December 1, 2009

Ticket to Work Schedule Update

During the NAMI 2009 conference we met with representatives of the Social Security Adminstration's Ticket to Work program which provides financial incentives for small businesses to employ people with disabilities. This program has been retooled recently with the objective of making it easier and more lucrative for businesses to hire people who suffer from bipolar disorder, depression and other Mental Illnesses. This program has just released a schedule of events in 17 states during December and January. For more information or to sign up for one of these program you can access Ticket to Work. If you own a small Read more...
Posted by Michael Lane at 8:41 PM | Comments (8)


November 10, 2009

House passes Health Care Reform bill - All eyes on the Senate

Last Saturday (Nov. 7) the House of Represenatives passed the Health Care Reform bill (H.R. 3962) by a narrow margin of 220-215. The Health Care reform debate has moved over to the Senate side where a similar bill may be brought to the Senate Floor as early as next week. We'll keep you posted on the Senate side developments and monitor the key provisions that impact people with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Read more...
Posted by Michael Lane at 1:08 PM | Comments (2)


November 6, 2009

Health Care Reform bill with provisions for bipolar patients moving toward a House vote

In yesterday's blog, I indicated that the Health Care Reform Bill is moving toward a vote in the House of Representatives. The expected vote is now being considered for Sunday (Nov 8) or perhaps later. President Obama is planning to go to Capitol Hill on Saturday to lobby key swing vote Representatives who could make the difference in passing the Health Care Reform Bill. There are several important provisions for bipolar patients and people with other mental illnesses (see yesterday's blog for these points). Today and tomorrow are great days to call your Representative's Washington D.C. office and indicate your Read more...
Posted by Michael Lane at 11:27 AM | Comments (2)


November 5, 2009

Health Care Bill has key provisions for bipolar disorder patients

Last week, the House of Representatives created a new bill, H.R. 3962, which combines previous legislation passed by three House committees. This newly created legislation represents the House version of Health Care reform which is scheduled for a House vote this Saturday (Nov 7). During the past two days, two large lobbying groups, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the American Medical Association (AMA), have thrown their support behind H.R. 3962. A Senate version which combines earlier legislation that passed through two Committees is being drafted and is expected to be introduced in the near term. H.R. 3962 Read more...
Posted by Michael Lane at 2:54 PM | Comments (2)


October 29, 2009

Government program supports Employment for people with bipolar disorder and other disabilities

During the NAMI 2009 conference we met with representatives of the Social Security Adminstration's Ticket to Work program which provides financial incentives for small businesses to employ people with disabilities. This program has been retooled recently with the objective of making it easier and more lucrative for businesses to hire people who suffer from bipolar disorder, depression and other Mental Illnesses. Earlier today, we received a note from this program with a schedule of events in 15 states during November. For more information or to sign up for one of these program you can access Ticket to Work. If you Read more...
Posted by Michael Lane at 2:37 PM | Comments (3)


July 27, 2009

Congressional Update: House passes legislation with increased funding for Mental Illness research and services

On July 24, the House of Representatives approved legislation (HR 3293) that includes increased funding for mental illness research and services for FY 2010 HR 3293 is an Appropriations Bill which sets spending levels for the Labor-HHS- and Education Departments for FY2010 (which begins on Oct 1, 2009). The Senate takes up similar legislation next week. HR 3292 Hightlights include: 993 million increase for the Limitation on Administrative Expenses (LAE) budget which pays for administrative costs associated with implementing entitlement programs such as SSI and SSDI - This will help the Social Security Administration cope with an unprecedented backlog in Read more...
Posted by Michael Lane at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)


July 24, 2009

Congressional Update: House passes legislation to increase funding for HUD Section 811 program

This week the House of Representatives cleared legislation making important improvements to the HUD Section 811 program, and in a separate move voted to increase funding for the program by $100 million. By a vote of 376-51, the House of Representatives on July 22 passed legislation to reform and modernize the HUD Section 811 program - a critical affordable housing resource for non-elderly people with disabilities, including serious mental illness. The bill, known as the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2009 (HR 1675), was introduced by Congressman Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R- IL). HR 1675 Read more...
Posted by Michael Lane at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)


