Mental Health Association of Portland

Oregon's independent and impartial mental health advocate

Forensic psychologist for Parole Board runs into credibility problems, and it’s not the first time

Posted by Jenny on July 26th, 2014

Frank ColistroThe Oregonian, July 25, 2014

A forensic psychologist who has analyzed some of Oregon’s most dangerous criminal minds — from murderers to rapists — has run into potential credibility issues.

Last week, KOIN-6 reported that Frank Colistro admitted he made up stories about being shot twice while trying to talk armed men out of homes as part of hostage negotiation teams. Colistro had made the claims in an earlier interview with KOIN.

Colistro also told the station that he has a “big ego” and “I embellish my life.”  …Continue reading at OregonLive.com

READ – Oregon parole board psychologist admits he made up story

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Keeping the mentally ill out of jail

Posted by admin2 on July 26th, 2014

From the Chinook Observer, July 25, 2014

Law enforcement officers see them every day: people in the grip of serious mental illness.

Officers encounter them on the streets, some strung out, some committing crimes while glimpsing life through a faulty filter. Options for police are limited. Mentally ill inmates clog the state’s jails and prisons, which have fast become de facto mental health institutions. The most severe cases go to the Oregon State Hospital.

And there’s not many options in between.

Instead of spending $25,000 per month at the state hospital to care for someone who has slid deep into crisis, it could be cheaper and more effective to intervene earlier back in the home community.

That was one of the messages at this week’s Association of Oregon Counties’ public safety summit at the Umatilla County Justice Center.

“How do we divert people earlier rather than later from a criminal justice system where things get very expensive?” asked Rob Bovett, legal counsel for the Association of Oregon Counties.

“There is tremendous savings to the state if we can divert these folks away from the state hospital.”

Bovett spoke to room packed with county sheriffs, district attorneys, county corrections staff and mental health professionals.

Bovett wrote draft legislation – dubbed the Mental Health Justice Reinvestment Program – that would infuse money into Oregon’s counties to establish services and programs designed to prevent individuals with mental illnesses from entering or reentering the criminal justice system. Ideally, it would also reduce referrals to the Oregon State Hospital.

Interventions could include mental health courts, mobile crisis response units, respite and crisis centers, peer mentors, crisis intervention training for officers, transitional housing and others.

“Our system right now drives people to the highest level of cost,” Bovett said. “People rot in our jail or we send them off to the State Hospital.”

That’s like zooming from zero miles-per-hour to 100, he said.

“We’ve got nothing in between,” Bovett said. “We can save the state a ton of money.”

Some counties are already experiencing impressive results with local intervention, said Cheryl Ramirez, executive director of the Association of Community Mental Health Programs. A county in Texas documented cost savings of $50 million over five years, diverting people from jail with crisis intervention, drop-off centers, respite care and other approaches. Salt Lake County in Utah focused on the area’s 10 highest-cost inmates. A team of judiciary, mental health and corrections officials met regularly to discuss and plan interventions. The number of incarcerations declined dramatically.

“This is where we’re going nationwide,” Ramirez said. “It’s been shown to deliver.”

Kevin Campbell, CEO of Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc., is also singing this song – and he’s singing it loudly. He likes to say, “Why doesn’t the state tell us what the hell they want, give us 90 percent of the money, get out of our way and we’ll shock ‘em with the outcomes?”

Campbell is also CEO of the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization – one of 16 organizations around the state charged with providing health care to Oregon’s poorest residents. He said he has witnessed this type of prevention and intervention approach work with children when schools, child welfare, law enforcement and education service districts partner together.

“This is an opportunity to do the same for adults who are costing us the most money and present the greatest threat to public safety,” Campbell said.

During a question-and-answer period, Morrow County District Attorney Justin Nelson told Campbell he has reservations about treating locally instead sending folks to the state hospital. Of special concern are unstable individuals who are unable to aid and assist attorneys in their own defense.

