HATE IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS by Pete Earley

I’m reposting Pete Earley’s blog with his permission.

(8-8-19) I felt compelled to interrupt my vacation and write an Op Ed for The Washington Post about President Trump’s recent comments about mental illness and mass homicides.

No, Mr. President. Hate is not a mental illness.

Pete Earley is the parent designate on the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee, created by Congress. He is the author of “Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.”

“Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” President Trump announced when he condemned shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, which together left at least 31 people dead and dozens wounded.

Mr. President, what you said about hatred rings true. But you are wrong in blaming mental illness.

As the father of an adult son with a mental illness and one of 14  nongovernment experts appointed by your administration to a panel that advises Congress about serious mental illnesses, I’d like to recount some well-established facts.

It’s easy for the public to assume that anyone who commits mass murder is mentally ill. How could he or she not be? And several shooters in recent high-profile mass killings have had a serious mental disorder.

But your implication that the 46 million American adults estimated to have a diagnosable mental illness and the 11.2 million thought to have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are dangerous and potentially mass murderers is as wrongheaded as declaring that the 329 million Americans who are white are capable of committing mass homicide. After all, being white is one of the most common traits of a mass shooter. Data from Mother Jones shows that between 1982 and 2017, 54 percent of mass shooters were white men. Research also shows that many of them struggle with a sense of entitlement attached to their white, heterosexual identity as well as economic anxiety in the post-industrial economy.

Other research, meanwhile, highlights that a very small portion of all gun-related homicides in the United States involve mass killings by people with serious mental illness. In fact, only 3 percent of violent crime can be attributed to people with serious mental illness.

As Amy Barnhorst noted in Psychology Today: “Most of the time, mass shooters aren’t driven by delusions or voices in their head. They are driven by a need to wield their power over another group. They are angry at the perceived injustices that have befallen them at the hands of others — women who wouldn’t sleep with them, fellow students who didn’t appreciate their talents, minorities enjoying rights that were once only the privilege of white men like them. It’s not an altered perception of reality that drives them; it’s entitlement, insecurity, and hatred. Maybe some of them also have depression, ADHD or anxiety, but that is not why they opened fire on a group of strangers.” This dovetails with profiles of such shooters as Dylann Roof, the then-21-year-old white supremacist who killed nine African Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church.

Mr. President, hate is not a mental illness. Nor is white nationalism, as acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney suggested. It is taught. It is promulgated. The FBI describes a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

As forensic psychiatrists James L. Knoll and George D. Annas warn, “Gun restriction laws focusing on people with mental illness perpetuate the myth that mental illness leads to violence, as well as the misperception that gun violence and mental illness are strongly linked.” Hate is fueled by such myths.

They further noted that “laws intended to reduce gun violence that focus on a population representing less than 3 percent of all gun violence will be extremely low yield, ineffective, and wasteful of scarce resources. Perpetrators of mass shootings are unlikely to have a history of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. Thus, databases intended to restrict access to guns and established by gun laws that broadly target people with mental illness will not capture this group of people.”

Mr. President, I am not a psychiatrist, nor am I an academic or a sociologist. I am a father, just as you are. I have witnessed how bias has and continues to make my son’s life difficult. I have seen how it encourages fear and prejudice against him and others who have an illness that they did not choose.

Conflating mental illnesses with mass shootings hurts people. It stigmatizes, marginalizes and creates bias. So please, Mr. President, just stop.

The post Hate Is Not A Mental Illness: I Respond in Washington Post Today To President Trump’s Words appeared first on Pete Earley.

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MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATES PUSH REFORMS by Gary Warth

San Diego Union Tribune 8/7/19

Coalition seeks support for new laws and policies from presidential candidates

By Gary Warth

POWAY

A grassroots coalition of nationwide and local mental health advocates is asking all presidential candidates to support reforms in laws and policies that they say will make it easier for people to get treatment and for families to help their troubled loved one.

“The first thing you need to do is educate the candidates, because most people don’t understand serious mental illness,” said Poway resident Linda Mimms, a National Alliance on Mental Illness-trained advocate who helped craft a five-point platform that is being presented to candidates.

