Search Results for: that way madness lies

Federal Government’s Isolation of Prisoners With Serious Mental Illnesses Needs Monitoring


(10-11-19) FROM MY FILES FRIDAY: One of my objectives, after I was appointed as the parent member on the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC), was to shine a spotlight on the federal Bureau Of Prison’s treatment of prisoners with mental illnesses.

ISMICC was created by Congress as an advisory committee to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which is responsible for encouraging federal agencies to cooperate and coordinate mental health funding and programs. One of ISMICC’s recommendations, which I helped draft in our report: The Way Forward: Federal Action for a System That Works For All People Living with SMI [Serious Mental Illnesses] and SED [Serious Emotional Disturbances] and Their Families and Caregivers, calls for the government to “strictly limit or eliminate the use of solitary confinement.”

It took more than a year, but my fellow ISMICC members and I were finally able to get the federal Bureau of Prisons to begin participating in our discussions. I am looking forward to hearing from that BOP representative at our next meeting about what steps the bureau is taking to better handle prisoners with serious mental illnesses.

As you can read from this blog that I posted in October 2017, the bureau has much to do.

Prisoners With Serious Mental Illnesses Held In Isolation For Up To Six Years. Where? In Federal Prisons.

(10-16-17) Public outrage about how Americans with mental illnesses were treated inside state mental hospitals helped spark de-institutionalization.

So where is that anger and fury now when it comes to abuses of Americans with mental illnesses currently being warehoused in our jails and prisons?

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NAMI “Big Tent” Approach Cited, 3 Retirements of Mental Health Heroes, & New Peer Face In Fairfax

Watch four minute video by NAMI CEO Mary Giliberti citing accomplishments

(4-15-19) This video message by NAMI CEO Mary Giliberti showed up in my mailbox recently, although it was released weeks ago.

According to this press release, she attributes:

“the increase in brand awareness to the growing number of celebrity ambassadors who have supported the cause and shared their experiences as well as high-profile partnerships including companies like Kenneth Cole, Lord & Taylor, Boeing, Michelin, Showtime and IHeart Radio.

Giliberti also outlines the work NAMI has done to advocate for better mental health coverage through Medicaid, her involvement with the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee, and increased calls for more research in collaboration with universities, pharmaceutical companies and government agencies that guide these efforts.

‘Our message on research is this—if we can have a moon shot to cure cancer, then why not a Mars Shot to find new answers for mental illness!’ Giliberti said. ‘We won’t stop until this vision becomes a reality.”

You might recall that in 2017, after a contentious debate, NAMI members elected a board that supported the executive leadership’s “Big Tent” approach, broadening NAMI’s focus beyond its traditional emphasis on serious mental illnesses.

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Common Sense Steps To Implementing Jail Diversion In Your Community

(10-31-18) How do you start an effort in your community to reduce the inappropriate incarceration of persons with mental illnesses?

Cynthia Kemp, a deputy director at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, gave attendees at a Louisiana Mental Health Summit yesterday in Baton Rogue, a step-by-step explanation based on how Arlington County, Va., launched its national recognized jail diversion system.

“Begin with a champion,” Kemp told the 300 community leaders, who were invited by Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy (R.) to the summit.

It could be a judge, sheriff, police chief, state legislator, mayor – anyone who understands that locking up people who are sick is a waste of tax dollars and human potential.

Step Two: Hit the streets. Talk to the police to learn what problems they face because of persons with mental illnesses becoming entrapped in the criminal justice system. The National Alliance on Mental Illness  reports that 40% of persons with a serious mental illness will have an encounter with the police. 49% of all fatal police shootings involve someone with a mental illness. In addition to the police, advocates need to speak with public defenders, judges, prosecutors, local mental health providers, parents and persons with lived experience – and identify what barriers they see keeping individuals from getting decent care.

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Judge Steve Leifman Wins National Award For Getting Individuals With Serious Mental Illnesses Into Treatment, Not Jail

For the past decade, Miami-Dade County Judge Steve Leifman has fought to get treatment for people with mental illness and keep them from ending up in jail.

