Mental Health Advocate vs Mental Illness Advocate : You Decide

11-21-14  D. J. Jaffe is a mental health gadfly, defined as “one who provokes others into action by criticism” and much like his friend and mentor, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, his views often inspire some and anger others.

height.200.no_border.width.200Earlier this month in a speech at the New York State convention of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Jaffe claimed there was a difference between being a mental health advocate and a mental illness advocate. Here is an edited version of his talk.

By D J Jaffe

Exec. Dir. Mental Illness Policy Org.

I want to make clear that like most of you, I am not a mental health advocate. I am a mental illness advocate.  I think we need less mental health spending and more mental illness spending.  It is the most seriously ill not the worried-well, who disproportionately become homeless, commit crime, become violent, get arrested incarcerated or hospitalized. 360,000 are behind bars and 200,000 homeless because we are now focused on improving mental health, rather than treating serious mental illness.

My number one message is that we have to stop ignoring the most seriously ill. Send them to the front of the line for services rather than jails shelters prisons and morgues.  I’ll talk (now) about how mental health advocates ignore the seriously ill.

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Spreading the Word: TV Interviews on NBC Washington D.C. & In Boise

11-18-14 My son, Kevin, and I were interviewed last night by our NBC station here in Washington D.C.. The affiliate has broadcast several segments about mental illness as part of a well-received series entitled Changing Minds. We’re grateful to reporter Mark Seagraves for helping us share our story.

In early October, Marcia Franklin, broadcast an interview that she did with me on her popular Idaho Public Television program, Dialogue. Marcia has done several powerful and groundbreaking documentaries in Idaho about mental illness. I was in Boise at the invitation of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Idaho chapter to speak to state legislators about the importance of supporting mental health funding.

His “Crime” Is Autism: Man Gets Another Year In Hell After Being Trapped In Our Criminal Justice System


11-17-14  WARNING: This story should make you angry!

Washington Post editorial writer, Ruth Marcus, has taken-up the cause of a 22 year-old Virginia man who has autism and has been kept in solitary confinement most of the last year under conditions that are worsening his mental and physical health.

Unfortunately, Reginald “Neli” Latson’s plight is not an isolated happening, given that our jails and prisons have become our nation’s new asylums for individuals with serious mental illnesses and, all too often, those with intellectual disabilities.

Latson’s case is especially egregious.

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My Favorite World War Two Veteran: My Father

My father on Veterans Day with two of his grandchildren: Kathy and Kevin

My father, Elmer Earley, was in church on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and he and his buddies in his church’s men’s group immediately decided they would enlist. My dad had just turned 21. He tried the Air Force but it wouldn’t take him because he had chronic asthma. The Navy turned him down next. But by that point,  he knew what answers the military doctors wanted to hear so he bypassed the local recruiting stations and drove to Philadelphia where there were no records of his earlier attempts. The Coast Guard took him.

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The Power of Sharing Our Personal Stories: Josh’s Death and Creigh Deeds

Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post

Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post

11-7-14 The letter that Anne Francisco wrote to me this week about her son’s suicide has become the second most read blog that I’ve posted, being read by 43,000 on my Facebook page alone and nearly that number on my author’s webpage.

Her letter about Josh’s preventable death is a poignant reminder of how the telling of our personal stories can touch the lives of others.  This week, The Washington Post, published another dramatic example of this that I want to share with you.


By Stephanie McCrummen

The Washington Post: 11-1-2014

HE WAKES UP, and even before he opens his eyes, he can see his beautiful, delusional son.

Gus, Creigh Deeds thinks.

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My Son Killed Himself: Josh Deserved Better!

Josh_Sales Specialist-1

Dear Pete,

My 39-year old son killed himself today.

Josh hung himself in a solitary confinement cell in a prison south of St. Louis, Missouri.   He died alone, afraid, and powerless. Josh needed help. Instead, he got punishment.

Like all mothers, I had dreams for my children — dreams that didn’t include mental illness or prison. My husband and I knew very little about mental illness until four years ago when we received a long distance phone call from our daughter-in-law telling us that Josh’s behavior had changed and she needed our help to convince him that he should enter a hospital for psychiatric treatment. She explained that Josh was sleeping very little and was having racing thoughts. He’d become hyper-vigilant about national/government affairs and hyper-religious, praying in strange tongues. Josh was 35 years old at the time — a handsome and energetic young man who adored his wife and two children. Always ready to lend a helping hand, Josh would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He had a special place in his heart for people who were hurting.

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