NO BEDS FOR MENTAL HEALTH CARE, JAILS OVERWHELMED

It’s a national disgrace that can be traced directly back to the vast inequity of wealth that exist today. Money once used to fund State mental health programs through tax dollars has dried up as it funnels into the pockets of the rich. How long can a society thrive when the basic needs of it’s most sick, desperate, and  vulnerable citizens are ignored? The repercussions of this sad reality are evident on every street in America. Unfortunately, police officers are the now the first point of contact and jail the de facto asylum. Read the entire article on AL.Com.

By Lee Roop & Challen Stephens

People who set fires in cells. Take their clothes off in lobbies. Walk or run toward deputies carrying guns and knives. Try to break into sheriffs’ homes at night.

Alabama sheriffs say they face a growing number of mentally ill residents and a shrinking state mental health system.

“Did I really comprehend the magnitude of it?” asks Sheriff Rick Singleton in Lauderdale County. “Probably not until I actually got into office and started dealing with it.”

“The biggest problem is there are no beds, no place to put them when you get an involuntary commitment,” Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said. “We’ve had that at least three times this year.”

The state has closed three psychiatric hospitals since 2012 for financial reasons, cutting the number of beds for patients from 740 to 268 — a drop of 64 percent.

“Currently, those in need of mental health services only have three options we’re aware of – inpatient care, outpatient care or care during incarceration,” said Chief Deputy Randy Christian in Jefferson County.

Without available beds, sheriffs talk of searching for charges to find a way to house potentially dangerous individuals.

 

GRAND JURY AS TOOL FOR CHANGE

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Many caregivers are concerned over misappropriation of tax dollars appropriated for the SMI community. The public has a basic right to question the use of their tax dollars. The Grand Jury is a way to get those questions asked.

The grand jury system has roots in laws traced from ancient Greece, through the Norman system, the Magna Carta and early American and California judicial systems. The United States Constitution specifically refers to a grand jury. The Alameda County civil grand jury is comprised of citizens who act as officers of the Court and are responsible to citizens of Alameda County.

Below is  general info on the Grand Jury and attached is their most current report.  It tells who they’ve  investigated this past year and gives a more of an idea of how things work and who it involves.  Requesting an investigation is anonymous and this seems important because it does not benefit anyone to make enemies and any  consideration of filing  should be kept between us.

Contra Costa County requested a Grand Jury investigation during their fight for Laura’s Law and Doug Dunn who requested the investigation thought this made a big difference.
We must continue to  find ways to fight the inequality for care in our current system.
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Civil Grand Jury
 The civil grand jury acts as a “watch-dog” by investigating the workings and efficiencies of county and local governments. Past investigations have highlighted the failings of local officials in adequately scrutinizing the deal that returned the Raiders football team to Oakland – a deal which currently costs Oakland and Alameda County taxpayers in excess of $20 million every year; the failure of local school boards and county education officials in adequately overseeing the financial affairs of bankrupt school districts in Oakland and Emeryville; and exposed the county welfare agency’s complete failure to investigate welfare fraud, resulting in the district attorney assuming responsibility for those investigations and prosecutions – now numbering over 800 felony prosecutions each year.

The civil grand jury is also authorized to:

  1. Inspect and audit books, records and financial expenditures to ensure the public that public funds are properly accounted for and spent.
  2. Inspect books and records of special districts in Alameda County.
  3. Examine books and records of non-profit agencies that have substantial contacts with county or local agencies.
  4. Inquire into and inspect conditions of local jails and detention facilities.
  5. Investigate charges of willful misconduct by public officials or employees.

Secrecy

Both civil and criminal grand jury proceedings are conducted in secret. Complaints made to the grand jury are kept confidential as are the identities of complainants and of witnesses who testify in front of the grand jury. This secrecy allows complainants, including whistle-blowers, and witnesses to have confidence that their identities will not be revealed.

How Can I File A Complaint With The Grand Jury?

