Presidential Executive Orders in Mental Health: A History of Failures
Numerous Presidential Executive orders and millions in appropriations for Mental Health in Connecticut have produced nothing but failure and may actually be harmful. Hundreds-of-millions more tax dollars have been promised with no hope of real change. Despite the enormous amount of money being funneled into mental health, the big return seems to be little more than semantics – merely changing words rather than policy.
The State of Connecticut was one of 13 States to receive a federal “mental health transformation” grant under President Bush. The grant was issued as an executive order to “transform” the broken mental health system and was funded through 2010. And, what was the return on the investment? Connecticut suffers the largest mass murder/suicide in United States history within years of this “new improved mental health delivery system.”
Patricia Rehmer, the Commissioner of Mental Health in Connecticut, touts on her resume the fact she had oversight of the $13.7 million granted to Connecticut to then revamp the mental health delivery system. Ablechild participated in all the committee hearings on that grant and called for disclosure to the consumer on the link between the increased risk of suicide, violence and psychiatric drugs. Ablechild encouraged the State to educate the public on the MEDWATCH program, and to provide alternatives to psychiatric drugs and forced mental health services. Ablechild also wrote to then Governor Rell requesting an accounting of how the funds were distributed and whether the public would be advised of the results. The Governor denied Ablechild’s request.
Despite tens-of-millions poured into the State’s mental health system with little or no accountability as to how those funds were spent, in the wake of Sandy Hook, President Obama has promised another $100 million thru an executive order to “make it easier to access mental health services.” That’s great. But what happened to the $13.7 million from President Bush’s grant?
Are you doing the math? Are you following the insane process?
On December 20, 2012, within weeks of the Sandy Hook shooting, Senator Scott Frantz stated on WCBS to Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau that mental health providers will get a “slight boost” in the wake of the shootings and will have no funding cuts despite the fact that, “it has not been determined if there was direct connection between that and the massacre.”
Recall that Lanza’s mental health, educational records, and full toxicology report are being withheld from the public by the state of Connecticut.
The push, apparently, is to use this $100 million dollars to improve access to mental health services. However, according to the Hartford Courant’s article of June 20, 2013, Adam Lanza’s Medical Records Reveal Growing Anxiety” Lanza did have access to mental health services for many years. Lanza had been “screened” and released as not being a harm to himself or others.
Ablechild is taking the lead in calling for Lanza’s records to be made public, which will be crucial during the upcoming Connecticut legislative session. The goal is to protect public safety and stop the mismanagement of taxpayer funds. Is the increased mental health helping or hurting the public? Not everyone is convinced that more money spent on mental health access will have a positive effect – at least, to date, the State cannot prove that the tens-of-millions spent so far has shown any improvement.
For example, Dr. Hank Schwarts, psychiatrist-in-chief of the Institute of Living in Hartford said in regard to mental health issues, “to write a report now, with what we have, would almost be embarrassing.”http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-state-police-drag-feet-on-newtown-report-20131224,0,6056179.story