“They are in custody because they are a public safety concern,” he said. “It’s a security issue. Sometimes people with mental health issues have decompensated quite a bit.”

Campbell called Nelson’s concern valid, but suggested that a number of regional secured facilities could house those who are a danger to themselves or others.

“Certain people do need to be locked up in a secured facility, but does that have to be in Salem or Junction City?” Campbell said, referring to the main state hospital and another being built about 60 miles south. “There has to be a balance between community safety and mental health.”

After conferring with sheriffs, DAs and others involved in law enforcement, Bovett will craft a final draft of proposed legislation in time for the start of the next session of the Oregon Legislature.

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Judge orders SSA to pay $42,000 in lawsuit over sudden closure of Safety Net of Oregon

Posted by Jenny on July 24th, 2014

The Oregonian, July 24, 2014

safetynetCLOSEDsmallA U.S. District Court judge has ordered the Social Security Administration to pay $42,000 in attorney’s fees to the Multnomah County residents who sued the agency, claiming it failed to protect elderly and disabled residents from losing their benefits after the company that managed their money abruptly closed.

The order ends the legal battle, but the struggle to reconnect Safety Net of Oregon’s 1,000 former clients with the benefits they lost after the company’s March closure continues. About 20 people still lack access to their monthly Social Security checks.

The backstory: In March, federal authorities launched an investigation into alleged mismanagement of funds by Safety Net of Oregon, a nonprofit “payee” that distributes Social Security benefits to people who can’t manage their own funds. The company was shut down as part of the investigation.

The Social Security Administration sent letters and made phone calls notifying Safety Net’s former clients that they needed to find a new payee by March 21. If they didn’t, they would lose access to their federal benefits.  But because many people who receive their benefits through a payee are homeless, they never got the message….Continue reading at OregonLive.com

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Caught Off Guard: Cops Knew Nicholas Davis Was Sick, Didn’t Expect an Attack

Posted by admin2 on July 23rd, 2014

From the Portland Mercury, July 23, 2014

Within moments of encountering Nicholas Glendon Davis early June 12, it was clear to two Portland cops the man probably had a mental illness.

The wide-eyed 23-year-old was “spinning” between agitated and calm, Officer Robert Brown testified before a grand jury that would eventually clear him in the man’s death. Davis made reference to being Russian, and called Brown and another officer, Matthew Nilsen, “Nazis.”

But the officers and three witnesses who happened to be driving by when the interaction turned tragically fatal say the encounter on Southeast Portland’s Springwater Corridor appeared calm and under control—until it wasn’t.

Transcripts of the grand jury investigation into Davis’ death—released by Multnomah County prosecutors Friday, July 18—don’t offer much new information on the events that led Brown to shoot Davis in the heart. But that testimony does make clear that the officers knew they were dealing with a troubled young man, yet were caught off guard when Davis became a threat.

Brown and Nilsen were called to the Springwater near SE 104th around 6 am. A man named Loren Kurth told cops he’d been searching for scrap metal near Johnson Creek when Davis, who family and friends say lived off the trail, chased him away. Kurth left his bike behind and wanted it back. He called the cops (the Mercury first reported this version of events on July 2, after speaking with Kurth’s girlfriend, who also lives off the Springwater).

“He had real wide eyes,” Brown testified of Davis. “He said he was Russian, and that all Russians need to be under surveillance…. He seemed real jittery, looking around.”

Davis struggled with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia from a young age, family and friends have told the Mercury. He spent years in the Oregon State Hospital, his mother says. He had medications, but hated how they made him feel. He’d been living near the Springwater, off and on, for years, a friend said ["Before the Crowbar," News, June 18]. Some of that information would have been available to Brown when he ran Davis’ name through the police bureau’s records system.

The officer prides himself, he testified, on his ability to read people. But it took him by surprise when Davis lifted his shirt to reveal something metal—what the officer at first assumed was a gun. Both officers backed away, but Brown didn’t realize there was a guide wire behind him, attached to a utility pole. He fell backward.

