Monday, December 24, 2012

Why the public won't listen to mental health advocates

While virtually the entire nation unites around the reasonable proposition that people with serious mental illnesses should not own assault weapons, one group takes umbrage: mental-health experts. In the wake of incidents such as the one at Newtown, the experts immediately issue press releases claiming that people with mental illness are no more violent than others, leading to the conclusion that people with serious mental illness should not be the target of gun-control efforts.
How can the chasm be so wide? Who is right? The public that believes mental illness is associated with violence, or the experts who claim it is not? The science of violence becomes clear when you look at the totality of mental illness violence studies versus any single study. The definitive answer is: It depends on who is mentally ill.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Five Point Action Plan for President Obama to Reduce Violence by Mentally Ill

President Obama said the federal government has to do something meaningful to prevent future shootings like the twenty-six in Newtown, Connecticut.  Here is what the federal and state governments can do to prevent violence related to mental illness.

What Washington can do

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cuomo Olmstead Commission may do more harm than good for mentally ill in New York

I have a sister in law with a serious mental illness and want to thank and congratulate Governor Cuomo for issuing Executive Order 84on Friday creating a cabinet level committee to help move persons with mental illness out of segregated institutional care and back into the community. (Olmstead v. LC.,)  But I fear the way the committee is currently constituted, it lacks the expertise to do the job correctly and may do more harm than good.
 Too many members have expertise in mental health and none have it in criminal justice.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NYS Office of Mental Health: The wrong response to Hurricane Sandy

Whenever a tragedy like Hurricane Sandy strikes, the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) calls up mental health workers en masse and assigns them to do counseling for those affected by the tragedy. The problem is, they’re not needed, rarely do any good, are expensive, and take resources away from where they are truly needed: helping the most seriously mentally ill.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Will California’s next proposed tax increase work any better than the last?

Before deciding whether to support or oppose Proposition 30, California voters should take a close look at what happened with the last tax on millionaires they approved. In 2004, Californians altruistically passed Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), a 1% tax on millionaires to improve services for people with serious mental illness Yet in spite of the $8 billion raised many are still homeless, psychotic, eating out of dumpsters and screaming at voices only they can hear. Programs that can help, like Laura’s Law, remain unimplemented. The number of homeless mentally ill increased.
What happened?
Mental health officials accepted the voter’s mental health money, but not their requirement to spend it on the most seriously ill.

Monday, October 22, 2012

NYS OMH Commissioner Leaving: Good News for NYS

Last week we wrote on a NYS Inspector General Report proving the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) falsifies discharge plans of people with mental illness in order to kick them out of the hospital.

This week we are happy to report that in an article posted online NYS OMH Commissioner Michael Hogan made it clear he is leaving.

This is good news. NY needs a commissioner who will focus the department on serving the sickest people, rather than the largest number of people. It is the key change needed at OMH: Send those with the most serious mental illnesses to the front of the line, rather than the back, like Hogan did.

We previously wrote Huffington Post why Michael Hogan should be fired and in Albany Times Union on how eliminating OMH could improve services for the most seriously ill. We calculated how his refusal to support one program (Kendra's Law) was costing NYS $73 million. Huffington Post writer and medical director of the New York State Office of Mental Health estimated that inefficiency in OMH was costing up to $665 million. While OMH stopped focusing on the most seriously ill and started focusing on the least, the tragedies mounted as more persons with mental illness shot others, were shot by police, or killed themselves in an effort to escape the Hell that lack of care placed them in.

Hopefully, Governor Andrew Cuomo is replacing Mr. Hogan with a commissioner who will reverse his practices and return the focus to people with serious mental illness. It won't be easy. OMH is the biggest state agency giving out billions of dollars. That tends to gain you a lot of friends interested in preserving the status quo.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Report: NYS Office of Mental Health Falsifies Discharge Plans for Mentally Ill

An investigation by acting New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott found officials at Kingsboro Psychiatric Center allowed the release of mentally ill patients without a required discharge plan and then directed staff to cover it up. In this particular case, Kingsboro discharged a mentally ill woman to a street corner near a shelter. (Read Full Report or Summary)
The Inspector General expanded her investigation and found the failure to see that discharged patients get appropriate care is systemic.

