A Valentine Gift To You About Love From My Son, Kevin.

A three minute video

(2-14-17) Happy Valentine’s Day!  I am blessed to have been married to Patti, my wonderful partner and best friend, for nearly nineteen years, and to have a fabulous blended family of seven. My son Kevin made a youtube video a few years ago that I wish to share with you today. It features two of his good friends, Kelly and Maria, and my parents, Elmer and Jean, who were married for 70 years before my mom died in 2013. My father passed fourteen months later. The camera work was done by my son, Evan.

It’s easy to become discouraged when you look at how badly broken our mental health system is and how many people are not receiving meaningful care, are in jails and prisons, and are suffering. But somedays, it’s nice to take a deep breath and be grateful for persons in our lives whom we love and bring us joy.  Everyone deserves someone to love them.

Happy Valentine’s Day 2017

South Dakota Hospital Tells Psychotic Patients: Go Directly To Jail. Not Welcomed Here!

rapid city

(2-13-17) Officials at Rapid City Regional Hospital in South Dakota need to re-read the Hippocratic Oath and ask themselves if they are proud of how they are treating individuals with mental illnesses in the Black Hills region.

Unless someone in a mental health crisis also has an “acute medical need,” the hospital is turning them over to the police to be held in jail for 24 hours even though they have not committed any crimes.

A hospital spokesman explained that psychotic individuals often are disruptive and frighten other patients so they are not welcomed at the hospital. South Dakota allows law enforcement to temporarily detain individuals in jail up to 24 hours without charging them with a crime.

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris criticized the hospital, according to Mike Anderson, a reporter with The Rapid City Journal, who disclosed the hospital’s new policy.

“This is the biggest step backward our community has experienced in terms of health care for mental health patients. And though it’s legally permissible by statute to put someone in an incarceration setting, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do.”

The Rapid City hospital is not the first to turn away pesky psychotic individuals. Consider the angry call that I received in Fairfax County, Virginia, where I live, from an outraged parent who said a local ER here called the police and had her son arrested for trespassing after he showed up seeking psychiatric help.

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Republicans Move To Fire Virginia Inspector General Who Failed To Answer Basic Questions About How A Psychotic Inmate Starved To Death In Jail

Photo by Bob Brown, Richmond Times Dispatch. Neither June Jennings or Priscilla Smith mentioned personal ties to legislators to hospital under investigation in inmate's death

Photo by Bob Brown, Richmond Times Dispatch. Neither June Jennings or Priscilla Smith mentioned personal ties to legislators to hospital under investigation in inmate’s death

(2-8-17) House Republicans in Virginia today moved to fire the state’s sitting Inspector General for issuing a vanilla investigative report about the death of Jamycheal Mitchell that avoided answering tough questions. Mitchell was the 24 year-old African American with schizophrenia who was found dead in a Hampton Roads Regional jail cell while waiting 101 days for a bed in a state hospital. An autopsy showed he had died because of a heart attack caused by starvation. Mitchell had been arrested for allegedly stealing $5.05 worth of snacks from a 7-11 store.

Along with other mental health advocates, I sharply criticized State Inspector General June W. Jennings for issuing a report that failed to explain how a prisoner could starve to death while under near constant surveillance by correctional officers and being checked daily by a nurse hired to provide health care at the jail. Instead of questioning jail officials thoroughly and digging out details about what transpired, Jennings explained that she’d decided to not investigate who might have been responsible, nor “every element of prior investigations.”  Instead, her report focused on “system errors”rather than “human ones.” The result was a largely useless document that surely pleased jail officials (who already had investigated themselves and found no wrongdoing) and appeared to have been written to help protect the state from being found liable in a civil lawsuit.

After Jennings issued her report, a whistleblower in her office and two other contract employees alleged in a complaint to the state Attorney General, that IG investigators hadn’t even bothered to go to the jail when Mitchell first died, but instead did a “desk review,” which meant they called jail officials and asked them to fax them copies of their official reports. The whistleblowers also charged that Jennings and her staff intentionally mislead me when I filed a Freedom of Information request.

Hours after that complaint was filed, a spokesman for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the complaint was being rejected because the governor had full confidence in Jennings. The whistleblowers noted that the governor’s office took this action without bothering to interview any of them. In the midst of that dust-up, a newspaper reported that Jennings and her top assistant, Patricia Smith, had personal ties to the state hospital that misplaced Mitchell’s paperwork, causing him to remain in jail rather than be transferred. Those connections raised questions about whether either Jennings or Smith could be objective, but the governor stuck with her.