Mimms has called for reforms to mental illness laws for the past several years, arguing that parents of adults with mental problems should have more rights and courts should have more flexibility to mandate treatment.

Among the proposals in the platform are a call to create a cabinet position exclusively focused on serious mental illness and changes to laws that would ensure mental health professionals are permitted to share and receive diagnostic information with and from parents or caregivers.

Laws about mental illnesses became part of a national discussion this past week after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. Mimms said she was encouraged when President Trump called for reforming mental health laws to better identify and even involuntarily confine people who may commit violent acts while also ensuring more patients receive early treatment.

She cringed, however, when he referred to “mentally ill monsters,” and noted that a small percent of mass shooters had been diagnosed with mental problems.

There are connections, however. A Wall Street Journal editorial this week cited studies between 2000 and 2015 that suggest a third of mass killers had untreated severe mental illness, while an FBI study found 40 percent had received a psychiatric diagnosis, and 70 percent had other mental health issues.

The platform was drafted after a monthlong online discussion among about 70 people who were not associated with any one group and were from 30 states. Mimms, who has a degree in public policy, wrote the final version that was adopted by organizer Dede Ranahan, author of “Sooner Than Tomorrow — A Mother’s Diary About Mental Illness, Family, and Everyday Life.”

Other local advocates who worked on the platform were Katherine Smith-Brooks and Bob Brooks of Carlsbad and Mary Sheldon of Poway.

The platform’s first topic calls for reclassifying serious mental illness from a behavioral condition to a neurological medical condition, which will unlock more research funding and help in insurance reimbursement, according to the advocates. It also calls for a cabinet position on serious mental illness and the inclusion of schizophrenia in a Centers for Disease Control program that collects data on risk factors of neurological conditions.

The second topic calls for reforming the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which the platform writers said creates barriers that shut out parents and caregivers from the treatment of family members.

The third calls for the repeal of a rule that prohibits Medicaid payments to facilities with more than 16 hospital psychiatric beds for people ages 21-65, which the advocates argue has created a national shortage of treatment options.

The fourth platform topic calls for long-term care of people with severe mental illness, including early detection and follow-up treatments after release. The platform calls for federal incentives to states that address a full array of services and supportive housing care.

The final topic is about decriminalizing serious mental illness and includes reforms that can lead to more involuntary treatment, which Mimms said was her personal top priority.

“Serious mental illness is the only disease where the doors to treatment are shut unless a crime is committed,” the platforms reads. Specifically, it calls for redefining criteria for involuntary commitment with terms that are objective and based on scientific, medical needs.

A letter that will be sent to all candidates asks each to address the topics in their campaign appearances and debates, Mimms said. 

gary.warth@sduniontribune.com

Click here to read the article in the San Diego Union Tribune 8/7/19 about our 5 part plan for SMI.

NOTE FROM DEDE: If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a country to help a child with SMI. This coalition is from across our country. Let's keep the momentum going. As Linda has done, contact your local media outlets and send them our plan. Unfortunately, our effort is manifesting in a time of wrenching, national grief. Fortunately, our plan is ready to go. If you'd like a copy of the plan, the cover letter, and an addendum of additional ideas, post your email address in the comments section below, or send it to me at dede@soonerthantomorrow.com. Then forward the documents to people in your sphere of influence. Thanks to everyone participating.

http://www.bit.ly/soonerthantomorrow

Yamileth Lopez holds a photo of her deceased friend Javier Amir Rodriguez at a makeshift memorial for victims in El Paso, Texas. (Mario Tama Getty Images)

Yamileth Lopez holds a photo of her deceased friend Javier Amir Rodriguez at a makeshift memorial for victims in El Paso, Texas. (Mario Tama Getty Images)

PLEASE FORWARD TO THOSE IN YOUR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE by Dede Ranahan

I believe that serious mental illness (SMI) should not be a footnote to other issues, i.e., gun violence, and that it needs to be recognized and addressed as its own issue. I'm reposting the 5 part plan developed by grassroots advocates from across the country. It's not comprehensive but it's a beginning.

