Tag Archives: disability

Under cover of law: Extortion as punishment and the high cost of stigmatizing the mentally ill


From the Washington Post

D.C. woman’s number of 911 calls prompt city to request that she be given a guardian

At stake in this case is that the state (D.C.) wants to take the money (SSD checks) of this person and the only way to do it is by stripping her of her civil rights. The excuse for this atrocity is that she calls 911 “too frequently”.

The ´disability´in mental disability is in how society perceives the illness and the person bearing it, it is not the actual symptoms or manifestations of the illness that matters. You are not accepted as a functioning member of society if you are perceived as ´disabled´.  The disabilities movement have tried to show that if you put ramps, for example, they are not a ´burden’ to society  and can function and work like any other person. Clearly, the refusal to put a ramp was what caused these people to be ‘disabled’.

The same with mental illness, well, they don’t need a ramp. What I mean is that, portraying the mentally ill as a ‘burden’ is stigmatizing and it is what causes them to be ‘disabled’. We have to thank our States’ mental health system for their  good work at impressing that stigma in the public.

In this post I try to show, with this article,  how the process of stigmatizing is achieved by our government, nation-wide.

Anatomy of a stigma

The issues or problems stated by the D.C. officials in the article are:

1) Repeat callers to 911

2) …well, there’s no #2 nor 3 or 4 for that matter.

Unburdening society of the burden of people with mental disabilities: make them non citizens.

The only real issue that the officials can present in this case is the frequent 911 calls by one person. They have to deal with it as with any other situation.

The rest of their ‘reports’ constitute only unfounded accusations using mental illness as the basis to legally punish and extort money from Mrs. Rigsby by declaring her incompetent. Her crime: being mentally disabled.

This is also, and very important, a test case to be applied in the future, if they succeed, to other people with or without mental disabilities: using guardianship to punish people who use services “too frequently”. All they have to do, if you are not mentally ill,  is tag a label of a a mental illness with the help of psychiatrists, who are always at hand for the job.

I can see nothing more stigmatizing than the officialdom and the psychiatric and mental health systems abusing their powers to conjure a lie using mental illness as the legal basis to deprive people of their civil rights. In order to do all that, they have to paint the mentally ill as a burden to society. That’s EXACTLY what these people are doing here. Just see how many times the word “burden” was used by them in the article.

The article states that there are “concerns from D.C. officials about the impact of one woman’s troubles on public-health and safety resources” and “repeat 911 callers have long been identified as burdens on the health system and a drain on public-safety resources.”

Shared delusions of Impending doom

As stated in the article, there have been NO research AT ALL about how ANY repeat callers, let alone this woman in particular, has an impact on the resources. That explains the fact that D.C. official speaks ONLY of a “concern”: “concern that if [a supposition, it hasn’t happen yet in all those years] if crews are tending to Rigsby, the next 911 caller with an emergency might [another supposition, hasn’t happen yet either]get a paramedic from a farther distance, said Miramontes, the medical director…“There will come a time [another supposition, that time has not come yet] when one of these [frequent 911 callers] will call and they will [nope, not yet] cost someone else their life,”

These are all words meant to portray the mentally disabled as a ‘burden’. There’s no concrete EVIDENCE they can show that would cause them to have the concern that, if they don’t take this woman’s civil rights away, the system is about to collapse…unless they share with Mrs. Rigsby the delusion of “impending doom”, as the psychiatrist thought she may have.

But, no, they are not delusional. They are simply conspiring to abuse the power given to them by the citizens and commit the crime of extortion under cover of law.

 

First lie: it’s all in her mind

They allege “that Rigsby, 58, has bipolar and borderline personality disorders and does not have the mental capacity to handle her medical affairs.”

The implication all along the article is that her illness is in her mind, except that “About 40 percent of the time, she dials 911 on her own. Other times, she’s out in the District when passersby see her fall and call for help, the testimony indicated.”

So, 60% of the times “passersby” make the call because they see her fall; clearly, it’s not in her mind for other people have witnessed her problem.

This case is a hands-on experience on How to Stigmatize People with Mental Disabilities.

Second lie: she uses the services EVERYTIME she calls 911.

In the article we find that “About 55 percent of the time, she refuses to be transported in an ambulance and signs a waiver allowing emergency responders to leave.” Clearly, less than half of the call-events end up in her being transported, this shows that the officials are exaggerating and lying about her.

