“Murphy Bill” Continues to Exclude Voices of Millions with Mental Health Conditions as It Moves to Full Committee

On November 4, the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up an amended version of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (H.R. 2646), introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). However, the bill still does not reflect the voices or meet the needs of millions of Americans with mental health conditions, said the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR).

“The Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee failed to incorporate our recommendations,” said Daniel B. Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., Board President of NCMHR, which represents people diagnosed with mental health conditions and their organizations. “Our Coalition strongly urges Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Energy and Commerce Committee Chair, to incorporate the recommendations of our community in the next version of H.R. 2646, as advocated by President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, of which I was a member.”

Dr. Fisher said that NCMHR continues to have very serious concerns about the amended bill. “It still gravely impairs the functioning of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), violates civil rights by advancing assisted outpatient treatment without exploring better alternatives and by loosening HIPAA, removes many legal protections for persons with disabilities by changes to the federal Protection and Advocacy program, forces peer supporters into an overly clinical role, and weakens states’ ability to serve their most vulnerable citizens by having the federal government dictate state mental health policy.

“We, individuals who’ve been diagnosed with such serious mental health conditions as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, have been disenfranchised,” he continued, “because H.R. 2646 has been written without the involvement of persons in recovery from mental health conditions.”

NCMHR’s recommendations include strengthening SAMHSA so it can promote:

  • Supported employment and supported education approaches, which need to be further developed, taught, and reimbursed;
  • Need-Adapted and Open Dialogue approaches to team decision making that include the family and the consumer, and that allow communication with families without HIPAA violations;
  • Peers’ playing a central role in treatment and support, which will require new reimbursement structures for non-clinical roles for peers, training of peers in recovery-based approaches, and expanding state networks and national consumer-run technical assistance centers to support these changes;
  • Development of crisis alternatives to hospitalization, including peer-run telephone support, peer-run and non-peer-run crisis respites, and crisis stabilization units;
  • The capacity of the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness program to protect the rights of individuals with mental health conditions, as mandated;
  • Increased representation of individuals with mental health conditions and family members in the activities of HR 2646’s Mental Health Policy Laboratory.

NCMHR is a national voice for 31 statewide consumer organizations, consumer-run technical assistance centers, and associated organizations in the decisions affecting our lives.

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  1. We need precise information about the legislative specifics. We need leadership and emergency organizing and, in the current vacuum of survivor organizations capable of this, I feel that it is incumbent upon MIA to find at least one staff member to keep people constantly informed about Murphy’s status and to let people know in a step-by-step way what we should do, who we should call, even their office numbers, as it is clear that politically speaking MIA folk are in the infantile stage as far as political organizing goes. This is not meant to be insulting, it is just a fact we need to deal with.

    Maybe there could be a “Murphy Watch” box on the home page updated daily?

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    • completely agree. And it concerns me when I see that the Treatment Advocacy Center (talk about a misnomer) is so organized in this regard. Actually, that’s where I got information that the bill was moving forward and which congressmen were on the subcommittee, their phone numbers, etc. The TAC supporters were out in large numbers calling/leaving facebook messages for the congressmen involved and we need to match these efforts.

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      • “Treatment Advocacy Center” was new to me in Australia, so i checked – “Educating policymakers and judges about the true nature of severe brain disorders, advanced treatments available for those illnesses, and the necessity of court-ordered treatment in some cases” Wow, what disinformation, E Fuller Torrey”s personal bandwagon, and Biopsychiatry zealots i see – makes the post from Dennis Embry, and this one, make more sense. For US folks suffering behavioral struggles – please advocate science, not non-science such as this – thanks for all efforts!

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      • Ditto here! I got an update from NAMI yesterday. They indicate the bill has been re-titled the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015.

        Some of NAMI’s favorite provisions have been taken out, they said with a sigh. They wanted the so-called PAIMI groups (including peer led recovery and disability rights groups) virtually dismantled, or bound and gagged as a condition of further funding. They did not get that. They also wanted strong financial incentives for states to adopt coercive PACT and outpatient commitment programs. They didn’t get that, although they got another financial transfusion for two more years of a big PACT feasibility study.

        These “defeats” for NAMI are victories for us, and anyone coming in contact with the mental health system. We should let people know about victories, even tiny ones. At the same time I suspected the Mental Health Reform Act was still unacceptable and still bound to increase coercion in the system. From what I read here, that is the case.

        I agree with Oldhead … it would be incredibly useful to have updated “talking points” posted for activists to use. We won’t all be able to wade through the details fast enough, and the devil is in the details! Those who have done the wading need places where they can let the rest of us know what’s going on, and what needs to be done most.

