Senate to Hear Testimony on Deinstitutionalization on Olmstead Act’s 13th Anniversary


Alabama Mental Health Commissioner Zelia Baugh is scheduled to testify before a U.S. Senate committee Thursday about community treatment of the mentally ill and disabled on the occasion of the Olmstead Act’s 13th anniversary. “We were chosen because of the work we’ve done as a state and agency for the last few years with regard to downsizing state hospitals, our focus on community care and our closing last year of the Partlow Developmental Center,” Baugh said in a Tuesday interview.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for closing down these State Psychiatric Hospitals. But what we’ve seen too often and it’s not mentioned in the article is the following dynamic.

    Reduction in State Psychiatric Hospitals = Increases in private psychiatric beds, increases in persons designated as “mentally ill” in the jails, increases in persons designated “mentally ill” as homeless and increases in persons designated “mentall ill receiving powerful psychotropics sometimes against their will (involuntary outpatient commitment).

    So please don’t be fooled by the rosey sounding headline. We need to ask more questions. And then more.

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