Third lie: they are trying to save the city money (by spending millions)

That’s a good one. Hundreds of thousands of $$ will be spend on a court case, the city will be spending thousands on a neurologist for an expensive neurological test to prove she’s crazy, thousands on a psychiatrist and other “mental health experts” hired to lie in court on behalf of the city…she only ‘owes’ $61 grand after so MANY years, for crying out loud!

In addition, a guardian cost money to the city too because she doesn’t have enough $$ to pay for care at home. If they send her to a home…

Fourth lie: Mrs. Rigsby, not the system, is a burden to the city.

Well, if more than half the times she calls (55% of the times) she REFUSES to be carted away, that means that she is CONSCIOUSLY trying to NOT burden the system, but that’s not what you get from the article.

What they don’t elaborate in the article is that she REFUSES to be carried by the EMS, that’s the word they used, REFUSES. That means that they TRIED to take her just because they showed up, even though she is refusing. We don’t know whether she offered to go on her own, must likely, but it is clear she REFUSED to be taken by ambulance. Why are they making her look like an unreasonable person?

Well, without the unreasonableness, without the ‘crazy’ there’s no stigma and no stigma means no power over her because the truth that it’s all an abuse would be clear to all. Ergo, she must be made to look crazy, unreasonable and a burden.

When you read the comments posted for the article, EVERYBODY is taking as true that she is mentally ill and a burden to the system simply because the ‘officials’ say so. Her words don’t count.

It’s not about the money; it’s about the civil rights

“If the District’s petition is successful, the medical guardian could take responsibilities for such things as hiring a home health aide, filling prescriptions and proposing a different living environment. But it would still be possible for Rigsby to dial 911 because the guardian would not be a live-in caregiver.”

The issue of ‘repeat calls’ will not change. The problem is one of quality of services.

Cutting funds and leaving the communities dependent on punitive measures to squeeze money for services, or to cut expenses by criminalizing the poor and the mentally ill is the correct way to break our society apart.

We spend trillions on wars. That’s all I have to say.

The DSM-5: The Book of Lamentations


The Book of Lamentations, by Sam Kriss at The New Inquiry, is an imaginative analysis of the psychiatrists’ bible, the DSMx (Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), criticizing it as ‘a failed dystopian novel’. The most enjoyable analysis of psychiatry I have read in a long while: insightful, well-informed and funny.

Vincent van Gogh Corridor in the Asylum (1889)

To me, that ‘diagnostics’ book is nothing but a “manual” for becoming rich by creating  lab-rats for the pharma, the for-profit prison system and the psychiatric system that feed on these victims. The DSM might as well be on the Forbes  list of top ten best-selling books on ‘how to make yourself rich fast by sticking labels to other human beings’.

Below is an excerpt of the essay. (My thanks to Doris for the link.)

“It’s also not exactly a conventional novel. Its full title is an unwieldy mouthful: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. The author (or authors) writes under the ungainly nom de plume of The American Psychiatric Association – although a list of enjoyably silly pseudonyms is provided inside (including Maritza Rubio-Stipec, Dan Blazer, and the superbly alliterative Susan Swedo). The thing itself is on the cumbersome side. Over two inches thick and with a thousand pages, it’s unlikely to find its way to many beaches. Not that this should deter anyone; within is a brilliantly realized satire, at turns luridly absurd, chillingly perceptive, and profoundly disturbing.”

 

Cuomo Agrees to Plan for Housing Mentally Ill, Ending Legal Battle


This is breaking news in the NY Times. Cuomo Agrees to Plan for Housing Mentally Ill, Ending Legal Battle

This is an agreement to ´right´the wrongs committed by many NYS adult homes providers and that NYS judge that made that appalling decision in the case DIA v NYS-OMH etc in April last year. This agreement is a step forwards towards moving the people in those ‘homes’ of horrors to the community.

Am I personally happy and satisfied with this? I don’t go jumping with joy without first taking a quick glance to the text of the so-call ‘agreements’ and new laws to ‘protect’ people with disabilities of all kind. Why? Because one thing are the sound bites we get in the media about how great a new law is, another is the TEXT and the IMPLEMENTATION.

