Sunday, January 26, 2014

Va. state senator stabbed by son: "The system failed" -- my response to Scott Pelley

Dear Scott Pelley of CBS NEWS,

Thanks you for sharing the truth about Senator Deeds and his son Gus.

Sadly, hundreds of stories about family members with serious psychiatric disorders/brain diseases hurt or kill their family member each day and the public rarely hears about these tragedies, unless the victim is famous or the tragedy takes place in a school.

As a Mother of young man who has struggled with psychiatric diagnoses most of his life and has been involuntary admitted 12 times for symptoms of my brain disease … my heart goes out to Senator Deeds, to Gus’s Mother and their entire family.

However, my letter is to you Mr. Pelly and to the news team at CBS/60-Minutes. In your segment, there was no mention of the 40-50% of young 'adults' who lack insight to their illness and refuse treatment — due to a symptom called anosognosia.

According to Treatment Advocacy Center: Anosognosia - "lack of insight" or "lack of awareness" - is believed to be the single largest reason why individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder do not take their medications. A result of anatomical damage to the brain, it affects approximately 50% of individuals with schizophrenia and 40% of individuals with bipolar disorder.

In this segment, you only discussed the fact there is a shortage of psych beds and psychiatrist in most states! Yes it is true that 4.2 billion dollars that has been cut from states behavioral health budgets since 2008, but you made no reference on how these funds are now absorbed in the states Department of Corrections budget or the Dept. of Justice.

A 2006 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that over half of all jail and prison inmates have mental health issues; an estimated 1.25 million suffered from mental illness, over four times the number in 1998

For many of us ‘families in crises', it would not matter if psych beds are available and resources/outpatient programs are abundant … our loved ones will continue to refuse treatment unless ‘commitment laws’ change at the state and national level.

Families in mental health crises face unthinkable challenges! When our loved ones threaten violence, medical professionals and the police encourage us to file restraining orders, hoping the ‘legal process’ will prevent tragedy – but instead of treatment this process leads to homelessness and jail – not medical treatment! The current system sets up young adults to fail, with a criminal record that prevents future employment and access to housing. For families like mine, there is nothing worse than depending on the police to be our emergency medial providers. In some cases, our calls for help can end deadly!

Finally there is a glimmer of hope to our hell!

Representative Tim Murphy, (PA-R) recently sponsored the “Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 3717), a bill that will unravel a broken system and addresses barriers to treatment for those who need it the most.

H.R. 3717 includes provisions for states to support Assisted Outpatient Treatment, (AOT), which reduce hospitalizations, homelessness, incarcerations and victimization. It will remove barriers such as HIPPA handcuffs and will clear federal bureaucracy that enables hospitals from having acute care psychiatric beds. It will authorize BRAIN research initiative at the National Institute of Mental Health, establish Department Of Justice Reforms, and create mental health courts so patients are treated in the healthcare system and not warehoused in jails, and much more.

Families across the US are living in crises – with no voice. WE NEED YOUR HELP.

Please continue to produce segments on 'families in crises' and updates about Senator Deeds. But please mention there national legislation (H.R. 3717) that can help us.

~ A Mom who lives in the nightmare of a broken mental health system!

BySCOTT PELLEY  CBS NEWS January 23, 2014, 7: 16 PM

It was a shock last November when a Virginia state senator was slashed in the face and stabbed by his son. In an interview for "60 Minutes," Sen. Creigh Deeds speaks  for the first time on television about the attack and what he sees as acritical failure in mental health care - a failure that ended in the death of his 24-year-old son, Gus.

Creigh Deeds
 "I really don’t want Gus to be defined by his illness," Deeds says. "I don't want Gus to be defined by what happened on the 19th. Gus was a great kid. He was a perfect son. It's clear the system failed. It's clear that it failed Gus. It killed Gus."

Thank you for Sharing with the world the story of Senator Deeds and his son gus. 

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