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.”

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.
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 .
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: http://www.ket.org/legislature/?archive&nola=WLEGP%20016005&part=1

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 Kentucky.com'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: http://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article56717773.html#storylink=cpy

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