Now, with this agreement, everybody relaxes and forget about it. Just like with the Justice Center, we will assume that the government is looking to protect us. Nothing happens unless you threaten the government. Not even this agreement, the result of years of court battle with the state.

OK. I will NOT sour your joy. IT IS A STEP in the right direction.

I will tell you where we must put caution in this agreement.  You can read the agreement on your own here courtesy of Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health.

Suffice it say that the agreement WARNS those Adult Homes providers previously caught abusing the mentally ill that they should not interfere with their residents in this process of moving them out, or they ‘will be punished’. Adult Homes are going to lose $$ and they want to keep their houses of horror filled. That there is a NEED for a warning to them should tell you a LOT. (See page 8, part 4 in the agreement.)

First quick notes:

From “definitions” (pages 4 and 5):

1. You have to be 65 years old or under to qualify for the benefit of the agreement.

2. The agreement MAY take 4 or 5 years to be completed. If you are 62 now and you HAVEN’T been relocated within the next two years, you may not qualify anymore. Or at least the agreement doesn’t clarify that. This is a question that those of you in Adult Homes (AH) MUST ask the people involved in this agreement.

3. As usual, the agreement applies to AH that are LICENSED, per Social Services Law Article 7. If you are in an unlicensed one, you may have problem qualifying for the agreement. YOU MUST SEEK CLARIFICATION ABOUT THIS.

4.  AH with LESS than 80 beds do not qualify for the agreement. It (“transitional AH”) has to have 80+ beds AND  a “mental health census” of 25%. If you are in a small AH, you may want to confirm that it qualifies for the agreement.

5. “Impacted” AH are those in NYC with 120 beds or more AND a mental health “census” of 25%  of the population of the AH.

MENTAL HEALTH STATUS: Not so fast baby.

To qualify, a mental health evaluation to measure your level of functioning will be implemented. This is where the ENACTING may go astray, leaving people who are not dysfunctional ‘enough’.

1. Must have a mental diagnosis based on THE MOST RECENT DSM book.  I would say, tread with caution here.

  • ‘what if I my diagnosis is not in the book anymore? They removed some and added new ones.’ See my point?

2.  Excluded from the agreement are people with developmental disabilities, mental illness due to brain damage, and “SOCIAL CONDITION”. I’m as lost as you are on that last one. Looks like a loophole to keep people in. Must check the DSM bible for clarification.

3. “Must have a  SUBSTANTIAL FUNCTIONAL disability WITHIN the PREVIOUS 24 MONTHS before the date of the agreement.” Do you know what a “substantial”  functioning disability means? I suggest you look it up if you want to get out of there. Plus, it is ‘within’ the last 24 months of the agreement. Better check it out how that may affect you too.

4. Who will determine your disability, your substantial functional levels that will ALLOW them to put you in a supported housing?

  • a determination by SSA that you receive benefits due to mental illness will not be enough.
  • A “Health Home agency” AND a  MLTCP (managed long-term care Plan) will be in charge of the process of evaluating your qualification for the agreement. Even if SSA says you are disabled, these people may determine that you are not ‘substantially‘ dysfunctional and may disqualify you. See #5, subsections (b) i and ii on page 5.

So don’t assume that you automatically qualify to be relocated out of the AH just because you are there.

“PERSON-CENTERED PLAN”. Where have I heard that before??

Right, those of us in Supported Housing (SH) are struggling with “person centered support”. Welcome to our struggle. But, I will NOT deny that chances are that, if you make it to a SH, you may be better off than there. Just don’t come here thinking ‘wow, I made it. I’m out of danger’. Nope.

Now, I couldn’t find the dates for the agreement. If any of you find that info, please, forward it. It’s important to you, if you are in one of those homes,  because of the transition schedules. You don’t want to be left out.

My take about this:

1. This is a good step forward.

2. ALL THESE PEOPLE who are coming to the community are going to face the reality of what we have here: SH is over 80% unlicensed. This means, you have NO LEGAL PROTECTIONS there. People centered treatment does not exist. It’s a craps shoot.

3. the ‘culture of abuse’ that exists in those AH will relocate in the community, following our new ‘freed’ peers, with those workers who will get jobs from there to here.

4. TODAY MORE THAN EVER  we need to ORGANIZE our people. For ‘people centered ‘ services we NEED TO BUILD THOSE CABs.

5. Never has the state given ANYTHING without a fight. The NYS WILL BE crying ‘BROKE’ to avoid completing this agreement and creating housing for them. If you want to trust them 100% despite what history shows us, fine.

