Tuesday, October 25, 2016

NYC Health & Hospitals Corp Kicked Mental Health Advocate (Me) Out of Meeting.

Last night (October 24) I was prevented from attending the 2016 Annual PUBLIC meeting of the Harlem Community Advisory board to NYC Health and Hospitals Corp. It was in the second floor auditorium of Harlem Hospital.

The annual meeting was entitled, “Understanding the Roadmap to Mental Health.” The word “roadmap” refers to ThriveNYC, the $800 million NYC mental health plan. Since I think it is failing because it funds pop-psychology and useless programs and generally ignores serious mental illness, I thought attendees would be a good audience to share my point of view with.
So I made up a package of three handouts: a one-pager on why I believe ThriveNYC is failing, a copy of the critical article on ThriveNYC that Seth Baron wrote for City Journal and a fact sheet containing the research on Kendra’s Law, a useful program that Dr. Gary Belkin, the director of mental health services in NYC refuses to make available to most who could benefit from it.
As I usually do, I showed up early (I knew several people who are members of Harlem NAMI, as am I) and started handing out my fact sheet to those few who were already seated. This all took place before the event started.
A man came over and told me I couldn’t hand out literature. I explained that it was directly related to the purpose of this PUBLIC meeting. He said I couldn’t and asked me to leave. I was pretty sure I was within my rights, and I said that at a public meeting all sides should be allowed to present their point of view. He said, “We are trying to build support for the Roadmap and you want to say it doesn’t work so you have to leave” 
While I was gathering my belongings a woman who identified herself as Detective Fleming came over, and said Mr. Cook said I had to leave. I asked who that was and she said he was (I think) a hospital (Community Affairs?) Director. I said that I was surprised as a police officer that she takes orders from him, versus someone at NYPD, but she said she is a detective, but did not work for NYPD, she works for the hospital and escorted me out. Note that I was very calm and so were they. We had a disagreement, that is all, and they said they had the right to force me to leave, and I didn’t know enough to know if they are right or not.
Guards posted outside Harlem Hospital to make sure no literature questioning efficacy of ThriveNYC was given to participants at public hearing on Thrive NYC (10.24.27)

So I left and started handing out my literature on the street to people who were going into Harlem Hospital. I would ask, “Are you going to the mental health meeting” and if they answered in the affirmative, I handed them literature. At that point Detective Fleming and a big guy who I took to be a boss (Cook?) and a little guard came out and told me I couldn’t hand out literature in front of the hospital. I said, respectfully, that I am ex-hippie who has participated in many protests and I am pretty sure I am allowed to hand out literature on the sidewalk. The big guy tried to mildly intimidate me and said, “Do you want me to ratchet this up.” And at that point I took a big breath and said, “yes, I think I do.” (In my mind, I was thinking, if he wants to escalate this, he will likely call police and if they tell me I can't hand out literature, I would have to take their word for it.) He went inside-I thought to call police-and the other security guards stayed behind to watch me and tell me repeatedly I had to leave. I didn’t. I continued. And they continued to tell me I had to leave. I must have been right, because even though they stayed around watching me, continually saying I could not hand out literature, they did nothing when I did.
I was frankly very surprised. It did get the adrenaline going a little a bit. I had thoughts about a night in jail, something that hasn't happened to me since the Vietnam War Protests in DC. 

I think they were wrong to try to shut down free-speech, especially, as I wasn’t even saying anything, just handing out literature. I don’t think it was part of any cabal, although frankly I don’t understand it, as handing out literature at a public meeting is fairly mom and apple pie. 

I do think it explains one important reason why ThriveNYC is failing to serve the seriously mentally ill. First Lady Chirlane McCray, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and others are only hearing from mental "health" officials, mental "health" industry reps, and mental "health" advocates. 
In fact, they usually won't even use the term "mental illness" as if it were a pejorative. 
 I don't think McCray or Buery had anything to do with me being kept out. T
he most likely reason officials kept me out was because they wanted to  avoid upsetting them by having it get back to them that someone questioned their program publicly. McCray and Buery are not hearing from those of us who care about the seriously mentally "ill". The mental health industry loves to receive money from the city without any obligation to serve the seriously ill. And McCray and Buery's ThriveNYC largely gives it to them.

Read thoughtful articles about ThriveNYC failing the most seriously ill here or here and here

1 comment:

  1. why am I not surprised with this corrupt system? God help you people who are hurting the seriously MI!!! When will America grow a heart???