Advocacy E-News November 3, 2015
November 3, 2015
ON BEHALF OF ACTING COMMISSIONER ELIZABETH CONNOLLY
In past years the Department of Human Services has held a budget forum to solicit in-person testimony regarding the upcoming fiscal year budget. This year from October 19 to November 20, we will collect interested stakeholder’s email or hard copy testimony with constructive ideas and suggestions concerning DHS’ portion of the FY’17 budget. Testimony can be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to NJ Department of Human Services, PO Box 700, Trenton, NJ 08625-0700, attention Commissioner’s Office.
MENTAL HEALTHCARE REFORM COMES INTO FOCUS
The bipartisan duo of Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is seeing some momentum in an effort to reform the mental healthcare system, giving hope to House members who have long failed to advance a similar bill. After a series of speeches in recent weeks, the senators will take part in a hearing on the issue Thursday by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Also on Thursday, advocates from several mental health groups, including the American Psychiatric Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness will make a push for criminal justice reform to keep people with serious mental health problems out of prison.
HOW CASINO CRISIS COULD AFFECT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The county-run buses that take senior citizens and people with disabilities to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping and life-saving medical treatments are running out of funds from casino revenues that have kept them going through the years. Funding for county-run transportation for senior citizen and disabled residents is one of •8 state programs tied to casino revenues collected by the state. But as Atlantic City’s fortunes have waned, so has funding. The result of eight straight years of funding decreases is that county governments, which have kept the senior transit systems going with subsidies, have had to cut services and lay off drivers.
MAKING PROGRESS TO IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, which once gave Utah a “D” grade in mental health policies, has recently praised the state for legislation passed last year to mandate suicide awareness and prevention education for mental health professionals. The Utah Department of Human Services deserves credit for launching an online screening program that allows people to anonymously assess whether they may suffer a mental disorder or have a problem with substance abuse.
FAKE COVER LETTERS EXPOSE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST DISABLED
Employers appear to discriminate against well-qualified job candidates who have a disability, researchers at Rutgers and Syracuse universities have concluded. The researchers, who sent résumés and cover letters on behalf of fictitious candidates for thousands of accounting jobs, found that employers expressed interest in candidates who disclosed a disability about 26 percent less frequently than in candidates who did not.
TO REDUCE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS, OUR ACTIONS MUST MATCH LAW
Bias (whether conscious or not) against the mentally ill creates the shame and isolation that keeps people who need treatment from getting help, which probably contributes heavily to the suicide rate. The longer the mentally ill are stigmatized, the longer it will take to break the cycle that keeps people from getting help.
UNION COUNTY PAYS $200K SETTLEMENT OVER INMATE’S DEATH
Union County has quietly agreed to pay $200,000 to a woman who filed a lawsuit claiming officers fatally injured her son while he was an inmate in the county jail. A jailhouse video showing the 25-year-old pleading for officers to leave in his cell. The video showed officers in helmets and tactical gear rushing into the cell, holding the inmate down and restraining him with a belt across his chest, an assault that cut off the inmate’s airway. In 2013 he was transferred from the jail to Ann Klein Forensic Center in West Trenton to stabilize his mental health, his mother has said. She said he was returned to the jail, but his health deteriorated.