Tell the Washington Post: There is NOT Consensus on Mental Health Legislation!

On October 18, the Washington Post published an article entitled “Advocates, lawmakers see momentum for mental-health reform in Congress” by Lena H. Sun.

While this piece acknowledges that current House and Senate mental health bills are seen as controversial, it includes some troubling quotes that will lead the public to believe that there is consensus in the mental health advocacy community that these bills should be the basis for legislation.

Please inform the Washington Post that their staff should ask people with psychiatric histories and mental health diagnoses what they think of the “reforms” contained in these bills. We cannot allow advocates who support eroding our civil liberties and privacy rights to speak on our behalf. We have a voice. Let’s use it.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

1) Learn more about the Senate companion mental health bill, a summary of which can be found here. Access the full text of the bill. Here is a comparison of the House and Senate bills.

2) Write a letter to the editor of the Washington Post.
Newspapers keep track of “pro” and “con” letters, even if not all can be published.

Talking points you can use (feel free to use your own):

  • The false link between gun violence and mental health is not a basis for legislation. Rep. Murphy’s bill in the House is based on this false connection, and the Senate version follows his lead.
  • Reform is needed, but the statement by Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America, that advocates are united in the belief that these bills should be the basis of such reform, is erroneous.
  • The author did not consult people with mental health problems, who would be most affected by any proposed reforms.
  • Like the House bill, the Senate bill is hardly an “overhaul” of the mental health system. It puts zero Medicaid dollars into community mental health services, while directing potentially billions of Medicaid dollars to psychiatric hospitals.
  • REAL reform would recognize the huge prevalence of trauma among people with mental health and substance use problems, and would seek to reduce re-traumatization in service settings.

Tips for writing letters to the editor:

  • Keep your letter under 200 words, or even shorter to increase its chances of being published.
  • Send your letter to letters@washpost.com.
  • Send your letter as soon as possible to improve chances of publication.
  • The full guidelines for submission are here.

3) Tweet to the author Lena Sun @bylenasun and let her know she needs to speak to the people who would be most directly affected by this legislation.

Sample Tweets:

.@bylenasun There is NOT total consensus in the MH community on the current MH bills, despite what “advocates” say. #realmhchange

.@bylenasun Ppl w/#mentalhealth disabilities can speak for themselves. The advocacy orgs you quoted DON’T represent us. #realmhchange

.@bylenasun Ppl w/#mentalhealth disabilities oppose both House & Senate bills. Wish someone would talk to us! #realmhchange

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2 thoughts on “Tell the Washington Post: There is NOT Consensus on Mental Health Legislation!

  1. There is not a consensus on mental health issues and treatment paradigms. Sen. Tim Murphy’s bill is a giant 50 year backwards leap into the past, a literal model of the least effective and counter intuitive for humane care and treatment.

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  2. There certainly is no consensus on mental health issues and treatment paradigms. The biophysical paradigm has been touted in this country since Benjamin Rush maintained that people accused of “insanity” had too much blood flowing to the brain and used both “purging” (removing blood) and nearly drowing people to “treat” them. None of the numerous theories on the part of such sadists has lasted very long before they were discarded as flawed. But not to worry, new ones always pop up, the proof of the biophysical link is just around the corner. Similarly, belivers in “mental health” dogma have been opposed and exposed by those who were able to think critically as is the case today. (read Thomas Szasz, Judi Chamberlin, Robert Whitaker, Bonnie Burstow, and many others. The path forward is not to revise the snake pits as Murphy and his cohorts would like. Theirs is the way backward. I applauded especially the comments Iden Campbell McCollum made as pertains to providers dictating and defining what peer support is. This is an attempt to coopt the efforts for peer alternatives to the psychiatric system which was originated by the victims. The existing push to in effect have providers license peer counselors is a strategem to prohibit genuine peer support and maintain the existing psychiatric monopoly. Murphy’s law should not become legislated law.

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