Mr. Jaffe is back on the job. After what seemed, at least to me a too brief respite, he is once again joined the fray determined to slay the dragons of mental health advocacy that so imperil the seriously mentally ill. The article linked above is more than anything else an exhortation by Mr. Jaffe to rally the troops to try harder. The nasty no good rotten mental health advocates are he says several times “…. having an effect.” With his help the odds of defeating the Bills can only go up.
Mr. Jaffe and company were as you might recall were seriously effective advocates for the original Murphy Bill. Their scorched earth advocacy campaign alienated everyone there was to alienate. They were basically the tea party of mental health reform dedicated to the proposition that personally attacking anyone who disagreed with them and questioning their motivation and character was a sure fire way to build the consensus they needed to pass major legislative reform. It didn’t quite work out.
The post above is the first major effort I have seen in a little while from him. He is, I guess, back.
He sets the tone of the post with his title: There is a chance for real mental health reform if the Mental Health Industry gets out of the way. I think that means if the people who disagree would stop disagreeing everything would be okay.
Notice the use of the term “mental health industry.” It makes things sound conspiratorial. Anytime someone says something about an “industry” advocating for itself your gut reaction is always something a little bit dirty is going on. After all what else could it be about other than people trying to get more money at the expense of the people they ostensibly serve. I may have missed it but I have never once heard Mr. Jaffe say people disagree with us because they disagree with us. Their is, according to him, always an underhanded sort of motive. The biggest weakness of his position is that he has no way to account for people who disagree with him other than to slander them or write them off as dupes of a greater conspiracy.
A side note. The use of the term “mental health industry” also conjures up images of a homogeneous body speaking with one voice and one purpose. That is certainly not true. Some of the people who oppose the Murphy Bill disagree with each other only a little less than they disagree with the Murphy Bill. As a matter of fact I think you could argue if there was more common ground amongst Murphy opponents that it would never have gotten as far as it has.
His opening paragraph is a masterpiece of nonsense:
Mental-health programs received $172 billion in federal and state taxpayer funds in 2014. As a result of lobbying by the mental-health industry, however, little of it went to reducing homelessness, arrest, incarceration, and hospitalization of the 10 million who have serious mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Instead, as in previous years, a vast amount went to improving the “behavioral health” of the masses. As a result, 164,000 adults with serious mental illness are homeless; 365,000 are in jails and prisons; 770,000 are on probation or parole; 95,000 who should be hospitalized can’t get a bed because of the shortage; and headlines are full of “psychotic killer on rampage” headlines.
Where to start????
1. “As a result of lobbying by the mental health industry….” Is anyone other than me confused? Again he seems to reference some sort of conspiratorial activity. Who lobbied who? How? At whose direction? Why? My hunch is that this is one of those things that you have to know the code words for. I wonder if “lobbying of the mental health industry….” doesn’t just mean “disagreeing with the Torrey gospel” in particular his infatuation with the glories of psychiatric hospitalization. I don’t know but maybe…
2. little of it went to reducing homelessness, arrest, incarceration, and hospitalization of the 10 million who have serious mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Instead, as in previous years, a vast amount went to improving the “behavioral health” of the masses. It simply amazes me that some people are so gullible as to believe stuff like this. That is what the Tennessee system is about. That is the nuts and bolts prime directive. Reduce human misery. Give people a chance at a better life. This is so far off base as to not even be on the right field. I mean what is “improving the behavioral health of the masses?” Mr. Jaffe could you give some concrete specific examples of that and also some concrete examples of the “mental health industry” lobbying for these to the exclusion of things that actually improve human life. And finally and carefully explain how these specific examples you list comprise the bulk of the mental health system.
An important side note There is a central and enduring contradiction to the Torrey/Jaffe position I have never heard anyone explain. On the one hand they describe the mental health system as basically trash not meeting the needs of the seriously mentally ill but in the next breath talk about the glories of AOT, their gold standard intervention, which is basically committing people with serious mental illness to a system they say sucks. You can’t have it both ways. If the system sucks AOT must also.
3. As a result, 164,000 adults with serious mental illness are homeless; 365,000 are in jails and prisons; 770,000 are on probation or parole; 95,000 who should be hospitalized can’t get a bed because of the shortage; and headlines are full of “psychotic killer on rampage” headlines.
Look carefully at what he is saying. Because of the way the lobbyists of the mental health industry have designed services to meet the “mental health of the masses” the following things have happened: 164,000 adults with serious mental illness are homeless; 365,000 are in jails and prisons; 770,000 are on probation or parole; 95,000 who should be hospitalized can’t get a bed because of the shortage; and headlines are full of “psychotic killer on rampage” headlines. Focusing on the “mental health of the masses” (whatever that is) caused all this???? Does this not look more like a tabloid headline than serious thought? This is the reasoning behind a major effort at mental health reform? Homelessness, crime, “psychotic killers on the rampage” are fundamentally a defiency of psychiatric hospitalization, AOT, and medication. Mr. Jaffe you make no sense. I would love to see the concrete evidence base you use to make such claims.
Lord that is only the title and first paragraph of his post. This post is already much longer than I normally like. The rest of his post is filled with more goodies and I urge you to read it.
I only have a couple more remarks.
I am not sure that Mr. Jaffe and company are central to Sen. Murphys bill. Their holy rhetoric makes nothing more likely to pass. The Representative can testify to that. I wish I thought he was more important but he has already criticized the Senate bill as being soft on AOT and I don’t think he is going to be in the inner circle on this one. We could use Mr. Jaffe’s help on this one. Too bad.