A man who lived for years in a crude shelter in the woods is now housed in an apartment.
A young woman who was institutionalized for a dozen years now lives in her own home, and is using the bathroom by herself for the first time in her life.
The two individuals’ transitions are among the success stories of Georgia’s 2010 agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to revamp the state’s system to care for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities.
On Friday, state officials described these two people’s new situations in an update on the settlement agreement at the Rosalynn Carter Georgia Mental Health Forum, held at the Carter Center in Atlanta.
Officials with the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) also detailed the hurdles and problems in remaking the public system of care, in the wake of the Justice Department settlement. full story
The state Department of Public Health said Tuesday that it expects funding reductions from sequestration, but added that it’s unclear so far how much money or what programs will be cut.
And the timeline for decisions on federal reductions is also unknown, said Kate Pfirman, chief financial officer of Public Health, at an agency board meeting Tuesday.
Sequestration, or the “sequester,’’ is a series of automatic cuts to government agencies, resulting from the federal debt ceiling compromise of 2011.
Areas expected to see large cuts in federal health spending include maternal and children’s health, mental health, and community health centers, according to a Stateline article.
State and local agencies that receive federal funding, meanwhile, are facing uncertainty as federal departments figure out the cuts. full story
A state Senate panel unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would allow licensed professional counselors to make involuntary commitments of people with mental illness or an addiction.
The licensed professional counselors would join physicians, psychologists, clinical social workers and clinical nurse specialists in being able to order involuntary treatment in Georgia.
A similar bill passed the Senate last year but failed to clear the House.
Counselors were the only ones to testify before the Senate Health and Human Services committee on the proposed measure, Senate Bill 65.
Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), who chairs the committee, is also sponsor of the bill. Georgia’s mental health system, she noted, is “in a transitional stage,’’ in the wake of Georgia’s agreements with the U.S. Justice Department to improve care for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities.
Separately, a leading consumer advocate for people with mental illness told GHN that she opposes the legislation. “I think it’s a bad idea to open up the ability for more people to commit us to forced treatment,’’ said Sherry Jenkins Tucker, executive director of the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network. full story
The rate of suicide has risen 25 percent in the U.S. over the last decade. The recent debate over gun control has drawn attention to the fact that suicides by firearm outnumber homicides by firearm in most years.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for college students, and third for all 15- to 24-year-olds, so it’s more important than ever for physicians to be able to assess the suicide risk in young patients.
“Denise’’ may help young doctors do just that.
Created at the University of Florida, Denise is a “virtual patient’’ who is seeking care for a mood disorder.
A Medical College of Georgia study of second-year medical students is helping determine if the opportunity to ask tough questions about suicide risk to a virtual patient can help real families avoid this tragedy. Researchers hypothesize that students who interact with Denise will be better able to assess suicide risk in real patients
“We hope this approach will help future practitioners deal with really difficult issues such as suicide, psychosis, anxiety and depression,” says Dr. Adriana Foster, psychiatrist at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University in Augusta.
Here is a GHN video interview, courtesy of GRU, with Foster, who discusses suicide prevalence, the warning signs of suicide, and the experiment with Denise.
The horrible school massacre in Newtown, Conn., has sparked political debate about the availability of guns, but also about how the nation treats people with mental illness.
“We are going to need to work on making access to mental health care as easy as access to a gun,” President Barack Obama said in the wake of the tragedy.
Remarkably little is known about the mental condition of the killer, Adam Lanza, a reclusive young man who killed both his mother and himself that day. It is known that the mother had expressed fears about his mental health.
Amid the debate about background checks and records on gun buyers, it has been noted that many states don’t report the names of people who have been labeled dangerously mentally ill and might potentially buy a gun.
In a new GHN Commentary, Ellyn Jeager of Mental Health America of Georgia argues that whatever the answer is to violence, creating a national database of people with mental illness is not it.
“A database containing the names of people with mental illnesses would be impractical, stigmatizing and ineffective,’’ Jeager writes. “There is no evidence that such a database would effectively control or limit violent behavior. People with mental health conditions are no more likely than others to commit homicides or other violent acts.’’
What’s needed is “adequately resourced and recovery-based community care,’’ she says.
Here is a link to her Commentary.