This is my first reaction to the agreement. Sorry if I sour your joy. I doubt it, though.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FORMER DIA.

GOOD WORK.

Welcome And good luck for those of you moving here to the community ‘with us’.

Like we used to say in the ’60s: the struggle continues.

BASTILLE DAY: OMH on the guillotine, metaphorically speaking.


The Citywide Mental Health Project is pleased to announce our support for this activity. We encourage other consumers to participate and attend the activities. See you there.

Please, pass along to friends.

bastille

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 17, 2013
Mental Patients Liberation Alliance (The Alliance)
George Ebert 1-800-654-7227
georgeebert@yahoo.com
______________________________________________________________________________
The Mental Patients Liberation Alliance (The Alliance) will host its 33rd Annual Bastille Day event to celebrate the human spirit and break the silence about psychiatric oppression on July 12, 13, 14 and 15 (Friday through Monday noon) in Albany.

A peaceful educational vigil will begin at the New York State Office of Mental Health, 44 Holland Avenue, Albany, at noon on Friday. A focus will be on the mental illness industries’ devastating “medical modelthat exclusively relies on – solely allows and most often forces – invasive dehumanizing, disabling, and potentially deadly drugs and Electro-Convulsive (ECT- Shock) treatments to address what are termed “mental illness” and “mental health issues” – on countless children, young people, and adults.

Kristin Woodlock, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health, will publish the Regional Centers of Excellence Plan on July 8, 2013, that will “strategically position the mental health system for the future”. The position of we, the people, who have been stigmatized, treated, and dehumanized will be a focus of the 2013 Bastille Day. The Highlander Statement of Concern and Call to Action (March 2000) states, in part: “We call upon all people committed to human rights to work together to build a mental health system that is based upon the principle of self-determination, on a belief in our ability to recover, and on our right to define what recovery is and how best to achieve it”. In the spirit of The Highlander, the Centers of Excellence Plan will be one focal point of Bastille Day 2013.

A general members’ meeting will be held on Sunday, July 15 at 11:00 a.m. during the vigil on Holland Avenue. All meetings are open to the public.
The Alliance – established in 1972 – is a self help, mutual support, and human rights organization of, by, and for people labeled as “mentally ill”. Alliance members, their supporters, and concerned community members are connected to an international liberation movement. The Alliance can be contacted at http://www.TheAlliance.org or toll free at 1-800-654-7227.
….

NY Safe Act: gun law gives Office of Mental Health power to see the future [wink]


Children 11 years old automatically placed in the gun registry, all people admitted to inpatient psych hospitals and all people DISCHARGED from psych hospitals, all their names in the registry AUTOMATICALLY…sorry but it is NOT in fascist Germany. Is it the Office of Mental Health (OMH)? We must act against this outrage, but keep reading.

According to testimony of a Mr. Wolkenbreit, counsel to the New York State Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors, Inc. and other mental health providers and civil libertarians at a state Assembly committee hearing  about the mental health provisions of the NY SAFE Act (watch the video at the end of this post):

1) Everybody already admitted, even before the passing of the Safe Act, and everybody admitted to a psych hospital after its passing have been placed in the gun registry, AND at DISCHARGE TOO:

“the state took the position that ALL persons admitted to a state psychiatric hospital met the criteria of 9.46 simply by virtue of their admission...”

“based on POTENTIAL risk standards, hospital administration or counsel have RECOMMENDED or REQUIRED that ALL persons admitted with mental illness diagnosis  be reported…”

“because of amount of reports [received], DCJS is forced to accept them as VALID.”

“OMH wants reporting on discharge and admission…[this is] beyond the scope or reasonable or useful”. Mr. Stein

2) names of  all CHILDREN 11 YEARS OLD and up are been put in the registry automatically, and the absurd reason to include their names:

“OMH is requiring ALL mental health hospitals to report admissions of ALL 11 years old children or older…”

because it is possible that a 16 years old be admitted to the military with parental consent and be discharged at 16 years old and apply for a gun permit

Based on that ‘reasoning’, it is impossible not to sense  paranoia in the attitude of OMH’s administrators who ordered these procedures. They are now engaged in predicting the future: let’s ‘convict’ 11 years old kids NOW since surely they (boys and girls) will be enrolled in the army and surely will come out as  ‘terrorists’. Geez!

