Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mental Health First Aid Unproven & Should Not Be Funded

  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) lacks sufficient proof it helps people with serious mental illness. 
  • The venders of the program and those who want to purchase it, have convinced Congress to introduce a bill to have taxpayers pay for it. 
  • Those funds would be better used on programs proven to help people with serious mental illness.

(Note: If anyone has research contrary to that which we discuss, please post it in comments section. Our goal is to make sure our information and conclusions are accurate. Thank you)

Background: Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a commercially available training program created in Australia and now sold by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health to non-profits in the United States. The training program purports to teach people to identify the symptoms of mental illness in others and connect them to help. They also license others to be trainers for a fee. Participants get a certificate saying they received the training.

As part of his “Now is the Time” initiative in response to the shootings at Newtown, President Obama announced support  for  Mental Health First Aid. The organizations above, plus NAMI, MHA and others are now lobbying Congress to spend $20 million dollars for passage of The Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013 (S. 153/H.R. 274). The program is shown to make those who receive and give the training feel better, but has not been shown to have an impact on those they are supposed to be helping: people with serious mental illness.

Congress should not fund MHFA, and instead use the funds for programs that work. (Read more)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rep. Tim Murphy Announces Important Mental Health Legislation

This is big news.

Rep Tim Murphy (R. PA) is a former child psychologist, and head of the Mental "Health" Caucus. In spite of that,  he totally gets serious mental "illness" in adults and what the important versus tangential issues are.  He is as good as a Wellstone or a Domenici, and better than a Kennedy (who tended to focus on mental 'health' versus mental 'illness')

Rep. Tim Murphy has held extensive hearings where he listened to others focused on the most seriously ill including Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, Sally Satel, Joe Bruce , Ed Kelly. He also received extensive input from consumers around the country who contacted him. He  announced the results of his hearings today and the legislation he intends proposing.  It includes preserving hospitals, AOT (a/k/a Kendra's Law), revising HIPPA Handcuffs ( so families can get the info they need to help mentally ill loved ones), reigning in SAMHSA's anti-treatment activities , increasing police training, increasing NIMH budget for serious mental illness, and other key issues. I am very excited. 

 I am no Washington Insider, so I have no knowledge if it will fly or not. But at least someone is focused on right issues, not just PC tangential ones. Please support these efforts. He is totally on the right track. His press release and link to the floor speech follows: (Read more)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tell Governor Brown to Sign SB 585 to allow MHSA Funds for Laura's Law

(Updated 9/3/13)

Urgent: Contact Governor Jerry Brown immediately (Sept. 2013) and URGE HIM TO SIGN SB 585 which will help clarify that Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) funds may be used to fund Laura's Law.  Phone: (916) 445-2841.  Fax: (916) 558-3160 and use his online contact form.


Laura's Law allows courts to order a small group of people who have serious mental illness and a history of dangerousness to stay in treatment as a condition of living in the community. It has reduced arrest, incarceration, hospitalization and length of hospitalization in the two counties that use Laura's Law.

Two Reasons Counties Haven't Implemented Laura's Law:

There are two reasons more counties don't implement Laura's Law. Three million dollars in Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds are going to Disability Rights California and they are using those funds to threaten to sue counties that use any MHSA funds to implement Laura's Law even though such expenditure is clearly allowed. Laura's Law requires county boards of supervisors to vote to implement Laura's Law and simultaneously certify that no voluntary programs will be cut to do it.

Steinberg initially promised to help:

 In reaction to widespread outrage that people were being denied access to MHSA funded programs merely because they were so sick they were eligible for Laura's Law, Senator Steinberg introduced SB 585 in early April. The ostensible purpose was to clarify that MHSA funds could be used for people in Laura's Law.  But Steinberg  weakened his own bill. He added back a requirement that other bills by other legislators would have removed. Specifically, he added back a requirement that boards of supervisors vote (directly or through the budget process) to implement Laura's Law. And he added back a requirement that counties certify no voluntary programs will get cut to implement Laura's Law.

Unfortunately, SB 585 is the only bill Steinberg would let pass. And since it does somewhat clarify that MHSA funds can be used for Laura's Law, we are supporting it. Contact Governor Jerry Brown immediately (Sept. 2013) and urge him to sign SB 585 which will help clarify that Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) funds may be used to fund Laura's Law. Phone: (916) 445-2841 Fax: (916) 558-3160 and use his  online contact form