Advocacy E-News April 21, 2014
April 21, 2014
MENTAL ILLNESS HAUNTED CLIFTON STABBING SUSPECT
Over the years, even the people who cared about him say they don’t know what kind of medical treatment he was receiving, if any, for a serious mental illness. Authorities have not released details of the altercation that led to his stabbing of two people at ashopping center. An off-duty Nutley police officer, David Strus, was praised by Clifton police for tackling Werner and disarming him without using his police handgun. Since 2009 at least 15 people with mental illnesses had died across New Jersey at the hands of police, according to the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
SOMERSET LOOKS TO JOIN MENTAL HEALTH COMMITMENT EFFORT
Michael Frost, the director of human services in Somerset County, calls it the “revolving door.” For some county residents, their mental illnesses have left them cycling in and out of hospitals and a psychiatric screening services program, Frost said. As part of their illnesses, they don’t think they need help, he said.
Now county officials are looking to join a statewide effort where a judge can order those people into mental health treatment.
POLICE OPPOSE HOSPITAL CLOSING MENTAL HEALTH UNIT
Police from across Warren County turned out in full force tonight to oppose the closure of the inpatient behavioral health unit at St. Luke’s Hospital in Phillipsburg. They said closing the unit will increase the burden on law enforcement, and they support the county mental health board’s recommendation that St. Luke’s downsize the unit. The prosecutor’s office established a mental health unit a few years ago to train police and offer a program for nonviolent, mentally ill offenders. But it’s dependent on services in the community.
“When mentally ill persons or their families have nowhere else to turn, law enforcement will be called. … The criminal justice system is a poor substitute for mental health services,” said Warren County Prosecutor Richard Burke.
HARD TO FIND DOCTORS IN NJ WHO ACCEPT THEIR INSURANCE
New Jersey residents are more than four times as likely as the national average to have difficulty finding a doctor who accepts their health insurance, according to a new Rutgers University report.
People with frequent mental-health problems were among those with the greatest difficulty finding access to doctors. Of those who reported having four or more “bad mental health days” in the prior month, 19.6 percent said a general doctor told them that their health insurance wasn’t accepted, while 18.8 percent had that experience with a specialist.
“It raises questions about the network adequacy” of these patients’ insurance plans, Cantor said. Insurers are legally required to provide an adequate network of providers.
PROPOSED RULE WOULD ALIGN PRIVILEGES ON HEALTH COMMUNICATIONS
A new rule being proposed in New Jersey would create a “unified mental health service provider evidentiary privilege”—an effort to reorganize the present patchwork of privileges that offer varying degrees of protection to different professionals. The Supreme Court Committee on the Rules of Evidence released the draft proposal on Wednesday and asked for comments by June 2.
It lists specific professionals who would be covered by the unified privilege. It defines a mental health service provider as someone “reasonably believed by the patient to be authorized to engage in the diagnosis or treatment” of a mental or emotional condition. Clergy, even though they might discuss mental health matters with congregants, are excluded.