Mental illness awareness week TV Programs

Mental illness awareness week highlighted by program on Tucson TV station, 9/28/2009


Mental illness awareness week is October 4-10th. Media, organizations, and dedicated people are
providing lots of information on this important subject that affects our families.

During this week, many PBS stations will broadcast “Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness”.
The Tucson, Arizona schedule for this broadcast, on KUAT Channel 6 is Sunday Oct. 4, 2009,
at the following times: 5am, 11am, 6pm, 10pm.

Visit this website for information on this broadcast, including dates/times for other cities.



Top 8 Mental Illness Awareness areas (2009)


Top 8 Mental Illness Awareness areas:

1. Funding of prisons is much more costly than funding housing and therapy programs. We need to help these human beings before they wind up in trouble.
2. Many more caring people are needed for these jobs: case managers, group home managers/couples/teams, drivers, doctors, nurses, therapists, etc.
3. The impact of new medicines is phenomenal, these allow patients to come back to reality, and avoid psychotic acts.
4. Doctors and nurses need to gain awareness of the importance of improving communications with those intimately familiar with the patients, especially family members. Sometimes these poor ones cannot speak for themselves, or are in denial.
5. The need to create care options for mentally ill persons with no family left to look after them.
6. Teachers must be better informed to identify early signs of mental illness, and to stop persecution and stigma.
7. Better understanding of the feelings of mentally ill people is needed. Anyone can send stigma/persecution reports to Stella March at the NAMI address below.
8. Advocates are needed for reform of the mental health system, especially problem facilities lacking best practices, especially those without policies and procedures.

NAMI is the largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected  by mental illness. NAMI offers tools for grassroots action.

National Alliance on Mental Illness
3803 N. Fairfax Dr. Suite 100
Arlington, VA 22203

Toll free: (800)626-5022

Source: NAMI StigmaBuster Alert: September 22, 2009

Its time to get help, now what ?

acollier-article21Something is very wrong (again) Mom, the voices are telling me to do terrible things, and I really don’t know where I am at. I just want to die, its so frightening. (He has already overdosed medications and rushed to hospital twice from group homes, so he is at parents home, waiting for months for his new case manager to place him in a decent group home…)

What’s wrong, son ? Why did you just throw up ? My head hurts so bad, its another migraine. The voices are terrorizing me, and raping me.

Hold on son, we will call for help. We call SAMHC, at 520-622-6000, a newbie operator this time… (a part timer who is also a case manager for La Frontera, no less)

She says to take our son in to the ER ourselves, but we may not even be able to get him safely to a hospital. He could jump out of the car, or just decide not to cooperate. He doesn’t know where he is at at all. He thinks there are bad aliens attacking him in a war setting.

We call back SAMHC and ask for a manager. The manager then gets the SAMHC emergency response team and optionally, the police to respond, and BINGO, one time he gets an evaluation and a stay at the La Frontera in-patient psychiatric health facility, aka the PHF, a very small facility with only a few beds. Actually they are full, so they  put him into Casa Allegre first for a couple days, its a 7 bed boarding transition home, which is much better than the lice-infested  homeless shelter that La Frontera case management has placed active psychosis patients to spend the night.

Luckily, we in Tucson have SAMHC to respond and hold the system somewhat accountable.

But, now there is a new placement destination for in-patient psychiatric emergency care, the CRC (Crisis Response Center) at UPH South aka “Kino” hospital.

But if its a holiday, and they cannot reach a La Frontera case manager, they can just discharge without a serious evaluation, and won’t even contact those who know the patient (family or friends, or even SAMHC). Its quite a fall through the cracks, so its important to get to the hospital yourself to insure your sick one gets an evaluation. Bring proof that you are an authorized representative of your loved one, just a statement they can sign.

A program is available at UPH South called Epicenter, call 520-874-7531 for appointment, they provide group therapy, family member classes, and evaluations/assessments.

Also, an alternative to the CRC for in patient emergency psychiatric care is Palo Verde hospital, adjacent to TMC (Tucson Medical Center). They have had a mixed record, but won’t turn active psychosis patients away like the others do.

Finally, when La Frontera case management returns to work after the holiday, we still might not get even that first call back, or even a first appointment with our new latest case manager, who has not returned any calls for months since they were appointed to get living arrangements set up, and a psychiatric care plan, but most especially having contact with the patient’s authorized representatives (usually family). Case management is getting very poor, and getting worse, not better, in Tucson.

