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Rally to Protect DMH funded Clubhouses & Community Mental Health Services

Thursday, April 7th 11:30 a.m.

In front of the Statehouse, Boston, MA

Governor Patrick’s Administration proposed a $3 million cut for vital Adult Community Mental Health Services (the 5046-0000 line item in FY12).

This cut will eliminate 17% of the funding for rehabilitative community mental health Clubhouse employment and recovery centers statewide that serve over 8,300 adults who have serious and persistent mental illness.

This will hurt thousands of people who are working to recover from mental illness as well as their loved ones.

In addition the governor has proposed a $2 million dollar cut to DMH Children’s Services (the 5042-5000 line item in FY12).

This will impact 176 children and families who would lose their DMH services

Join us as we educate our legislators on the vital importance of protecting DMH funding

Organizations in support of this effort include:

Association for Behavioral Healthcare

Massachusetts Association for Mental Health

Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems

Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition

Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers

Massachusetts Disability Policy Consortium

Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery

Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

Massachusetts Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association

Massachusetts Psychiatric Society

Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee

Nurses United for Responsible Services

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts

The National Empowerment Center

The Transformation Center

DMH Task Force on Staff and Client Safety Public Hearings April 2011

Dept. of Mental Health Task Force on Staff and Client Safety

Public Hearings

April 2011

The purpose of the Department of Mental Health (DMH) Task Force on Staff and Client Safety (Task Force) is to review and systematically assess current policies and practices relative to staff and client safety in the DMH Community System of Care.

Convened by DMH Commissioner Barbara A. Leadholm, M.S., M.B.A., the Task Force is charged with reviewing a number of issues around safety and training related to the DMH community system and making recommendations to the commissioner based on that review.

In the framework of the Department’s vision of Community First, DMH is committed to the safety of the dedicated workforce that provides services and supports to DMH consumers in the community and hospital. DMH places a high priority on helping staff be appropriately trained and informed, recognizing that there are challenges to meeting the needs of consumers and to the responsibility related to public safety. Ongoing review is an important aspect of a consumer-centered and recovery-oriented system of mental health care.

As part of the work of the Task Force, a series of public hearing will be held in several locations across the state. The Task Force invites the public to provide comments on the following:

  1. How should the Department incorporate issues of Staff and Client safety in its vision of Community First?
  2. How can the Department and providers continue to develop systems that enhance the safety of the DMH Community Service System?
  3. At what points in the community service system can training on safety and risk management practices be improved?

The Task Force will hold four public hearings to receive comments on the following dates and locations:

Date Time Location
Tuesday, April 5 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Central MA  

Fitchburg State University

Kent Recital Hall

Conlon Fine Arts Building

Located at the Corner of Ross and North Streets

160 Pearl Street

Fitchburg, MA 01420


Parking:  Weston and Ross Street Lots

Monday, April 11 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Western MA 

Springfield Technical Community College


Scibelli Hall

One Armory Square STE 1
Springfield, MA 01102

Wednesday, April 13 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Southeastern MA 

New Bedford Public Library

613 Pleasant Street

New Bedford, MA 02740

Thursday, April 14 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Boston 

Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center


85 East Newton Street

Boston, MA 02118


The deadline for receipt of written comments is Friday, April 22 by 4:00 p.m. Comments can be submitted electronically to SafetyTaskForce@umassmed.edu

Hardcopy comments must be submitted to:

The Dept. of Mental Health Task Force on Staff and Client Safety

c/o Michelle Cormier

Dept. of Mental Health Central Office

25 Staniford St., Boston, MA  02114

NOTE:  Written comments can be anonymous.

For Special Accommodations (e.g. deaf/hard of hearing interpreter services) at the hearing venues, please contact Michelle Cormier at 617-626-8118 or michelle.cormier@massmail.state.ma.us

If you have someone in your life with a mental illness (including yourself) please remember them … – Guest blog post

If you have someone in your life with a mental illness (including yourself) please remember them … by Joy Clark, guest blogger

I remember when I started slipping this time around it wasn’t just me who slipped. It was my friends and family; they slipped away one by one!

First, it was the dinner invites (thank heaven), then craft days (sad), gym dates (sadder still) and finally phone calls and emails. Until I was left, alone, with this power in me – no, scratch that – this power OVER me, that reminded me that I was worthless and deserved every evil thing I did to myself. Every meal skipped was punishment, every mile logged a reminder that I was far away from being someone who was cared for or, for that matter able to be cared about.

***I am going to stop myself here to interject that I do have a husband who stood and continues to stand by my side.

I DID and DO have a couple friends who reached out and, when I couldn’t reach back, came and strode beside me.

