Advocacy E-News August 16, 2013
CHRISTIE SIGNS N.J. GUN LAW BOLSTERING MENTAL HEALTH CHECKS
This week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed 10 gun bills into law. One A3717 will make it harder for people with histories of mental illness to purchase firearms. It makes it mandatory for mental health records to be submitted to a national database. That way they can be cross-referenced during gun-buying background checks.
Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt, D-Vorhees, was a primary sponsor of the bill, which she says is meant to keep guns away from the mentally unstable. Some mental health advocates are expressing concern, however.
THIRD OF STATES FAIL ON DIVERTING PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS FROM JAIL
Fewer than half the U.S. population lives in communities where the most basic methods of diverting people with severe mental illness from the criminal justice system are being used, according to a new study by the Treatment Advocacy Center. A full one-third of the nation’s states, including New Jersey get a D or F for their use of diversion programs proven to reduce the criminalization of mental illness, the study found.
In a better world, people with untreated severe mental illness would get help before their symptoms resulted in law enforcement involvement or criminal prosecution,” said Doris A. Fuller, executive director of the national nonprofit. “Until that day, jurisdictions that fail to use such uncontroversial tactics as mental health courts and law enforcement crisis intervention teams are failing their citizens who suffer from severe mental illness and their communities.”
PEJORATIVE MENTAL HEALTH LANGUAGE BILL BECOMES LAW
On August 7, New Jersey made important progress in our efforts to end stigma when Governor Christie signed A3357/S2224 into New Jersey law. The passing of this law will result in the removal of negative terms referring to people with psychiatric, cognitive or developmental disabilities in state statutes. Terms such as “lunatic,” “insane,” “unsound mind,” and “incompetent,” when used pejoratively, have been replaced with more respectful language that refers to a person’s mental capacity.
BERGEN COUNTY POLICE SWAT TEAM USE STUN GUN FOR THE FIRST TIME
An emotionally disturbed 27-year-old man barricaded in a bedroom of his Fairview home last weekend surrendered peacefully when Bergen County police officers forced their way in and threatened to stun him with a Taser as he appeared to be going for a weapon. It was an early success for the first North Jersey police department to be equipped with the stun guns and avoided what could have been another deadly confrontation between police and an emotionally disturbed suspect. Over the past year, police in four North Jersey communities have used deadly force in confrontations with men who were highly agitated or whose family said had a history of mental illness.
WHEN DOCTORS DISCRIMINATE
If you met me, you’d never know I was mentally ill. In fact, I’ve gone through most of my adult life without anyone ever knowing — except when I’ve had to reveal it to a doctor. And that revelation changes everything. It wipes clean the rest of my résumé, my education, my accomplishments, reduces me to a diagnosis. The first time it was an ear, nose and throat doctor. He looked at the list of drugs I was taking for my bipolar disorder and closed my chart.
At least 14 studies have shown that patients with a serious mental illness receive worse medical care than “normal” people. Last year the World Health Organization called the stigma and discrimination endured by people with mental health conditions “a hidden human rights emergency.”