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 .
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 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

H.R. 2646 passes from the Energy and Commerce Committee - 53 I's, NO O's

What a day for #Mentalheatlhreform! H.R. 2646 passes from the Energy and Commerce Committee on to house floor. Thanks to Treatment Advocacy Center, Mental Illness Policy.Org and Chairman Upton for their strong leadership ... but mostly for Congressman Tim's Murphy's relentless energy and effort to not allow this bill or it's mission die. Families in crises thank him from the bottom of our hearts.

Meanwhile, back in Kentucky the Interim Joint Committee on Health & Welfare held a hearing in support of Tim's Law. 5 years of work is paying off. Thanks to all the advocates who have come together to help the voiceless, who lack the ability for informed consent. View the Kentucky Hearing here:

Opening Statement in Congress
Rep. Tim Murphy
Mark-Up of H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act
For Immediate Release: June 14, 2016
Contact: Murphy Press 202.225.2301
Mr. Chairman, today this Committee takes a monumental step by advancing a bill that makes real reforms and offers evidence-based treatment for families in mental health crisis.
Today we are taking a stand. We affirm that mental illness is not a crime. Mental illness is not a moral defect, it is not a choice, and it is not a joke. Mental illness is just that – an illness. We affirm that psychosis is not “non-consensus reality” -- it is a symptom of an illness, that with appropriate medical treatment, is the difference between life and death.
What we are doing is historic: no Committee has ever tackled the issue of serious mental illness like we are today.
In December 2012 we began a quest when America was shocked to hear of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. For those children and families, we made a promise: we’re going to fix the broken mental health system.
For those innocent people in a movie theater in Aurora, the grocery store parking lot in Tucson, wherever the perpetrator was someone with untreated mental illness, for the victims and their families we made a promise: to deliver treatment before tragedy.
The same promise goes for the hundreds of thousands of homeless, imprisoned, addicted and depressed individuals who die each day with untreated mental illness.
It's tragic these horrific events happen in a nation so advanced as ours. It's doubly tragic that many could have been prevented. And it's triply tragic because inept and misguided federal policies are to blame for many of these deaths.
Congress is not standing idly by anymore. It is our time to take a stand and say "No more moments of silence.” We must have treatment before tragedy and let people know that we will finally break down the stigma of mental illness not through slogans, but through real evidenced based treatment - where people know that if they get care, they can get better. Because where there is help there is hope. And tomorrow, we vote to make sure that help is on the way.
For the victims, for the families, for the millions of Americans struggling with mental illness please know we heard you. And tomorrow, after a long wait, we are keeping our promise to you and taking a stand to bring real care for mental illness.
My heartfelt thanks go to Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, for her steadfast work and dedication to this cause. To all the 197 bipartisan co-sponsors, for all the professional organizations who have endorsed this bill and fought for real change: I thank you.
Here and now this committee jointly proclaims that the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness must come out of the shadows, we declare a new dawn of hope for the care of those with mental illness and we pledge our unwavering commitment to continued work to bring help and hope in the future.
I applaud and thank Chairman Upton, Chairman Pitts and Ranking Member Pallone and every member who came to the table in good faith, rolled up their sleeves and worked together to see this through.
Finally, to every family member, the tens of thousands who reached out to me, who stepped forward to share their story and be a voice for change, my deepest gratitude for your courageous stand to help families in mental health crisis.
Murphy Press | Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18)
2332 Rayburn House Office Building | Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-2301 | (202) 225-1844 (f)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Governor Bevin proposes deep budget cuts, but would preserve social workers, law enforcement and public defenders

Yes Governor Bevin, it is crazy! 
“We have folks who are working (in prisons) for 12 hours on 12 hours on 12 hours on 12 hours. It’s crazy,” the governor said. “We have to offset some of that.”
Please consider the need for Kentucky to amend it's antiquated mental health law! Kentucky needs HB94 to pass ... allowing "treatment before tragedy" and reducing the need for law enforcement, criminal justice, public defenders and prison cells! Small wonder Kentucky prison's staff has such a high turn over, they are the new asylums ... plus the prisoners have the right to refuse treatment. 

This advocacy blog was founded in 2010, on the fact that Kentucky's prison system was growing faster than any other state, despite the fact that crime was down. Too often people with serious mental illnesses lack insight to their illness and become trapped, unable to move forward due to their civil liberties and the a law that could restore a person's capacity for informed consent "before" they sink into acute psychosis and commit crimes. "Before" they self-medicate and "before" they end up homeless, dying on the streets. And, "Before" they become a law enforcement problem!

My question is, if Kentucky increases the number of public defenders ... is there a possibility for "Tim's Law"? After all Governor Bevin, these individuals are our most vulnerable citizens. 

