Tag Archives: colorado shootings

NY Times article: Focus on Mental Health Laws to Curb Violence Is Unfair, Some Say


For those of you who read my comment at the NY Times, find here  the report I mentioned in the comment, then click on ‘Office of Mental Health’.

This is the comment itself:

In a 2012 NYS report about a survey on compliance with state’s licensing rules, OMH said “more than half of the agencies responded they employed titles that can be “licensed or certified” however were reportedly filled with unlicensed staff”, including psychologists and social workers. Also, that “a total of 414 nonlicensed staff were also reported as providing psychotherapy”. Then it said “OMH does not find a material difference in the quality of services provided in programs which also employ unlicensed staff”. Of 6759 OMH programs, 4646 are unlicensed and 2113 are “licensed” (whatever that means in OMH’s parlance). OMH concludes that more unlicensed programs and unlicensed staff performing as licensed are better because they save money and, well, who needs a psychiatrist or social worker when a case manager can do ‘the same work’ for less? The point: it’s not the mentally ill, it’s the system. Any increase in funding will go to over-priced non-for-profit CEOs salaries, we will use prisons as hospitals, and will pass laws to deprive people of their civil rights all in the name of ‘safety’ for the victims of the NRA’s propaganda: you and me. Quality of services have been reduced, punishment increased. Mental health industry is an industry like any other, filled with waste of tax payer money. The next time you read about a ‘crazy’ killing people, think ‘who was the case manager-acting-as-psychiatrist dealing with him?’ END.

I would like to add that the focus  at this point in the discussion generated by the NRA and those unfortunate killings must move away from the emotional plane to a rational one. We could move away from ‘somebody, stop these lunatics’ to ‘why is the system ‘fragmented’ and what it has to do with these killings?’

What do we achieve by arguing whether the killers in those massacres are mentally ill or not? What is the next step if the answer is ‘yes’? If the answer is ‘no’? Can the answer be a rotund ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Is the issue that simplistic and clear, no gray areas?

We are in a society saturated with violence, from the top down: the violence inflicted to the populace by corrupt politicians and lawmakers, by agencies administrators, by some judges; by the violence of a corporate world that has lost a sense of proportion, who sees no difference between profits and financial crimes as a source of profits. Violence from the ‘entertainment’ industry that demands the right to create ‘games’ that give you the close-to-reality feeling that you are killing or raping…

As a society, we come with awesome ideas to fix problems; the problem is at the implementation level. For example, it was not easy but ‘we’ came with the idea of housing for the homeless mentally ill with services and connections to the community. But then, the State said ‘good idea, let’s empty the psych hospitals and we save money’, and sent the patients to the streets without putting the money for services in the community. A mess developed, we blamed the homeless mentally ill for crimes and went after the ‘squeegee’ criminals, those cleaning car windows for a quarter at street corners.

Look, the money is going for what a friend calls “the poverty pimps”. There’s your mentally ill in action.

Follow the money, not the mentally ill. You’ll find the problem and the solution that way. If you accept as dandy OMH’s statement that, for money-saving purpose, there is no difference between the  service delivered by a psychiatrist or social worker and a case manager, don’t come crying to me later if someone slaps you in the face because his ‘psychiatrist’ didn’t do his/her ‘job’.

You are being conned, as in con-game, confident game, etc.

I will soon be posting a through comment about OMH’s licensing practices. Please, keep in touch.

Things that need fixing in our mental health system

Things that need fixing in our mental health system:

1. Certification

The NYS Mental Health Law mandates OMH to certify all providers. Certification provides the legal covers that allows our public legal advocates to bring cases of abusive providers to courts. But, totally against the mandate, OMH has established since the 1990s, together with our State’s DOH, a policy of DECERTIFYING providers. At least half of providers and services are not licensed in NYS.

This decertification scheme has provided judges who are less friendly to the mentally ill in our State’s highest courts the ammunition to allow the continued abuse of the disabled and the mentally ill in not-for-profit agencies. The state knows it; it participates in the abuses and defends these practices in courts.

Refer to the DAI case. Ask yourself: why, in the new millennium, we are still struggling with Willowbrookesque cases; why did we need to create a Center for The Protection of People with Special Needs this year, not 20 years ago?

2. ‘Best Practice’: no monitoring of providers needed.

Without certification, monitoring is just a word among the many used to describe something that is not happening in our mental health system. In other words, ‘monitoring of providers’ is a delusion of our mental health system. NYS courts have decided many times that legal advocates can’t monitor the safety of their clients in places where complains were logged, because these places are not ‘certified’.

