hundreds of thousands of petitions, emails, tweets, calls, and letters to members of Congress to make sure the voices of the mental health community were heard.
We were told personally by Hill staffers that the overwhelming numbers of communications from the grassroots had a significant impact on keeping the bill alive and moving it through the lengthy process. Additionally, our staff spent many hours behind the scenes communicating with our state and local affiliates and members, many of whom were receiving misleading information from opponents of the bill.

Mailed to NAMI on January 23, 2016 from Families of the 4%:
______________________

Dear Ms. Gilberti and NAMI Board of Directors,

We thank you and NAMI National for your response to our letter of concern. We applaud the good work NAMI does on behalf of those with mental illness who are able to participate in the many programs and support groups that NAMI supports and provides.

Many of the programs are, and will be, important keys to a mental healthcare continuum. However, all but Assisted Outpatient Treatment [AOT] “as a last resort” are predictably voluntary-based. If you can not get a person to have insight into their disease, (which AOT can effect), they can not take advantage of all the other great programs NAMI has to offer. That said, we must not forget the reality that some people never gain insight. AOT is their only salvation. It is a compromise to institutionalization and it gives people their lives back.

There are many reasons a person will not seek help. Lack of services is high on the list, but NAMI rarely acknowledges or talks about ANOSOGNOSIA despite a terrific definition on the National Website. Anosognosia is the single largest reason why people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder refuse medications or do not seek treatment.

Perhaps we were not clear enough in our letter. What we are asking of NAMI, is to include in your mission the voices of families like ours who have suffered thousands of tragedies because we are trying to care for seriously mentally ill loved ones who make it impossible for us to help them. Please explain how NAMI helps people who are medication non-compliant, treatment resistant or anosognostic?

NAMI prioritizes programs that reap a “bang for the buck”  [listen at 37:50]. We all want to invest in robust programs for our youth and adults who will voluntarily seek and agree to get help - and maybe we'll get the next generation right - but meanwhile we can't throw away those with untreated serious mental illness who will not volunteer to get help, and who were unfortunate to have been born in the last half century of abandonment by the mental health industry. They are there!

They live on the streets, in jails and prisons, nursing homes and – for the most fortunate – they live with family members like ours who have the time, resources and strength to care for loved ones whose brain diseases often take over otherwise beautiful souls and strike out at us in incredibly abusive ways. Their bodies are also all too often laid to rest in coffins as a result of self and societal neglect.

Families like ours know NAMI has abandoned this group because we hear from them everyday. These families and their advocates have given up calling the NAMI hotline numbers because volunteers answering the phones are no longer trained to support those who do not voluntarily accept treatment. Too many respond the same way that the local mental health crisis operators respond by saying, “CALL THE POLICE!”

It's a crisis and someone needs to take the wheel and turn this ship around instead of trying to shove our loved ones who need assisted treatment into voluntary programs that don't work for them.  It's way past time to GET REAL about serious mental illness. By not providing a full array of mandatory and volunteer-based programs and services, both inpatient and outpatient, the never-ending stream of seriously mentally ill people left to the streets, jails and prisons, nursing homes and coffins will continue - and as they go down, so do we.

NAMI has promoted itself as the agency for families to turn to when in mental health crisis. Yet we feel we are being discriminated against. We need more than sitting around in story circles. On reading your letter, it has become even more clear to us that NAMI is not interested in representing our families. The idea that we can't intervene in a person's life to give them the treatment, care and love they need when they spiral downward because of the outdated idea that we can under no circumstances take away a person's civil liberties and right to self determination is frankly, inhumane. When a person lacks capacity to make a good decision for themselves due to neurological brain disease there is NO good reason not to intervene. In fact, the Olmstead Law is specifically limited to those capable of safely surviving in the community, not all mentally ill. We do not treat Alzheimers patients that way. What's the difference?

To Summarize:

Will NAMI support broadening the standard for involuntary treatment? This, (and a frightening shortage of psychiatric beds), is the heart of the issue for the 4%. "Poses a likelihood of serious harm", or much worse, "dangerousness", are the legal standards that prevent families from getting help for their SMI loved ones when they are obviously ill, clearly unable to perform the basic functions necessary to have anything close to a successful life, totally dependent on their families or others to survive, yet unaware they are sick and unwilling to get help. Left untreated, these are the individuals most likely to drift into homelessness, seek illegal drugs to self medicate, land in jail for crimes that are often senseless, sometimes merely crimes of survival, or in some cases become violent. The finest mental health system in the world is worthless if you can't get your loved one in to begin with.

Thank you.