By the time he looked up, Davis had a crowbar raised menacingly, witnesses say, though accounts differ on whether he approached Brown.

“He’s coming right up on me,” Brown testified. “And I know I shot twice.”

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Grand Jury Transcripts Released in Springwater Corridor Police Shooting

Posted by admin2 on July 21st, 2014

From the Portland Mercury, July 18, 2014

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office this afternoon put out the transcripts—some 170-plus pages—of the grand jury probe this month that cleared a Portland police officer in the June 12 shooting of a homeless man, struggling with mental illness, along the Springwater Corridor trail.

READ – Multnomah County Grand Jury Death Investigation of Nicholas Drake.

Two officers, Matthew Nilsen and Robert Brown, had come looking for a man accused of trying to steal another man’s bicycle (as we first reported last month). That turned out to be Nicholas Glendon Davis. Davis took a pair of bullets after, cops say, he suddenly pulled a crowbar from underneath his shirt and charged at Brown, who fell down after taking his gun out.

The Mercury will look more deeply at the transcripts next week. But here are several excerpts from Brown’s testimony.

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28 Seconds : The Killing of Fouad Kaady

Posted by admin2 on July 21st, 2014

Eds. Note – the text below is from The Portland Indymedia Video Collective. Their online film was an important inspiration to the makers of Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse.

In the early afternoon of September 8, 2005, police encountered Fouad Kaady shortly after he was in an accident that left him in shock and bleeding, burned over much of his body. Rather than calling for medical help, the police commanded him to lie on the pavement, even though they could see the burned flesh hanging from his body, and even though they said he appeared to be “in a catatonic state.” When he did not comply with their orders, but instead continued to sit on the ground in a daze, they tasered him repeatedly. And then, they shot him to death.

In a report that was typical of the corporate media’s response to this killing, Channel 8′s ever-mealy-mouthed Kyle Iboshi held up a wad of papers left over from the “investigation” into the death, saying, “you can see how extensive this investigation was.” He then commenced to highlight (literally, with a yellow highlighter pen) what he claimed to be the relevant details of the case. Not surprisingly, Iboshi was very selective in what he chose to focus on. He accepted, without question, everything that the PIO had told him to say. He never asked a single question about why two officers might have shot an obviously unarmed man to death. And, he concluded his report by implying that Kaady must have been “on drugs” at the time of the killing, as if that might excuse the officers’ behavior.

And so, in a pattern of violence that is repeated almost every day in this country, the police got away with murder. So far, anyway. They did so because they have the power and the authority to carry guns and to use them, and to avoid facing the consequences of their actions. And, they got away with it because the complicit corporate media helped them to weave a story that would lull the public into silence. As in so many incidents like this one, they told a story that was engineered to cause people to blame the victim, and accept the violence. No questions asked.

The truth about what happened to Fouad Kaady is important. It’s important to bear witness when a member of our community is cut down like this. It’s important to stand up for the person he might have been, rather than accepting the media’s portrayal of him as merely some drug-crazed monster who “had it coming.” It’s important to know just how deep the culture of police violence runs through our cities and towns, and just how fist-in-glove the corporate media has been with the police state. And that’s why this video is important. Even if you think you know the story, you’re not going to believe this. Over the course of a year and a half, Videoistas painfully and meticulously gathered evidence, combed through records and reports, spoke with witnesses, and pieced together the real story. It’s much more disturbing than what you might have seen on KATU, but it’s the truth. And the least we can do for a fallen comrade is to take the time to learn the truth about what really happened to him.

Believe it or not, this story is told in the officers’ own words. And you won’t even believe what you hear.

This five part video series was made by The Portland Indymedia Video Collective and does not represent or speak for the Kaady family.


