SAMHSA Funds Groups That Contribute to Tragedy
(May 23, 2013) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) funds advocacy groups that oppose effective treatment laws and denies the existence of severe mental illness, which ultimately leads to tragedy. This was the message from parent and advocate Joe Bruce at a House subcommittee hearing this week examining the agency’s role in delivering services to people with severe mental illness.
Members of the panel were obviously moved and distressed as Bruce described how the Disability Rights Center of Maine (DCRM) – a SAMHSA funded group - successfully lobbied to have his severely ill son discharged from Riverview Psychiatric Center in Maine prematurely and without medication. Bruce’s wife, Amy, was killed by their son shortly after.
At every attempt to get Will into treatment, Bruce said patient advocates with the DCRM blocked his way. “The DCRM willfully neglected Will’s need for treatment and their pressure on the doctor to release Will led directly to Amy’s death,” he told the subcommittee.
Additionally, the DCRM “mounted a well-orchestrated lobbying attack on the proposed (assisted outpatient treatment) AOT law,” Bruce said would have made treatment possible for his son before the family tragedy. The bill promoted by the Treatment Advocacy Center eventually passed, and Maine became the 44th state in the nation with an AOT law. Bruce subsequently was honored with our Torrey Advocacy Commendation for his efforts on behalf of improving treatment laws in Maine.
Will ultimately was found not guilty by reason of insanity and still resides in the Riverview Psychiatric Center. Bruce, other witnesses including our founder, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, and subcommittee members decried the use of taxpayer dollars to prevent people like Will from getting the treatment they need.
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