Advocacy E-News December 23, 2013
December 23, 2013
IN A MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS, IS IT BEST TO CALL THE POLICE?
Relations between police and people with mental illness isn’t always a pretty history. Last year, in northern New Jersey over the course of three months, three “emotionally disturbed” individuals were shot and killed by police, according to The Record. Last year in Newark, a man with bipolar disorder who was arrested while having a manic episode died in police custody. An attorney for the family argued that a “lack of training” played a role in the man’s death, according to The Star-Ledger.
The Crisis Intervention Team (C.I.T.), a training operation partnering law enforcement and mental health professionals aims to improve relations between police and people with mental illness, and to get those in crisis the help they need.
WHEN THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS INCLUDES THE MENTALLY ILL
After the Newtown killings a year ago, state legislatures across the country debated measures that would have more strictly limited the gun rights of those with mental illness. Most states simply adhere to the federal standard, banning gun possession only after someone is involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility or designated as mentally ill or incompetent after a court proceeding or other formal legal process. Relatively few with mental health issues, even serious ones, reach this point. As a result, the police often find themselves grappling with legal ambiguities when they encounter mentally unstable people with guns, unsure how far they can go in searching for and seizing firearms and then, in particular, how they should respond when the owners want them back.
POSSIBLE PRIVATIZATION OF PSYCH WARD IN CAMDEN TRIGGERS WORRIES
Mental health advocates in New Jersey are worried about the possible privatization of the Camden County Health Service Center’s psychiatric ward. The center was sold to Ocean Healthcare for more than $37 million in May, but county officials had planned to lease back the psych ward. There is disagreement about the future of the ward, with a county spokesman saying the original plan will proceed. But others believe Ocean Healthcare intends to take over the 150 bed unit.
DEADLINE LOOMS FOR INSURANCE COVERAGE BEGINNING WITH NEW YEAR
While enrollment numbers rise, challenges remain in informing NJ residents about ACA options. An estimated 901,289 New Jerseyans are eligible for insurance through either the federal marketplace or the related expansion of Medicaid, but only a small fraction have applied. Healthcare advocates are urging uninsured New Jersey residents to apply for coverage. Volunteers are staffing phone banks as part of the enrollment effort in the final days before the initial December 23 deadline. The next important deadline will be March 31, 2014, which will mark the last day of the open enrollment period. Members of the New Jersey for Health Care coalition expressed frustration that the state isn’t using $7.6 million in received from the federal government to increase awareness of insurance options under the ACA. See more
Go to the Federal Exchange
Enroll in NJ Family Care (Medicaid)
N.J. MUST STEP UP TO END SMOKING
New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in America. However, the Garden State recently ranked last for tobacco control funding. New Jersey is the only state that currently spends zero dollars of state money to support tobacco prevention or treatment activities, despite collecting more than $700 million every year in tobacco taxes. New Jersey spends less to help smokers than much less affluent states such as Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and West Virginia. Too little is being done to help socially and economically disadvantaged populations.