September 16, 2008

McCain and Obama Health-care Plans Analyzed

This morning the Wall Street Journal covers the recent analysis of the health-care proposals of the McCain and Obama campaigns. Health-care coverage is, of course, a huge issue for families where a child or spouse has bipolar disorder and all the associated high costs of in and out-patient treatment. Many people who have bipolar disorder have a difficult time maintaining consistent employment so may not have employer health insurance benefits on an ongoing basis. For this reason, we recommend you study the proposals of each of the candidates closely. The WSJ notes: "Republican presidential candidate John McCain's health-care plan would Read more...
Posted by szadmin at 8:30 AM | Comments (1)


August 28, 2006

States Try Out Courts Tailored for Mentally Ill

National Public Radio has had a good program recently on Mental Health Courts that are being implemented in the US. NPR reports that "In many states around the country, judges have set up special courts to deal with defendants who have severe mental illnesses. The goal is to stop people from repeatedly cycling through the courts and jails and transform them into productive members of society." Following is a brief excerpt from the program: SHAPIRO: There are more than 120 mental health courts across the country. They aren't distributed evenly. Ohio has thirty, for example, while other states have none. Read more...
Posted by szadmin at 12:48 PM | Comments (2)


September 15, 2005

The Battle for Mental Health Coverage

Mental health coverage is something that many individuals have to battle with insurance companies for. The battle for mental health coverage has made some headway over the years although it has not reached equal status (or equal coverage) with physical illnesses or physical wounds. Unfortunately one's ability to stay mentally healthy is limited by how much money one has in the bank. This article, written by Madeleine Baran of The New Standard (a non-profit/ anticommercial news organization), goes over the bill that could lead to full mental health coverage if congress decides to pass it. Every year, thousands of people Read more...
Posted by at 11:38 AM | Comments (6)


August 28, 2005

Colorado Jails House Most of Mentally Ill

Colorado has a public mental health system that has suffered from numerous budget cuts leading to many of the mentally ill being housed in jails instead of some type of rehabilitative psychiatric housing. The number of beds available at the two state mental hospitals have dropped and the percentage of jail inmates with a psychiatric illness has increased. According to the statistics, 1 in 5 prison inmates have a mental illness, and 1 out of 4 in county jails have a mental illness. The statistics affecting the mentally ill in Colarado are not encouraging: "- In 2004, the state cut Read more...
Posted by at 1:30 PM | Comments (3)


August 24, 2005

New Jail Diversion Program in Florida

The Tampa Tribune reported this week that that city has an expanded Jail Diversion Program Proposed at a cost of $500,000 for the 2005/06 budget year. This is good news for the mentally ill, especially people with bipolar disorder as they represent a significant number. The jail diversion program will likely reduce the number of people suffering in jail and we hope to see these programs in every city in the US eventually. Reporter Todd Leskanic wrote, in the story, that: "A program to treat mentally ill defendants in Pinellas County has been proposed for Pasco. "This is a growing Read more...
Posted by szadmin at 12:14 PM | Comments (8)


August 16, 2005

Oregon Mental Health Coverage

On Monday, Oregon's governor Ted Kulongoski did a big service to those suffering from mental illness in Oregon. He signed a bill that will force insurance companies to cover mental-health treatment just like they cover physical health treatments. Now insurance companies will not be allowed to put restrictions on treatment or financial requirements that are not asked for when covering physical conditions. Oregon is now the 35th state to ensure that insurance companies cover mental health the same way they cover physical health. The signing of this bill is seen as a reduction in the discrimination imposed upon those with Read more...
Posted by at 2:24 PM | Comments (3)


July 20, 2005

Pilots & Bipolar Disorder

U.S. Says 46 Pilots Lied To Obtain Their Licenses Recently, the news has covered the case of 46 pilots who are being charged by prosecutors for "lying to federal authorities to obtain airplane licenses." This coverage is relevant to not only bipolar disorder but also to other mood or brain disorders. The pilots are being accussed of hiding "debilitating illnesses" which, if revealed would have "kept them (the pilots) grounded." The pilots, who were indicted this week by grand juries in the eastern and northern federal districts of California, were identified during an 18-month criminal air traffic safety investigation by Read more...
Posted by at 10:06 PM | Comments (1)


