NAMI Sends Out Appeal To Law Enforcement Asking For Help: Medicaid Cuts Will Hurt Thousands

(6-26-17) The National Alliance on Mental Illness is asking law enforcement officers to help stop Trump-care because it will lead to even more individuals with mental illnesses ending up in jails.)

From NAMI National

Dear Law Enforcement Partners,

NAMI is grateful for everything you do to support people with mental illness and their families.

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate released the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017. Like the House health reform bill, it would drastically cut Medicaid, a program that provides vital services that keep people off the streets, out of jails and in recovery.

It would also result in tens of millions of Americans losing access to mental health and substance abuse care.

This is the worst threat we’ve seen to mental health services in decades.

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Virginia To Execute Man On July 6th With Serious Mental Illness! Attorneys Urge Calls To Gov. McAuliffe For Commutation

(6-23-17) Virginia is scheduled to execute William Morva on July 6th, unless Governor Terry McAuliffe commutes his death sentence to life without the possibility of parole.

Morva has a debilitating mental illness called delusional disorder that makes him believe his delusions are real.

He should not be put to death.

In August 2005, Morva was arrested for attempting to rob a convenience store. The clerk testified that armed masked men approached the glass doors of the store but when the doors did not open automatically, the men ran away. Eventually, Morva was arrested and charged with a string of attempted thefts—each as ill-conceived and poorly executed as the next. The other young men with him were released on bail and received short sentences. But Morva’s mother recognized that her son was sick. She left him in a Virginia jail under the mistaken belief he would get treatment. He didn’t.

Even though his family contacted jail officials to express concern about his deteriorating mental health, he was not evaluated or treated by any psychologist or psychiatrist. His symptoms grew worse. He believed that he had been wrongly arrested. As he grew sicker and sicker, he became convinced he was being held in jail by some unknown figure who wanted to kill him.  

A year after he was arrested, he told jail officials that he needed to be taken to a hospital because he was sick. Once there, he overpowered the guard watching him and took his service weapon. While fleeing the hospital grounds, he shot and killed Derrick McFarland, an unarmed hospital security guard. The next day he fatally shot Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Sutphin who’d spotted Morva walking on a local trail. He was captured that afternoon.

Morva murdered both men. I am sorry for the families of both and do not wish to diminish their losses. Death penalty cases always involve horrific crimes.

But as the father of a son with a mental illness, I have seen how delusions can alter an individual’s reality so that they do not understand their actions. This seems to be the case with William Morva who showed signs of mental distress long before he tried to escape from jail.

One of the issues that troubles me about cases such as this is the belief that someone who has a mental illness is incapable of rational thought and actions. Ergo, if Morva could plan and carry out his escape, he knew what he was doing and, therefore, deserves to die.

This idea is nonsense. I can remember having rational conversations with my son at the breakfast table about the daily headlines while, at the same time, he was convinced that God had chosen him for a special, secret mission and he needed to rescue a former high school girlfriend who he’d gotten pregnant. None of it was true.

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Questions about Virginia’s National NAMI Board Candidate: Smart and Independent




Here’s an excerpt from an email that I received this week.

The (not named for privacy reasons) state hospital was putting my delusional, psychotic granddaughter on a Greyhound bus to Colorado in the dead of winter. Fortunately, she realized it was too risky & called me. Her social worker said “that’s what she wanted & the DR. okayed it.” They put her in a cab the next day to our home an hour away without notifying me. Again, the social worker said she called & left a message. I had given her the cell phone number to prevent that but, she called the house & answering machine. Our granddaughter was so sick she had to go to the doctor for strep throat & they were putting her on a bus to travel for two days. She had no money to travel on. My vet is a more compassionate than the people who released her.

I believe the role of the National Alliance on Mental Illness is to speak out loudly about such questionable behavior by mental health workers.

This is why it is important for you to participate in NAMI’s board elections that currently are being held in anticipation of its upcoming Washington D.C. convention. I have posted the list of candidates once again at the end of this blog and would urge you to read every candidate’s statements.

I did not intend to write any more about the election, but I have received numerous emails from Virginia chapters asking me if I know Frankie Berger, Nominated by NAMI Central Virginia (Virginia), personally or have worked with her on Capitol Hill. This is because I live in Fairfax, Virginia, and other chapters in our state are curious if I have any ” inside scoop” about our state’s candidate.

Let me first say, that I have studied all of the nominees’ qualifications and listened to their personal stories and all are compelling. Although candidates may have strongly differing opinions, all are committed to improving the lives of those with mental illnesses. All of them deserve your careful study. Having written that, I want to answer the email questions sent to me by Virginia chapters about Ms. Berger.