Respectfully submitted,

Janet Hays, President - Healing Minds NOLA
Teresa Pasquini, mom, sister, former local NAMI board member, Co-Founder, Mental Illness FACTS, Family and Consumer True Stories/Right 2 Treatment-CA
G.G. Burns, Mom, AOT/Mental Health Reform Advocate, NAMI Member (2002-2017), NAMI KY Life Time Achievement Recipient, Former NAMI KY Legislative Public Policy Chair
Jeanne Allen Gore, mom, advocate, Vice President Families for Treatment of SMI
Lynn Nanos, LICSW - Mobile Psychiatric Emergency Social Worker
Laura Pogliano, Parents for Care
Jennifer Hoff, Hoff Family Foundation
Anthony Hernandez, Executive Director, Transforming Treatable Tragedies (TTT)

Note: This letter will be posted to our change.org petition site and a variety of social change and media platforms for a continuous collection of supporters and comments.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My open Letter to NAMI in asking support in #ShatteringSilence


Dear NAMI and NAMI supporters.

As a dedicated NAMI member/volunteer for over 15-years, I have written many letters to NAMI (national) requesting they not forget the 4%, (those too ill to voluntarily advocate for themselves). However, in NAMI’s recent newsletter highlighting the celebration of the passage of the 21st Century Cures ACT, there was no mention of AOT.

We need our national voice to stand up for these illnesses as “physical illnesses of the brain” … not “behavioral conditions” of the mind!

Advocates like myself believe that there must be no hesitation in explaining directives to local and state NAMI affiliates on the effectiveness of AOT. Additionally, NAMI’s (national) recent release of their 2017 Priorities, failed to include many of the priorities that the 4% and their families need. Messages matter and NAMI’s communications signaled to us that evidence based programs - that we believe to be life saving programs for our loved ones - are not being prioritized by NAMI (national).

Consequently, we have started an online petition campaign to request that NAMI decide who they are advocating for … those well enough to realize they have a mental health “condition” as they call it, or “all” individuals and families who are suffering with serious brain diseases. Yes, awareness/stigma campaigns are good and early interventions are all helpful, "but" these are not the reasons the sickest among us do not receive the care they need before tragedy!

I urge you to watch this video, read our letters and sign our #ShatteringSilence petition. We request you also share it with your friends, family and list serves.

https://www.change.org/p/mary-gilberti-and-nami-board-of-directors-join-families-advocates-of-the-4-in-shattering-silence-about-serious-mental-illness?source_location=minibar


We are asking for all national organizations to #LobbyLoud for solutions before the police are called – not after! We need better policies that don't force our loved ones to become violent in order to gain access to #abedinstead!

We believe patients in crisis deserve the “right to treatment”, not the right to sabotaged their life and die … and should be evaluated and treated by “licensed” medical professionals - not law enforcement, jailers or attorneys in the criminal justice system.

We appreciate your help and signature!

Sincerely, G.G. Burns
NAMI Member (2002-2017)
AOT/Mental Health Reform Advocate
Please help us pass "Tim's Law" in 2017

Follow me on https://twitter.com/AdvocateKy



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Proposed Kentucky bill could help keep mentally ill out of hospitals while receiving assisted outpatient treatment



    A Louisville lawmaker is, for the fourth time, attempting to address mental health care in Kentucky with proposed legislation that would help keep the state's mentally ill out of hospitals by establishing court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment.

    "We have not really dealt with mental health in Kentucky," said Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville. "I have a compassion for that. If I do anything in my life, I hope that I will be able to pass this legislation. I don't care who gets credit for the bill, I just want the bill to pass."

    Burch is referring to his bill, BR 87, filed Nov. 23, that would allow a mentally ill person who is already involuntarily hospitalized to be discharged from the hospital if the person agrees to court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment. The second part of the bill addresses mentally ill people who have been involuntarily committed to a hospital twice within a 12-month period, creating a new method for these people who meet certain criteria to access court-ordered outpatient treatment without having to be committed again.

    The hope behind the proposed legislation is that once the people who are served by court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment have had a longer period of stabilization, they will be more likely to be fully compliant in their mental health care and better able to recover in their own homes and communities without repeat hospitalizations.

    "I support anything to try to assist those with mental illness," Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken said. In some cases, "they don't recognize that they have a mental illness until it's too late. We've seen families try to help them and try to support them. The families are truly powerless to get them the treatment they need because we can only hold them so long."

    Milliken's office oversees involuntary commitment court proceedings. In most cases, people are involuntarily committed for 72 hours and once they are medicated and deemed stable, they are released from the hospital. What sometimes happens is because they have been stable for such a short period of time, they will decide to stop taking the medication that stabilized them and will return to the mental state that landed them in involuntary hospitalization.