Friday, September 14, 2012

CA Mental Health Services Act (MHSA/Prop 63) Insider Dealing

Over $16 million in Prop 63/MHSA funds is being diverted to organizations
associated with Oversight Commissioners

"Insider Dealing in MHSA Funds"

September 10, 2012
California's Mental Health Services Act is a good and important program that funds services for people with serious mental illness. But Mental Illness Policy Org (MIPO) found that over $16 million in Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds are going to organizations currently or formerly run by those responsible for oversight of the expenditures. This is likely a violation of California’s conflict-of-interest laws and raises serious questions about whether MHSA funds are being spent appropriately. The Associated Press in “California Mental Health Spending Often Bypasses Mentally Ill” and numerous op-eds have previously reported on the diversion of other MHSA funds to projects that do not serve people “with serious mental illness"..Rose King filed a whistleblower complaint. This is the first report on insider dealing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Numerous setbacks in care for seriously mentally ill

Sorry for not sending summer Mental Illness News

Sorry for not sending summer Mental Illness News. Here are recent developments in serious mental illness (not mental “health”).



We would like video of people with serious mental illness who are off medications and psychotic. If you have, please send. Try to get permission to use, but if you can't, we can blank out faces if needed. We want to educate the public about what serious untreated mental illness looks like. Footage may come from police interrogations, home video, trials, whatever. Most advocacy groups won’t allow public to see untreated serious mental illness. We want to change that because we believe a better understanding will lead to better laws and treatment.


LIBERTARIAN Thomas Szasz, progenitor of the ‘mental illness is a myth’ myth died. Szasz’s ideology that mental illness is a myth has permeated parts of government and prevented millions from receiving treatment. The NY Times obit revealed his prior connection to Scientology. Relatedly, we prepared a fact sheet comparing and contrasting Scientology (CCHR) and Mindfreedom. To their credit, the Libertarian Cato Institute ran our piece on How involuntary commitment & Treatment can increase civil liberties of mentally ill. Dr. Ronald Pies highlighted the pathology of schizophrenia and Rael Jean Issac, author of the most brilliant book on subject, Madness in the Streets took on Szasz directly.






In light of the above, advocates argue for more police training. We believe if the mental health system were trained not to abandon people with serious mental illness and hide behind civil commitment laws the police would not need to be called.


It is nice to see consumer leaders emerging willing to stand up to the anti-treatment Szasian wing of the movement:





Families are between a rock and a hard place: if they call the mental health system, they won’t help unless their child is well enough to accept help. When they deteriorate and the family is forced to call police, police can feel threatened and shoot. as two cases in CALIFORNIA demonstrated.

  • Julian Kurita in NY received the minimum sentence, after his mom pleaded for the court for leniency when he was convicted of killing her husband, his father due to his schizophrenia.
  • Jeneen Interlandi wrote a moving and highly visible piece in Sunday NY Times Magazine about civil commitment laws creating an inability to get her father treatment for his mental illness and the needless pain and suffering that caused. Hundreds of families commented.





“The suspect's parents will be blamed, though our civil rights laws make it extremely difficult for family members to force anyone to see a doctor or seek medical treatment if he or she has a mental disorder and is acting oddly. By law, we protect the right of an individual to be "crazy." Yet, we become outraged when a Cho or a Loughner kill and maim.” Huffington Post blogger made a full-throated case for better assisted treatment laws.











New fact sheet shows ANOSOGNOSIA (lack of awareness that you are ill) prevents many seriously mentally ill from getting treatment. There was a tempest in a teapot when pop-media reporting spanking is associated with mental illness. Not true.




”A mentally ill person in US can get a gun easier than healthcare for their illness.”


"With respect to severe mental illness, our county has a “can't do, can’t change, cant fund and can’t help attitude”

said Jim Bassler, who’s son Aron killed two and was hunted down by police and killed after the mental health system used civil commitment laws to deny him care.



  • Dr. George Dawson (a/k/a “Real Psychiatry”) and James Coyne (a/k/a “Skeptical Sleuth”) regularly tackle the internet memes, myths, pop-psychology and nonsense surrounding serious mental illness. Coyne wrote how the race towards early identification of ‘at-risk’ individuals (as opposed to treating those who are already ill) may be leading to oncologists being bribed by pharma to find 'mental illness' in Psychology Today.
  • Dr. Sally Satel, Dr. Steve Sharfstein, and Dr. E. Fuller Torrey did a brilliant serious mental illness roundtable discussion that focused on Dr. Torrey’s succinct analysis of the failure of federal mental ‘health’ system. The roundtable focused on SAMHSA encouraging states to move away from medical treatment; the failure to use Assisted Outpatient Treatment; the lack of psychiatric hospital beds and many of the other issues important to Mental Illness Policy Org but ignored by mental ‘health’ community (NAMI, MHA, consumertocracy, etc.)