28 seconds : The Killing of Fouad Kaady, Part 1 of 5


28 seconds : The Killing of Fouad Kaady, Part 2 of 5


28 seconds : The Killing of Fouad Kaady, Part 3 of 5


28 seconds : The Killing of Fouad Kaady, Part 4 of 5


28 seconds : The Killing of Fouad Kaady, Part 5 of 5

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90 Corvallis residents parade silently around courthouse, thinking of those lost to suicide and how to save the next one

Posted by Jenny on July 20th, 2014

Corvallis Gazette-Times, July 20, 2014

Jeff McDaniel speaking at the rally

Jeff McDaniel speaking at the rally

As about 90 people stood in front of the Benton County Courthouse in Corvallis Saturday morning, a father climbed the building’s stone steps, stepped to the microphone and shared his pain.

“My son Kevin killed himself a year ago on Monday,” Jeff McDaniel told the crowd gathered for a march and rally to draw attention to youth suicide in the mid-valley, where an estimated nine teens and young adults have taken their own lives in the past year.

Many of those in the audience knew Kevin, or someone just like him. Those in attendance included staff and clients from Yes House, a residential treatment facility for young people battling addiction and other issues, as well as clients from other local treatment programs and family and friends of suicide victims from Linn and Benton counties.

McDaniel recalled his son as funny and charismatic.

“I loved him tremendously, and I miss him tremendously,” he said.

He also talked about the stigma surrounding suicide — and how stigmatizing mental health issues only makes the problem worse.

“I was ashamed,” he admitted. “I didn’t want to say it. I would have much rather kept it a secret.

“Nobody wants to talk about it,” McDaniel added. “Everyone wants to keep it a secret — and when we do that, we give it so much power.”

He urged the young people in the audience not to keep suicidal feelings bottled up, but find someone to talk to.

“Make it so it’s not a secret any longer,” he said.

Corvallis march 1 - people walkingOther speakers echoed that theme.

March organizer Vanessa Frias grew tearful as she recalled the names of some of the young mid-valley residents who had made the irreversible decision to take their own lives.

“They were really special people,” Frias said. “They meant a lot to other people, and we’re going to remember them today.”

State Rep. Sara Gelser, who helped pass a bill last year to add a second statewide youth suicide prevention services coordinator position, thanked the group for focusing public attention on the issue.

“We really don’t talk about it enough,” she said.

Gelser noted that efforts were underway at both the local and state level to make more services available for young people in crisis, but families still often face a three- to six-month wait to get help.

“We have a lot more work to do,” she said.

From the courthouse, the participants marched three blocks to Central Park, where they planned to make 10 circuits around the grassy open space.

“We wanted to do one for every life lost (in the past two years),” Frias said, “but we couldn’t get an accurate number.”

The march was organized by Yes House and the Oregon affiliate of Youth Motivating Others through Voices of Experience, known as Youth MOVE Oregon. Staffed largely by young people, the group has drop-in centers in Lane and Clackamas counties and has launched a program called Silent Watch aimed at raising awareness of youth suicide.

Corvallis march 2 - people walking (from further back) tree backgroundSome of the participants in Saturday’s march wore black Silent Watch hoodies bearing the slogan “Always remembered, never forgotten.”

Frias said she’s working with Youth MOVE Oregon to establish a chapter in the Corvallis-Albany area and hopes eventually to establish a local drop-in center.

Several organizations, including Youth MOVE, Yes House and the Oregon Family Support Network, set up informational tables near the gazebo at Central Park, where more speakers addressed the marchers.

One of them was Nikki Stagner of Blodgett, who talked about losing her 14-year-old daughter, Lilly, to suicide last October. She described her daughter as kind, thoughtful and loving and said she never saw any signs that Lilly might have wanted to take her own life.

“I don’t believe Lilly wanted to die that day. I just believe she wanted the pain — whatever pain it was she was feeling — to go away,” Stagner said.

If her daughter were still alive, Stagner added, she would have a message for those she left behind.

“I think she would tell us to speak out — speak out about suicide, speak out about how final it is,” she said.

And then Stagner added a message of her own.

“If you’re hurting, talk to somebody,” she pleaded.

“Suicide is final, and silence is deadly.”

