Thursday, November 20, 2014

Policing the Mentally Ill by: Chief Michael Biasotti

"Treatment before tragedy 

New Windsor (NY) Police Department Chief Michael Biasotti, former President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, writes in Law Enforcement Today: 

is important to people with serious mental illness and their families. But families sometimes fail to recognize it is also something police have a vested interest in..." Our families recognize what you are saying, Chief Biasotti. Thank you to NAMI New York State for recognizing your good work. We all have a vested interest in a safer society for all.  Treatment Before Tragedy

Policing the Mentally Ill"Today there are approximately 35,000 mentally ill persons in public hospitals. However ten times that number, 350,000 are in prisons and jails."

- See more at:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

ABC this is NOT OK! Disney/ABC Marginalizes Mental Illness In Tasteless Modern Family Episode

I am writing to ask why Disney/ABC Television ridiculed and marginalized our nation’s veterans and millions of other Americans during the October 29th broadcast of its prime time television show, Modern Family.
Pete Earley writes 2 spot-on articles this week about the distasteful, insulting and discriminating “Modern Family” show portraying asylums and mental illness as funny.
Mr. ABC executive, I challenge you to live in my shoes just one day. Try living my life … ask me if I'm amused by my son's horrible 21-years of documented brain disease? Imagine watching your son's brain deterioate, due to civil rights laws that keep him from gaining access to treatment? Please click here: and provide your thoughts on how families and individuals coping with the most challenging and deadly disease on the planet deserve an apology! Thanks, GG Burns  

 An Open Letter to Anne Sweeney, Co-Chair Disney Media Networks President, Disney/ABC Television Group

Dear Ms. Sweeney,
Twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day in our nation. Nearly all have a diagnosable mental illness. Many have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that they suffered fighting for your safety and freedom. Yet, the writers of Modern Family:Halloween 3: AwesomeLand decided to make these proud warriors the butt of belittling jokes. Read more here:

Monday, October 27, 2014

How Liza Long's blog post helped families organize to become #Tb4T

I’m so excited because Liza Long's new book, "The Price of Silence" arrived in my mail today! I am late in ordering it, but can't wait to read it!

Like thousands of other Moms, I wrote to Liza the day her "I am Adam Lanza's Mother" blog post went viral. (NOTE: 1.2 million people have read Liza's story on Huffington Post to date.) 

Additionally, I wrote my own story and published it on my blog titled: “My response to I Am Adam Lanza's Mother.” 

That day, millions were in shock, disbelief and mourning the senseless death of 26 children, but it was also significant turning point. It was the beginning of families like mine that survive in mental health crises connecting across the US! 

In the past 2 years, we have used social media to develop relationships that eventually led us to organize and become a new non-profit organization/movement call "Treatment Before Tragedy".

In another post, I'll share more details of how I met Asra Nomani, after she published "Did Nancy Lanza live in fear? Why many mothers of the mentally ill do” in the Washington Post. Asra has been and remains instrumental in helping families acheive the unthinkable!

For now, please join me in thanking Liza Long for her brave stand to ask the  questions publically ... that many of us were too afraid to ask.

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across 
the waters to create many ripples. – Mother Teresa

In the days after the Newtown, Ct., tragedy, one mother represented the voices of so many: Liza Long, "Anarchist Mom." She testified to the abyss in which so many families are drowning in trying to get care for loved ones with serious mental illness, or brain disease, as we want to reframe the issue.

For being a champion for families everywhere, we thank Liza and congratulate her on her release of her new book, "The Price of Silence." 

Let's support this mom who has supported us and let the world know: 

We matter. Our loved ones matter. 

Read this essay by Liza on what this day means to her:

GG Burns is a Mother, Artist and Kentucky Mental Health Advocate

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Stigmatizing and Shunning the Severely Ill | Huffington Post

This article by Dr. Allen Frances hits the nail on the head. People with severe mental illness/brain diseases, who don't believe they are ill and lack capacity for informed consent, are allowed to live in the community delusional, dysfunctional, and "YES" often dangerous to themselves and their family! Medical providers in our community recently stated that perhaps my son would received "treatment in jail" … since he has the right to refuse it in the community! Yet even in prison, he has rights to refuse the care he needs to restore his brain function! Only in Amercia are laws this insane! Thanks to the laws that protect his civil rights … he had only received “3 weeks of medical treatment in 2014” for a brain disease that has a 
21-year documented history
While NAMI and other national mental health groups focus on bringing awareness that mental illnesses are treatable and spend millions on anti-stigma campaigns … both they and society are turning a blind eye to what is really going on behind the scenes due to the fight over funding. Consequently funds are being rerouted to the justice system, jails and prisons. Dr. Frances’ article explains this with great detail.
Families of individuals with “severe mental illness/brain diseases” deserve humane "TREATMENT Before TRAGEDY". 
GG Burns - 
"Advocate and a Mother who is unable to help her son" 

