mental health

Mental Health Advocates Push For $37M In Funding

Jan 15, 2013

Advocates for the state’s mental health centers say the state hasn’t lived up to its own plan to improve services in the state. And this week, they’re calling for more than $37 million in increased funding to support a stretched system.

The state’s 10-year plan, called ‘A Strategy For Restoration,’ came out in 2008. It called for major investments in the state’s mental health system, and was hailed as a great step forward. But 5 years into the initiative, advocates say the state has actually slid backwards.

The recent and somewhat controversial changes to the manual to diagnose mental illness, also known as the DSM-5, will become official later this spring. Edits to the manual are based around an evolving understanding of mental disorders, which historically, haven’t always been accurate. A shocking diagnosis took hold at the height of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, when thousands of young black men were arrested at protests and sent to the Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Michigan, where they were systematically diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Though it’s unclear what motivated the shootings, many say mental health care can be a line of defense in preventing tragedies. But in the Granite State, these services have been cut and a new report says the system is in “crisis”. As part of a three day series on possible lessons from Newtown, we look at the conversation around mental health.

Guests

Advocates for mental health services say the state’s plan to re-open 12 beds at New Hampshire Hospital doesn’t go far enough to improve care. Representatives from more than a dozen organizations gathered today in Concord, and described a system stretched beyond its limits.

And they want New Hampshire lawmakers to know that no other medical condition gets treated this way.

tifotter via Flickr Creative Commons

Andrew Beaujon is senior online reporter for the Poynter institute. He talked to a number of health reporters about how they think mental health coverage is being handled post-Newtown, and he joins us with his findings.

Thomas Fearon

The state Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to temporarily reopen 12 beds at the state’s psychiatric hospital.

The state now needs to find more than $2 million to cover the cost.

Mental health advocates say the plan to add beds at New Hampshire Hospital is an encouraging first step in addressing long waiting lists for treatment.

But Ken Norton with the state chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill says there is still much work to be done.

Deval Patrick's Photostream via Flickr

Treatment of the mentally ill has come a long way from the dark, locked wards of asylums now shuttered and crumbling in several New England towns. We now know much more about the brain, psychopharmacology and the importance of community for people suffering with profound mental conditions.

As schools continue to mainstream children with disabilities, students with emotional and behavioral disabilities  may be the toughest to include.  They’re less likely to graduate and more likely to get arrested.  And there are questions about how to approach these kids – whether it’s a matter of more discipline or alternative methods.  We look at this issue and discuss a new documentary that takes a look at the topic through the life of a high school student coping with these disabilities.  

Guests:

The case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier charged with killing 17 Afghan villagers, has led the Army to review how troops are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder. The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they have invested heavily in the treatment of PTSD to deal with a growing caseload.

But the stigma associated with the disorder continues to complicate efforts to treat it. It has also fueled serious misconceptions about its effects — such as the notion that PTSD causes acts of extreme violence.

New Hampshire is denying claims made by the U-S Department of Justice that the state is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Attorney General’s Office issued a formal response to the findings Tuesday.

The U-S Department of Justice concluded in April that the state was violating federal law in the way it treats the mentally ill.

It criticized the state for failing to provide adequate community-based services, leading to prolonged stays at the state hospital.

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