Any person may complain to the Alameda County civil grand jury. The grand jury can only act on complaints dealing with a county department, any city within Alameda County, local agencies that operate within Alameda County (for example BART, EBMUD, AC Transit), and all school districts within Alameda County. The civil grand jury also considers complaints against public officials typically dealing with malfeasance in office. The civil grand jury cannot investigate complaints against state or federal agencies.

Since the activities of the civil grand jury are secret, complainants can be assured their identity will not be disclosed to anyone outside the grand jury.
 Complaints made to the grand jury must be in writing and include the name, address and phone number of the complainant. The civil grand jury encourages people who wish to make a complaint to use the complaint form below.

To make your complaint:

  1. Download the complaint form. (7kb)**
  2. Complete the form.
  3. Mail the completed form to the address listed in the form

1401 Lakeside Drive, Suite 1104
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 272-6259
FAX: (510) 465-9647
E-mail: Grand Jury

House to Vote on H.R. 2646 Next Week

In This Week’s Edition of E-News…25765436560_c3dddc776e

House to Vote on H.R. 2646 Next Week
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy today announced a floor vote for the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) on Wednesday, July 6th, 2016.

Murphy’s landmark crisis mental health legislation, cosponsored by 205 bipartisan members of Congress, focuses resources where they are most needed to foster evidence-based care, fix the shortage of psychiatric hospital beds, empower caregivers under HIPAA privacy laws, and help patients get treatment well before their illness spirals into crisis.

“This is a historic moment for families in a mental health crisis and the millions of Americans trapped in our nation’s broken mental health system,” said Congressman Murphy.

The Energy and Commerce Committee took the historic step last month by passing Congressman Murphy’s legislation by a unanimously vote of 53-0 and set the stage for Congress to overhaul the failed system for the first time in more than half a century. The existing outdated mental health infrastructure has not kept pace with the science and the knowledge of what mental illness is and how to treat it.

“Mental illness is not a moral defect, it is not a choice, and it is not a joke. Mental illness is just that, an illness,” said Dr. Murphy. “With this vote, for the first time, Congress is saying: no more moments of silence; we must have treatment before tragedy; we pledge our unwavering commitment to bringing help and hope to those most in need; and, we declare a new dawn of hope for the care of those with mental illness.”

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Congressman Murphy led the multi-year effort to reform the nation’s failing mental health care system. With endorsements from nearly every major newspaper in the country, the legislation is expected to clear the House floor and head to the Senate. While the fate of the bill in the Senate remains uncertain, Congressman Murphy promised his steadfast commitment to see crisis mental health reforms signed into law to help those with the most serious illness.

“To every family member, the tens of thousands who reached out to me, who stepped forward to share their story and be a voice for change, my deepest gratitude for your courageous stand to help families in mental health crisis,” said Murphy.

Stay tuned for more late-breaking details as they become available.

 

BARBARA LEE WANTS YOUR HELP

This afternoon I attended my first meeting with the DNC platform drafting committee to discuss the policy platform that will be officially endorsed by the Democratic Party.
I look forward to being part of the team as a member of the platform drafting committee, and am very excited about all the momentum that has surrounded this primary election cycle.
Now it’s time to get to work presenting our views and translating our policy proposals into the platform that will be endorsed by our party. It’s very important that we hear from you during this process, which is why I am asking you to share what you’d like included in the platform.
I am so proud of the young people, the progressives, people of color, and all the Democrats who have participated in the democratic process. Throughout the primary we have generated great energy within the party, which we will need to win in November.
It is so important that we come out of the convention unified and prepared to defeat Donald Trump. Together we will create a platform that is progressive, and one that everyone can endorse and rally around.
Barbara Lee
Barbara Lee
Member of Congress

 

WILL CONGRESS BLOW CHANCE TO FIX MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM?

Senator Roy Blunt speaks on Capitol Hill, urging other senators to pass the Excellence in Mental Health Act.

Every day, when I am walking to work, or just walking through the streets of downtown Washington, I encounter homeless people on the street.

