Sooner Than Tomorrow Readers,
I’ve been working hard the last couple of weeks, with advocates from across the country, in the development of this Five-Part Plan. Individuals, professionals, writers, journalists, and mothers (always the mothers) have been brainstorming and refining this document. Our intent is to get it in front of every 2020 presidential candidate — Republican, Democrat, Independent. Our goal is to encourage them to talk about serious mental illness (SMI) on the campaign trail and in their debates, and to include a SMI plan on their websites. Right now, no candidate is talking about SMI. It’s as if it didn’t exist.
These are baby steps. We can’t address everything that needs to be addressed in our messed up mental illness system, but we have to start somewhere. We’re trying to help the candidates along. If they don’t have SMI on their radar before the election, they probably won’t have it on their radar once elected.
If you agree with the positions in this plan, and would like to send it to politicians of your choice, send me an email and I’ll email the documents (cover letter, plan, an attachment) back to you firstname.lastname@example.org). The more individual voters the candidates hear from the better.
I, and many others, would really appreciate your support. Dede
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.
* 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 (HIPPA)
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.
* 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 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.
* 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 insures that SMI patients receive early intervention at all stages of their illnesses, long-term 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.
* 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 with 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.
* 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.