Advocates dialogue for meaningful mental health reform, pure and simple

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The advocates dialogue on assisted outpatient treatment held earlier this week was a defining moment for the Children's Mental Health Network. At the heart of the Network is the determination to be a "collective voice" of those dedicated to improving services and supports for children, adolescents, young adults and their families. This dialogue was that and more, and is emblematic of who we are as a movement. Network faithful should be proud.

Eight brave advocates spanning the spectrum of opinion on the topic of assisted outpatient treatment, came together to break bread, enjoy the spirit of each others company, and share the pain and frustration that is inherent in dealing with decisions affecting personal choice.

At the end of the dialogue, I asked each of the participants to do a brief writeup of their reflections on the experience of coming together. If you do nothing else, read each of the personal reflections. The writings will give you hope and encouragement that we, the people, can lead the way on this issue and provide useful guidance to legislators as they work to develop meaningful mental health legislation. 

HR 3717 has raised the most passionate discussion about the mental health service delivery system in America in a long time. The idea for holding these dialogues emerged from a spirited discussion between myself, Martin Rafferty, Congressman Murphy's Chief of Staff and key legislative staff. For that, all Network faithful should thank Congressman Murphy for shining a bright light. You don't have to agree with him, but you should thank him. 

Now it is our turn to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We will be convening a dialogue in late September to continue our focus on assisted outpatient treatment. Our long-range plan is to hold dialogues on all of the key issues raised during the discussion of mental health reform this past year. Remember Network faithful, the goal is meaningful, effective and comprehensive mental health reform, pure and simple.

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Scott Bryant-Comstock
President & CEO
Children's Mental Health Network


  1. DJ Jaffe's avatar
    DJ Jaffe
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    Compromise is easy. But not smart. Gumbaya will go up as will the number of mentally ill incarcerated. Not a fair tradeoff. It is OK for people to disagree and for voters to decide. To satisfy the industry's desire for compromise, all Murphy has to do is drop the provisions that help the most seriously mentally ill and the mental health industry will be happy. Simply give SAMHSA money and don't require them to use it for the seriously ill and the industry will cheer. If Murphy sends the seriously ill to jails, prisons and morgues rather than AOT the industry will fete him. If compromise means abandoning the most seriously ill, it is the wrong thing to do.. We can't ignore the most seriously ill, even if the industry thinks that's a good compromise.
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