I also still have a couple friends who, to this day call and come over and probably know of nothing being wrong because my job to them is to be their friend (a role I am okay with so don’t think this is pitiful).

I do have friends I have made in inpatient hospitalization and at residential treatment who daily amaze me!

I want to touch on a couple of these before I get to my point here.

Hubster = great guy who REALLY doesn’t see evil in this world, so to him I’m not sick and it is not something we discuss.

Friends who have reached out and supported (Laura & k) me = there was a period where I thought that they hated/were ashamed of me. That was the eating disorder talking and for a year I was convinced hook line and sinker! A single hug from k (aka the world’s best hugger and the only person who has permission to hug me whenever) and a gentle invitation from l with honesty and kindness for thanksgiving broke those walls for me (okay that and they think pupster is cute!)

Friends who never know = this is a hard one for me, part of me loves it and then part of me gets to the “where is the back and forth in this relationship?”

And lastly new friends who only know “crazy joy” I often wonder if (when??) I get better, will they still love me? Or is our desire to injure our bodies, minds, and souls our bond? I believe with a couple it is but I am pretty sure at least 2 (l and n) are for keepers!

This brings me to today. Today, I sat in a church and cried silent tears while in the company of 4 others. Let me repeat that: 4 OTHER PEOPLE as my cousin Joe was laid to rest!

Joe was wonderful, and sweet, and literal, and loved to dance (he has been taking ballroom dancing for years) He truly lived the simple life; he had childlike virtues and gentleness. You couldn’t help but love him! Joe was crazy, he was, I guess you’d say, clinically insane.

As I sat there I was brought to my own funeral – would the handful come, probably. Would those who had been my “best friends” for years? Or would the stigma of loving someone like Joe, like me, maybe even like you, keep them away? I don’t know and honestly, I don’t want to know.

I started out being very sad with these thoughts and the turnout and then a little bit of Joe reached me. I decided that those people he has danced with for years, well this week they’ll dance for him. And his girlfriend well, I am sure there’s a smile or two that will leave her face and land on his. And my sisters, shame on them, I hope they remember that nobody chooses insanity. But I still hope they can send a thought, a prayer, a laugh or a kiss up to an old friend with a child’s light!

So I leave with this request: if you have someone in your life with a mental illness (including yourself) please remember them. Cards, phone calls, emails and visits are relatively cheap and yet priceless!

You can read more of Joy’s blog here: http://privatelyiamjoy.blogspot.com/

Parents of children with Bipolar Disorder and Childhood Onset Schizophrenia tell common stories

Parents of children with Bipolar Disorder and Childhood Onset Schizophrenia tell common stories … by Chrisa Hickey

I’ll never forget the day my son’s therapist told me he needed to be hospitalized.  He was 11 years old and had spent his entire life vacillating between extreme happiness and extreme rage.  He heard voices and saw things no one else could.  Pediatricians and neurologists and developmental specialists had told us he was autistic.  That he had a sensory perception disorder.  That he was speech delayed.  That he had Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  No one had suggested psychiatric hospitalization before.  I asked her why he needed it and she said gently, her hand on my hand, “because I believe Tim has a serious mental illness.  He needs evaluation and medication.”  She let it sink in for a few minutes before delivering the hardest blow.  “This most likely won’t be his only hospitalization,” she whispered.  And so began our foray into the world of childhood onset Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Type.

It’s a confusing world, to be certain, and our experience is far from unusual.  Parents of children with Bipolar Disorder and Childhood Onset Schizophrenia tell common stories about doctors refusing to diagnose for fear of the stigma of a severe mental illness on a child’s “permanent record.”  If you can find a child psychiatrist, many of them don’t believe these conditions can exist in children.    Most psychiatric medications aren’t tested or approved for use with kids.  Schools don’t know how to educate or manage these children, and other parents fear having them around their neurotypical sons and daughters.  The compounding of all of these obstacles, coupled with the unpredictable rage that is a common symptom of pediatric mental illnesses forces many families of these children into a self-imposed isolation.  Parents and siblings are often diagnosed with depression and PTSD themselves from the chaos that home life with a severely mentally ill child can become.