As Arizona taxpayers, we must know about CPSA’s multi-million dollar annual state taxpayer-funded budget, and that La Frontera is one of the contractor organizations along with the CRC, that are getting paid this money to provide case management and care so that society can feel safe from these patients just wandering around in danger to self or to others.

Case managers at La Frontera have said in the past few years, that they are overloaded, and that there are “cutbacks” in service. Once at a La Frontera appointment with a former case manager, we watched a homeless elderly woman in a wheelchair being turned away, as she was told to make an appointment to get service. They could have referred her to SAMHC, but they were not concerned.

CPSA personnel who oversee all this are not proactive even when ongoing problems are documented, they are sometimes responsive in crisis situations, and sometimes are not available for several days, with no backup.

Local Tucson hospital emergency rooms and jails continue to respond and take on greater burdens as the default stop for those mentally ill people falling through the cracks.

For big problems, CPSA has a grievance process that essentially allows them to collect information to cover their legal “behind”, while doing nothing of remedy, even when police reports of abuse are documented, and this is sanctioned all the way to the organization president, where there is no grievance appeal, other than a lawsuit, which is not easy when someone is mentally disabled.

Again, no matter the situation, SAMHC will partner with you to try for help in a crisis:
from SAMHC web site:

Individuals experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis may walk in to the Crisis Center, located at 2502 N. Dodge Boulevard (entrance on Flower Street) in Central Tucson from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.
Mobile teams are available 24/7 to respond to crises in the community and can be accessed by calling (520) 622-6000. SAMHC works closely and collaboratively with the public behavioral health system.

We hope your luck is better than ours. Please remember sometimes real health problems can compound an active psychosis, and their is virtually no plan at any Tucson facility we have worked with, to get normal health care follow up for psychiatric patients, especially obtaining critical prescription refills, or care for a contagious illness, to get them to a regular doctor or hospital from the psychiatric facilities.

One way to push back people is to document these events, and report to (phone) 911 (police) and the Arizona state medical board, and Adult Protective Services, when your loved one is subject to abuse and poor care.

Caring for mentally sick ones at home

acollier-article20a-72212We know the condition of group homes in Tucson, Arizona
is a mixed bag at best, but what about those parents and friends
caring the heavy load by themselves in the home care situation ?

First, your loved one is loosely “monitored” by the “system”, which
for you consists of a case manager funded by the government
and a nurse practitioner or doctor in the psychiatric field,
who prescribes your loved one’s medications to attempt to keep them
stable and even able to reside at home at times.

Unfortuately, in severe mental illnesses that involve psychosis,
emergencies can still occur, which result in the loved one
being taken to hospital or other support center, or the
case management and doctor’s office. Keep documentation of
treatment contacts, court ordered treatment history, and
anything that can show the care facility personnel the diagnosis
and/or the name of the illness, etc. Otherwise, an evaluation
will need to be completed at the hospital’s psychiatric wing,
or other psychiatric facility, eg. SAMHC, Palo Verde, etc.

The sort of psychosis that can lead to someone being a
real danger to self or to others, will need to be managed
from home by calls to 911 or SAMHC 24 hours, 7 days a week
support help line: 520-622-6000.

When these special needs situations happen, it could be
at any time, especially the middle of the night, so someone
who works a regular schedule may lose sleep. One suggestion
is going to bed early, to allow for some up time for special
needs people, to wake you up a few times per night.

Some reasons why these poor sick loved ones get up at night ?
Its dark, and they get scared. They want or need company or just
some talk with someone who cares to really listen.

The special needs person may be needing meds for
anxiety or for their specific psychiatric condition. They may be ready
for a problem situation to (finally) be resolved in a trip to a help
center, or the hospital. If this situation is ignored, something bad or dangerous
could begin to get worse.

Close monitoring is needed when the loved one is “out there”,
and not present very much in “reality”, and so someone
will need to watch them nearly constantly, at least they cannot
be left alone at home to fend for themselves.

Needless to say, any weapons in the home (for self defense) must be locked,
and mentally ill persons must be prevented from accessing any items
of danger. Keep medications locked !

This is a big topic, discuss this with your loved one’s case
manager and doctor, and call SAMHC anytime, or NAMI Tucson office,
for more ideas and support for taking on this serious task
of caring for your poor baby (of any age) at home, your courage is large
to undertake such self-less love to care for someone who
may not always be tuned in to our world, and might be frightened
of our reality. They need your loving attention, and if you listen
in a very careful way, you will hear their thank you, gratitude and love.