Need help now? Call and talk to someone who understands

Clackamas County
24 hour crisis line: (503) 655-8585

Centerstone Clinic
11211 S.E. 82nd Avenue, Clackamas, Oregon – bus #72 & #71
Phone: 503-722-6200
Walk-in: Mon.-Fri., 10 AM – 8 PM and Sat.-Sun. 10 AM – 7 PM

Clark County
Crisis line: 360-696-9560 or 1-800-626-8137

Multnomah County
24-hour crisis line: 503-988-4888 or 1-800-716-9769

Urgent Walk-In Clinic
2415 SE 43rd Avenue, Portland, Oregon – bus #4 Division
Open 7 AM to 10:30 PM, seven days a week

Washington County
Crisis line: 503-291-9111

Also see our excellent resource for handling crisis.  Under the web banner, select “Get Help Now.”

Don’t wait.
The right time to prepare for crisis is BEFORE crisis.

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Recreational therapy makes a difference for OSH patients

Posted by Jenny on July 19th, 2014

Statesman Journal, July 19, 2014

Guy Forson (standing) works with Nick Stalheim

Guy Forson (standing) works with Nick Stalheim

“Down, down, sideways.”

Guy Forson repeats the words over and over in a way that is almost soothing. Nick Stalheim uses a scalpel to follow Forson’s directions, cutting squares out of a flat piece of clay that he intends to make into a castle for his eventual fish tank.

Stalheim’s face is scrunched into concentration, his blond mohawk bowed over the clay. Making these simple cuts isn’t easy for him, but he is utterly focused.

This is the goal of the recreational therapy classes Forson teaches at the Oregon State Hospital. Pottery, leather working, yoga: They are not as much about the skills themselves as about teaching patients behavioral skills most of them don’t have.

Forson, 57, has taught at the hospital since 1988. He has worked with patients ranging from children to the most violent criminals, from people just entering the hospital to those about to leave.

He has great faith in recreational therapy.

Every patient has a treatment plan that describes their mental illness diagnosis, what skills they need to work on and how they might go about treating their conditions.

Many take medication and attend traditional therapy. However, recreational therapy allows a place for them to apply their treatment plans in a realistic setting, Forson said.

For example, pottery can help a patient who can’t cope with frustration. Clay can be molded and re-molded again, over and over, flattening over mistakes and smoothing out imperfect edges.

“It’s just dirt,” Forson said. Little failures and frustrations don’t loom so large when one is working with clay.

Some recreational therapy can be very simple, he said. Often when working with new patients who have yet to make real progress in dealing with their mental illnesses, he takes them for walks outdoors.

It can be a triumph for someone with severe anxiety to leave the building, he said. Sometimes recreational therapy is about small steps.

The first time I toured the state hospital, I was skeptical. People who committed terrible crimes were making pots, painting pictures, learning to play the guitar and tossing basketballs around. It seemed, in some way, like a lack of justice. At the very least, it seemed like they should be in therapy.

Sitting in Forson’s class, I came to realize this is therapy.

He offered to let me participate, but at first I declined. I’m not artistic, and I felt shy about showing that off. But when I said, “I can’t,” Stalheim, Matthew Rhorer and Benjamin Purdy all let out an “Ooohhh…”

That’s not something you say in Forson’s class.

I tied an apron over my work clothes, which suddenly felt mildly ridiculous next to Forson’s washable purple plaid shirt and blue jeans, and his mental health aide, Evelyn Thompson, handed me a ball of clay.

I felt about as comfortable as a 19-year-old man holding a newborn baby.

Recreational therapy was never Forson’s plan in life, although in hindsight it seems like it could have been.

He grew up in Las Vegas, one of three children and the only boy. His father was the director of the parks and recreation department for Clark County, and his mother was a homemaker.

He played countless sports, from soccer to skiing to fencing to diving. Forson even became a professional trampolinist and toured around the Pacific Northwest doing shows. He also helped his younger sister, who was developmentally delayed, train for the Special Olympics.

