Advocates and Peers in Mental Health System Under Attack in Washington

From Bob Joondeph, Executive Director of Disability Rights Oregon

People with mental illness are the latest target for a Pennsylvania Congressman who wants to defund advocacy services and peer services and replace them with forced treatment. For almost 30 years, Disability Rights Oregon has fought for better hospital care and more community services. Let your member of Congress know why the voice of service recipients should not be silenced.

Pennsylvania Representative Tim Murphy

Pennsylvania Representative Tim Murphy

Disability Rights Oregon is a strong voice for the rights and safety of Oregonians with mental health diagnoses. For 27 years, thanks to funding from the federal Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act [PAIMI Act], we have worked closely with consumer/survivor/ex-patient groups and individuals, advocacy groups such as NAMI, MHAO, OFSN and others, to promote safe and effective inpatient services and quality community mental health supports and services.

Disability Rights Oregon has stood up to communities that have wanted to exclude people with mental health backgrounds from their neighborhoods. We have fought for improved community placements, adequate services in jails and prisons, humane police practices, timely crisis services, expanded services for children and families, and much more.

What is the PAIMI Act?
Who is Oregon’s PAIMI Council?

I am saddened to report that at least one member of Congress wants to silence our voice. Representative Tim Murphy has introduced a bill that would slash Disability Rights Oregon’s PAIMI Act funding by 85%. The bill is ironically called “The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” or HR 3717. Rep. Murphy contends taking away advocacy for the desires and aspirations of recipients of mental health services will improve their lives. Our experience in Oregon shows us nothing could be further from the truth.

People deemed to have a mental illness are often used as convenient scapegoats for social fears. Rep. Murphy has chosen to blame gun violence on those least able to defend themselves and to take away voluntary, evidence-based services and family supports that lead to recovery. In its place, the bill would heavily encourage the use of force and coercion that has been shown to be costly and ineffective. It also seeks to eliminate the voice of those who would be subjected to these misguided practices.

Help Disability Rights Oregon to promote safe and effective adult mental health services, housing opportunities, integration of health and mental health services, child, family and preventative services, employment opportunities and peer supports. Say no to a false connection between mental illness and violence. (Study after study shows that no such connection exists. In fact, individuals with mental illnesses are 11 times more likely to be victims of violence than the general public.) Help Oregon to build on our successes, not our fears.

Here’s what you can do to help – CONTACT, SIGN UP, LEARN MORE

CONTACT your congressional representative. Tell them NOT to support HR 3717.

Find out HERE who your congressional representative is. They only read and respond to their district constituents.

For Oregonians, our congressional delegation includes

1st district — Rep. Suzanne Bonamici [D] – EMAIL HER NOW
2nd district — Rep. Greg Walden [R] – EMAIL HIM NOW
3rd district — Rep. Earl Blumenauer [D] – EMAIL HIM NOW
4th district — Rep. Peter DeFazio [D] – EMAIL HIM NOW
5th district — Rep. Kurt Schrader [D] – EMAIL HIM NOW

SIGN A PETITION and TELL CONGRESS to protect mental health recovery programs and the human and civil rights of people with serious mental health conditions!

about the “The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” – Mental Health Advocates Blast Rep. Tim Murphy’s Bill as a Costly Step Backward, to the Days When a Mental Illness Diagnosis Was a Life Sentence, Bazelon Center