Please support Tim's Law (HB94), a mental health bill that will help people with severe brain diseases have a "right to treatment" instead of being pushed through the cracks to self-medicate, to end up homeless and/ or become trapped in one of KY's over-crowed prisons ... all from "untreated" symptoms of a disease in their brains!! Tim's law would save lives, save tax payer's money and would allow people with brain diseases to stay out of the revolving door. 

From's article: 
Bevin proposes $650 million in spending

New governor says his top priority is more money for ailing pension systems
Cabinet secretaries to decide how to cut their agencies by 9 percent in 2017-18
Per-pupil K-12 funding, social workers, public safety among protected categories

Apart from the budget, Bevin said he soon would order independent audits of all state pension agencies and, armed with that information, would propose “substantive structural changes” at the start of the 2017 legislative session. Bevin has called for enrolling future state employees in defined-contribution retirement plans, like a private sector 401(k), to minimize the state’s financial liability.

  Provide $4.8 million over the biennium to hire more social workers and social service clinicians, and raise entry-level wages, affecting 2,030 positions statewide.
  Include $12.4 million to boost salaries for Kentucky State Police and $4.5 million in retention raises for correctional officers at state prisons. The prisons are grappling with a 67 percent turnover rate among employees, Bevin said.
“We have folks who are working (in prisons) for 12 hours on 12 hours on 12 hours on 12 hours. It’s crazy,” the governor said. “We have to offset some of that.”
  Add $6.3 million to hire 44 public defenders, reducing caseloads for the lawyers at the state Department of Public Advocacy who represent indigent criminal suspects. Also in the courts, Bevin said he would fully fund last year’s heroin bill, known as Senate Bill 192; fully fund Operation UNITE, an anti-drug task force in southeastern Kentucky; exempt prosecutors from budget reductions; and include $6.4 million for the KASPER system, which tracks prescriptions for controlled substances.
Public advocate Ed Monahan was delighted to learn of the additional money to hire more public defenders.
“I think it’s a very smart investment that will help reduce the frustrations of victims and prosecutors,” Monahan said. “Better capacity at the front end allows cases to be resolved more quickly, more fairly and more reliably.”

Read more here:

Read more here:

Friday, January 22, 2016

‘Tim’s Law’ aims to keep individuals with a serious brain disease OUT of Kentucky hospitals, off streets


To All:

Our board and staff want to keep you informed on our advocacy efforts. As you know, we are working with the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition (KMHC) and other organizations to pass Tim's Law, HB 94, through the General Assembly in Frankfort.
For a bill to become law, it must first pass at least one legislative committee and Tim's Law passed the House Health & Welfare committee last week. This is a great first step, but there are more hurdles ahead. Tim's Law is now headed to the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee.
We need your help advocating for Tim's Law. Call 1-800-372-7181. Ask to leave a message for the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee. Then leave the following message:
My name is ______________ and I'm calling to ask that you support HB94, also known as Tim's Law. Tim's Law will help people in Kentucky who are currently unable to access effective treatment for mental illness. Outpatient treatment plans have proven successful in other states, and they would help families and individuals impacted by mental illness in Kentucky. Please support Tim's Law, HB94.

NAMI Kentucky's Advocacy Coordinator, Michael Gray, is in Frankfort throughout the week. If you have any questions, please call him at 270-348-0066

Monday, January 11, 2016

Help Kentucky provide treatment BEFORE tragedy, by saying YES to Tim’s Law - HB 94

Tim’s Law - HB 94 – the AOT (assisted outpatient treatment) legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom Burch – will be heard for a vote this coming Thursday (Jan. 14that the House Health and Welfare Committee.  The committee meets from noon to 2 p.m. in Room 169 of the Annex.

Please call members of the House Health and Welfare Committee and ask for them to vote “Yes!” on HB 94!!  (View list here:)

Call your legislator directly if he/she in on the committee by calling 502-564-8100 and asking for their office.  
If you want to leave a message for the entire committee, call 
1-800-372-7181 and ask for your message of support to go to the entire House Health and Welfare Committee!!  

A summary description of the legislation can be viewed HERE.

Mark your calendars for the United 874K Disability Coalition Advocacy Event and Rally on February 2, 2016!!  If you/your group are planning to attend, please complete the Participation Form and return it to Sheila Schuster of the Advocacy Action Network. RSVP headcount needs to be in by Wednesday!

Thank you for your advocacy!

Sheila A. Schuster, Ph.D.
Advocacy Action Network
120 Sears Avenue, Suite 212
Louisville, KY  40207
502-894-0222 phone
502-836-4222 cell
502-894-0635 fax