Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Gov. ignores guardianship crisis with veto

John Snook, Treatment Advocacy Center 6:32 p.m. ET March 28, 2017 

Governor Matt Bevin announced his veto of Tim’s Law, a commonsense bill passed nearly unanimously by the legislature to provide needed care for the most severely mentally ill. Unfortunately, the veto evidences both a misunderstanding of both the nature of the bill and the public health crisis it would address.

The veto message mentions personal liberty, but the failing status quo poses far more of a threat. Without Tim’s Law, Kentuckians with severe mental illness regularly become caught in a revolving door of crises and jailings. Kentucky jailers report about a quarter of inmates at Louisville Metro Department of Corrections and Campbell County jail receive medication for psychiatric disorders. Few would argue that care in the community under Tim’s Law is a greater infringement than a jail cell.

Those who avoid jail frequently end up wards of the state. The Kentucky Department of Aging and Independent Living reports courts increasingly rely on state guardianships for individuals with mental illness who don’t stay in treatment. Active wards now number almost 4,000 – a 227 percent increase over eight years. These guardianships are far more restrictive than Tim’s Law treatment orders but ill-suited to the task of actually ensuring treatment for the most severely ill. As a result, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the individual guardians have liability for wards with severe mental illness but no power to address their needs.

In contrast, programs like Tim’s Law have been proven, in both independent studies and in practice in states across the country, to be the key to getting this population the help they need to become stable in the community. Forty-four states already have laws like Tim’s Law on the books.

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Communities as diverse as Summit County, Ohio; Orange County, California; and New York City all report significant reductions in incarcerations, hospitalizations and costs from the use of programs mirroring Tim’s Law. Groups such as the National Sheriffs Association, the International Chiefs of Police, the American Psychiatric Association and the National Alliance on Mental illness all support the program.

An even more pertinent measure of the impact on liberty is what those in programs like Tim’s Law actually say. Researchers from Columbia University surveyed those in a similar program in New York State, 75 percent said it helped them gain control of their lives, while 81 percent said it helped them to get and stay well. Rather than a violation of their liberties, 88 percent of participants said that they and their case manager agreed on what is important for them to work on.

Under Tim’s Law, the individual would follow a court-ordered treatment plan only after a hearing and order by a judge, and only for the specified period of time. Both the county and the individual have the right to ask the court to review and modify the treatment order as needed. Tim’s Law is, by design, the least restrictive option needed for the individual to live safely within the community, and would apply only to the small number of Kentuckians who are so sick that they have been hospitalized, involuntarily, at least twice in one year.

Tim’s Law would stem the mounting public health crisis posed by untreated mental illness and address the skyrocketing costs for public mental health services. It is an option that Kentucky needs and which is already long overdue. To help the most severely ill, Kentucky must override the Governor’s veto.

John Snook is the executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Legislature should override Bevin’s veto of mental health bill

The late Tim Morton with his mother Faye Morton who told the Associated Press, “I want so much for (Tim’s) life to have a meaning more than this story.” Change Mental Health Laws in Kentucky

Lawmakers should override Gov. Matt Bevin’s veto of a bill allowing judges to order outpatient treatment for mental illness.

This humane option is available in almost every state and has long been sought by advocates for the mentally ill in Kentucky, including Kelly Gunning, whose adult son has bounced between psychiatric hospitals and jails. Despite her futile efforts to get him help — “we know when he is spiraling down” — he is in jail now. Under the delusion that his parents were conspiring against him, he violently assaulted them last year, using a rock as a weapon.

“Our son’s freedom was not protected — he’s in jail,” said Gunning, a leader of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Lexington and a supporter of Senate Bill 91, which lawmakers overwhelmingly approved only to be surprised by the veto.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/opinion/editorials/article141342993.html

Join the MARCH on Wednesday to SAVE Tim's Law - Save Lives - SAVE SB 91

Keep up the calls to Senate and House Leadership – Call the Legislative Message Line again 1-800-372-7181 – and leave your message:  “Override the Governor’s veto of Tim’s Law – SB 91 – and make it law to save lives!”

PLEASE come to Frankfort on Wednesday (3/29) to show Senators that we are really serious about getting this override done!  Wear RED, meet in the Annex Cafeteria @ 11 a.m. and march with us to the Capitol to greet Senators as they begin their session at Noon!

Note:  If you are coming to Frankfort, you can only access the underground parking garage from the top (ground) level.  The  “up” ramp from the river level is closed for repairs.  To get to the “down” ramp into the parking garage, take the road between the Annex and the Capitol, turn right around the Annex, keeping the parking lot on your left.  At the end of the parking lot, turn left and the “down” ramp to the parking garage will be ahead on your right.  Remember to go down to levels 4, 5, or 6 for parking.
SAVE SB 91!!