(9-12-18) Miami-Dade Florida Judge Steve Leifman has won the Pardes Humanitarian Prize for his leadership in reducing inappropriate incarceration of individuals with mental illnesses.

Judge Leifman is a good friend and also the hero in my book, CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness. I am delighted and hopeful that publicity about this honor will encourage other judges to become leaders in developing jail diversion, mental health dockets and increased community mental health services for those in need. Are you listening judges, prosecutors and politicians in Virginia?

Arrests in Miami Dade have decreased from 118,000 to 56,000 annually and recidivism has dropped by almost 50 percent. The jail population plunged from 7,300 to 4,000 inmates, closing a jail and generating $12 million in annual savings. Crime and burdens on taxpayers have been reduced, and public health, safety and recovery outcomes have improved.

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Using Wealth & Smarts To Improve Their Community: Especially The Lives Of Children. Bravo Maxine Clark and Bob Fox!

(2-20-18)  What would you do if you won the lottery? Everyone has thought about it. Instant wealth. Travel the world first class? Buy multiple homes? Expensive cars? Indulge yourself with luxuries?

Maxine Clark and Bob Fox are two St. Louis, Mo., based philanthropists who are using their self-made wealth to dramatically help others, especially children. Maxine’s interest in kids should be no surprise. She’s the founder of Build-A-Bear Workshops! (Yes, my granddaughter has three stuffed animals from our local store.)

I was lucky to spend time with Maxine – (Bob was sick with the flu) – when I spoke recently at the Spirit of Provident Annual Gala, a fund raising event and celebration hosted by Provident, a mental health provider  founded in 1860 by James Yeatman to help the sick and the poor in St. Louis. What you read is not a misprint. It was founded in 1860!

Provident was honoring Maxine and Bob at the gala, but the day before that event, the couple arranged for me to speak at the Clark-Fox Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. My keynote was entitled Misguided and Misdiagnosed: Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System. After my speech, one of my favorite advocates, Susan W. McGraugh, a professor at Saint Louis University School of Law, who works with indigent, incarcerated clients, spoke eloquently about what services were available in St. Louis and what needed improvement. Later that night, Maxine hosted a private dinner for me with community leaders to discuss such topics as jail diversion, better police training, and affordable housing.

I explained that the first step is always for a community leader with clout (a judge, sheriff, or local official usually) to step forward and organize (force) all of those who have some connection with mental health/substance abuse (nearly everyone) to sit down at a table and find ways to collaborate. I said that night what I always say – that it is impossible to provide meaningful mental health services in your community unless you want to talk about supportive housing, job opportunities, easy access to mental health community services, transportation, specialized veterans programs, criminal justice reforms (such as jail diversion), helping children and giving people hope.

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“Severe mental illnesses demand immediate and targeted attention – not being swept under the rug.” John Snook responds to “worried well” blog

(2-9-18) A recent blog by Dr. Dinah Miller, co-author of the book, Committed: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care, elicited this response from John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center.  John serves with me on the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness and Serious Emotional Disturbance committee, that advises Congress on the state of mental health care in the nation. I consider both John and Dinah friends and fellow advocates. Clearly, they have much different opinions.

Dear Pete,

I must admit I read Dr. Miller’s piece regarding the “worried well” with some amazement. She completely misses the point — a point that doctors like her have willfully ignored for the last twenty years: severe mental illnesses demand immediate and targeted attention.

Across the nation, rates of homelessness, incarceration, substance abuse and suicide that occur when the seriously mentally ill are left untreated are beyond crisis levels. Needed treatment beds are so decimated that mental health officials increasingly provide care only under threat of their own arrest.

Dr. Miller appears to want to sweep these many failures of the mental health system she represents under the rug as ancient history. Her piece is an impressive attempt at gaslighting – in her world, mental health providers have always considered the needs of the most severely ill. Those suffering with untreated severe mental illness and their families who suffer with them know better.

Let’s put this discussion in perspective.

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