For my family, it was just such a roller coaster.  Tim was hospitalized 12 times between 2006 and 2009 for a total of 300 days inpatient.  He attempted suicide twice.  He was shuffled between five different therapeutic day schools as he proved too much to handle for each.  We went through five child psychiatrists until we found one that would work with us, rather than talk at us.  When we finally gave in to meds we went through more than 20 different combinations before finding one that helped.  And after our daughter was diagnosed with PTSD, I was being treated for depression, and six visits from the sheriff in less than six months, our doctor helped us find a residential treatment program for Tim, where he’s been since August 2009.  We’re one of the lucky families, living in a state that provides such services for children like Tim.  Many of the other families we’ve met through the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter don’t have the state services or personal resources for such intense treatment.  And with more and more research finding that mental health issues often show initial symptoms in childhood, this is a crisis that needs focus from the entire mental health community.  Many of our children can lead happy and productive lives if the resources to treat them and support their families are made available.

Visit Chrisa Hickey’s blog, The Mindstorm: Raising a Mentally Ill Child, at http://www.chrisahickey.com

New Report: Massachusetts has cut mental health by $ 63.5 million over three years; budget squeeze expected to increase


March 9, 2011

Contact: Lynda Michaud Cutrell

LyndaMHD@yahoo.com or Phone: 617-592-5625

New Report: Massachusetts has cut mental health by $ 63.5 million over three years; budget squeeze expected to increase

Massachusetts has cut state mental health care by 9.35 percent from fiscal years 2009 to 2011—ranking 16th in the nation proportionately, according to a national report released today by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Overall, two-thirds of states have cut mental health services, even while the need has increased due to the nation’s economic distress and our troops returning home from war.

The total decrease in Massachusetts during the three-year period was $ 63.5 million. Budget pressure is expected to be tighter after federal Medicaid support expires in June 2011.

“Cutting mental health is penny-wise and pound-foolish,” said Laurie Martinelli, Executive Director of NAMI Mass. “Costs are shifted to emergency rooms, police, local courts, jails and prisons. The taxpayer still gets the bill and it often costs more than treatment would have.”

“Mental health cuts mean that clinics, crisis centers and hospitals are not available, admissions are frozen and psyche-emergency room visits increase. Even where services remain, the staff has been cut, wait times for appointments are stretched and when people are finally seen, it’s for shorter amounts of time, and is then ineffective.”

“Budget cuts mean people don’t get help in the right place at the right time,” Martinelli said. “Local communities suffer, and sadly, families often break under this strain. Some people end up on the street, or in jail.”

See www.nami.org/budgetcuts for the full report and state by state tables.

Lindsey Wilson Gamage from Manchester, Mass, says her son Jeff has already been impacted from the last round of Department of Mental Health (DMH) cuts. Lindsey Wilson Gamage said, “My son, Jeff, age 28, was headed toward a positive functional recovery, attending classes at Boston University’s recovery program and spending two days a week at a vocational program.” When someone is young and struggling to work around their mental illness symptoms, it is support and focused activities that are the proven method to regaining an independent functional life. The vocational program was cut, as were most of Jeff’s community supports, and he now spends his days alone in his apartment. Gamage concluded, “Cutting these programs almost insures young folks will not have an early recovery and linger longer on public support.”

The NAMI report is based on the best data available to date, focusing on mental health services financed by state general funds through state mental health agencies.

“Decisions need to be made carefully rather than putting mental health on the chopping block,” Martinelli said. If done right, the state budget crisis can still be turned into opportunity.”

The report makes five recommendations:

  • Maintain adequate hospital beds for psychiatric care and treatment.
  • Protect and strengthen mental health programs, tying funding to performance.
  • Invest in early detection and intervention of mental illness, in both youth and adults. Onset of schizophrenia and Bi-Polar is typically ages 16 – 25.
  • Implement mental health screening and assessment programs.
  • Support widespread family and public education about mental illness.

# # #


Save Mental Health Care!

Annual Legislative Advocacy Day
Thursday, March 31, 2011
10:00 AM – 2 PM
State House, Nurses Hall

Advocacy Event – Presentation and Lunch 10 am – 12:30 pm

  • Representative Elizabeth A. Malia, Co-Chair Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse
  • Senator John Keenan, Co-Chair Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse
  • NAMI member:  Bob Antonioni (former State Senator)
  • Joe Giannino, NAMI Massachusetts Legislative Affairs
  • Laurie Martinelli, NAMI Massachusetts Executive Director

Meeting with Legislators 1 – 2 pm

  • Meeting with your individual legislators (We encourage you to set up meetings prior to Advocacy).
  • Meetings with key committees (to be set up by NAMI Massachusetts).

Register online: http://namimassadvocacy2011-autohome.eventbrite.com/

If you need an accommodation (e.g., ASL), please contact
Catia Sharp at 781-938-4048 or csharp@namimass.org.

