Where Will A Hundred South Bend, Indiana Residents With Mental Illnesses Go When Commissioners Shutter Portage Manor?

(3-8-23) What will become of the 103 residents of Portage Manor in South Bend, one of Indiana’s few county homes for individuals with mental illnesses and other issues who are poor or elderly?

“What’s going to happen to us? What can we do?”  the residents have asked Sara Zolman, one of the advocates questioning the group home’s closing.  Zolman was quoted in the local paper telling St. Joesph County Commissioners,“It is a family. It is a 30-year-old helping a 75-year-old. … It works with a heart. My heart is breaking for them. … There is no other place like this.”

What’s puzzling is how the local county commissioners are handling the closing.

I was told there was no advance public input before a vote and while the commissioners are claiming the county can’t afford to keep operating the home, financial records sent to me suggest Portage Manor is self-sustaining and doesn’t depend on county taxes.

So what’s going on?

Advocates are hoping an investigative reporter at the South Bend Tribune or other news outlet will demand to see financials and ask tough questions about the closing rather than simply relying on statements by St. Joseph County Commissioners.

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“Addiction, it’s not a moral choice or a failure,” Conservative Governor States On Face The Nation. Also, Peers & Law Enforcement In New Film Worth Watching.

Healing People Healing People: Show This Film At Your Next NAMI/MHA Meeting.

(2-21-23) If your NAMI or MHA local group is looking for a video to watch at your next meeting that examines the intersection of individuals with mental illnesses and law enforcement agencies, please consider showing the 39 minute video HEALING PEOPLE HEALING PEOPLE, a Lee August Praley film.

The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors ( NASMHPD) production focuses on Crisis Intervention Team training for law enforcement and importance of peers. It includes interviews with my son, Kevin, a certified peer specialist.

When the peer movement first began, some parents opposed it, mainly because peers have historically opposed Assisted Outpatient Treatment. But the acceptance of AOT in nearly every state and better training for peers has gradually reduced this conflict.

Now peers are an accepted and intricate part of most mental health departments and recovery programs. This was reiterated to me recently when North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, a Republican from a conservative state, cited the importance of peers during a panel discussion on the Sunday news program FACE THE NATION. His comments came during a discussion about drug addiction.We know that about 40 percent of individuals with mental illnesses also have addiction issues.

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Author Takes Ketamine For Major Depression: Recalls Terrifying Experience

Ketamine: wonder drug or dangerous/ineffective treatment?

(2-17-23) All of us search for better ways to control the symptoms of serious mental illnesses. Ketamine has recently gotten much attention. Steven Petrow, a journalist whom I admire, recently published an article in The Washington Post describing what happened when he took ketamine under a doctor’s supervision to learn if it would help ease his clinical depression. 

Have you tried Ketamine? I’d appreciate you sharing your experiences on my Facebook page.

The psychedelic therapy is said to help many people, but some like me have scary experiences

By Steven Petrow, for The Washington Post, published February 12, 2023 at 7:00 a.m. EST

My ears perked up in recent months when I began to hear the buzz about ketamine, the anesthetic and hallucinogenic drug that has found a new market as an antidepressant.

Numerous credible studies have documented benefits, including that it is fast-acting, with patients sometimes showing improvement within a couple of days. And social and other media have featured doctors and patients describing it as “life changing,” with one user commenting that “I felt like a completely new person.”

For someone suffering from depression, that’s a tantalizing promise.

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My Only Sister Alice Died When I Was 14. Nineteen Years Later As A Reporter, I Went Looking For Answers.

My sister and me riding a pony as children. (Photo courtesy of Pete Earley.)

(2-13-23) My only sister, Alice, died on this date  fifty-seven 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 after her death, I awoke one night calling out her name. I realized that I had repressed most of my memories about Alice because her death was so painful. My good friend, Walt Harrington, who was an editor at the Washington Post, suggested I return to Colorado and investigate my own sister’s death as a reporter. The Post published my account 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

Midway 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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Inspired by “No One Cares About Crazy People,” upcoming documentary exposes faults in system & heroes demanding change

2021 Promo Reel – No One Cares About Crazy People from Gail Freedman on Vimeo.

(2-06-23) Please watch the powerful and moving clip from the documentary No One Cares About Crazy People by Gail Freedman, a talented director, producer, and acclaimed documentary maker who hopes to finish the film by year end.

Freedman’s documentary was inspired by Ron Powers’ 2017 nonfiction book by the same name, but the film quickly expanded into a story about multiple families struggling with serious mental illnesses and their tireless efforts to get help for their loved ones.

If you have a family member with a serious mental illness, love someone who does, or have a diagnosis, you can’t help but be moved by the familiar plight of the families and inspired by their gritty determination to improve our mental health care system.

Freedman told me she wants to harness “the power of documentary storytelling as a tool for change – to help galvanize public discussion, awareness and action around our profoundly broken systems of care for those with serious mental illness.” Thankfully, she accomplishes her goal.

Freedman began by interviewing best-selling author Ron Powers, the father of two sons with schizophrenia. Kevin, his youngest son, ended his own life at home just before his 21st birthday. That tragedy thrust Powers and his wife, Honoree Fleming, along with their surviving son Dean, who continues to struggle with the illness, into what Powers described as the “sub-nation” of those with serious mental illnesses.

“The madman is a man, in effect, without a country,” Powers said. “Certainly without a country that gives a damn whether he lives or dies, as long as he just stays the hell out of sight.”

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A Rational Approach To Fixing The IMD Exclusion That Limits Beds For The Seriously Mentally Ill

Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

(1-25-23) A critical shortage of hospital beds for individuals with serious mental illnesses has prompted repeated calls for the elimination of the Institutions of Mental Disease or “IMD Rule.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness supports getting rid of it, while consumer groups and disability advocates oppose changing the law. The last serious attempt in Congress to end the IMD exclusion happened when former Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) introduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, back in 2015, but Murphy’s efforts were blocked by Democrats and civil rights groups.

Now newly elected Rep. Dan Goldman (NY), is considering reintroducing legislation to repeal the IMD rule,  and the hope is that he will instead introduce a bill to limit its reach, rather than attempting to eliminate the rule.

 The fact that Goldman is a Democrat and the bill is named in honor of a woman who was pushed in front of a New York subway by a man with untreated mental illness may help it get some traction.

But while the debate about the IMD exclusion always focuses on fears that our nation will return to mass re-institutionalization, another stumbling block will be the expense to Medicaid if the IMD is dropped. Supporters of the IMD Rule claim it will cost the federal government billions of dollars if Medicaid starts paying for mental health hospital beds.

Cheryl Roberts recently wrote about Goldman’s efforts in a New York Daily News editorial. Judge Roberts runs the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice, which I’ve written about on this blog.

Congress must stop blocking mental health clinics from needed money 
An Editorial by Cheryl Roberts. First published in the New York Daily News

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