Advocacy E-News October 28, 2013
October 28, 2013
KENNEDY’S VISION FOR MENTAL HEALTH NEVER REALIZED
The last piece of legislation President John F. Kennedy signed turns 50 this month: the Community Mental Health Act, which helped transform the way people with mental illness are treated and cared for in the United States. Signed on Oct. 31, 1963, weeks before Kennedy was assassinated, the legislation aimed to build mental health centers accessible to all Americans so that those with mental illnesses could be treated while working and living at home, rather than being kept in neglectful and often abusive state institutions, sometimes for years on end. But only half of the proposed centers were ever built, and those were never fully funded.
GREYSTONE, GENERATING A POSITIVE FROM A NEGATIVE IMAGE
The name “Greystone” may evoke very different images, ones dark and foreboding, which is why the hospital held an open house on Sept. 30, in advance of Mental Health Awareness Week. The purpose was to dispel the false impressions of the psychiatric hospital and do away with the stigma
INSURERS BALK AT PAYING FOR INTENSIVE PSYCHIATRIC CARE
As enrollment in coverage under the Affordable Care Act becomes available, the rules underlying mental health coverage in general — for both private insurers and the new health care exchanges — are still unclear, mental-health patient advocates say, leaving patients and families to grind through the process as best they can. At issue is not coverage for run-of-the-mill care like prescription medications for depression or a few visits with a therapist. But when patients need months of residential care, or meetings with a therapist several times a week, insurers balk.
NJ TRANSIT TROUBLED BY RISE IN RAIL SUICIDES
Suicides by train are on the upswing in New Jersey, leading NJ Transit and the state Department of Human Services to work together with a sense of urgency on new programs aimed at stemming the tragic trend. While the total number of deaths this year is not out of line with figures from recent years, suicides already far exceed those recorded in each of the last five years. In an effort to combat the rise in track suicides, Durso said NJ Transit has posted the suicide hotline number at all of its 164 rail stations and is working with local and state suicide prevention agencies to promote suicide awareness.
UNION COUNTY PUTS OUT RUNNELLS RFP REGARDING POTENTIAL SALE
Union County could divest itself of Runnells Specialized Hospital by next July, according to a request for proposals posted on the county’s improvement authority’s website. The RFP, released late last month, is directed at companies interested in buying or running the county-owned facility, where revenue shortfalls have totaled about $100 million since 2006. The hospital comprises a 300-bed long-term care unit, about 240 of which were occupied as of last week, and a 44-bed adult psychiatric facility. Hospital advocates, fear a sale could compromise care at the facility, particularly if it is bought by a for-profit company.
PARAMUS POLICE LATEST TO BE EQUIPPED WITH TASERS
Paramus Police have become the latest Bergen County law enforcement officers to be equipped with Tasers, the electronic “stun guns” that can stop an attacker instantly with a temporarily crippling and painful, but non-lethal, jolt of electricity. The video-equipped Tasers were provided to some patrol officers to “provide a safer alternative” in “dealing with violent persons suffering from emotional disturbances or under the influence of narcotics.
The drive to acquire the Tasers gained momentum last November, when a Leonia police sergeant and two officers from Palisades Park shot and killed a robbery suspect. It was later revealed that the suspect had struggled with mental illness.