What follows is the statement I read yesterday at the state’s video-conference on the proposed re-designation of the P&A system.
Our group were the only ones there speaking up for our community and representing the metro area.
This my first experience for I have never been to these ‘video-conferences’ given that I’m ‘new’ to doing activism within the mental health system. It was quite an experience.
For one, we were amazed at the third-world level of the system! WOW. I’m sure in Nicaragua there would have been less problems in televising the thing. You could not see the people making the presentations, the audio went on and off…disgraceful. The workers tried the best they could with the equipment they get from yard-sales and the extra slow internet speed we have in the US, as compared to Europe’s.
As for the statements:
Look, our community is AWARE that the government IS part of the problem when it comes to abuses. Consumers from other areas of the state made direct comments about that.
Personally, I got from the conference that consumers don’t have much hope in that the new P&A system will make a difference in protecting us. GOOD! Now we take the BULL BY THE HORNS.
I’m inviting anyone reading this in our community (consumers) to attend our group’s meeting on Friday April 26 to help us plan a meeting to call for the creation of a coalition to deal exclusively with the problem of physical and psychological abuses of consumers in the NY mental health system.
Please, read the testimony I presented yesterday at the video conference. Comments are more than welcome. There’s Word doc copy at the Our Documents tab.
Testimony of The Citywide Mental Health Project at thePublic Hearing on the proposed redesignation of the New York Protection and Advocacy(P&A) System and Client Assistance Program (CAP) for people with disabilities.
April 9, 2013.
Every 10-15 years, since Willowbrook, a new form of P&A is created as a result of reports about how the state ignores or is part of the culture of abuse of people with all types of disabilities in its system.
Today’s P&A ‘redesignation’, and the new Justice Center, is the continuation in the new millennium of this 10-15 years pattern.
It is the response, not to consumers’ denunciations, but to the Federal ADM of Developmental Disability’ scorching 2011 report based on the NY Times investigation of abuses in the state’s mental health system.
It concluded that the state’s CQCA[Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy] had failed (to put it mildly) to protect the disabled, that consumers were excluded from its P&A board, and that the commission had violated the DD Act [Developmental Disability Act]. The system was part of the problem, it had to be torn down and rebuild once again.
And yet, these mental health agencies always report that over 90% of consumers rate quality of care as excellent, even people in places where reports of abuses are rampant. That’s because it is taboo to discuss abuses in our system.
As a response to the report, Section 2 of the Protection of people with special needs Act repealed Art 45 CQCAPD. But it designated these same agencies and the JC as official oversight agencies keeping the same licensed and unlicensed rules that give legal cover to abusive providers, and leaving us still mute in the system.
And this notice of redesignation does not acknowledge nor mentions how the new P&A will correct the violations relating to the exclusion of consumers from the board, which led to the redesignation in the first place.
The definition of insanity is doing the same old things and expecting different results.
As long as the system continues to deny us a voice, as long as there is no official mechanism for us to bring from the programs in which we are up to the agencies our reports of quality of services, as long as token consumer councils continue rubber- stamping policies giving the impression that our community consent to them while we are actually been left out, this redesignation and the JC will continue the culture of ignoring our cries for help.
The Citywide Mental Health Project is calling on our peers to form a coalition of consumers to deal exclusively with this issue of abuses, which moved to our community when state’s institutions were forced to close, so that we can be heard loud and clear about the meaningful policies we want to see enacted.
We cannot continue hoping that good willed professionals will change this system, and wait for the next round of 10-15 years pattern of reports about abuses in the NY Times.
Founder of The Citywide Mental Health Project
Address: 480 East 188th St. Apt. 7M
Bronx, NY 10458