July 6, 2005

Outpatient Psychiatric Treatment

Outpatient psychiatric care is usually something that is up to the patient, but in certain cases it is not. Most states have a law that allows for a judge to make the decision for the patient in extreme cases. As Steele (2005) stated, "Somewhere in the pile of proposed programs waiting to get funded in the new state budget is one for which Maine state legislators should just write the check. It is the outpatient commitment program (OCP) that allows a judge working with mental health professionals to require some patients with severe mental illness to comply with a community-based Read more...
Posted by at 5:41 PM | Comments (4)


July 4, 2005

Victory for Kendra's Law

Kendra's law will be going strong after the victory that it just had. This five year old program in New York gives outpatient treatment to those with severe mental illness, such as bipolar disorder. The improvement and extension of Kendra's Law for five more years is a victory for mental health advocates throughout New York and an example of compassion and common sense trumping partisan politics. But most importantly it is a victory for those in New York lost to the symptoms of severe untreated mental illnesses. Kendra's Law is New York's five-year-old program allowing assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) for Read more...
Posted by at 12:57 PM | Comments (6)


July 1, 2005

Crime influenced by substance abuse

One of the most harmful stereotypes of people with mental illness is that they are more likely to be criminals, particularly violent ones. Statistics show that this is incorrect - people with mental disorders who are in treatment are no more likely than the average citizen to commit a violent crime. However, a study from the Yale University School of Medicine highlights a factor that may often be ignored - substance abuse. The study showed that of the subjects with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, 56% had substance-related criminal activity. Moreover, women who had abused cocaine were almost twice as likely to Read more...
Posted by julia.d at 9:21 AM | Comments (6)


June 26, 2005

State and Corrections Facility Sued

An advocacy group for the mentally ill based in Columbia, South Carolina has recently sued the state and corrections department in Columbia for the improper care of mentally ill inmates. They are asking the court to make the state design and pay for a sufficient system to help treat mentally ill inmates. There have been studies of the prison system in the past that cited the fact that its treatment of the mentally ill was in need of some serious refurbishing. "But the state hasn't taken steps needed to address the concerns about care for 2,146 mentally ill inmates. Instead, Read more...
Posted by at 3:02 PM | Comments (0)


Lack of Adequate Mental Health Laws

The WHO organization is bringing coverage to the lack of adequate mental health laws that have become commonplace in many of the worlds countries. Many countries have laws that are outdated and do not take recent improvements of treatment into account. About a quarter of the worlds countries have no mental health legislation whatsoever. WHO is concerned that these outdated laws are leading to the abuse of patients' right's. "Outmoded laws tend to focus on care in mental institutions, which can compound patients' suffering and raise the risk of abuse, particularly in countries where the health system lacks resources, said Read more...
Posted by at 2:47 PM | Comments (3)


June 23, 2005

Prison Houses the Mentally Ill

Prisons often end up being were the mentally ill are housed due to the fact that many people do not receive the help they need. Little is often done to help the mentally ill until it is too late. New Jersey has a surprisingly large number of people with mental disorders in their prisons. Approximately 60% of those in its state prisons are mentally ill. About 80% of those who are mentally ill were undiagnosed before they were put in jail. One example of this system is Sam Manzie "In 1997, 15-year-old Sam Manzie killed an 11-year-old boy who was Read more...
Posted by at 9:47 PM | Comments (0)


June 21, 2005

Mandatory Care for Mentally Ill

Maine's House and Senate have approved a bill that would force mentally ill outpatients to follow the treatment plans ordered by courts or face hospitalization against their will. If approved Maine would be the 43rd state that mandates treatments for outpatients who are mentally ill. "Opponents of the bill, which would take effect July 1, 2006, see it as an effort to medicate sick people into compliance. They say that recovery from mental illness is possible only when patients are participating voluntarily in their treatment. And opponents, many of whom have mental illnesses themselves, view mandatory care as a violation Read more...
Posted by at 8:16 PM | Comments (0)


June 19, 2005

Court Opened for Mentally Ill

A new court will be opened in Canada that will be specifically for the mentally ill. The court will open in the Waterloo region this fall and will be open half a day a week in the beginning. This part-time court for the mentally ill will benefit all of those with mental disorders who have had a brush with the law due to their ailment. Most of the offenses that the court will deal with will be minor assaults, for example, theft or drug offenses. "While the mental health court will send some accused people to jail, Nicklas said its Read more...
Posted by at 9:16 PM | Comments (0)


