Advocacy E-News August 1, 2013
COURT ORDERED MENTAL HEALTH TREAMENT WORKS STUDY FINDS
For some people with severe mental illness, life is a cycle of hospitalization, skipped medication, decline and then rehospitalization. They may deny they have psychiatric disorders, refuse treatment and cascade into out-of-control behavior that can be threatening to themselves or others. Now, a study has found that a controversial program that orders these patients to receive treatment when they are not hospitalized has had positive results. Patients were much less likely to end up back in psychiatric hospitals and were arrested less often. Use of outpatient treatment significantly increased, as did refills of medication. Costs to the mental health system and Medicaid of caring for these patients dropped by half or more.
Proponents of the program say they hope New York’s experience will persuade other states to invest.
THE MEMPHIS MODEL POLICING AND MENTAL ILLNESS
The behavioral effects of developmental disabilities or mental illness can have dire consequences when a disabled individual is confronted by the police or fire fighters. The result may be unwarranted police action or arrest. Quite often, mentally ill people, because of communication barriers that may exist as a result of their disability, become the victims of police abuse. In some cases, the abuse leads to injury and death. In order to address this issue, police and fire departments have created training to enable first responders to recognize such disabilities.
In 1988, the Memphis Police Department joined in partnership with the Memphis Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental health providers, and two local universities in implementing a specialized unit for the purpose of developing a more intelligent and safe approach to mental crisis events. This community effort was the genesis of the Memphis Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team”.
BERGEN COUNTY POLICE ADD TASERS TO ARSENAL
In November, police shot and killed a mentally ill Leonia man who had allegedly robbed a borough pharmacy at knifepoint. The review found that the officers had exhausted all non-lethal options during their confrontation, pleading with McFadden to drop the weapon and pepper spraying him twice. One option officers did not have that night was to attempt to disable McFadden using a Taser — an often controversial device that has become increasingly common tool for law enforcement.
MENTAL ILLNESS, TOBACCO TURN OUT TO BE DEADLY COMBO
It’s hard to quit smoking. For individuals struggling with a mental illness, it’s even harder. The percentage of people with mental illness who smoke is much higher than that of the general population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported earlier this year. From 2009-11, 36 percent of adults with mental illness smoked, compared with 21 percent of the rest of the population. Studies from several states show that people with severe mental illness die, on average, 25 years earlier than the general public. Their No. 1 cause of death? Heart disease related to tobacco use, the studies show. Yet mental health treatment is lagging when it comes to tobacco addiction, said Dr. Jill Williams, who specializes in mental health and tobacco at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.