Hang in there guys ! With the recent tragedies in metro Tucson and Denver,
more resources and ideas for proper care should come forth, and hopefully
reduce the need for home care for the severely mentally sick.

Tucson US District Judge postpones Jared Loughner competency hearing this month

Today the Associated Press reported that a status hearing on the competency of Jared Loughner has been pushed back until early August 2012.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns rescheduled Loughner’s status hearing to Aug. 7 to determine whether Loughner will stand trial for the Tucson shooting in January 2011.

Psychiatric medication may help stabilize a mentally ill person for a period of time, ranging from weeks to a few years. In local Tucson cases we have been involved in, its very illusive to get medications to work more than a few years, then its back to square one, danger to self and others.

Many, many mentally ill patients are currently unstable, even with meds, this is a big problem in our country, and in Tucson too.

Our local crisis response centers are not even stabilizing these patients anymore before they are released, its a bad situation.

Its only a matter of time before another cry for help is ignored unto suicide or worse.

Our tax dollars should at least work to keep us safe. If you agree, tell your legislators,
and write and file grievances with your case management, and the care providers.

Thanks guys (caregivers and patients trying to get help) for hanging in there, we are trying to get the word out about your situation. Its usually a miracle for a mentally ill person to even recognize they have a problem ! Most don’t.

Even if the judge could (by court order) medicate someone into holding together for a trial, its a denial of the facts about how far those medications can go. A year is plenty of time to see if medications were needed or not, and if they worked or not.

Maybe Loughner is a sane criminal fanatic too. We don’t see the mentally ill going so far
normally, but then again… My writings here are a warning that some of our mental illness problems in Tucson are indeed out of control.

Anyway, the judge has the tough job to decide now, and not kick the can down the road using hopeful medication scenarios, running up the bill for taxpayers.

Prayers do work, lets get going !

Here are my friends at the legislature who are sending a lot of money (millions) to the providers, eg. CPSA:

Honorable Cecil Ash, House Health Committee Chair:

Honorable Nancy Barto, Seante Health Committe Chair:

Dental Care Needed for Mentally Ill

nee-new2In Tucson, many special needs “young and old kids” have had practically no dental care
for years. This is a urgent call to anyone to share with us, how to get your special needs loved one to agree to go to the dentist, for just routine visits (exam and X-rays are free here in Tucson – one per person).

Please email us, and we will publish your tips to help others, before its too late, and they get false teeth or worse at half the normal age.

Routine visits (dental exam once per year, cleanings once or twice per year) are proven
to reduce dental problems such as painful, expensive emergency work. Mentally ill people
cannot communicate well in such situations, and could become very difficult to deal
with. Let’s not allow this situation to deteriorate any further, share your ideas, which
are sorely needed (thanks guys).

Some causes of psychosis can be traced to painful dental
conditions, and so affect general public safety, since violent, manic or even paranoid psychosis and depression are problems that seems to be surfacing all too frequently in this town. Ask your local Pima county library staff downtown, who deal with many homeless mentally ill people of all ages day after day, its way out of hand.

Its sad to see their teeth in advanced decay when they smile, further reducing their ability to recover and relate to others, accept potential employment, and so on.  Or else it adds to our jail funding health costs, since many mentally ill homeless are shuffled in and out of the systems, which are already overwhelmed.

Mental Illness Awareness Issues for 2012

nee-pix1loveThere are many disabled and mentally ill citizens that have had to live in these
so called group homes that have been around for years in Tucson.
And to be honest, they are not up to standard and run right. You have street people
and people just released from jail, or coming in off the streets into their “halfway house” mode.
Such people who shouldn’t be mixed with the disabled or mentally ill, are having to live
with these kinds of people, Yes, I know we all need a place to live. But, mixing all these
kinds of groups of people together is and has been a big problem, as we have heard and seen.

Problems like these are happening in Tucson:
1. Medications are being stolen and re-sold on the streets, leaving mentally ill people in psychoses, which is danger to self and to others. A police report has to be done and forwarded to patient’s doctors, to be able to get their medications refilled again. And the patient has to go without their medications for a few days, which causes them grief and suffering. And God help the mentally disabled to perform this process, or to get someone else to help them report and do all that. No family or friends ? No help. Can’t communicate well ? No help.

2. Money, clothing and food is stolen which is just not right. Street people are preying
on our vulnerable citizens. They are being taken advantage of, and pressured in so many ways, including receiving blows, or other violent attacks.

