Congress Regresses With Mental Health Act- NDRN Fights Back.

Called “Help Families with Mental Health Act of 2013, this legislation does the opposite. Kinda like W’s No Child Left Behind. It is a disgusting pattern that Congressperson Murphy and his colleagues generally pass legislation that damages the weakest among us in terms of power….like cutting foodstamp benefits cuts services to people with little power and income and makes it less likely that they have any legal representation when abused.

Be ready to take action!

Here is the NDRN statement. Kudos to them for leading on!

WASHINGTON – The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) today criticized legislation introduced by Representative Tim Murphy as short-sighted, harmful to people with mental illness, their families, and in fact all society. The so-called “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013” will actually do the exact opposite.

“Today, Representative Murphy has turned his back on a program that has for almost 30 years protected people with mental illness from abuse and neglect, helped them receive needed services and supports (including treatment), helped these individuals get an education, find housing and employment and become taxpaying citizens, while also reducing recidivism and crime,” said Curt Decker Executive Director of the National Disability Rights Network.

Representative Murphy’s legislation will reduce funding for the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program by about 85% leaving individuals with mental illness no independent advocates nationwide to help address the myriad of issues faced every day. In 2012, with funding that was not adequate to serve all the people that requested services, the PAIMI program provided individual advocacy services to over 10,800 people, trainings to almost 135,000 people, information to over 35,000 individuals, investigated the circumstances in the deaths of over 2,700 individuals with mental illness, and provided systemic advocacy that positively impacted the lives of millions of people in the United States. Individual cases involve instances of abuse and neglect, but as importantly involve examples where an individual’s rights have been violated, such as employment and housing discrimination and denial of health and education services.

“Representative Murphy’s cuts to the PAIMI program will end all of this important work occurring nationwide, negatively impacting millions of American citizens,” said Mr. Decker.

The PAIMI program was enacted following an exhaustive Congressional investigation done by former Senator Lowell Weicker of Connecticut into the abuse and neglect that was occurring in our nation’s psychiatric institutions. Much like the reaction that occurred in Congress following the revelation of rampant abuse and neglect in state institutions serving individuals with intellectual disabilities, Congress decided that individuals with mental illness needed independent advocates in every state and territory to stop abuse and neglect, ensure that needed services and supports were being provided and the human and civil rights of these individuals were being protected. This legislation, the PAIMI Act, was ultimately signed into law by President Reagan.
Representative Murphy’s legislation will lead to more recidivism. Study after study has shown that an important factor in reducing recidivism is providing adequate mental health services to individuals while in jail and ensuring proper discharge planning from prison back into society with needed services and supports. Ensuring proper treatment and discharge planning is work that is being done by PAIMI advocates and staff in jails, prisons, and juvenile justice facilities every day across the entire nation. Unfortunately, this draconian reduction in the authorization for the PAIMI program is going to lead to less individuals receiving the treatment they need while in prison and thus increased crime through recidivism.

Additionally, rather than helping families in crisis, this bill will exacerbate the crisis that families are facing. Taking away the independent advocates that ensure that people are receiving needed health services and supports, are able to obtain an education and employment, and live in the community will put families in more of a crisis, then help them.

“NDRN, the entire Protection and Advocacy Network, and the people they serve that are individuals with mental illness call on Congress to reject this short-sighted, mean spirited, and harmful legislation,” said Mr. Decker.

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1 Response to Congress Regresses With Mental Health Act- NDRN Fights Back.

  1. PAIMI failed in improving mental health for people with serious mental illness.
    Jails crowded with people with mental illness testify to that.
    Less than 9 percent of Americans have serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia. Another 25 to 40 percent have poor mental health. The “psychotic killer” headlines are the result of cutting services for the seriously ill to pay for services for all others.
    We used to have enough psychiatric hospitals for the most seriously ill. Today, we spend more on mental health but are short 95,000 psychiatric beds. Three times as many mentally ill will spend tonight incarcerated rather than hospitalized largely as a result of our new spending priorities.
    Are people with mental illness more violent than others? The 25 to 40 percent are not. Those in the 5 to 9 percent who go untreated are. Court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment helps these most seriously ill individuals get treatment and reduces violence, dangerous behavior, suicide and incarceration. Such treatment programs go largely unfunded while programs for newly minted mental health issues like bullying are showered with dollars. To reduce episodes of violence, we have to target the population most likely to be involved in it. We have to send the most seriously ill to the front of the line for services.

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