About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.

Frustrated Mother Writes Mental Health Laws Put Parents In “Catch 22” – Waiting Until Crisis To Seek Help

(6-18-18) Guest Blog: A frustrated mother writes an impassioned letter to her elected officials in Washington State about waiting until someone becomes dangerous before helping them.

The Catch-22 in our medical/legal system that criminalizes mental illness

By Jerri Clark, mother of a young adult son with bipolar/schizoaffective disorder

I’m an active participant in NAMI programs and therefore have met many family members who are struggling to find intelligent help in the medical and legal systems of Washington State.  

Most of the stories I hear come from other mothers.

We are struggling to rescue our children from medical and legal systems that don’t make any sense.

Our systems institute punishment when help is desperately needed. They deny access to services and then blame individuals who are severely impaired for not solving their own crises. They push people to a precarious edge and then kick.

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D. J. Jaffe’s Ted Talk: Critic Of Mental Health Providers Earns Their Applause In Convention Speech

(6-15-18) D. J. Jaffe’s Ted Talk at the recent National Council For Behavioral Health Conference in Washington D.C. was one of the event’s most anticipated and discussed presentations.

Jaffe argues that the “mental health” industry is failing individuals, who are seriously mentally ill, by pushing programs about “mental wellness” and constantly denying that individuals with “untreated serious mental illnesses” are more dangerous than the general public. He says they are. His speech included some of the ideas he shared in in his book:  Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill .

Given that he was speaking at a convention of community mental health providers, whom he criticizes, the founder of Mental Illness Policy Org.  was nonetheless interrupted several times by applause.

Story Two: Another tidbit that involves D. J. Jaffe.

RADIO REPORTER SEEKING INFORMATION ABOUT PATIENT DUMPING BY HOSPITALS & “GREYHOUND THERAPY.”

Freelance radio reporter Jessie Wright-Mendoza is preparing a national story about patient dumping by hospitals or mental health centers. She asked if I would help her find caregivers, family members or persons with mental illnesses who have experienced patient dumping and/or so-called  Greyhound Therapy.   Jessie Wright-Mendoza can be contacted at:  [email protected]
Ironically, I received this email from D. J. Jaffe this same week about an encounter he had in Manhattan with a psychotic woman in a hospital gown.

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Why Did The Washington Post Not Invite A Key Player To Discuss The State Of Mental Health Care In America?

(6-13-18) A core principle of good journalism is that reporters make certain they cover all sides of an important issue.

Sadly, it appears that my former employer, The Washington Post, has dropped the ball today by hosting a summit to “discuss the state of mental health care in the U.S.” without inviting any well-known individuals who actually have recovered or been through the mental health care system as patients.

Every day, there are forums, panels, and seminars about mental health held in the U.S. but the fact that a newspaper as prominent and influential as the Post would exclude a spokesperson with lived experience is surprising and disappointing. (In fairness, because the Post seminar is happening while I write this, I have not asked its organizer, Michael Falcone at the Post, to explain his actions, but I will  be happy to post his answer if he chooses to reply to this blog.)

Until told otherwise, it would seem the Post’s actions are subtly marginalizing persons such as my son and those who deal with mental health problems, suggesting they either are not capable of participating in a thoughtful discussion or that their voices are not important.

I was alerted to the Post’s decision in an email this morning from A. J. French (see below) who wrote that she had notified  Falcone at the Post and the newspaper’s co-sponsor Cigna in advance of today’s event, arguing that a peer or individual in recovery should be included in any discussion about the status of mental health care.  French offered Falcone the names of several activists who could explain what it is like to live daily with a mental disorder including: Paolo del Vecchio, director of Mental Health Services at SAMHSA and Harvey Rosenthal, Executive Director at the New York State Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitate Services.

French stated that the organizers at the Post didn’t respond to her emails.

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The Homeless Man In My Neighborhood Is A Good Thing -Huh?

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(6-11-18) He first showed up several months ago holding a cardboard sign: “HOMELESS: Please Help!”

He was poised at the entrance of a neighborhood shopping center less than two miles from my house here in Fairfax, Virginia.

Next came several Washington Post articles about how homeless individuals were sleeping in cars and in tents within five miles from where I live.

Seeing this man homeless was good news.

What? How can I write such a horrible statement. Stick with me for a moment and you will understand.

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Time To End New Hampshire’s Shameful Practice Of Putting Individuals With Mental Illnesses Into A Maximum Security Prison To Save Money

Andrew Butler with his father, Douglas. Family photo from InDepthNH.org website.

(6-4-18) Without being charged or having committed a crime, can you be incarcerated in a maximum security U.S. prison, kept in a cell 23 hours per day, held in solitary confinement, shot with a taser by correctional officers, and locked up indefinitely if you are an American citizen?

The answer is “yes,” if you have a mental illness and live in New Hampshire.

Frankie Berger, the Treatment Advocacy Center’s director of advocacy, tipped me off last week about the case of Andrew Butler.

“The state does not have a secure wing on their state hospital,” she summarized in an email, “so people who are civilly committed as a danger to themselves or others – people who have not committed or been charged with any crimes, male and female – are being sent to the men’s maximum security prison. They are given prison numbers and uniforms, treated like prisoners, and the whole thing is unconstitutional.”

How is this possible today?

Because the New Hampshire legislature doesn’t want to pay the cost of creating a secure unit in its state mental hospital, so it passed legislation in the 1980s making it legal to send anyone with a mental illness who becomes psychotic and violent to the state’s maximum security prison – even though there is no accredited mental hospital unit there to treat them.

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How One Man Offered Jobs To Those With Mental Illnesses And Ended Up Creating a Home

(5-31-18)  From My Files Friday: I realized today that this is the 1,126th blog that I’ve posted.  I wrote this in May 2012.  

Musings on a flight home from Denver

What is home?

I spent most of my childhood in Colorado.  When I moved to the Washington D.C. area and people asked me about my hometown, I always mentioned Fowler. It is a small town in Southeastern Colorado where I graduated from high school and where my sister, who died in an automobile accident there, is buried. (Since writing this, both of my parents have passed and are buried there too.)

Yet, I haven’t lived in Fowler since 1970.

I remember hearing Vance Packard speak in the early 1970s about how mobility for jobs was making it difficult for many Americans to choose where they intended to be buried. A grim topic, but evidence of how many of us move several times during our lives. The old family plots – in some rural areas located on individual farms – no longer were the norm. We had become a nation of nomads, he said.

This got me thinking on a recent trip to Colorado about the definition of home. I had returned there to speak at an event held by Bayaud Enterprises in Denver.

Please stay with me a moment while I tell you a bit about Bayaud Enterprises.Click to continue…