400 West Cummings Park, Suite 6650
Woburn, MA 01801

Get involved with this event! For more information please contact
Catia Sharp at 781-938-4048 or csharp@namimass.org

Message from Commissioner Barbara Leadholm

Message from
Commissioner Barbara Leadholm, M.S., M.B.A
Department of Mental Health
March 2, 2011

Last week Secretary Bigby announced a new initiative to improve the service delivery system for children and families seeking assistance from agencies within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Over the past several years, there have been many forums in which families, advocates, agency staff and stakeholders have encouraged the Patrick-Murray Administration to create better service integration, care coordination and a unified service access point. Governor Patrick has heard these requests and has asked leaders within the Administration to pursue a process involving a broad range of stakeholders to define how to reform the Commonwealth’s services for children and families. Under Secretary Bigby’s direction and leadership, we will begin a very thorough and thoughtful process for determining how best to pursue this opportunity to improve services for children and families.

As we begin this work, I am interested in hearing your ideas for how the Commonwealth can better meet the needs and improve outcomes for the children and families we serve. During this planning process, there will be many opportunities for your voice to be heard. In the coming weeks, I will be meeting with DMH staff in our Areas to share the most current information on this initiative and provide an opportunity for open dialogue on how to integrate services for children and families. I will keep you informed of dates, times and locations of these meetings; please watch for email messages from me.

We will also take the opportunity to do the same for our stakeholder organizations and citizen boards during standing meetings of these groups and boards in the coming weeks and months. It is important to remember that this is very much the beginning of a major initiative. As it develops, I will strive to keep everyone informed and the lines of communications open.

As Secretary Bigby stated in her message, state employees, so many of whom are on the “front lines” of service delivery, will play an integral role as we refine our plans and engage union leadership throughout this process. I encourage you to send your suggestions and concerns by email to dmhcommissionersoffice@state.ma.us. I welcome your input and feedback and will be in touch with you again soon with more information about this process.

Meanwhile, we will continue to do our jobs, support consumers and families and continue to create opportunities for recovery and hope. I thank you for your dedicated service to individuals with serious mental illness.

Commissioner Leadholm

A Message from Secretary Judy Ann Bigby, EOHHS

A Message from Secretary Judy Ann Bigby

Executive Office of Health and Human Services

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to follow up on an email I sent to you last week regarding our ongoing efforts to improve the services and supports we offer to children, youth and families across our agencies.  As I mentioned in my previous email, a broad range of stakeholders including staff, advocates, consumers and legislators have been clear about their belief that we can and must design a more holistic approach to service delivery for children, youth and families one that offers supports that are more integrated and coordinated.  You, as state employees, will be an integral part of our work to better serve families.

We are committed to developing an integrated system that offers:

  • Ease of access via a single point of entry.
  • Optimal responsiveness Families needs are not isolated to categorical eligibility; families want services that respond to their evolving needs.
  • Continuity of Care through integration and coordination of services and treatment approaches.
  • Service optimization through monitoring outcomes in a holistic manner.
  • Resource maximization through a single management, accountability and oversight structures and processes

As a starting point for discussions with advocates, legislators, state government partners, unions, employees, and other stakeholders, we are proposing the creation of a new agency charged with offering integrated and coordinated service delivery and case management.  The agency would be comprised of three divisions: 1) Child Wellness, Development and Behavioral Health; 2) Juvenile Justice; and 3) Child Welfare.  We also propose establishing Family Access Centers throughout the Commonwealth to function as a community-based front door to information and referral for clients and propose to repurpose existing resource centers that now currently exist across agencies.  The agency and its three divisions would share administrative services and operational supports.  We also anticipate creating an Advisory Commission, consisting of a broad array of stakeholders, to help craft the implementation plan; recommend best fit solutions for certain specialty services; and guide the first two years of the implementation.  We also propose an interagency working group composed of staff from different state agencies to guide this process.

It is important to note that we do not see this as a cost-saving exercise and do not expect the redesign to impact staffing or funding levels.  Rather, this effort is rooted in our commitment to doing everything we can to serve consumers better.  We recognize that this is a significant undertaking that will require significant collaboration.  We look forward to engaging in a thorough and thoughtful series of discussions about ideas for improving service delivery for children, youth and families.  State employees, so many of whom are on the front lines of service delivery, will play a key role as we refine our plans, and I welcome your input and feedback.  We will keep you informed about opportunities to engage with your agency head and representatives of the Executive Office about your perspectives.

In the meantime, thank you for the work you do each and every day.

Judy Ann Bigby, M.D., Secretary, Executive Office of Health and Human Services

One Ashburton Place, Suite 1109, Boston, MA 02108

617 573-1800

Assistant: Mary Skahen (mary.skahen@state.ma.us)