COVID Ended In-Person State Hospital Visits So Father Pushed For Virginia Law Allowing Zoom-Like Calls For Patients

Image by Tumisu, courtesy Pixabay

(4-27-22) I’ve often written about the power of a single individual to change our society and have quoted Margaret Meade who famously said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Here is an inspiring story that confirms her quote.

When COVID hit, Karl Polzer found it difficult to keep in touch with a family member (name being withheld for privacy) who had been sent to Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia. The young adult had been arrested on misdemeanor charges in February 2020 during a major psychotic break and sent to the state hospital for competency restoration.

Within weeks, Karl and Jane Polzer were told that in-person hospital visits were being suspended because of COVID. Maintaining contact with a patient through telephone calls became problematic. When the Polzers telephoned the hospital, they had to depend on a patient within earshot of the ward’s phone answering it and locating the person being called.

In May 2020, the couple became concerned when they were told their family member was unable to come to the phone. No one would say why. They began calling the hospital’s staff and eventually arranged a call. They were stunned. Their loved one could barely speak and had become partially paralyzed. Polzer learned it was because of an adverse drug reaction.

“During this time, we had no way to communicate with our family member, Polzer later told members of the Virginia House of Delegates during a Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee hearing. “We could not visit in person. We could not talk to him. And we could not see him. We felt powerless to help him.”

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Correction About Treatment Advocacy Center Spending, Plus NYAPRS $ Details

Illustration Courtesy of Pixabay

(4-25-22) Dr. E. Fuller Torrey responded to my blog last week about CEO salaries and revenues at major mental health nonprofits.

“I was not paid $27,844 by the Treatment Advocacy Center (as reported). I have never taken any salary or been paid in any way from TAC.”

Lisa Dailey, TAC’s Executive Director, also wrote in an email that although the nonprofit’s most recent Form 990 was not listed on Guidestar, the internet reporting service which I used to analyze income, TAC’s most recent IRS reports are on its website.  

The nonprofit’s 2020 IRS form showed that it took in $2.5 million in gross revenues (contributions/income). TAC does not accept money from Big Pharma. It relies solely on contributions. NAMI and MHA accept pharmaceutical funds. TAC listed its overall worth (net assets after taxes and expenses) at $1.5 million. (Figures are rounded up.) This was an increase from 2019, when it reported net assets of $1 million.

I omitted a peer run organization in my list last week.

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Mental Health America Took In Less Than NAMI, But Paid Its CEO More. Covid Awareness Increased Donations.

Image by Tumisu, from Pixabay

(4-19-22) Mental Health America saw its gross receipts jump by $3 million during 2020. In total, it received $8.2 million in gross receipts, according to its IRS Form 990, as reported by Guidestar. In 2019, it received $5.1 million.

I’ve already reported that the National Alliance on Mental Illness had a $5.6 million jump in its donations/receipts during 2020. Overall, it received an impressive $27.5 million.

Increases in donations to both are being credited to public awareness of mental illnesses during COVID.

NAMI and MHA are generally regarded as the nation’s two best-known grassroots, mental health nonprofits. NAMI began as a parent run organization largely focused on schizophrenia. It now brands itself as the nation’s voice for all mental disorders and those families and individuals who are living with mental illnesses. MHA was created by former mental hospital patients and continues to be the voice of those with lived experiences.

NAMI listed net assets of $25.7 million during 2020 after deducting expenses. MHA’s net worth as a nonprofit was considerably less – $9 million.

Despite its much smaller balance sheet, MHA paid its President/CEO a higher compensation package in 2020 than NAMI paid its leader. Outgoing MHA CEO Paul Gionfriddo received $271,089 in salary, collected a $10,000 bonus, and ended up with a total compensation package of $295,271. By comparison, NAMI’s CEO, Daniel Gillison received $265,046 – or roughly $30,000 less than Gionfriddo.

