Advocacy E-News October 31, 2014
October 31, 2014
DO N.J. TROOPERS NEED MORE TRAINING ON HANDLING MENTALLY ILL?
Leading mental health and disability rights advocates said disclosures show the State Police do not do enough to train troopers to handle mentally ill people, and that it needs to partner with experts in the field to make improvements.
“The State Police is amongst the most professional and best trained police forces in the country, but they’re woefully lacking when it comes to being prepared to deal with people with mental illness,” said Phil Lubitz, associate director of National Alliance on Mental Illness New Jersey, the largest mental health advocacy group in the state. “They fall well behind a number of municipal police forces.”
N.J. PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL EMPLOYEE SUSPENDED
A Trenton Psychiatric Hospital employee has been suspended without pay for failing to make hourly room checks the night a patient attacked her roommate and blinded her, according to a state Human Services spokeswoman. The unidentified 12-year employee was suspended without pay on Sept. 26. said Ellen Lovejoy, spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services, which oversees the facility. Workers must check patients every hour during the overnight shift, but this employee missed the 4 a.m. visit, she said.
BILL TO FIGHT TEEN SUICIDE BEING FAST-TRACKED
A grassroots bill that will help fight teen suicide is being fast-tracked through the New Jersey legislature. The “Boys and Girls Clubs Keystone Law,” which allows minors to seek behavioral healthcare without adult consent, was unanimously approved (6-0) by the New Jersey Assembly Women and Children Committee. The bill calls for the expansion of a current law allowing minors to give consent for behavioral healthcare, including for instances of mental illness. This way, minors will have access to professional therapists and social workers who can assess their issues and provide treatment. The provisions of the bill are similar to those which already permit a minor to consent to treatment for venereal disease, HIV, AIDS, sexual assault or drug or alcohol abuse. Sixteen other states have similar laws in place.
UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATION ALLEGATIONS RESOLVED
George Dapper Inc. agreed to pay a former employee $45,000 to resolve allegations that it unlawfully discriminated by firing her after learning she had a mental-health disability, officials said. In addition to paying the former employee $45,000, Dapper must arrange under the settlement for training of its management staff and line employees on the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
“Employers have a clear duty under the law to provide a reasonable accommodation for workers with physical or mental disabilities.” “Unfortunately, mental illness is still heavily stigmatized,” Division Director Craig T. Sashihara said in the statement. “As with any type of illness, some things can be worked through, some things can’t. But as a general matter, when someone presents medical evidence indicating that the condition will not prevent him or her from performing the essential functions of the job, an employer with no medical expertise can’t simply ignore that evidence and make a personnel decision based on preconceived stereotypes or fears.”
EDUCATION ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS, ACCESS TO CARE RESTORE LIVES
When I lost a close relative to suicide due to mental illness, I rejected suggestions that I seek therapy. It must have been lack of education. I didn’t want anything to stop me from mourning. But I “gave in” and then faced another recommendation: to take antidepressant medication. I thought it would make me feel happy, so I refused. But I learned that, in my case, it would help me be more functional and more available for my son, so I agreed, and it worked.