These  myths about serious mental illness in the United States are believed by many mental health advocates and cause Congress to waste money and fail to implement policies that can improve care and keep patients, the public and the police safer.

Continue reading “8 MYTHS ABOUT SMI by D. J. JAFFE”


News reports that 44 year old Jason Morton was released prematurely from Alameda County’s John George psychiatric facility and has been declared missing.

Two days after Morton was brought to John George he was released wearing a hospital gown.

Ray Morton, Jason’s brother, is quoted as saying, “He’s not afraid to walk for miles at a time. He’s not afraid to get into vehicles with people and this is somebody who doesn’t have the mental capacity to stay safe.”

Ray Morton said he called John George to ask why, and says he was told it was a mistake.



“The average amount of time for ER boarding of psychiatric patients in California is 10 hours. Using the Alameda Model, the time was reduced over 80 percent to 1 hour 48 minutes.”

There is a crisis in Mental Health Care in this country, and especially in Alameda County.

Many of us have been dealing with this situation for years, if not decades, and we have had little help from the Alameda County Mental Health System. This is endangering our loved ones and others, and has been going on for far too long.
I’ve been seeking treatment for my adult schizophrenic son for nine years.  He’s still on the streets, getting no help or treatment and getting more and more agitated and delusional.  I fear he’ll end up in prison where he’ll get no help at all.



Tuesday May 24th  California State Capitol


RIGHT TO TREATMENT supporters and other advocates rallied to protest the use of Prop 63 funds that are being used to fund this event. Prop 63 was passed by voters over a decade ago with the intent of providing for those suffering severe mental illness. The “Mental Health Rally” event is another example of how Prop 63 funds continue to be misspent and one of the reasons enough services for SMI are not being provided and why many continue to cycle through the revolving door of the mental health system.

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



People stricken with severe brain illnesses do not belong in  jails. Disability Rights as usual missing the big picture –  blaming the jails for not providing appropriate medical treatment instead of advocating for sustained care  they need so they  are not arrested for  crimes due to  symptoms of their illness. 


KQED’s Lisa Pickoff-White and Julie Small recently reported that conditions the DRC report found in Sonoma County’s main jail are a reflection of what mental health experts say is a disturbing reality nationwide: After decades spent “deinstitutionalizing” the mentally ill — removing them from settings like state hospitals in favor of community mental health facilities that have rarely been adequately funded — correctional facilities are now de facto treatment centers for those suffering from acute psychiatric disorders.

A 2010 study found that in California, nearly four times as many mentally ill people were in jails and prisons than in hospitals.

The report, produced by the National Sheriffs’ Association and Treatment Advocacy Center, said that “in historical perspective, we have returned to the early 19th century, when mentally ill persons filled our jails and prisons.”

Experts say conditions like those in Sonoma County show jails are simply the wrong place to treat the mentally ill.

KQED reports:

Two Deaths In One Jail In One Month: How Are We Treating Mentally Ill Inmates?

Read the DRC report:



The New York Times writer Thomas Fuller has reported media organizations in the Bay Area are planning to coordinated coverage on the homeless crisis in the city. The Chronicle is dispensing with traditional news article formats and will put forward possible solutions to the plight of around 6,000 homeless.

Bay Area television and radio stations, The Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, Mother Jones and online publications, among others, agreed to publish their reports on homelessness on June 29.

Thirty news organizations have confirmed their participation. KQED, a public television and radio station, is also taking a lead role in the campaign.




More than Million Americans suffer with severe mental illness.

There are 356,000 people with severe mental illness in jails and prisons. And10x more people with SMI behind bars than receiving treatment in a hospital.

ONE THIRD of the homeless population suffers with an untreated severe mental illness, more than 200,000 people

At least ONE QUARTER of all law enforcement fatalities involve someone suffering with untreated severe mental illness.

People with severe mental illness and their families deserve better than jail, homelessness and death. They deserve 


For more information visit www.TreatmentAdvocacyCenter.org.




Ignorance Hurts; Fight Back! – personally speaking

“If I wasn’t so mad, I’d laugh.”

That was the message Candy DeWitt sent us this week along with an appalling letter to the editor of a local newspaper. The letter accused the DeWitt family of not doing anything to prevent their 23-year-old son Daniel – who suffers from  untreated schizophrenia – from allegedly beating a popular businessman to death in February.

Parents could have done more for son” was the headline. Here’s what the letter said.

 “I read with tremendous grief about the murder of Peter Cukor at the hands of Daniel DeWitt. I find appalling the fact that his family was fully aware of his insanity yet they did nothing to get him off the streets. His father went as far as to blame ‘the system.’