June 15, 2005

Florida's New Drug Plan

Florida has a new state drug policy that will start on July 1st. "To save $292 million in the state's $2.5 billion drug program for the poor and disabled, Gov. Jeb Bush's administration persuaded the Florida Legislature this spring to impose strict limits on patient access to mental health drugs. It includes making brand-name drugs less accessible and requiring the poor and disabled to start off on the cheapest drugs first" (Hollis 2005). The theory is that psychiatrists would prescribe the cheapest drug that could work for each mental disorder and test each one up the ladder until the least Read more...
Posted by at 8:26 PM | Comments (3)


May 4, 2005

Avoid Army Recruiters

In the New York Times this afternoon it was reported that Army recruiters are bending the rules significantly to meet recruitment goals. A quote from the New York Times demonstrates this "bending of the rules", see below: "It was late September when the 21-year-old man, fresh from a three-week commitment in a psychiatric ward, showed up at an Army recruiting station in southern Ohio. The two recruiters there wasted no time signing him up, and even after the man's parents told them he had bipolar disorder - a diagnosis that would disqualify him - he was all set to be Read more...
Posted by szadmin at 3:16 AM | Comments (4)


April 26, 2005

Mentally Ill going to Mental Health Courts

A good story in a recent Boston Globe issue: Mentally ill sent to Mental health courts ... Instead of jail, many people who suffer mental illness and commit crimes are being sent to mental health courts, modeled after the more than 500 drug courts nationwide that offer substance abuse counseling over prison time. "That day in court I could have said, 'Here you go, here's your jail sentence,'" McCooey said, recalling Hudson's case. "But you've got to go beyond." See Full Story Read more...
Posted by szadmin at 7:26 PM | Comments (0)


March 1, 2005

Preventing Bipolar Disorder

Today's Boston Globe has an excellent article on the under utilized approach of "prevention" for mental illness. Following is a brief excerpt from a long article - the full story is linked below. Doctors see need for prevention in mental illness Cancer treatment is more effective when the disease is caught early. Ditto for heart disease that's treated before a stroke or heart attack. But, in mental health, most patients suffer for months or years before doctors intervene. A growing number of psychologists and psychiatrists -- frustrated with what they see as an ''epidemic" of mental illness -- say that Read more...
Posted by szadmin at 4:04 PM | Comments (0)


$20 Million for New Research

Last week it was announced by the University of British Columbia (Canada) that an anonymous donor has given the University $10 million to kick-start a new $20-million Institute of Mental Health that will focus on bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression and related disorders. The donation, along with a $10-million matching donation from the provincial government, will make UBC a world leader in the prevention and treatment of mental illness, UBC president Martha Piper said in a prepared statement. Mental health has for too long been the "orphan" of Canada's health-care system, even though depression ranks only second to heart disease as Read more...
Posted by szadmin at 4:31 AM | Comments (0)


February 25, 2005

Mental Health Courts Spreading

With the number of people with bipolar disorder in jail skyrocketing in the past decade (while, coincidentally, hospital facilities and resources available to treat the mentally ill have fallen dramatically) its on a rare positive note that people are finally recognizing the special needs of the mentally ill when it comes to minor criminal offenses. This week Harris County, Texas, judges may create a mental health court to provide specialized legal consideration and treatment for those with diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychotic episodes. Harris county's felony court judges have asked the Legislature for $236,000 for a full-time Read more...
Posted by szadmin at 6:03 PM | Comments (2)


August 27, 2004

Bipolar Disorder Lacking in Services

World Health Organization Study Results A survey by the World Health Organization shows that in most parts of the world, people with the most serious mental health problems -- including Bipolar Disorder -- are not getting the treatment they need. A standard interview was used to diagnose more than 60,000 people in eight developed and six less developed countries, including the United States, Canada, and several European and Latin American nations, as well as Lebanon, Nigeria, Japan, and China. The questions covered anxiety and mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, drug dependence, and alcoholism. A special feature Read more...
Posted by szadmin at 12:47 AM | Comments (4)