Quality of services is a mandate. There is no point in giving money away to ‘providers’ who will pocket the money and dish out substandard mental health treatment. But you can’t have quality of services because our DOH and OMH says that monitoring is not necessary for people who can “defend themselves” from bad providers.  This is actually in their ‘license’ rules. Since you can’t monitor or be defended in court, quality of services becomes an unenforceable fantasy.

3. No Consumer participation.

This is the ‘pet peeve’ of the Citywide Mental Health Project. Please, read our Vision and Mission.

Federal and state laws provide for our participation in the programs, to the policy level of the programs. These provisions are there for us to protect ourselves from the history of abuse, to prevent more abuses.  It’s part of a policy system that requires the feedback of those receiving the benefits of the policy.

If you can buy a ticket to the moon then we consumers can give feedback to our not-for-profit servers.

Our bureaucrats are mis-managing our mental health system. Look, we adore the corporate system, even our bureaucrats use that model.  Just as you find CEOs that destroy their own companies and still get bonuses, we have the corporate model in OMH. They mismanage the system and still get praised.

Meanwhile, down here in the communities, you are raking your minds about why we have Erika Menendez in the streets. You are asking the wrong question. Ask why  OMH so often the defendant in cases of abuse; why is our public system been privatized by a decertification scheme that leaves the troubled people without quality of services. Why are the families so often complaining that the ‘system’ has left them alone with their troubled child?

Don’t look for quick fixes. Forced hospitalization as a remedy to the problem is a delusion you are suffering.

I told you so.

I said in my previous post that this case of the Colorado shooting was going to show how the mental health system ignored this guy’s calls for help.

In Yahoo news it was reported today  that he sent his psychiatrist a description of his plans for the massacre. That means that he must have discussed this with him, must have given some signs of his emotional distress. If a psychiatrist could not notice this type of emotional disturbance, then what good are they? Typical of a mental health system teaming with stereotypes, ignorance and indifference to the calls for help of people in emotional distress, this guy probably went without attention. Yes, stereotypes about how the mentally ill looks like in the mental health system.

A psychiatrist stated publicly that this guy in court either had schizophrenia or was “faking” it. There’s your knowledge about mental illness. According to this ‘doctor’ most mentally ill fake their illness. Otherwise, why would this doctor make such a comment unless he has that prejudice? He just showed his ignorance.

This killer  is not a ‘lone wolf’, he is another victim, together with those he killed, of a mental health system that functions only in the interest of the big pharma. There is no such thing as a distressed person who can hide it all the time.  Distress always shows up. Suicidal ideations always show up. Our ignorance coupled to lack of resources make us indifferent to the pain of people in emotional distress. That’s what kills. Prejudice and stereotypes kill because, for example, relatives may feel ashamed of their kins’ illness and try to chalk it off to “moods” or “attitudes”.

I’m not proposing involuntary commitment. I’m pointing out that, as many of us know, if you HEAR the person and do meaningful intervention early, you may stop them from going off board. Maybe not cure them, but prevent tragedies.

The days when social work was a profession of ‘the heart’, a calling, so to speak, are gone. Now all is ‘evidence based’, meaning that if it cuts on profits then it should go.

You’ll see more about this as the case develops.

Colorado shootings and ‘normal’ reactions

Wow. I don’t know what scares me more: the shooter or the ‘normal’ reactions to cases like this.

The NYPD and the rest of the first world seems to be in panic. In Paris too there has been ‘beefing up’ of ‘security’ to protect Dark Night’s attendees. In other words, we have militarized our urban cities as a reaction to this unfortunate incident. That seems normal now-a-days. Our governments respond with super guns to one individual gone out of control. More excuses for more TSA, surveillance cameras, militarization of our police…

Have you read the comments online about this situation? Scary! People calling to hold the “crazies” under “control”. More ‘normal’ reactions to this.

Who is really out of control? Could it be that we are ALL out of control but we have accepted the militarized state as ‘normal’ and, consequently, don’t notice it?

Blame now the “crazies”. Our society will never assume the consequences of its failed human system. How our politics and economy affects people’s mental health to the point of driving some out of control will never be taken into consideration. We will make the “lone shooter” the lone responsible for the consequences of what we all fail to do: invest in humanity, not in wars and greed.

This guy is not an abstraction of society. What he did is framed within the troubled times we are experiencing with unnerving detachment. He is not a “lone shooter”.

Just wait and see the background of this tragedy unfold in a few days. I bet there were signs of distress ignored by our professional mental health system.

Only the individual carries the blames in this society.