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The homeless cover many categories, but prominent among them are those with serious mental illnesses. They know no boundaries of race or education; there was a prominent story last year in the Washington Post of a homeless man with schizophrenia who told a judge that he didn’t need a lawyer, that he was a lawyer. When the judge reacted with bemused skepticism, the man informed the judge—accurately—that they had been in the same class at Harvard Law School (which also included Chief Justice Roberts!)

I used to pass most of the people on the streets by studiously looking the other way, sometimes reacting with annoyance if someone was talking to himself or shouting. But after a difficult, 10-year journey of serious mental illness with my brilliant and talented son, which ended in tragedy, I have a different attitude.

Continue reading “WILL CONGRESS BLOW CHANCE TO FIX MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM?”

MENTAL HEALTH REFORM BILLS IGNORE SMI

DJ Jaffe Executive Director, Mental Illness Policy Org, reports in the National Review online that Mental Health Reform bills H.R. 2646 and H.R. 2646, currently working their way through Congress, have been rewritten so extensively the bills no longer provide the necessary help that’s demanded for people with serious mental illness.
When they returned in June, House and Senate leadership indicated they may take up rewritten mental health bills originally proposed by Representative Tim Murphy (R., Penn.).
The House will consider the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) as rewritten by Representative Fred Upton (R., Michigan) and the Senate will consider the Mental Health Reform Act (S. 2680) as adopted by Senators Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), Chris Murphy (D., Conn.), and Bill Cassidy (R., Louisiana). The well-intentioned rewrites keep some important provisions of Tim Murphy’s original bill, but they ignore a core finding of Murphy’s multi-year investigation of the mental-health system.

Continue reading “MENTAL HEALTH REFORM BILLS IGNORE SMI”

BIPOLAR TEEN’S STRUGGLE

This is the third part of the excellent KQED Radio News series on the challenges of mental health in California.  Reporter Shariah Vroman-Nagy who tried to kill herself three years ago. She was diagnosed as bipolar shortly after and has had to endure an unending struggle to get treatment. After Shaiah’s  attempted suicide, her family fought a protracted battle with insurance companies as they sought care. Dembosky’s report highlights the cold and ruthless tactics big insurance companies use when it comes to not paying for mental health treatment. Follow this link for the full report:

http://ww2.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2016/06/01/depressed-teens-struggle-to-find-mental-health-care-in-rural-california/RS19653_0506

THE COST OF NOT CARING

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This is a must read for every proactive caregiver.  VOM&O congratulates USA TODAY on excellent reporting.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/12/mental-health-system-crisis/7746535/

In this special report, USA TODAY reveals that more than half a million Americans with serious mental illness are falling through the cracks of a system in tatters.

The mentally ill who have nowhere to go and find little sympathy from those around them often land hard in emergency rooms, county jails and city streets. The lucky ones find homes with family. The unlucky ones show up in the morgue.

“We have replaced the hospital bed with the jail cell, the homeless shelter and the coffin,” says Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., a child psychologist leading an effort to remodel the mental health system. “How is that compassionate?”

Continue reading “THE COST OF NOT CARING”

VOM&O AND RIGHT 2 TREATMENT FIGHT  PROP 63 MISUSE

VOM&O AND RIGHT 2 TREATMENT FIGHT PROP 63 MISUSE

MAY 24, 10am California State Capitol West Steps.

Right 2 Treatment, VOM&O and other mental health activist rally to protest the use of Prop 63 tax dollars being used to fund a “Mental Health Matters” event put on by the State Director of Mental Health. Prop 63 was passed by voters over a decade ago with the intent of providing services for our most mentally disabled, this event is another example of how Prop 63 funds continue to be misspent on “feel good” programs and events. Misuse of Prop 63 tax dollars are one reason funding and services for mentally ill people are not being provided and why many continue to cycle through the revolving doors of unsupported mental health treatment.

Catch the story on ABC 10 News http://www.abc10.com/mb/news/protesters-call-for-mental-health-awareness/214050441

WHO’S WHO AT U.S. SENATE SUMMIT ON MENTAL HEALTH

Continue reading “WHO’S WHO AT U.S. SENATE SUMMIT ON MENTAL HEALTH”