Advocacy E-News April 7, 2014
April 7, 2014
LANCE’S ‘EXCELLENCE IN MENTAL HEALTH ACT’ PROVISIONS NOW LAW
Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today hailed the new law that included many provisions of his ‘Excellence in Mental Health Care Act.’ Lance and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06) last year introduced the ‘Excellence in Mental Health Care Act’ to put community mental health centers on more equal footing with other health centers by improving quality standards and expanding access. The new law will give Community Mental Health Centers the opportunity to expand their services and obtain necessary designations to provide 24-hour psychiatric care and better integrate physical checkups with mental health services.
A second measure championed by Lance was reviewed today by the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. The ‘The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act’ targets programming and resources on psychiatric care for patients and families most in need of services by increasing inpatient and outpatient treatment options. The bill makes judicial reforms by clarifying standards used to commit an individual to medical care. The measure is expected to be considered by the full House later this Spring.
CONGRESS AUTHORIZES NATIONAL AOT DEMONSTRATION PROJECT
A national assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) demonstration project is a step closer to reality today, thanks to Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan). Murphy and Stabenow last week added the AOT demonstration project to an unrelated bill to delay a scheduled cut in doctor reimbursements under Medicare (the “Doc Fix”) that President Obama signed as expected. The Department of Health and Human Services will have authority to award $60 million for up to 200 AOT start-up grants over the next four years. (Individual grants could award up to $1 million.)
NJ OFFICIALS: INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT PROGRAM WORKS
The Department of Human Services tells NJTV News the involuntary outpatient commitment law passed in 2009 gives judges the authority to order severely mentally ill people into outpatient treatment and under some circumstances if a person is found to be dangerous in the imminent future, a judge may order that person committed to psychiatric hospital. Six counties are involved in the program. The Christie administration just issued a request for proposal in an effort to enable the program’s expansion to all 21 counties.
POLICE CONFRONT RISING NUMBER OF SUSPECTS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
James Boyd, a homeless man camping in the Sandia Foothills here, could hear the commands of the police officers who were trying to move him out. The problem was that Mr. Boyd, 38, had a history of mental illness, and so was living in a different reality, one in which he was a federal agent and not someone to be bossed around. In towns and cities across the United States, police officers find themselves playing dual roles as law enforcers and psychiatric social workers. County jails and state prisons have become de facto mental institutions. The problem has gotten worse in recent years, according to mental health and criminal justice experts, as state and local governments have cut back on mental health services for financial reasons.
Many police departments have put in place training for officers in how to deal with mentally ill people, teaching them to defuse potentially volatile situations and to treat people who suffer from psychiatric illnesses with respect.
CIT BRIDGING GAP BETWEEN LAW ENFORCEMENT AND MENTALLY ILL
When Union County Police Officer Kenny Matz spotted the homeless man outside the county Social Services building in Elizabeth one night last September, he was tempted to shuffle him along in the curt manner cops sometimes need to use to assert their authority. But then he remembered the crisis intervention training session he’d attended less than a month earlier. As it turns out, the homeless man had been contemplating suicide but the encounter with Matz emboldened him to seek treatment for his undiagnosed schizophrenia.
BOARDING HOME SHUT DOWN AFTER SENATOR’S SURPRISE VISIT
A week after state inspectors found no violations, a Newark boarding home where several dozen former psychiatric patients live was shut down by the city yesterday after an unannounced visit by state Sen. Richard Codey and Mayor Luis Quintana revealed a number of problems, including an unlocked medicine cabinet, faulty electrical wiring and an apparent rodent infestation. Robert Davison, executive director of the Mental Health Association who accompanied Codey estimated that in the past decade, 10 percent of those discharged from state psychiatric hospitals wind up “in housing stock like this — in boarding homes and residential health care facilities. About half of it is fine, but 50 percent is unsanitary and deplorable.
TEARING DOWN THE WALLS OF GREYSTONE PARK PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
Admirers of the historic Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, which includes the beloved Kirkbride building, should snap a picture soon. The campus will be knocked down in a “matter of months,” according to members of the state Department of Treasury who visited Morris County Friday to inform officials and a local preservation group that it plans to proceed with demolition. Over the objections of several historical preservation groups, most of the buildings on the campus were determined to be unsalvageable and were razed. A few still stand, however, including the Kirkbride Building, which became the main focus of groups such as Preserve Greystone.