3. Intimidation against reporting problems. Over and over, these poor people are being
abused, and are afraid to say so. A lot of them are afraid while living in these group
homes, to the point of having to find another group home that is better. Then having to
depend on getting a good case worker to help get this done. The case workers rarely
visit a group home prior to placing a client there. So they get whatever they get.
Case workers are working for you, the taxpayer, by the way.

4. 2-3 meals a day is a best case. Its very sad when there’s not enough food to go around,
since those who get to the food first, leave none for those slower than themselves.
The home manager usually does not regulate the food to insure each gets fed properly. So some just go without dinner, day after day.

5. Rent around $600 per month including room and board (meals) is typical now, with
4-5 people in a room, or 2 to a room in a lucky case. Lucky too, if you get cable TV and warm water.

The better situations are when its known by group manager, that a friend or family member is checking on the person. Otherwise the abuse is much greater, and many managers are mentally ill clients themselves (no kidding !). Some have no transportation to get urgent needs met, and depend on a landlord of several group homes, to deliver food, or pickup medicine or personal items.

Tucson desperately needs more and better group homes now ! Group homes that are safe, clean and run right would offer our community a better way forward.

When there is no one left to care for them, or they are abused or ignored, we have
seen the horror stories, and our jails hold many of these people (for a while anyway)…

Eventually, our safety suffers, when those abused lash out, or come into contact
with the rest of us in a violent psychotic reponse.

Those in our government must take some responsibility, since they control zoning
which limits the housing options for larger groups of disabled americans.
The concept of a large group of unrelated people living together in a very large
home (greater than 5 bedrooms) is restricted, for no good reason.

As our mentally ill people are being released into Tucson, more and more without being
stabilized, psychotic behavior related problems will continue to increase
and shock our society here, and where ever else this problem continues
to be ignored.

Caregiver Improvements Needed in Tucson

article16Caregivers need to treat disabled with some dignity in Tucson.

Disabled mentally challenged patients need extra attention
from Tucson doctors and other health professionals.

In Tucson now, its hard for many mentally disabled children
and adults to even get to the caregivers, period.

When they finally get lucky enough to get transported to a doctors or dentists
office, usually a free clinic like El Rio (thanks guys !)
the real challenge just begins, which can affect the future
history of the patient ever going to a doctor again,
let alone really improve long term health problems they may have.

Communications with someone like this, who has no relatives present
is almost impossible, unless the caregiver at least
knows how to spot and recognize the person is mentally disabled,
and, if the patient is frightened, they can minimize necessary communications.
Nothing gets discussed, let alone solved.

This is time for the caregiver to contact a person who knows
the patient, for example a family member, group home manager,
mental health crisis personnel (eg. SAMHC), or anyone who has
had contact with the patient (even police escorts).

Unfortunately, the family members, when they are present with the patient
at the clinic, hospital or other care facility, are ignored, or not taken
seriously. The new CRC (Crisis Response Center) at UMC South (Kino) ignores
remote family communications (eg. phone calls and faxes), and “loses” patients.)

Our humanity means we care, how can we show we care, and fulfil
the doctor’s hypocratic oath, if the situation is rushed,
and treatment not done in a thoughtful manner, and at least
try our best to provide needed treatment and summary information to
other caregivers, eg. even just a note to the persons caring
for the patient, and hopefully the patient’s case manager.

The treatment of mentally challenged loved ones, must consider
the long term future, and whether the person has been treated with
fairness, and patience, in a manner that they will want to return
to the treatment settings, office, hospital emergency rooms
urgent care centers, etc.

Currently in Tucson, this is not happening as the normal thing, but is the
rare exception, lets congratulate and praise those trying their
best, and encourage all to resolve to address the special needs
of these patients, our loved ones.

Listening and taking notes is not just professional, its required
as competent care. Bad record keeping is very common, and getting
copies of records is problematic.

When we all encourage those involved to take an extra minute or
two to do the job right, and treat these people as “customers that come first”, then
mutual respect and trust can happen.

Those that love their adversaries are wise since converting an adversary
to a friend is challenging, but very worthwhile.

Again thanks to those who care. God bless those you love and those you don’t !

Mental Illness Awareness Issues for 2011

acollier-article12Thanks to all who have chosen the mental health profession, and all caregivers for doing so much to improve the safety and welfare of society in general. This is crucial for our safety.

Its apparent that the following issues will support the mentally ill and society in dealing with this crisis.

Thanks also to law enforcement who are housing the mentally ill in the jails, and who
are the current safety net. Your voices are being heard about jailing the mentally ill, the needless violence, and the daily red flags of people in psychosis. You are speaking in the news about prevention, and the costs of ignoring this continuing problem.