3) I mentioned in this blog, when the gun law was passed, that the gun law is NOT  a mandate to gun sellers to do a background check. A Mr. Stein (lawyer, I think) came to a similar conclusion during the hearing:

” Safe Act looks like a mandate but it isn’t…it is not an ‘authorization’ nor a ‘mandate’…[because it doesn’t have] mandate language like 33.13″

“it is NOT a mandate because it doesn’t have a ‘must’, [there are] no penalties.”

3) And, as I have been saying ALL along in this blog, Ms. Haroules of the NY Civil Liberties Union said that these laws:

“protect the providers, not the recipients.”

She also said, paraphrasing, that the way in which this gun law was passed, without input from consumers, made a mockery of the legislative process and the system. I said that too before.

That is in a nut shell what transpired in that hearing. In my view, this ought to be in the mainstream media. OMH has, once again, betrayed the people it is mandated to protect.

The political consequences of all this hanky panky with the gun law is hard to ignore. It is like a virus running across the US: dossiers being made of every citizen, classified in this or that category, all by a nation gripped by paranoia.

I have left out comments about stigma and repression and other problems, mostly because I’m focusing here on the political aspect of the issue: the power of the government to control our lives and the police state. I have mentioned all this in other posts. So…

We shall overcome, it will take time, but we shall overcome.

The only way to bring OMH to ‘task’ is by consumers regaining their collective voice and marching in front of OMH with their denunciations: CLEAN THAT REGISTRY! TAKE ALL THOSE NAME OUT!

That’s what the Citywide Mental Health Project is planning to do.The Tea Party and gun lovers had their rally this past weekend in Albany against this registry and law. Over a thousand people attended. WHAT ABOUT US?!

If you are interested in helping us organize a rally in front of OMH, contact us at:

citywidementalhealthproject@live.com

Links:

[2] http://www.nysenate.gov/committee/mental-health-and-developmental-disabilities

[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSae–ouoGE

Gov. Cuomo’s new Protection and Advocacy System: Do we REALLY need to be protected??


I asked myself that question while I was at the state-wide video hearing last Friday about the Gov Cuomo’s proposal to create a  new P&A system. From the Metro area,  The Citywide Mental Health Project were the only ones there. More than shocked or upset, I was saddened by the lack of interest in our community and the public at large on the issue of abuses perpetrated on people with disabilities.

You would have thought that, after all the brouhaha about abuses and the gun control laws that promise to curtail the few rights we have left, after all those state reports about privatizing the functions of our government, which will make abuses a mere ‘collateral damage’ that comes with the imperative to make profit, you would have thought that after all that there would be a long line to get inside the conference room. Nope.

The situation I described was the same in other state counties: few brave souls showed up to speak up their minds. Many were able to articulate their lack of hope in the ability and willingness of this new system to protect people with disabilities. DIA was there, in another county; some people with developmental disabilities stood up to speak up  for themselves. The father of a son who was killed in one of this institutions was there. I wish I could speak to him; his comment was stripped of pleasantries and went to the root of the matter. His statements were very much what we at the Citywide have been saying about how the system is failing us.

Where is our community? It seems that our community and the society at large trust that the Governor, because he is a democrat, is doing everything right to help us.

Anyone who knows about politics knows that ‘trust’ in politicians is like trusting ice will keep your water cool for a long time. (Think about simile.)

Even if I grant good-will in the intentions behind this new P&A system, politicians make (GULP) mistakes. And one thing is the INTENTION behind the policy, another is the IMPLEMENTATION.

We are still here, the Citywide, trying to keep the issue in the open. The discussion of abuses is TABOO in our mental health system; we need to break that taboo.

Waiting for a miracle will not change things. We need to stand up and start speaking about this issue.

And if you are happy and have not experience abuses and mistreatment then, let those who have and want to denounce the abuses in the system do their work.

We can’t continue to cry ‘foul’ every time some story of abuse is published in our mainstream media and then go back to our state’s  ‘councils’ where nothing is done about anything without the consent of OMH or the city.

Organizing to secure funds for programs is a priority, but so is our lives and mental health.

We need to organize to make the system SAFE for us. It will not happen by magic.

Lourdes

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.