And after today’s vote, Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, doubled or I should write, tripled down. In an angry statement, he defended Jennings while accusing Republicans of game playing. Click to continue…

Mother Repeatedly Tries To Get Her Psychotic Son Help: Instead He Beats Her And Is Arrested – TWICE!

John_12-Days-of-Christmas-Mourning

(2-6-17) Jennifer V.R. Tirkot asked me to tell her story, which she has fully documented and posted independently. It is not only a sad one but an example of the revolving door that many persons with serious mental illnesses find themselves stuck in, giving them only help when they become violent and then only enough help to guarantee that they will fail.

My son used to plead with me to kill him.

When his voices first arrived they were horrific, relentless and he couldn’t focus on anything but his voices.

There were God, Jesus, Lucifer, a female devil, Stuart, Eve, Esther, and Michael the Angel. They would torture him every waking minute. After his six suicide attempts, he made peace with all them- even Lucifer.  He even married Eve from Adam & Eve.  

I used to call for wellness checks when the voices would give him tests to perform, such as lay in his bed and not move until he was soaked in urine.  His voices would give him tests and he had to perform them. For one month, the test was trying not to breath.  John was only 19 and a NYC model when the Devil appeared and told him to hang himself.  

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Want To Reform Our Mental Health System? Start By Setting Specific Goals!

 

Goals concept on blackboard

(2-3-17) From My Files Friday — If we ever want to stop the inappropriate incarceration of individuals with mental illnesses, we need to set concrete goals and work toward achieving them.

That was some of the message that Ron Manderschied, the executive director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, gave last weekend at a conference hosted by the Institute for Behavioral Healthcare Improvement in San Antonio, Texas. Manderschied mentioned that he and I had discussed reducing the number of prisoners in jails and prisons with serious mental illnesses (367,000) by 20% to 25% by 2020.

I first began discussing that idea with Dr. Manderschied after Steven Kussmann, a Washington D.C. management consultant, cited the importance of clear goals in this blog that he wrote and I first published last February.

Unfortunately, neither Dr. Manderschied nor I have had much success in rallying national mental health organizations together behind a 25% reduction by 2020 goal, although several have their own jail diversion campaigns.

I was honored to give the keynote at the San Antonio event, and enjoyed hearing from such experts as Leon Evans and Gilbert Gonzales, who have turned Bexar County, Texas (San Antonio) into the gold standard for jail diversion, and Judge Steven Leifman, who spoke about how he is creating a system that will use “predictive analytics” to help individuals in Miami stay on track in their recovery programs. Assisted Outpatient Treatment was lively debated by Marvin Swartz, the head of Social and Community Psychiatry at Duke University and long time consumer advocate, Harvey Rosenthal, executive director for the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services.

Changing The Mental Health Movement From Within

by Steven Kussmann 

Less than 3% of our population self-identifies as gay or lesbian. Yet, the LGBT community created a movement that changed our nation’s definition of marriage and secured same sex marriage as a constitutional right! Change did not happen organically nor overnight. It was the result of a highly-effective social movement strategy and decades of well-targeted action.

The number of U.S. citizens with a serious emotional and mental health disorder is 10-times greater than the LGBT population. Why then do our social and political successes pale in comparison with those achieved by this community? What can we learn from them to achieve similar results? How can we apply those lessons to transform the mental health movement into a powerful engine for effective change?

The lessons are many, and their application requires a fundamental refocus of movement strategy and structure. To succeed as a force for real social and political change, the mental health community, both its leadership and grassroots network, must rethink and retool its strategy and tactics.

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A Reader Writes: We’re Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands

takingmattersHi Pete

I’ll be brief.

My daughter, who is functionally opioid dependant, recently befriended a 24 year-old homeless mentally ill man who was discharged from the New York state foster care system and given a monthly SSI income.

He was wandering from sleeping in public doorways and recently while in a homeless shelter packed with thirty others on cots in a room with no supervision, he was attacked by other homeless and ended up in an emergency room. No one was arrested and the shelter, run by a well-known, nationwide nonprofit continues to operate, often causing more harm than good in my opinion.

Individuals such as my daughter’s friend often are safer on the streets. 

Enraged, my daughter and I have taken him in.

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