Finally, comparing our list of the past two years, many issues are now addressed, so progress is being made by our Tucson families.

And so here are our list of mental illness awareness issues for 2011.

2011 Mental Illness Awareness Issues

1. Unlicensed group homes conditions are generally unhealthy, need regular oversight and inspections by case managers and CPSA (taxpayer funded management for this). We are all paying for this, and this is the single largest problem area. Thanks to the few good homes out there.

2. Need for new housing solution for mentally ill. When they can pool their disability checks, they can afford to live in a mansion and hire security, nursing, and caregivers. This is currently stymied by Pima county zoning rules, and will require state of Arizona legislation to allow this to happen.

3. Food stamps are available for the mentally ill, about $26 per week. Case managers should help them to apply. Group homes are on a low food budget, and the patients are spending their few extra dollars for food. Group home managers should consider helping the mentally ill clients get food stamps to supplement the food situation.

4. Family members are being blown off by doctors. The mentally ill cannot express themselves well, and when family is trying to reach a doctor to provide the information, doctors refuse to return calls, and then can make serious mistakes not knowing medication allergies etc. This has been a problem for years in Tucson, especially at hospitals.

5. Day labor is available for the mentally ill, even those with criminal records. The clients need to have someone organize to get them to the day labor locations early around 5:30am to get work for a day.

6. Patient advocates are available to resolve complaints at the hospitals, and should be contacted when care is lacking in quality. No one should be left in pain, that is per US government guidelines.

7. Mobile meals of Tucson needs volunteers.

8. Nightly bed bug checks at all facilities is now recommended, the problem is spreading in Tucson group homes, and other facilities used by clients.

9. You can choose your destination hospital, its not up to the ambulance driver !

10. There are no good functioning psychiatric wards in Tucson hospitals, and no place to detox in a safe way. TMC has a cold turkey room with very poor supervision. Stay away ! The best is Kino, but they have communication problems.

11. SAMHC (Phone 520-622-6000) is the best 24 hour help system, but sometimes you can get an inexperienced helper, if so, ask for a manager and dont give up ! They will get help to pickup your loved one with or without police, just be prepared to explain the danger to self or others by making a list of what the mentally ill client is doing out of normal, or if they have stopped taking their medications.

12. Payees scandal – Tucson court case ongoing where disability check payees were stealing from clients. Suggest case managers check that payees are paying clients utility bills.

13. Group homes need to run police checks on all tenants before allowing them to come in. Until this is done, there is a dangerous situation with sexual assaults, thefts, and fugitives.

14. Computer games are increasing violence and worsening mental illness. Same for loud music in sub woofers. Sony announced warnings of seizures when playing their games. Nintendo warned in 12/2010 that young children can get eyesight damage when playing their handheld games.

15. Some group homes only have one manager 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. A minimum of two managers are needed to provide time off. Until then, there is unsupervised time when the manager just takes off. This is dangerous, since clients with active psychosis are being released to these group homes.

16. Group homes should provide some medication oversight-checking to monitor that medications are being taken, and report to case managers when clients are refusing medications, before danger happens.

17. Prayers and actions are working in Tucson ! Thanks guys, you are giving gifts of love.

Immoral Activity at Catholic Hospitals

nee-pix2The newspaper of the Catholic Bishop Thomas Olmstead in Phoenix, AZ, the Catholic Sun reported today that San Francisco based Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) hospitals in the Phoenix area, including St. Joseph’s Hospital are not really Catholic, and that prolifers and Christians should beware of the actions being taken at these facilities against Christian morality.

We are waiting comment from Tucson Bishop Kicanis regarding also condemning CHW hospitals in Tucson which include St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s, Tucson Heart Hospital and others.

Bishop Olmstead also revealed that Mercy Care, the Arizona Medicaid AHCCCS contractor is also responsible for these same activities, and is Arizona taxpayer funded.

The report said:

“Through its involvement in the Mercy Care Plan, the bishop said CHW has been responsible for a litany of practices in direct conflict with Catholic teaching. These include: contraceptive counseling, provision of various forms of contraception, voluntary sterilization, and abortions “. This includes abortifacient birth control pills linked to breast cancer. This includes abortion pills, also known as “Morning After” pills that kill babies. The pain experienced by babies in the womb is well documented.

Governor Jan Brewer, a prolifer, may well see these as prime targets for AHCCCS funding cuts, since the prolife voting majority in Arizona does not want to fund these immoral actions.