A short course on action: part two

The initial post in this series talked about how to talk to legislators.   This post talks about some of the possible points you might consider making.

The following questions or comments are certainly not the only points to make about the Murphy Bill but at least offer a place to start….


1. What do you see wrong with coercion? Will it make people who need help try to avoid getting help for fear of getting involved in a coercive system? How coercive has your experience been in the mental health system and how has it affected you?
2. How has AOT affected you, your family, your friends?
3. Does your state have AOT and how has it affected the mental health system? How expensive is it? How often is it used? Has it decreased people in jails, homelessness or violent behavior?
4. Should the federal government try to make states without AOT adopt it?
5. AOT in New York, the state where it costs $32000000 a year and is probably more prevalent than any other state serves 1/3 of 1% of the people served by the mental health system there. At its best is AOT anything more than a marginal answer to much bigger problems.


1. The Murphy Bill would like to make it easier to keep people in psychiatric hospitals longer. How do you feel about that?
2 Do psychiatric hospitals work? What is your experience with them? Did they help? Did they hurt?
3. Psychiatric hospitalization is the most expensive form of treatment. How do you feel about funds being taken from community services to fund hospitals?
4. Do you really believe more psychiatric hospitals will keep people out of jail or from being homeless?
5. The Murphy Bill talks a lot about evidence based practices. Is hospitalization an evidence based practice?
6. Can people with serious mental health issues be helped anywhere else other than a hospital? How much does a hospital help?
7. Some people believe people should be kept in hospitals for their own good. Does anyone just need to be locked away?

PAIMI is the federal protection and advocacy program designed to protect the rights of the “mentally ill.” The Murphy Bill seeks to curtail this.

1. Should it be against the law to protect someone’s rights? Ever??
2. Do rights get in the way of effective treatment?
3. How much should a system be trusted that does not protect the most vulnerable?
4. Have you had a personal experience with PAIMI? How did it work out?


1. Should you have a right to confidentiality even if your family disagrees with your decisions?
2. Has conflict with your family ever been part of your issues? Have they ever been a source of trauma for you? Is your privacy one way to protect yourself?
3. Do you believe the existing laws with the exceptions written in works okay. Is the law broken or do we just need to follow it?


1. Although trauma is progressively being recognized as a central element in the development of mental health issues the Murphy Bill does not mention it . Do you believe this bill should more adequately reflect current scientific knowledge?


1. The Murphy Bill does not talk about or believe in the importance of stigma in the lives of those with psychiatric diagnoses. In fact many people believe this bill will increase stigma. What role has stigma played in your life? If passed do you believe that you will be further stigmatized?


1. This bill makes psychiatric opinion the final authority in many things. Given the increasing evidence of problems associated with psychiatric medications should people have the right to say no to psychiatrists?


1. This bill would effectively eliminate Samhsa. This agency has been a big part of developing the concept of recovery as well as supporting peer support? How do you feel about this agency being eliminated?

There is much more to the Murphy Bill than addressed above. The intent of these questions is to help you articulate more clearly how you think the Murphy Bill will affect you.

Please think about it and let your legislator hear from you on Wednesday. It is time for all of us to take action.


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