Mental Health Workers Are Not Getting Masks: I Know Because It’s Happening In My Family

(4-6-20) Why are mental health workers going without protective equipment?

Two of my adult children work in the mental health profession. Although they are utilizing tele-medicine, clients still need help getting groceries and their prescriptions. They need to be taken to doctor appointments. Those in crisis still need to be seen.

My wife, Patti, has hired a neighbor to make masks for both of them that should be ready tomorrow. She’s also managed to secure a few paper ones.

The reporter in me is wondering how this is possible? How can we expect our mental health workers to do their jobs without personal protective equipment?

The father in me is outraged that my adult children are potentially putting their lives at risk.

I suspect that what my adult children are experiencing is not unique. If you work in a jail, prison, with the homeless or with the mentally ill, please tell me on my Facebook page if you are getting the protective gear that you need to do your jobs.

Meanwhile, thank you for your continued service to those who need your help.

God bless you. Stay safe.

Supreme Court Majority Effectively Eliminates 700 Years Of Legal Thinking About Insanity Defense

(4-2-20) With all of our attention on the pandemic, a U.S. Supreme Court decision about the insanity defense last week didn’t attract much attention. As long-time mental health advocate and attorney Ron Honberg reports it should have!

Kahler V. Kansas Ruling Says States Can Separately Define Insanity In Criminal Cases.

By Ron Honberg, J.D.

A divided U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling last week that essentially said states can eliminate the option of insanity as a defense regardless of how sick someone might be.

There is an old adage that “hard cases make bad laws.”   What this essentially means is that cases with unusual facts sometimes lead to decisions that create bad legal precedents for a large number of people.

Kahler v. Kansas may prove that point.

No one disputes that James Kraig Kahler committed a horrific crime. He shot to death his estranged wife, their two daughters, and his wife’s mother, sparing only their nine-year-old son who witnessed the shootings .

Kahler did not have a previously documented history of mental illness.

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Mother Flees U.S. In Search For Affordable Mental Health Care: Outrageous In Richest Nation

(3-30-20) Dianne Hiltman is flying to Costa Rica with her adult son who needs mental health treatment. The reason why she has to leave the United States will not surprise you, but it should anger you.

On Our Way Desperately Seeking Help: A Mother’s Journal

By Dianne Hiltman

Mar 28, 2020

The plane descends in the dark evening, far away lights scatter the horizon and reveal the distant city. It could be any city, a metal tube filled with travelers, folks simply getting home, some people fulfilling business obligations, others just doing life.

But this airplane is landing in San Jose, Costa Rica and I am accompanying my 33 year-old son with mental illness there.

I manage a rueful smile. I’m certain I’d win betting that we are the only people on this flight because of mental illness. Then I remember all the times we have hoped in the past. The numerous medications. The yet one more fine and highly recommended psychiatrist. The clinical trial of IVKetamine therapy. So many hopes. Twenty two years of failed hopes.

I can’t quite “read” Matt this night.

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SHAKEDOWN: My New Novel Is Based On Actual Soviet Threat To Flood Our Country

(3-29-20) THIS IS NOT ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS. IT IS ABOUT MY NEW NOVEL. 

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union plotted to destroy our major East coast cities by launching a “mega tsunami” – a plan thankfully abandoned.

This actual Soviet threat forms the backbone of our plot in Shakedown, my new novel written with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, that was released this week.

Shakedown is not politically partisan, as Kirkus Review stated in its review:

“This is, at its best, an action thriller, with a full share of bang-up scenes… An entertaining, if coldhearted, international thriller.” 

Publisher’s Weekly added: “Plenty of action and solid prose, along with plenty of intriguing little-known historical and technical facts.” 

I first learned about the “mega tsunami” plot from Sergei Tretyakov, the highest ranking defector under President Putin, whose life story is told in my non-fiction book, COMRADE J:  The Untold Secrets of Russia’s Master Spy in America After The Cold War.

Tretyakov’s revelations were confirmed in detail last year by  Russian journalist, Yekaterina Sinelschikova, in a news article entitled: “The Soviet Union Planned to Wipe Out The United States With a Huge Tsunami.”  Writing in Russia Beyond, she noted:

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Homeless Americans, Including Those With Serious Mental Illnesses, Being Left Out Of Govt. Recovery Plans

Photo courtesy of Business Insider

(3-27-20) Local, state and federal officials need to begin thinking outside the box if they intend to help homeless Americans, especially those with serious mental illnesses.

The trillion dollar recovery package proposed by Congress includes direct payments to those who qualify.  (Click here to learn how much you will receive.)

But many homeless Americans don’t have permanent addresses, direct deposit or bank accounts, especially homeless young people and those with serious mental illnesses.

I serve on the Corporation for Supportive Housing board of directors with Matthew Morton,  a Research Fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, and an expert on youth homelessness. He’s written about options officials can take to get cash into the hands of homeless Americans. Some four million young people are without housing.

“You face extraordinary difficulties,” he writes about the young, “that most young people don’t and may not ever have to. Chances are, you first fell into homelessness through a path of trauma and family adversity. Now you have to manage the stress of not knowing where you will sleep or where your next meal will come from. You face the very real risk of being abused, exploited or trafficked. You endure repeatedly dehumanizing experiences that undermine your sense of self-worth. These hardships disrupt your ability to thrive during one of life’s most critical developmental windows. Now, add COVID-19.”

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Intervening Before Dangerousness: Canadian Psychiatrist Describes Ontario Law Judging Ability To Consent

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

(3-24-20)

What should a psychiatrist do when a patient, who has had symptoms of a serious mental illness but is currently stable, refuses further treatment?

Dr. David Kantor, a Canadian psychiatrist, sent me an email addressing this question. He explained there is a process in Ontario that permits doctors to override the patient’s choice before that patient regresses.

Please share your thoughts on my Facebook page about his email.

Evaluating An Individual’s Ability To Give Consent

By Dr. David Kantor, MD FRCP

Successful treatment of people with severe mental illness (SMI) such as schizophrenia, is inarguably a problem everywhere in the world. The primary reason for this is the fact that many of these patients (estimate by various literature accounts as between 40%-90%) lack insight into their illness. That is, they do not appreciate the fact that they suffer from the illness and/or that adequate treatment is necessary.

Different geographic jurisdictions worldwide have different mental health laws. A major aspect of how these laws differ is the degree to which the particular jurisdiction allows for involuntary treatment in this patient populations.

I am a psychiatric specialist in the province of Ontario, Canda. In Ontario, all medical treatment is dictated by the patient’s willingness or unwillingness to undergo the advised treatment – i.e consent to treatment.

However, Ontario laws demand that a patient’s capability to consent to treatment be assessed when there is reason to believe the patient may not be capable.

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