    The second portion of the proposed legislation referred to as "Tim's Law" is named for a man who was repeatedly hospitalized due to schizophrenia.

    "It's named for a man, Tim Morton, from Lexington who had a serious mental illness and had a condition called anosognosia," said Dr. Sheila Schuster, a licensed psychologist and executive director of the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition, which supports the proposed legislation. "That means you are so ill you don't recognize that you have an illness. He had both physical illnesses and mental illnesses. His mom, trying to keep him alive, could not talk him into taking his medication.
    "The only thing she could do was take out a mental inquest warrant to Eastern State Hospital and they would admit him for a 72-hour hold and get him on his medications. He would do that for a while then he would quit taking them. ... He was hospitalized 37 times over a 15-year period. He passed away from physical illnesses that were never treated."

    People like Morton with serious mental illness such as schizophrenia die, on average, 25 years before their peers who do not have serious mental illnesses. They often have other illnesses, but because of their mental illness don't know that they are sick and need treatment.

    "What we're trying to do is get people treatment without having to go through the mental inquest warrant and have people hospitalized," Schuster said. "So we're focusing on a very narrow group of people – people who have a serious mental illness, people who have been involuntarily committed at least twice in the previous 12 months and people that have symptoms of anosognosia."

    Milliken is familiar with a similar story in Bowling Green in which a severely mentally ill person committed suicide after the person's family tried to save that person through several involuntary hospitalizations.
    "We tried and tried to help," she said.

    The proposed bill, as it is currently written, would:


Monday, December 12, 2016

Congress finally passed legislation to overhaul the broken mental health system!




(Dec. 7, 2016, by Treatment Advocacy Center)

Long overdue and years in the making, an overwhelming bi-partisan majority of Congress finally passed monumental legislation, known as the 21st Century Cures Act which includes the much needed "Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act" ... to overhaul the country’s fractured mental health system.

The legislation will address several significant areas of mental health treatment that have long eluded advocates and families struggling with mental illness and substance use disorders, such as increasing the number of psychiatric beds nationwide, elevating the topic of mental health by creating a federal position of assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders — that will require its chief have a clinical background — and requiring private insurers cover mental health care on an equal footing with physical health.

The Act will also fundamentally change the foundation for how the federal government prioritizes severe mental illness by:

Reforming SAMHSA:

* Creates a new Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders to be presidentially appointed with Senate confirmation, who will oversee SAMHSA and coordinate related programs and research across the federal government, with emphasis on science and evidence based programs, and with the aid of a newly established Chief Medical Officer.

* Establishes a new federal policy laboratory for mental health and substance use, to elevate and disseminate policy changes and service models that work based on evidence, research, and science. 

* Funding and Strengthening Evidence Based Treatment Programs for SMI:

* Strengthens and expand critical Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) programs to help break the revolving-door cycle through a grant reauthorization and funding increase for states to implement AOT, and permit states to use grant funding for AOT in civil courts as an alternative to incarceration.


* Establishes, hand in hand with AOT, a grant program for Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams to provide critical wrap around services in the community to people with SMI. 

* Provides states with new innovative opportunities to deliver much-needed care in IMDs to adult Medicaid patients with SMI.

* Strengthens community response systems with a grant program to create databases on psychiatric beds, crisis stabilization units, and residential treatment facilities.

* Directs CMS to outline for states innovative opportunities to use Medicaid 1115 waivers to provide care for adults with serious mental illness
Decriminalizing mental illness

* Allows DOJ funding to be used for civil AOT programs to provide treatment opportunities before incarceration.

* Allows DOJ funding to be used for Forensic Assertive Community Treatment Programs (FACT) for individuals with severe psychiatric disorders in the criminal justice system.

*  Creates federal mental health courts, and provides avenues for better screening and assessment of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system.

*  Provides law enforcement and the court system with Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training and programs to divert people with SMI from the criminal justice system.

Mandating data collection on the role of SMI in public issues

*  Requires federal databases on psychiatric beds, crisis stabilization units, and residential treatment facilities.

*  Requires government reporting on federal, state, and local costs of imprisonment for individuals with serious mental illness, including the number and types of crimes committed by mentally ill individuals

*  Requires Attorney General data collection and dissemination regarding the involvement of mental illness in all homicides, as well as deaths or serious bodily injuries involving law enforcement officers

 Clarifying the HIPAA quagmire and train health care providers so providers and families understand the circumstances under which they can share and provide protected information about a loved one with SMI.