“She’s a great bowler,” he said.

That experience led him eventually to recreational therapy. However, he started out at Brigham Young University with a major in psychology, and he was studying “biofeedback.” It’s an area of study that involves hooking people up to a machine, much like the ones used in a polygraph test, and using the data from the machine to teach people to relax.

They can even learn to slow their own heart rates, Forson said. It can be helpful for people with test anxiety or gastrointestinal problems, for example.

A bachelor’s degree won’t get you very far in the field of psychology, he said, so when he heard about BYU’s master’s program in recreational therapy, it seemed like a great choice.

He had seen how sports had helped his sister flourish, and both sports and creative activities, such as leather working, had helped him cope with his own birth defect: no fingers on his left hand.

“I always feel sorry for people with fingers on their left hand. How do you tie your shoes?” He chuckles at his own joke.

Recreational therapy allowed him to do all the activities he loved, he said, and help people at the same time. The perfect fit.

“All the skills of life can be taught through recreational therapy, and that’s why I love it so much,” he said.

At first I made the sides of my bowl too thin. I pulled the clay up far too quickly and aggressively, stretching it too much, too fast. Thompson watched me and eventually helped me fix it. She also helped me slow down, showing me how to keep my fingers wet and gradually smooth out the bowl.

I had had a bad morning that day. I’d run late and been trapped behind a minivan doing 10 mph under the speed limit, which is a pet peeve of mine. I was tense and stressed out, although I would have said I was fine.

The clay knew I was not. All of my nervous energy came out through my fingers. As I followed Thompson’s instructions and slowed down, so did my heart rate and my thoughts. My mind calmed down, and my bowl looked a lot better.

I chatted with Thompson and with the patients. Stalheim told me how the seated clay man he created was inspired by Kronos, father of Zeus in Greek mythology. Purdy told me how he loves music therapy, having been a musician before, and how pottery has forced him to use an entirely different set of skills. Rhorer told me some about his recent breakup and two friends who helped him through it.

Everyone was calm, focused on what our hands were doing, and conversation flowed easily. I imagined what it would mean to be someone suffering from debilitating anxiety or schizophrenia to achieve that sense of mental peace, and what Forson said about recreational therapy started to make sense.

The class projects Forson’s patients take on run the gamut.

There is Stalheim’s miniature castle for a fish tank, which is essentially one round turret.

There are Rhorer’s intricate, detailed projects, from a Spongebob Squarepants (complete with eyelashes and fingers and toes), to a jewelry box that is really a set of interlocking boxes with tiny chambers for earrings and necklaces. He is the quietest of the three patients in the class, with long hair and a skull ring, easily imagined as the shy high school junior who plays Dungeons and Dragons over the weekend.

Inside that quiet exterior, however, is a creative mind come alive under Forson.

Thompson has worked with Forson for years, ever since he started in the children’s unit. He is patient and helpful, she said, but willing to let people try something new and make mistakes on their own.

Creativity is part of a healthy life, he said, and that is true for everyone. It allows self expression and focus, yes, but it also allows patients an opportunity to connect to the world, he said. People stay in the hospital for years, and they don’t hold jobs, manage families or join community activities while they’re there. That sense of isolation can work against therapy, Forson said, because it creates anxiety about how they fit into society at large.

“The most scary thing in the world is not knowing,” he said.

He teaches patients activities that can help them connect to the world when they leave, from pottery to yoga to hiking. Those activities can help them bond with others and find a healthy way to spend their time, he said.

Recreational therapy also provides patients a metaphor for their mental health treatment, he said. The act of creating something out of nothing but dirt and water takes time, takes small failures and setbacks, takes patience and making connections, Forson said. All of that can be a metaphor for the path toward recovery from a severe mental illness, and it often helps patients understand that path and why they can’t recover immediately.

While his job requires Forson to approach creativity and recreation as therapy, he said those leisure activities are crucial for all humans.

“We know we feel better when we take time for recreation, for recreating ourselves again,” he said.

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