Mental Health: What would happen if E Fuller Torrey made national policy

We may get a chance to find out….

A bill introduced in Congress today tries to make AOT the law of the land, make it illegal basically for any organization to tell consumers to make choices for themselves, and obliterates the privacy rights of patients. It also invalidates much that has been done around the concept of recovery. It puts national mental health policy in the hands of Congress (If that doesnt scare you what will??)It is a big step– BACKWARD!!!! It is something I hope you will speak out against.

There are two press releases about it below….one from Bazeldon, the other from the Treatment Advocacy Center. Read carefully and think it through and then act. These are dangerous times.

Mental Health Advocates Blast Rep. Tim Murphy’s Bill as a Costly Step Backward, to the Days When a Mental Illness Diagnosis Was a Life Sentence
WASHINGTON (12/12/13) – Today, Congressman Tim Murphy introduced legislation that, if passed, would reverse some of the advances of the last 30 years in mental health services and supports. It would exchange low-cost services that have good outcomes for higher-cost yet ineffective interventions, according to the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition of 32 statewide organizations and others representing individuals with mental illnesses; the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the non-profit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities; and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a national non-profit legal advocacy organization.
“This legislation would eliminate initiatives that promote recovery from serious mental illnesses through the use of evidence-based, voluntary, peer-run services and family supports,” said Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., a founder of the NCMHR. “These services have a proven track record in helping people stay out of the hospital and live successfully in the community. Because hospitalization is far more expensive and has far worse outcomes than these effective, and cost-efficient, community-based services, this bill would cost more money for worse outcomes.
“Even worse,” Dr. Fisher added, “the bill greatly promotes stigma and discrimination by its unfounded and damaging connection between mental illness and violence.”
NDRN, NCMHR and the Bazelon Center note that the bill does not represent the mainstream of national thought, practice and research.
“This proposal targets the rights of individuals with mental illnesses and restructures federal funding to heavily encourage the use of force and coercion. It also would reduce privacy protections and rights advocacy,” said NDRN executive director Curt Decker.
“Most troubling, this legislation threatens to essentially dismantle the efforts of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to promote recovery and community inclusion for the broad variety of people in our community – and to do so at a time when SAMHSA’s efforts to ensure that effective behavioral health approaches are fully integrated into public health are essential,” said Harvey Rosenthal, a Bazelon Center trustee.
Among the problematic provisions of Rep. Murphy’s bill is the establishment of a grants program to expand involuntary outpatient commitment (IOC), under which someone with a serious mental illness is court-mandated to follow a specific treatment plan, usually requiring medication. Yet the facts show that involuntary outpatient commitment is not effective, involves high costs with minimal returns, is not likely to reduce violence, and that there are more effective alternatives.
“Force and coercion drive people away from treatment,” said Jean Campbell, Ph.D., one of the nation’s leading mental health researchers. “In 1989, 47% of Californians with mental illnesses who participated in a consumer research project reported that they avoided treatment for fear of involuntary treatment; that increased to 55% for those who had been committed in the past.” (Dr. Campbell was one of the two researchers.[i])
Rep. Murphy’s bill is based on a false connection between mental illness and violence. Study after study shows that no such connection exists. In fact, individuals with mental illnesses are actually 11 times more likely to be victims of violence than the general public.
Rep. Murphy’s bill also attacks the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy programs, which, together with the Client Assistance Programs, are the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.
“We urge Congressional leaders to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the mental health community to help them better understand what our systems are doing to best support the health and safety of people with mental illnesses and of all Americans,” said Dr. Fisher.
The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the non-profit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities.
The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) works to ensure that consumer/survivors have a major voice in the development and implementation of health care, mental health, and social policies at the state and national levels, empowering people to recover and lead a full life in the community.
Media Contacts:
Susan Rogers, 267-507-3812,, cell: 215-284-0766
Harvey Rosenthal, 518-527-0564,
Jennifer Mathis, 202-467-5730.
ext. 313,


ARLINGTON, VA –  Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced major mental health reforms earlier today that would substantially improve care for individuals with the most severe mental illness so that treatment is accessed through the healthcare system, rather than the criminal justice system, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center.
Released this morning following a year of hearings led by Murphy as chair of the House Energy & Commerce Oversight Committee, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013” includes provisions that:

Requires states to have commitment criteria broader than “dangerousness” and to authorize assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) in order to receive Community Mental Health Service Block Grant funds.
Allocates $15 million for a federal AOT block grant program to fund to 50 grants per year for new local AOT programs.
Carves out an exemption in HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) allowing a “caregiver” to receive protected health information when a mental health care provider reasonably believes disclosure to the caregiver is necessary to protect the health, safety or welfare of the patient or the safety of another. (The definition of “caregiver” includes immediate family members.)
Establishes a new National Mental Health Policy Laboratory in the Department of Health and Human Services.
Prohibits federally funded “Protection and Advocacy” organizations from engaging in lobbying activities and from counseling individuals on ““refusing medical treatment or acting against wishes of a caregiver.”
Requires the U.S. Comptroller General to submit a report to Congress detailing the costs to the federal and state government of imprisoning people with severe mental illness.

“Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) is to be strongly commended for taking leadership on federal problems regarding the treatment of individuals with serious mental illnesses,” said Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, the Treatment Advocacy Center’s founder, who went door to door on Capitol Hill following last December’s Newtown shootings to raise congressional awareness of the need for mental illness treatment reform.
“This is an issue on which federal and state leadership has been in short supply. Rep. Murphy, a psychologist by training, has approached the issue in a systematic and thoughtful manner, focusing specifically on the parts of the problem which have federal origins.”
Torrey urged bipartisan support for the legislation. “The problems it addresses are not Democratic or Republican problems, but rather everybody’s problems.”

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