 Establishing a federal adult suicide prevention program.




The Treatment Advocacy Center will continue to work with its partners and advocates to ensure that people with serious mental illness and their families get the best care and support they need to avoid repeated incarcerations, hospitalizations and putting an end to stigma.

John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, said, “It has been a long fight, and we are thrilled to see the Senate join their colleagues in the House today to pass reforms and send this bill to President Obama for his signature.”

http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/fixing-the-system/features-and-news/3706-monumental-what-the-cures-act-means-for-severe-mental-illness
I wrote this in September 2016, as a response to a friend's blog post. It is a harsh reflection into my soul, after experiencing Kentucky’s mental health system failures for the 20th time in less than 10 years.
ANOSOGNOSIA -- #1 ENEMY   by GG Burns
I echo every word you wrote, Dede. It seems that I have more friends of children who have suffered with a brain disease and are now free, (passed), than I do with those who have figured out a way to recover. 
My son has "suffered" for most of his life. Nothing was easy for him (or us — his family), even though he was bright and full of life and joy until his brain illness took over. We tried everything. Twelve long years of IEP special accommodations in the school system; special diets, special vacations; (with as little stimuli as possible); special cocktails of meds; (some worked, some made him worse while others were like a miracle cure). For a while, in his late teens, the future looked good. He was adjusting and transforming into a responsible young man with enormous dreams.
Yet, as my son grew older, his desire to be normal, to be free of the labels and the "special world" we'd built for him became the enemy. He broke away from his life of special accommodations like an animal in chains. Once he was free of his chemical straight jacket, he refused to return. He was higher than a man on cocaine. The mania and impulsive reckless life was what he wanted. In his world, he was king! He could now do anything and there were no rules or consequences. And even when his recklessness and abandonment met handcuffs, locked doors and bars, he didn't seem to notice because it forced him to sink deeper into a total psychotic break from reality. 
Overtime, as my son's illness rapidly progressed, my own health declined. For almost 11 years I have battled PTSD, anxiety, and painful autoimmune diseases. My son is trapped in a place that is worse than death -- the carousel of insanity, the revolving door that leads nowhere. It just keeps him from killing someone and then spits him back out to the streets ... untreated! 
We’d never treat a human being with Alzheimer’s this way, but yet, the USA abandons the sickest people in their country everyday to live in homeless shelters. The senseless system of “self-directed care” --  a recovery bullshit model developed for addicts not for people with serious brain damage -- forces people who are at their worst to hate their own parents! It keeps us from communicating with their medical providers even when they are hospitalized! Their medical providers are trained to tell our sons/daughters that we were the ones who made them sick! It’s worse than death for many of us. 
Read the rest of my post here:


Friday, September 9, 2016

A Message from Congressman Tim Murphy & National Suicide Prevention Month

Dear friends,
In July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2646 , the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, with overwhelm bipartisan support. The final vote was 422-2. As the largest mental health reform bill in 50 years, it addresses critical flaws in our nation’s broken mental health system, and focuses on providing treatment and evidence-based reform. H.R. 2646 now sits in the Senate, who returned to Washington this week without taking action on the bill. 
Click here  or on the image above to listen to
Congressman Murphy discuss suicide and mental health.
Each year, over 950 Americans die from mental illness - directly or indirectly. So this week, at every opportunity, I spoke on the House floor to discuss the immediate need for my crisis mental health reform bill. I shared the heartbreaking stories of  Allegheny College student Chuckie Mahoney , from Burgettstown, and Sgt. Daniel Somers ; I spoke about H.Res. 850 , which I introduced to designate September as National Suicide Prevention Month; and I shared the results of a recent study revealing the genetics of mental health. To watch those speeches, click here andfollow me on Twitter to get updates for when I'll speak next. 
After the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, I returned to Washington and launched an investigation into our nation's mental health system as the Chairman of Oversight and Investigations Committee. What we found was shocking and sobering: a $130 billion federal investment into a system that does little but bear witness to rising rates of suicide, homelessness, and incarcerations.

That’s why I have made mental health reform a top priority and have worked tirelessly to provide hope for our nation, because we can do better. Jail cells are not hospital beds, yet the three largest mental health institutions are county prisons. Out of every 1,000 people who suffer from a drug addiction, only six can get true treatment. With a shortage of 100,000 psychiatric beds, someone is in the middle of a severe psychotic breakdown is taken to the emergency room where they sit alone, sedated or even sometimes strapped down to a bed, monitored only occasionally by a passing nurse, waiting hours, days, even weeks, for help.

