STATE OF OUR STATE: ALLIANCE IN ACTION on the ROAD TO RECOVERY 

By James Jones – Metropolitan Family Services
January 26, 2016

This morning we are embarking on a trip to try to save stable and productive lives, at least in Illinois. Cutting the programs for mental health facilities in this state shows an apathy that could very well cause a travesty that could also prove tragic. We have seen on buses, on the streets, and even in programs for help, people with oftentimes severe mental disturbances that could be potentially dangerous. This is why this trip is so mandatory to many of us who need these programs just as much as any with a physical impairment. If someone had a broken arm or shattered ribs, you would want them to get medical attention immediately. But a broken psyche or shattered nerves, then what would you do? The answers to that do not come as easily because of the intricate workings of the mind. This is just one of the many reasons we must protest in numbers against the cuts to our communities, to stem the illnesses before they grow out of control.
Also, the stigma attached to mental illness is far greater than the physical could ever be. Derogatory terms for mental illness are plentiful, many used in everyday conversation. If the same would be said about someone in a wheelchair or crutches, it would be deemed cruel and distasteful. But mental illness, at whatever level it would be, is fair game for ridicule unless it is hushed up, swept under the rug, or in lower levels, ignored. These have not been effective methods to achieve mental wellness.
That is why this Road to Recovery to Springfield is so important; to have our voices heard. If no one speaks out there will be no attention or empowerment, and without these, there can be no recovery. We must stress the need for these programs clearly, distinctively, and in no uncertain terms. We have the right to stand firm and express that we cannot take this lying down. Remember that many would most likely be closer to stability had it not been for previous cuts; those many who could have lived productive lives and helped more clients in need by giving their stories as examples. We have gained great strides in the education and treatment of mental disturbance and made far too much progress to stagnate or regress. We will not slow down as we approach the finish line, or listen to nay-sayers who say we will not make it or try to cast us idly aside.
This is why it is so invigorating to be part of such a huge assemblance of different mental health services coming together for such a needed common cause, battling for the soul of Illinois. Not only did we experience unity in numbers but truth in numbers, which is one of the most powerful strengths of all, giving us a renewal of spirit in case the foibles of red tape leave us frustrated and downtrodden.
It is also ironic that I felt a sense of mass therapy with so many groups converging on Springfield showing that we care enough to come to the heart of the state to let our feelings be heard, if not heeded. It is a gamble if our showing will make a difference…Whether or not the [legislators] actually do anything legislatively, they can’t say they didn’t hear our voices loud and clear. That the funding for our facilities cannot be sliced to the bone. They cannot ignore that we made a bold statement in the state capitol. We pitched straight, now it’s up to them to catch.

Mpowered | Government Affairs & Strategic Initiatives
Metropolitan Family Services
One North Dearborn, Suite 1000 | Chicago, IL 60602
P: 312-986-4227 (direct) | F: 312-986-4334
www.metrofamily.org | jenningt@metrofamily.org
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C4 closes May 31, 2015 and need for mental health services safety net in metropolitan areas

http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-04-27/morning-shift-c4-closing-111943

Illinois Referenda Big Success

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20141104/news/141109292/

August 19, 2014 Time log Alderman Cardenas Hearing on Chicago Mental Health Clinic Closures

 

1:00 Doors to Chambers open. Witness slips filled in and collected.
1:15 Bechara Choucair starts CPHD powerpoint presentation.
2:43 Alderman Fioretti cuts off Choucair.
2:56 N’Dana stated that most of Choucair’s statements are false.
3:13 Alderman Cappleman gave jail discharge services a black eye.
3:35 Heather O’Donnell says mental illness safety net is broken due to systemic stigma.
3:42 Client interrupted hearing before her turn
3:50 Mark Heyrman says city, county & state need to transition discharges from jail and police should not be mental health taxi services.
4:02 Chattel start testifying.
5:55 Kathy Powers just asked for an official apology from the city for the harm they inflict on persons living with mental illness.
7:37 Hearing adjourned.

 

Meeting with Alderman Waugespack on 10/9/2013

My name is Kathy Powers. I am here today with the Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4) and the Mental Health Justice Group. I am 63 and have lived with bipolar illness since I was 11. I spent years in hospitals in four separate states. I used to receive excellent care at the Northtown/Rogers Park Mental Health Clinic. Due to funding cuts to the city system in 2010, with no warning or referral services, I lost the opportunity to see a psychiatrist. Because of this, I could not get my medicine.

On one occasion, I went to an emergency room to get a prescription that lasted a month. Then I needed hospitalization when my meds ran out. I did well in the hospital when I received meds and services, but after discharge, I could not find a psychiatrist who would accept Medicare or Medicaid. Then the six Chicago clinics closed completely, leaving me med-less and therapy-less.

