WASHINGTON, June 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire
On June 4, Congressman Tim Murphy introduced legislation (HR 2646) designed to dismantle the federal mental health authority – the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – which has successfully promoted recovery and community inclusion for individuals with serious behavioral health conditions for 25 years, as called for by President Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. The bill would replace SAMHSA with a new Office headed by a politically appointed government official, controlled by Congress and robbing people of their civil rights through forced treatment and increased institutionalization.
The bill, a revised version of The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 3717), which failed to pass in 2013, "is based on a false connection between mental illness and violence," said Daniel Fisher, MD, PhD, of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition of 35 statewide and national organizations representing individuals with mental illnesses. 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 is the general public.
Murphy's bill contains Orwellian examples of doublespeak, such as claiming that Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is a community-based alternative to institutionalization. "In reality," said NCMHR board member Joseph Rogers, "AOT is the opposite of a community-based alternative." AOT is more accurately called Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), under which someone with a serious mental health condition is court-mandated to follow a specific treatment plan, usually requiring medication and resulting in their institutionalization if they refuse. Any effectiveness of AOT/IOC is due to an increase in costly services, not coercion.
Like HR 3717, HR 2646 would interfere with community inclusion by:
- eliminating all consumer-run technical assistance and statewide networking grants because they would not fit the criteria for evidence-based services despite the fact that peer support is evidence-based;
- requiring that all grants and contracts be approved by the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health in an overreach of Congressional authority;
- narrowly restricting the activities of peer supporters, thus making peer services strictly an extension of clinical services at lower pay;
- greatly increasing institutionalization by undoing the IMD (Institutions for Mental Diseases) exclusion, which prohibits the use of Medicaid financing of hospitals and nursing homes larger than 16 beds; and
- greatly reducing confidentiality under HIPAA.
"We urge everyone to educate their legislators about why they should not support HR 2646," Dr. Fisher concluded.
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.