Wednesday, April 30, 2014

If You Don't Ask Your US Rep to Cosponsor Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, You are Part of Problem.

Call your US Rep to ask them to co-sponsor HR-3717, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act for the 6 reasons below:

Five percent of Americans have serious mental illness (i.e., schizophrenia, severe bipolar). Twenty percent have “any” mental illness (i.e., some form of depression, stress, anxiety, social phobia, etc.).  It is the 5% who are most likely to become homeless, suicidal, criminal, arrested, incarcerated and violent. Up to 40% of the most seriously ill are so ill they do not know they are ill (“anosognosia”). While most mentally ill are not violent, that does not hold true for the untreated seriously mentally ill with anosognosia. We can not ignore them. Following are provisions in HR3717 that most directly improve care for the seriously ill and reduce the chance of violence, homelessness, suicide:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Does Assisted Outpatient Treatment Violate Civil Liberties

Does Assisted Outpatient Treatment violate civil liberties of persons with mental illness?  Courts say no, and courts are the arbiters. Courts have decided that since AOT is limited to such a small group (those with a past history of arrest, violence, needless hospitalizations) that AOT is an appropriate use of police power (to protect citizenry) and parens patraie powers (to help those who can't help themselves). 

Another way to look at it is that AOT generally does not affect persons with mental illness. Having a mental illness is not enough to qualify someone for AOT. At most, 123,000 people would be eligible for AOT and research shows that even when AOT is funded, only roughly one-third of those eligible will ever be put on it (41,000 individuals). There are 58 million people who had  a mental illness diagnosis in past year. Therefore the maximum number of people it will affect, is .07% of individuals with mental illness.  

Clearly, not all people with mental illness are being put "at risk". It does not result in the massive depravation of rights claimed by opponents.

The upside is AOT has been proven to work. AOT reduces homelessness, arrest, violence, incarceration over 70% among those enrolled. It is constitutional, does not violate civil liberties; keeps patients public and police safer, is racially neutral, has support from consumers who actually experienced it, and cuts costs to taxpayers in half

AOT is smart policy to help deliver treatment to a very small group of the most symptomatic. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Assisted Outpatient Treatment Pilot Program Grants Passed by Congress

On Monday, March 31, 2014, the Senate passed H.R.4302 which included $60 million for Assisted Outpatient Treatment Pilot Programs. Following is the text of the legislation (Followed by the text of the Excellence in Mental Health Act which was also included in HR 4302) 


(a) In General- The Secretary shall establish a 4-year pilot program to award not more than 50 grants each year to eligible entities for assisted outpatient treatment programs for individuals with serious mental illness.