After my second hospitalization in a month, I began to receive minimal psychiatric services at C4. Through group therapy, I discovered that I was not alone in trying to receive services.

I am now involved with the Mental Health Justice Group at ONE Northside as advocacy is an important part of my recovery. We are a group of people living with mental illness and allies from the community fighting for the rights of people living with mental illness throughout the north side specifically in Uptown, Edgewater, Lakeview, Lincoln Park and Rogers Park. 

Our view on mental illness is that recovery is possible. We believe that people living with mental illness should live in the least restrictive setting possible. We believe people living with mental illness are not dangerous or violent. In fact, studies show that people living with mental illness are more likely to be victims of crimes, rather than perpetrators. Though we hold these beliefs and have much evidence to support them, the mainstream stigma associated with people living with mental illness can be overwhelming. We want to end this stigma.

One way in which this can happen is through increasing the number of Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) police officers. CIT is a 40 hour training program for Police Officers to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and de-escalation techniques. We want the CIT program used more, become better known in the community and have mental health providers promote the program.

We see police officers as first responders who define how communities treat people living with mental illness in crisis. We want to increase the number of CIT-trained officers in our communities and throughout the city to improve appropriate placement of persons in crisis, divert persons in crisis to treatment centers rather than prison, and to reduce the stigma for people living with mental illness.

Through our research and meetings with stakeholders, we discovered that there is a waiting list of over 400 officers who want CIT training. A bottleneck effect occurs because there are only 2.5 full staff CIT-training members in the entire Chicago Police Department. We want to get that number increased to 10 full-staff training members so that more officers are trained and in the streets working in our communities.

We seek support from legislators, the police department and mental health provider agencies to accomplish this goal.

I ask for your support in two ways. First, will you send a letter to your local District Commander to push for their support of the CIT Program locally? (Alderman Waugespack agrees.)

Secondly, will you join us in bringing this issue to the monthly Com Stat meeting of the CPD in the next few months to encourage an increase to ten full-time staff members within the CIT training division to end the bottleneck effect?

My Testimony on 2/21/14 at Stean-Cassidy-Cassidy Town Hall

My name is Kathy Powers. I am on the Steering Committee of the Alliance for Community Services and on the Board of Northside Action for Justice. I live with bipolar illness since the age of 11. I thank goodness that I have Medicare and Medicaid.

I sincerely believe that the four-drug limit be abolished. I take 20 different medications a day. If I had to choose only four of drugs on my list, I would have to choose losing my kidneys, thyroid, gi tract, perennial rhinitis, chronic pain that goes along my five back fusions, liver, suffer parkinsonian symptoms, suffer movement disorder symptoms that involve me biting my mouth spasmodically, lose control of my diabetes and/or risk my psychiatric welfare. When the rules change for dual-eligibles (persons with Medicare and Medicaid benefits), the reality of a medication limitation looms closer every day.

When the well-intentioned prior authorization process was added, there was some hope to obtain sufficient medication. Unfortunately, the prior authorization process yielded unworkable results. Persons at my C4 drop-in center had their medications denied. The reasons for the denials included “denial because it is denied,” “denial because it was already approved.”The latter denial of medication caused my friend to cut herself from head to toe in total frustration and spend a lengthy hospital time to heal from her physical wounds while she received her needed medication. The authorization process is broken and dangerous.

When one takes medications as I do, this situation effects dental health. I have three teeth left on the bottom of my mouth and I’m missing four teeth on the top (show). This lack of teeth causes me to choke a great deal when I eat, makes it almost impossible to chew. I need dentures, at least on the bottom, so I will stop choking, but I can’t afford them and can’t find any assistance to get them. I’ve been known to choke on liquids and solids, and now I have an unnecessary risk for heart disease because of my poor dental health.

Since prescribed medications prevent medical emergencies, hospitalizations and lower doctor visits, I think Congress would be wise to consider the cost savings by removing the limit on medications allowed, just as an economic boost to the Medicaid economy. As far as dental health goes, I’m sure I’m not the only one who is at risk for cardiac disease or a choking emergency or death because of lack of dental care.

Thank you for your time.

Call to NBC on September 2, 2013 at 3:00 Requesting Apology

Here is Kathy Powers call to NBC on September 2, 2013 at 3:00,:

Hello, my name is Kathy Powers. It has been a month since Brian Williams and NBC Nightly News insulted millions of Americans saying that “arguably the face of mental illness” is Ariel Castro. In an effort to roll back the stigma rudely amplified in your newscast and editing, I want a public apology and a news story about the “Faces of Recovery” showing positive role-models of individuals living with mental illness.

 I also respond to the one-sided segment about ECT that “Today” ran on August 20, 2013. I demand that NBC reflect that ECT providers should tell potential recipients about the risk of the disabling effects of ECT treatment, including permanent memory loss and cognitive deficits, so that they can make an informed choice.

 Thank you.

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