The passage of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act would signify a turning point in our nation for mental health reform, and be the light of hope for so many Americans who are effected by mental illness. Rather than ignore those who suffer, it’s time we make the decision to confront and provide treatment to those who are suffering with mental illness. 

There's a lot to understand about mental health, our current system, and my bill, H.R. 2646. As a psychologist with 40 years of experience, I sat down to try to answer some of those questions. Listen to my answers here .

I encourage you to share your thoughts about mental health and write to me by clicking here .

Where there is help, there is hope.


1. Over 950 people die each day as a direct or indirect result of mental illness. Each day we don’t act, over 950 people die, directly or indirectly, from mental illness. This is the greatest tragedy of our generation. When we look back, the embarrassment will be that the numbers were there, people were dying, and we chose not to act. 
. Our nation spends $130 billion dollars each year on reforms that don’t work. 

After the 2012 tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, as Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Committee, Congressman Murphy returned to Washington and launched an investigation into our nation’s broken mental health system. What he found was a $130 billion investment into over 100 federal programs that haven’t even met since 2009. In fact, since the creation of these programs, the rates of suicide, homelessness, and incarcerations have all increased in the U.S. 

3. The largest mental health “hospitals” are county prisons 

It’s true that our country went through a period where those who were mentally ill were treated inhumanely. When the U.S. changed the way the mentally ill were treated, however, we didn’t solve the problem. We traded those hospital beds for jail cells. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 25 and 40 percent of all mentally ill Americans will be jailed or incarcerated at some point in their lives. 


4. The United States has a shortage of 100,000 psychiatric beds 

If you break your arm, or someone you love is having a heart attack, you know to call 911 to get an ambulance the emergency room (ER) where you or your loved one will receive immediate treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU). Those with mental illnesses need this emergency care too. Psychiatric beds are the ICU for those who are in immediate need of assistance in that they present danger to themselves or others. Instead, they are taken to the ER where they sit in a room, sedated or even sometimes strapped down to a bed, monitored only occasionally by a passing nurse. If we treat those who suffer from heart attacks or injuries with trained professionals and the best care, why shouldn’t we ensure the same for those who are mentally ill?
5. Our nation prioritizes the right be sick over the right to be well. 

From the way we treat mental illness, our country has decided that the right to be sick is more important than the right to be well. HIPAA privacy laws, once designed to protect personal medical records from insurance companies, now prevent worried family members from knowing the medication their loved ones take and even their whereabouts when they may be in the middle of a psychotic break. Instead, family members are kept out of the loop – until they are notified of the death of their son, daughter, sister, brother, wife, husband, mother, or father. 
To learn more about H.R. 2646 and how it addresses these problems, click here . 
Let's get it straight: Q&A with Congressman Murphy 

Congressman Murphy has made reforming our nation’s broken mental health care system one of his top priorities in Congress. As a psychologist, he brings 40 years of experience, expertise, and knowledge of the psychology and psychiatry fields to Washington. There’s a lot to know, so we want to provide you with some answers from Dr. Murphy himself about mental health in America and the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. Click here or the image below to watch the full interview, or watch each Congressman's answers to the questions below.
To watch the Q&A with Congressman Murphy, click here .
Q. What is a “mental illness”? Is there a difference between that and a “serious mental illness”?  
A: Find out here .
        
Q. 
What’s the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist? 
A: Find out here .

Q. How many psychologists and psychiatrists does our nation have? 
A: Find out here .

Q. Can families help their loved one who suffers from a mental illness? How? 
A: Find out here .

Q. I keep hearing about the need for more psychiatric beds, but I don’t know what that means… Can you explain? 
A: Find out here .

Q. So what is H.R. 2646 – the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act? 
A: Find out here .

Q. I know the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.2646, but what happens now? Is it a law? 
A: Find out here .

Do you have a question for Congressman Murphy about mental health? Ask him here . 

Did you know? September is Suicide Awareness Month 
Each year, nearly 43,000 Americans die by suicide. 
Visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention here .
It’s the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S and the 11th leading cause In Pennsylvania. September is Suicide Awareness Month and we want to provide you with some helpful tools and resources to learn more about depression, suicide, and where you or a loved one can get help.  

Click here for a list of local Pennsylvania events hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

If you’re having thoughts about suicide, or are concerned for a love one, find support here 

To help spread awareness about suicide in America, or to get involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, click here .

Coming up next… 
As the Senate considers the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, you can follow Congressman Murphy on Facebook andTwitter for timely updates about H.R. 2646 and his work in Congress. 

We encourage you to write to us and share your thoughts about mental health reform and the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act by clicking here