“Here’s my question: Did the parents go to the facility he was released from in December with videotape of their visits to their son where ‘he only whispered to them through an apartment door and thought he was being poisoned’? Did they go to the local police department, did they contact the mental illness hot line, did they rally other family members or friends to get him in a treatment facility? How was he supposed to get better if no one was advocating for him?

“As the mother of a young daughter I have no intention of ending my parenting when my daughter turns 18 or if she becomes mentally ill or if she turns to drugs or violence.

“Family is the backbone of this country. How can parents turn their back on their adult children? Wake up, parents. You have a responsibility to the person you brought into this world.”

Ignore the self-righteousness. The ignorance expressed by the letter-writer is mind-boggling, infuriating and just plain sad. Any of we who – like the DeWitts – have futilely begged, petitioned, manipulated, bought and otherwise turned our lives inside out to get help for loved ones with untreated severe mental illness know the desperate ends family members pursue in vain.

The letter writer – and many of the people who read this letter – don’t know what we know. They need to, not just because ignorance hurts the immediate target but because people who believe that treatment laws and policies are adequate won’t support changing them.

Talk back!  Click here to send a letter of not more than 175 words to the editor. Click “Parents could have done more for their son” and scroll about halfway down to find the original letter.

With and on behalf of Candy DeWitt, mother of Daniel DeWitt

For more information about how lack of insight into untreated mental illness leads to tragedy, read our backgrounder about anosognosia.

To comment, visit our Facebook page.
Visit our blog archive to read all our recent posts.



 69 BEDS FOR OVER 1,000 5150s PER MONTH
My son came straight from Kaiser with a freshly stitched up arm and a deep wound.  It was 18 hours before he was seen by a doctor and could even receive some pain medication. And it was at least another 24 hours before he was sent to a unit. These complaints do not indicate the quality or concerns of the staff, but I do believe they point to a physically inadequate facility for the current demands placed on it.  And I don’t understand why the folks finding fault with sensationalism of the report and which I do not dispute there may be some (not sure), don’t seem to point this out.  In other words we need more beds and I would hope that those working for JG or as patient advocates would point this out at every opportunity – this being one.  The crowded conditions at JG were only exacerbated by the behind closed doors decision to close involuntary beds at Villa Fairmont.  This was told to me at the time by the head social worker who has since left.  Everyone I spoke with there over the course of five weeks, indicated to me, albeit in a somewhat hushed manner, that JG was over-burdened and that they would appreciate any efforts by families to speak-up. OUR SMI LOVED ONES DESERVE TREATMENT!



2 Investigates


Patients say conditions at John George mental hospital were ‘hell’

After viewing a KTVU report about conditions inside a San Leandro mental health hospital, some patients are speaking out about their experience.

SAN LEANDRO (KTVU) — After 2 Investigates exposed overcrowded and dangerous conditions inside an East Bay mental hospital, several former patients have come forward to say their experiences were even worse than what was captured on hidden camera.

One woman, who did not want her identity revealed, said she went to John George Psychiatric Hospital last year to be treated for depression after she mentioned suicide during a session with her therapist.

“I was feeling pretty depressed that day, I had a lot of stuff going on,” she said. “I slipped and said something about ‘Oh I wish it was over.’” Her doctor put her on an involuntary psychiatric hold.

She told 2 Investigates that she thought she might get the help she needed at John George, but instead was horrified by what she witnessed.

“I just can’t say enough to say how scary this place was. You’re in this room with – not six people – you’re in there with every possible space of the floor covered with people who are drug or alcohol addicted. I was in there because I was depressed.”

The woman said John George staff medicated her after she arrived, but she did not know what type of drugs she was given. She said she spent a long night in a crowded room waiting for care, lying almost face to face with another patient, with nowhere else to go.

“It was terrifying,” she said.

“The staff members – I can understand why they’re terrified and how come they’ve gotten hurt so many times,” she added.

The former patient said she did not suffer any physical violence during her stay. But she said she was released from the facility the next morning without receiving any kind of treatment, and never saw a doctor or therapist.

“I went through it – it was hell,” she said. “You need treatment when you get in there. You can’t just be locked away.”
VIDEO: 2 Investigates John George Hospital — Click here for Pt. 1

Staff members who work at John George’s Psychiatric Emergency Service (PES) facility spoke to KTVU on the condition of anonymity and described the conditions as “inhumane” and befitting “a third world country.”

2 Investigates obtained leaked hidden camera video that shows overcrowding so severe that patients are sleeping and eating on the floor, some of them moaning and crying out for help.

The video shows dozens of patients milling about a large room, some lying on mats, chairs, or makeshift beds. Others can be seen eating and drinking while lying on the ground, asleep along hallways, or curled up on the floor in corners.

The video also captures patients having outbursts in the middle of the crowded facility, while other patients, some asleep and some awake, sit or stand close by. Staff members and security can be seen at various points.

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