Yes, I know Ms. Berger and have appeared on discussion panels with her on Capitol Hill and also have worked alongside her on various legislation. She is the Director of Advocacy for the Treatment Advocacy Center, but she is not a candidate on the “Focus on Serious Mental Illness ” platform. Because of her employment, some email writers have asked me if she is someone who would be open to positions other than those being endorsed by TAC.

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My Sister Died 51 Years Ago When I was 14. Memories Fade, But The Loss Never Does.

(6-14-17) My only sister, Alice, died on this date fifty-one years ago after being struck by an automobile. I was 14 years-old at the time and it was my first experience with death. Nineteen years later, I awoke one night calling out her name. I realized then that I had repressed most of my memories about Alice because her death was so painful that my parents rarely discussed it. My good friend, Walt Harrington, who was then an editor at the Washington Post, suggested that I return to Colorado and investigate my own sister’s death as a reporter. Here is the story that I wrote in 1986. I am posting it today in her memory.With the passage of time, the hurt and memories fade, but in your heart, you still feel the loss.)

Missing Alice: The Story of My Sister

By Pete Earley for The Washington Post

Pete Earley and His Sister AliceMidway across Ohio, the man beside me on the DC-10 asked where I was going.

“Fowler, Colorado. A little town of about a thousand people near Pueblo.”

“Why would anyone go to Foouuller?” he asked, grinning as he exaggerated the name.

“A death. My sister.”

“Sorry,” he mumbled and turned away.

I was relieved. I didn’t have to explain that my sister had been dead 19 years. Alice was killed when I was 14. She was two years older and we had been inseparable as children.

I couldn’t talk about her death at first. My voice would deepen, my eyes would fill with tears. My parents would cry at the mention of her name, and we rarely spoke of her. Then it seemed too late.

After I left home, my mother would phone me each February 13 and remind me that it was my sister’s birthday. Year after year, I would forget — and find myself angry with my mother’s insistent reminders. It was just before last Christmas, as I shuffled boxes in the basement, that I ran across Alice’s picture and clipping describing her death.

“A tragic accident Tuesday, June 14, about 7:05 p.m., took the life of Alice Lee Earley…” I sat down on the concrete floor, closed my eyes and tried to picture her. I couldn’t. I tried to focus more sharply. Alice eating Sugar Pops beside me at the breakfast table. Alice washing the green Ford Falcon. Alice stepping on my toes while singing in Church.

The events I recalled vividly. Alice’s face I recalled not at all.

I could only see the girl in the photograph — an image I had never liked, the face being without joy or expression. But in my mind I found no other. For the next week, I seemed to think of Alice constantly.

One night I awoke in bed, turned to my wife, and said, “Alice, are you there?” It took me an instant to realize what I had done.

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How One Friend Helped Gabe Howard: From Suicidal Thoughts To Paying It Forward

(7-12-17) Sometimes I believe we underestimate the power of one person to change another person’s life. Gabe Howard was once depressed, untreated, and suicidal. He was spared that awful fate because of one person intervening in his life. One person made a difference!

Today, he tells his story in his writings, podcasts, and speeches. “Society often sees people living with mental illness at their worst,” Gabe says. “I want to balance that out by living openly with mental illness.”

I am swamped completing my new novel this week, so I asked Gabe to write a guest blog for me. He chose the topic of the importance of caregivers taking care of themselves.

But first, here’s more of his personal story.


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One Tent, Not Two: NAMI’s Future Role In Our Lives


(6-5-17) The president of the board at the National Alliance on Mental Illness sent out an email last week about “small tent” and “big tent” thinking.

Members inside small tents were described as those who want to focus exclusively on serious mental illnesses, defined as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe and persistent depression (SMIs). Big tent members were described as wanting to expand NAMI beyond SMIs to include autism, ADHD, and eating disorders as listed on the NAMI website.

This argument has been painful for me because I care deeply about NAMI. Because I do, I reject the “small tent” and the “big tent” thinking.

There should be “one tent” with enough seats inside it for different points of view.

Being pragmatic, I realize strongly-held opinions can divide us. But I also believe NAMI can work through whatever dissension exists by accepting five  Cs — civility, compromise, consensus, communication and cause. While we may not agree on every issue, our joint “cause” must be working together to help individuals with mental illnesses.  There should be no “us” vs. “them.” There should be “we.”

What is NAMI?

To me, the soul of NAMI is not its board or its national staff. They are reflections of NAMI. To me, NAMI is its people.

I have had the privilege of visiting NAMI chapters in every state except Hawaii and Mississippi.

Every local chapter I have visited is concerned about severe mental illnesses, especially individuals who are homeless.

Every local chapter I have visited endorses Crisis Intervention Team training and wants to end the inappropriate arrest and incarceration of individuals with severe mental illnesses.

Every local chapter I have visited wants to end emergency room psychiatric boarding, wants more crisis care beds, and more meaningful community services for the sickest of the sick.

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