  • Judge Leifman says, ““We never deinstitutionalized; we just transferred responsibility from a hospital system to the prison system,”
  • GEORGIA prison chief wrote on why we should “Decriminalize Mental Illness
  • Michael Biasotti, President of NYS Association of Chiefs of Police encouraged NY legislators to close the cracks in Kendra’s Law.




Mental Illness Policy Org was very active in NYS this summer and started a NY Specific site. We wrote too many op-eds and testimonies to present them all here.




In spite of our efforts the legislature did not close the cracks in Kendra’s Law as proposed by NYS Senator Catherine Young and Assembly Member Ailleen Gunther. Mentally ill individuals discharged from prisons, jails, and involuntary commitment will continue to go to the community without first determining if they could benefit from enrollment in Kendra’s Law. This was a victory for NY’s mental ‘health’ community and a defeat for those who care about people with serious mental illness. See numerous editorials and op-eds in NY Daily News, and op-eds in NY Post. We thank them for their support (although don’t agree with periodic use of juvenile and offensive language). Highlights include our own op-ed blaming NYS OMH Commissioner Michael Hogan and this by Michael Benjamin. The Daily News blamed NYS Assembly MH Committee Chair Felix Ortiz for acknowledging the dangers and Felix Ortiz for doing nothing, and Felix Ortiz for promising hearings he never even held. Other papers around the state (that no longer make the articles available online) also supported reform. Thanks to our efforts the Department of Justice certified Assisted Outpatient Treatment as an “effective crime prevention strategy.”




NYS is holding hearings on how to comply with Olmstead v. L.C. which held that services for persons with mental illness be provided in the “most integrated setting ". We testified greater use of Kendra’s Law can prevent people from going to incarceration. The commission did not hold any hearings in jails or prisons where those who live in the least integrated setting are.




NYS OMH Commissioner Michael Hogan also issued instructions to kick seriously mentally ill people out of adult homes.




LYNN SHUSTER one of the best advocates for improved care for seriously mentally ill in NYS stepped down as leader of NAMI Buffalo. Her parting words,


“Never trust a bureaucrat. It's THEIR money (and power and prestige, it's just our loved one's lives. And we know which comes out on top. "Making nice" makes you feel good, but doesn't result in success. News reporters are our friends. Tell the truth, the REAL truth.... Maintain a sense of humor even in dark days--we all need to laugh. Persevere. Persevere some more.... “





Mental Illness Policy Org was very active in California and started a site on Laura’s Law and a site on Problems with Proposition 63/Mental Health Services Act. We had numerous op-eds and letters published including this by Mary Ann Bernard




Mental Ilness Policy Org researched and issued a report finding over $16 million of Prop 63 funds going to oversight committee commissioners own organizations and a salary of $681,758 for Rusty Selix.




Due to voters altruistically passing Prop 63, a 1% tax on millionaires to fund services (Mental Health Services Act) for people with “serious mental illness”, California is the only state with plenty of money to provide care for people with serious mental illness. But it is being diverted elsewhere. Taking off on the work of Carla Jacobs, Rose King, Teresa Pasquini, and many others in CA, Hannah Dreier at AP reported Calif mental health dollars bypassing mentally ill . This led to editorials, calls for an investigation, the consideration of an investigation, our criticism, and a coverup by those who approved the spending. (They failed to disclose that the programs do not serve people with mental illness as the legislation requires.)


How can you help in California?


Be a Whistle Blower. The auditor wants to hear about problems with MHSA. She needs your help. If you know MHSA Programs that do not serve people with serious mental illness, especially in Los Angeles, please send them to the auditor. Make them as specific as possible and include links, details that will allow verification. You know the California mental illness system better than the auditor, so send Ms. Howle the tips she needs:

Elaine M. Howle

California State Auditor

555 Capitol Mall

Suite 300

Sacramento, California 95814

Phone Number: (916) 445-0255

General Fax: (916) 327-0019

Executive Office Fax: (916) 323-0913


Email a copy of your information about programs that do not focus on serious mental illness to those trying to stop the diversion of MHSA funds.





CalMHSA gave (and MHSAOC approved) a $2,917,092 grant to Disability Rights California and $1,539,225 to California Network of Mental Health Clients which will be used to prevent counties from providing Laura’s Law to patients who could benefit from it. This supplements SAMHSA money flowing into CA also being used to prevent those who don’t know they are ill from receiving treatment.



Thank you for your financial support which makes our work possible. Together we will get more mental ‘health’ money going to people with ‘serious mental illness’.