Before SMI becomes the victim — responsible for gun violence — and before politicians use it more and more as a scapegoat, please join us. Send copies of this plan to local, state and federal representatives. They need to be educated. They need to step up and help 10 million SMI individuals and families who fight every day for life and death services.

Post your email in the comments section below, or send it to me at dede@soonerthantomorrow.com. I'll send you the cover letter, plan, and additional ideas so you can forward them to those within your sphere of influence.

A FIVE-PART PLAN TO ADDRESS SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS (SMI)

FOR ALL 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

PLEASE ADDRESS THESE TOPICS IN YOUR CAMPAIGN APPEARANCES AND DEBATES

1. RECLASSIFY SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS (SMI)) FROM A BEHAVIORAL CONDITION TO WHAT IT IS, A NEUROLOGICAL MEDICAL CONDITION WHY RECLASSIFICATION IS IMPORTANT
Reclassification will unlock more research funding and help eliminate discrimination in treatment, insurance
reimbursement, and the perception of SMI as “behavioral” condition. SMI is a human rights issue. NIMH ranks
SMI among the top 15 causes of disability worldwide with an average lifespan reduction of 28 years.
PRESIDENTIAL ACTION
* Create a cabinet position exclusively focused on SMI.
* Push for Congressional appropriations to include schizophrenia in a CDC program that collects data on the
prevalence and risk factors of neurological conditions in the US population.

2. REFORM THE HEALTH INSURANCE PORTABILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT (HIPAA)
WHY HIPAA REFORM IS IMPORTANT
Overly strict HIPAA laws make it extremely difficult for families and caregivers to partner in the treatment of their loved ones, resulting in important life-saving medical information gaps. By eliminating this barrier, family support will be strengthened, reducing the chance of relapse, homelessness, imprisonment, and death.
PRESIDENTIAL ACTION
* Work with legislators to change HIPAA law to ensure mental health professionals are legally permitted to share and receive critical diagnostic criteria and treatment information with/from parents or caregivers of SMI.

3. REPEAL MEDICAID’S INSTITUTES FOR MENTAL DISEASE EXCLUSION (IMD)
WHY IMD REPEAL IS IMPORTANT
IMD repeal will increase the availability of psychiatric inpatient beds. The IMD exclusion is not only discriminatory of those suffering from neurological brain disorders, it is also a leading cause of our national psychiatric hospital bed shortage. It prohibits Medicaid payments to states for those receiving psychiatric care in a facility with more than 16 beds who are 21-65, the age group with the most SMI.
PRESIDENTIAL ACTION
* Work with legislators to repeal the IMD exclusion.

4. PROVIDE A FULL CONTINUUM OF CARE
WHY A FULL CONTINUUM OF CARE IS IMPORTANT
A continuum of care ensures that SMI patients receive early intervention at all stages of their illnesses, longterm care when needed, and follow-up treatment (medications and therapies) when they’re released. It reduces visits to jails, ER’s and hospitals, homelessness, and morgues. A continuum of care provides life-time management.
PRESIDENTIAL ACTION
* Create federal incentives to states which are addressing a full array of inpatient, outpatient, and supportive
housing care.

5. DECRIMINALIZE SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS (SMI)
WHY DECRIMINALIZATION OF SMI IS IMPORTANT
People suffering from other neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia can get treatment promptly without being kicked out of their homes to wander the streets until they are arrested and put in jail or prison rather than a hospital. Serious mental illness is the only disease where the doors to treatment are shut unless a crime is committed. This is pure and simple discrimination with the disastrous results we see in our country today — homelessness, incarceration, the disintegration of families, and death.
PRESIDENTIAL ACTION
* Work with legislators to change “must be a danger to self or others” criteria.
* Work with legislators to change involuntary commitment criteria, alleviating the subjective nature of “gravely
disabled” and redefining it in objective terms based on scientific medical need for treatment. Psychosis, like a stroke, is a traumatic brain injury and needs immediate treatment for the best outcome.