MHA also hired Mary Giliberti, after she abruptly left her job as NAMI CEO in 2019. MHA paid her a compensation package worth $244,178 – only a tad bit lower than the $257,392 compensation that she’d received when she was NAMI’s top executive.

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Advocate Tells SAMHSA To End IMD Exclusion That Prevents New Hospital Beds

Untreated SMI – Courtesy of Pixabay

(4-15-22) Is the federal government’s Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) Exclusion outdated and actually harming Americans with serious mental illnesses?

Leslie Carpenter, the co-founder of Iowa Mental Health Advocacy and a member of the National Shattering Silence Coalition, told a federal panel that advises Congress and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that it is.

She made her argument during the public comment session at Wednesday’s (4-13) Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC).

In her remarks – limited to three minutes – she explained.

“This policy was enacted in hopes of ending atrocities occurring at our large state psychiatric hospitals by prohibiting Federal Matching Medicaid funds from being used by any facility with more than sixteen beds for people with “Mental Diseases” who are aged 18 – 64. This well-intentioned policy has been a legal form of discrimination on this population of people who have brain illnesses, which are not their fault and no one chooses, and no one deserves.

“The IMD Exclusion didn’t end the atrocities, it both relocated them and worsened them. It has resulted in 169,000 people being left untreated and under-treated across our country on our streets and unsheltered…In addition, 383,000 people with serious brain illnesses are in our jails and prisons, where far too many are untreated and, in many cases, in solitary confinement.

“And many more are dying every single day. They are clearly not better off “in the community.

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Covid Sparks Mental Health Donations: NAMI Benefits With $5.6 Million Jump In Gross Receipts

Graphic courtesy of pinclipart

(4-11-22) When it comes to fund raising, the National Alliance on Mental Illness continues to financially dominate its rivals. It raises millions more and spends more. It had an extremely lucrative year in 2020 generating $5.6 million more in gross receipts than it had during 2019. (The most recent IRS Form 990s on file are from 2020, according to Guidestar, which posts them free of charge.) 

The Arlington-based group’s tax forms show that NAMI’s total gross receipts (money it brought in) totaled $27.5 million compared to $21.9 million during the previous year.

Now, let’s look at NAMI’s total assets.

NAMI’s total assets ballooned from $19.4 million to a whooping $39.8 million – almost doubling in 2020. (Part of this increase was because NAMI was required to make an accounting change in 2020 that required it to value its lease on its new Arlington headquarters. It also received a PPP loan in 2020 from the federal government worth $1.5 million, which was a one time shot in its financial arm.) When you include those factors and deduct NAMI’s yearly expenses (liabilities of $14.1 million), NAMI ended 2020 with total assets of $25.7 million on its books.

What do these two sets of numbers mean? Simply put, NAMI brought in $5.6 million more in revenue (donations, fees, etc.) in 2020 and its overall worth as a non-profit organization increased by $8.3 million.

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Released From Jail Without Getting Help For Serious Mental Illness: Alleged Shooter Kills Two, Wounds Three

(3-23-22) It’s happened again. This time, two are dead and three others wounded. All homeless men. All brutally attacked.

Gerald Brevard III, a 31 year-old Washington D.C. resident, with a long history of mental illness, has been charged with killing Morgan Holmes, 54, who was found shot and stabbed in his tent, which was set on fire, on March 9th in the nation’s capital. Brevard is a suspect in another murder in New York City that happened several hours later and three other shootings of homeless men.

As almost always in killings that involve a suspect with a diagnosed serious mental illness, there were plenty of red flags that were ignored.

“He is a good person and like many across the world, he suffers from mental illness,” Brevard’s father, Gerald Brevard Jr., told local Washington NBC News4 reporter Shomari Stone. “The bigger picture is not that he has mental illness, but the number of times that he’s been within the judicial system and how the system has failed regarding the treatment of so many, including my son.”

The senior Brevard is right. The most recent missed opportunity happened in Fairfax County.

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