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

Governor Bevin vetoed Tim's Law, even though it passed in the Senate 34-3, and the House passed it 95-0!!

Breaking news from 
KY's Advocacy Action Network


The Governor has vetoed SB 91 – Tim’s Law – stating that it is a “dangerous precedent that would threaten the liberty of Kentucky’s citizens.”

But this legislation is not about taking away individuals' liberties.  It is about protecting those with serious mental illness and a history of involuntary hospitalization from a continuous cycle of hospitalization and, for some, incarceration.

The KY General Assembly made it crystal clear that it was time to stop the revolving door and to do something in this state to address the needs of individuals with serious mental illness.  The Senate passed SB 91 by a vote of 34-3, and the House passed it 95-0!! 

This approach is an evidence-based practice approved by SAMHSA and has been enacted into law in 44 other states because it is the right thing to do. 


MESSAGE:  Please vote to override the Governor’s veto of SB 91 – Tim’s Law – and pass this legislation to help Kentuckians with serious mental illness stay out of the hospital and jail!

The lists of legislators in leadership are attached.  If YOUR Senator or Representative is a member of leadership, please call them directly at 502-564-8100 and urge them to vote to override the veto.

There are only two days left in the session – Wednesday and Thursday.  Call TODAY and keep calling until they adjourn at midnight on Thursday!

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
Click to expand

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tim’s Law (AOT BILL SB 91) passes in Kentucky

I write with great appreciation today as a tribute to "Tim Morton" and his family and to all the Kentucky agencies, family members, individuals with mental illnesses and professionals who lobbied together to gain action on the passing of “Tim’s law” on March 14, 2017.

Faye Morton and I started a journey over 7 years ago to hopefully “wake up” Kentucky, regarding the most seriously ill who lacked insight to their mental illness, instead of "helplessly" waiting for them to die with their rights on.
In the beginning, when we used terms like AOT, (assisted outpatient treatment), most Kentuckians including legislators, did not know what it meant nor realized that Kentucky had a shorten version of AOT on its law books – that was woefully underfunded and had been underutilized for over two decades.
As time went on, I stepped far beyond my comfort zone, blogging and speaking publicly – in my attempts to educate the public why AOT was needed. I asked exhausted family members to write stories to share with the media and pleaded in thousands of letters and emails to state legislators of why Kentuckians’ deserved a true AOT law. 

I believed that people with severe brain diseases deserved treatment before tragedy NOT after hospitalization! By that time it was often too late! I wanted an AOT law in Kentucky like other states had! I desperately wanted an AOT law for my son who was trapped in a costly and life threatening revolving door. (I did not want to see his brain deteriorate to the point that Tim’s had over the past 30 years.) At times, I worked day and night until my own health was severely compromised.

By using Faye’s story about her son Tim, we attempted to educate others about anosognosia (a lack of insight to one’s illness) – to both legislators and the public. For a long time, most had trouble pronouncing the term. Finally after many years of effort, the "Tim’s Law" bills actually included the term "anosognosia", to explain how a small portion of people were too ill to understand their conditions and were unable to benefit from the traditional mental health services in the current voluntary health care system.

Faye and I joined with other like minded advocates and drove across the state attending NAMI Kentucky conferences, Kentucky Mental Health Coalition state meetings, political rallies, community fairs and festivals. We testified in legislative hearings more times than we care to remember. I created Powerpoint presentations and printed handouts – we were on a mission.
We invited national advocacy groups like Treatment Advocacy Center to fly to Kentucky to give educational presentations on why Kentucky would benefit from an AOT law
how AOT would help individuals like Tim and how AOT would save state funds and save lives!

Thankfully – many other groups joined in and pushed the bills to another level – it took a village, but we did not give up!

In the past 4 years, several versions of Tim’s law were sponsored in both the Kentucky House of Representatives and the Senate. Until this year, these bills did not pass. It was always due to the false belief that Tim's Law would cost too much, never about saving lives. Finally the Kentucky legislature realized the state would pay now or pay later and passed Tim's law unanimously 95-0 on the house floor after it passed out of the full senate a week ago. Next step is for Governor Bevin to sign this bill into law and for Kentucky to secure funding from federal AOT grants.

I am sincerely thankful for "everyone" who took the time to call, to write and to listen to why we wanted Tim's Law to pass.

There are many heroes in the passing of Tim’s law since 2010, here are a few.