"We are civilized people in the United States. We don't set up leper colonies or concentration camps or psychiatric snake pits to banish people with severe mental illness. Instead we send them to jail or prison -- almost 400,000 of them, more than 10 times the number receiving care in hospitals. And we also blithely ignore the fact that additional hundreds of thousands live homeless on the streets or in squalid housing and have little or no access to treatment.
The extreme absurdity of our system is perhaps best illustrated when some of our mentally ill are reduced to repeatedly inviting arrest in order to get "three hots and a cot." For them a restricted life behind bars beats a chaotic and dangerous life on the streets.
But for most prison is a living nightmare. People with mental illness don't adapt well to its rituals and dangers. They are vulnerable targets for physical abuse, rape, and prolonged (further crazy-making) solitary confinement. Our society's mismanagement of the severely mentally ill is a disgrace -- perhaps not quite as bad as medieval witch hunting, but close behind."
PRISONWe can't in any way excuse it, but how do we explain the lousy care and subsequent shunning to prison and street? Some of the neglect certainly arises from felt economic necessity; many states have been forced to sharply slash spending to balance budgets, and one of the easiest things to cut is mental-health funding. But the fundamental reasons must go much deeper. The same states, simultaneously and without much notice or qualm, have radically increased their appropriations for prisons, despite the fact that it is much more expensive to cruelly imprison people with severe mental illness than to compassionately treat them in the community. It is penny-wise and pound-foolish to shortchange community treatment and housing while wasting funds on inappropriate prison beds.
The best explanation for this irrational distribution of scarce resources is the stigma of severe illness. We begrudge the severely ill the necessary funding for humane and cost-effective care but don't seem to mind locking them up in expensive and soul-destroying prisons.
Dictionary definitions of "stigma" describe it as a mark of disgrace, shame, dishonor, ignominy, opprobrium, humiliation, or bad reputation unfairly attached to a person, group or quality. Tellingly, the "the stigma of mental disorder" is almost always offered as the first and most classic example.

A troubling paradox has, I think, developed in the stigma attached to mental illness: Never has there been less stigma for having mild psychiatric problems, but never has there been more stigma for having severe ones.
This has come about because the definition of "mental illness" is now so loose: One in four of us qualifies every year, one in two across a lifetime, and one in five is taking a psychiatric medicine. 
There is enormous power in these numbers. 
The sting of having a psychiatric diagnosis or receiving treatment is much reduced when so many people take psychiatric medication or participate in psychotherapy."

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Lets do more than "WALK" or "TALK" during Mental Illness Awareness Week

Some people will spend a few hours this week talking about stigma and how they wish they could help a friend or loved one living with a mental illness. Take a pledge to do more than "WALK" or "TALK" … call your US congressman and help pass national legislation that will stop the discrimination of the sickest, eliminating barriers to gain timely treatment before tragedy. 

‪#‎passhr3717‬ ‪#‎tb4t‬ 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

As Mentally Ill Fall Through Net, Insurers Asked to Take Up Slack

MANAGED CARE September 2014. © MediMedia USA
Innovative government projects might point the way toward how plans can save money while addressing a growing public policy concern
Joseph Burns
Contributing Editor

Quoted by Andrew Sperling (NAMI):
"The other program would establish a four-year initiative to award as many as 50 grants each year to entities establishing assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) programs for people with serious mental illness. Congress authorized spending $60 million for four years, beginning next year.
Andrew Sperling, JD“This provision would be for people at the severe end of the spectrum who don’t come voluntarily to services and who might need court-ordered treatment,” says Sperling. “It’s a pilot AOT program for patients with severe mental illness. There are laws in 45 states that require such treatment, but many of those states don’t require AOT, which is for people who have failed to engage in treatment. This is not about putting people into institutions. It’s about mandatory treatment in the community.” Read more here:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nurse Mary: ‘Mental Health + Physical Health = Brain Health’

"I am proud to call Mary Palafox my friend and mentor! Society has much to learn and Mary is leading the way to help us get there!"  ~ gg burns

“My stomach is in knots,” Mary tells Treatment Before Tragedy, as her son walks the tight rope between behavioral health and the judicial system. “They don’t have institutions anymore, so families are the institution,” Mary says. “Taxpayers need to know families are the largest provider for food, clothing and shelter for those with mentally illness. All efforts thus should go towards supporting family caretakers and maintaining this very important relationship.”
Not long after the publication of the Orange County Register article, Mary joined other mothers, family members and community members to launch the organization that is today Treatment Before Tragedy.
“If my son had autism, he would have a ‘right to treatment’ within physical health care, based on his lack of capacity to understand his need for treatment. If my mother had Alzheimer’s, I could advocate for medical services, but in behavioral health, I had to wait for my son to deteriorate to the point of dangerousness and/or grave disability. 
Watching that happen was pure agony. Hearing mental health professionals apologizing over and over again, concerning the broken system was also totally unacceptable and inhumane to witness.”