Faye Morton, Tim’s Mom and inspirational advocate to many
Joy Morton Henderson, Tim's sister
Gloria Burd, transportation support, friend, advocate and support to many
Brian Stettin, Policy Director Treatment Advocacy Center
Kathryn Cohen, Attorney at Treatment Advocacy Center
Lisa Dailey, Attorney at Treatment Advocacy Center
Cathy Epperson, NAMI Kentucky Executive Director
All the local NAMI affiliates in Kentucky
Sheila A. Schuster, Ph.D., Advocacy Action Network
Kentucky Mental Health Coalition
Harold Jarboe,expert on living with SMI in recovery
NAMI Lexington – Phill and Kelly Gunning Executive Director
Valerie Mudd, Consumer Programs Coordinator/NAMI Lexington
Michael Beard, consumer advocate
Michael Gray, JD, MUP, Advocacy Coordinator NAMI Kentucky
Ella Hunter, former NAMI KY Public policy director, NAMI board member
Dante Murry, NAMI Louisville board member
Steve Shannon, Executive Director of KARP
Rita Ruggles, MSW of Naples, Florida
Kentucky Representative Tom Burch (D)
Kentucky Representative Jeff Hoover
Kentucky Representative Ruth Ann Palumbo
Kentucky Senator Julie Raque Adams (R)
Kentucky Senator Danny Carroll
Kentucky Senator Stan Humphries
Kentucky Senator Ralph Alvarado,
Kentucky Senator Alice Forgy Kerr
Kentucky Senator Morgan McGarvey
Former State Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville
Richard Owen, NAMI member and Mental Health Court advocate
Joann Strunk, advocate, artist and family member
Maggie Krueger, Mighty Kentucky Advocate and NAMI Somerset President
Brenda Benson, NAMI Murray President
Brenda Huntsman, NAMI Kentucky State President
James Haggie, NAMI Lexington President
Angela Wilkins and the KCA colleagues
Sarah W. Kidder, Analyst, Kentucky Legislative Research Commission

For today we say “Rest in Peace Tim” – 
your life made a difference that others 
may not suffer as you did!

"AOT must not be the last resort … it should be offered “before” our loved ones brains deteriorate. Advocates must learn 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!"  GG Burns, Mother and Advocate for Mental Health Reform

To read about SB 91 and HB 79 click here: http://www.namilexington.org/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/Tim's_Law_-AOT-HB_79_&_SB_91_Bill_Summary_-_Jan_2017_187.pdf

Bill to aid those with serious mental illness gets final OK
March 14, 2017
Deborah Yetter , @d_yetter

Thursday, March 2, 2017

We need your help to get SB 91 Tim’s Law pushed to passage!

Copied from: Advocacy Action Network

TO KMHC Members and Supporters –

We need your help to get Tim’s Law pushed to passage! 

SB 91 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee (and not the Health and Family Services Committee), so we need to get the phones ringing NOW and OFTEN before we run out of time!!

Please call 1-800-372-7181 and ask for your message to go to all members of the House Judiciary Committee
MESSAGE:  Please hear SB 91 – Tim’s Law – and pass it.   It will help Kentuckians with serious mental illness stay out of the hospital and out of jail.

If YOUR Representative is on the Judiciary Committee, please make a second call directly to him/her by calling 502-564-8100 and asking for their office.  Once the receptionist answers, tell her that you are a constituent and want to leave a message for Rep. ________ as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.  Then give the same message as above.

Here are the members of the House Judiciary Committee (also attached): 


2384 Abbeywood Rd
Lexington KY 40515

1700 Coon Creek Road
Salyersville, KY 41465
Knott, Magoffin, Pike

4012 Lambert Ave
Louisville KY 40218

4718 Burkley Avenue
Louisville, KY 40214

PO Box 2082
Danville KY 40423

126 Dixie Place
Ft Thomas KY 41075

2508 Little Dry Fork Rd
Whitesburg KY 41858
Letcher, Pike

PO Box 985
Jamestown KY 42629
Clinton, Cumberland, Pulaski, Russell

2010 O'Brien Ct
Shively KY 40216

PO Box 2090
Lexington KY 40588

D. Chad
447 Hutchins Ridge Road
Bardstown, KY 40165

239 Eastern By-Pass
Richmond KY 40475

10627 Gleneagle Place
Louisville, KY 40223
Jefferson, Oldham

1018 S 4th St, Ste 100
Louisville KY 40203

PO Box 143
Independence KY 41051
Campbell, Kenton

PO Box 397
Elkton KY 42220
Logan, Todd, Warren

113 N Walters Ave
P.O. Box 8
Hodgenville KY 42748
Green, Larue, Marion

PO Box 1358
Ashland KY 41105

4317 Pines Rd
Paducah KY 42001


Thanks 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