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        • Glad to see there’s support for this idea.

          I am not oblivious to the fact that MIA is already swamped and under-funded. (Better than being well-funded by the wrong people.) So I don’t want to just pile on to a chorus of people demanding “you should do this, you should do that”; however, maybe someone who’s good at this sort of thing could volunteer to be “deputized” by MIA to do at least some of the footwork.

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      • Thanks for the info. i am relatively new here, but want to say i think that the voices here at MIA are very powerful and compelling- and they should be heard by those who have the power to influence this bill. So hopefully MIA can get more formally involved.

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      • Oh, I posted something for you & oldhead below. I put it right under your name the first time, but I was wandering around in my meta-narrative way on other sites & it got tacked onto the end of this article which is now in the past post section! yikes!

        I was afraid you wouldn’t see it. Leah, I am enjoying following links to your articles & letters!

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  2. These suggestions all sound very good. Consumers/sufferers should have a voice; perhaps the first and main voice, into suggesting what reforms are up for enactment. If even 10% of research resources were devoted to non-medical approaches like peer support, crisis houses, open dialogue, etc.; it would open up a big new area in mental health care and provide real competition for the studies on drugging, studies which year after year fail to generate improved outcomes for those given mental illness labels.

    As for this, ” individuals who’ve been diagnosed with such serious mental health conditions as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder” … y’all know what my point is. It may be too much to ask, but I would demand that mental health reform publicly admit that so-called schizophrenia and bipolar are not valid separable illness categories and that until or unless biomarkers are found for them, that research on and diagnosing of individuals with these epithets should stop. Period.

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    • “I would demand that mental health reform publicly admit that so-called schizophrenia and bipolar are not valid separable illness categories and that until, or unless biomarkers are found for them, that research on and diagnosing of individuals with these epithets should stop. Period.”

      I was hoping this would end in 2013, when Insel admitted the DSM disorders were scientifically invalid, and supposedly redirected NIMH funding towards RDoC, and away from the invalid DSM stigmatizations.

      And I absolutely agree, especially since it’s known the bipolar drug cocktails (antidepressants, benzos, neuroleptics / antipsychotics, etc.) and even just the ‘schizophrenia drugs,’ the neuroleptics, alone can cause both the negative and positive symptoms of ‘schizophrenia.’ The negative symptoms of ‘schizophrenia’ can be caused by:

      “Neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome is principally characterized by the same symptoms that constitute the negative symptoms of schizophrenia—emotional blunting, apathy, hypobulia, difficulty in thinking, difficulty or total inability in concentrating, attention deficits, and desocialization. This can easily lead to misdiagnosis and mistreatment. Instead of decreasing the antipsychotic, the doctor may increase their dose to try to ‘improve”‘ what he perceives to be negative symptoms of schizophrenia, rather than antipsychotic side effects.” (Wiki)

      And the positive symptoms of ‘schizophrenia’ and ‘bipolar’ can be due to neuroleptic or poly pharmacy induced anticholinergic intoxication syndrome, aka anticholinergic toxidrome. The central symptoms of anticholinergic intoxication, according to drugs.com, are:

      “Central symptoms may include memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, hallucinations, psychosis, delirium, hyperactivity, twitching or jerking movements, stereotypy, and seizures.”

      “Substances that may cause this toxidrome include the four ‘anti’s of antihistamines, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and antiparkinsonian drugs[3] as well as atropine, benztropine, datura, and scopolamine.” (Wiki)

      Since the symptoms of ‘bipolar’ and ‘schizophrenia,’ are medically known to be caused by the current “gold standard” treatment recommendations, I’m quite certain we have a problem.

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  3. I have said this before,

    This Murphy bill if passed will only grow the number of survivor activists who’s activity will then hasten the demise of psychiatry’s credibility and power.

    “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”

    Go ahead and make “help” even more punitive and coercive, see how that works out.

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    • This Murphy bill if passed will only grow the number of survivor activists who’s activity will then hasten the demise of psychiatry’s credibility and power.

      Not necessarily, too much repression doesn’t always provoke mass resistance; sometimes it just breaks the people’s backs.

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      • I disagree.

        “Give ’em enough rope, and they’ll hang themselves.”

        They already started hanging themselves, remember back when going to psychiatry was cool ?

        Celebreties all doing it and Tony Soprano on Prozak.

        Its not cool anymore, tell your friends your are going to psychiatry and they say be careful the pharma companies just want you hooked.

        Here psychiatry, a nice long Murphy rope for you !

        Have fun with it.

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        • Its not cool anymore, tell your friends your are going to psychiatry and they say be careful the pharma companies just want you hooked.

          I wish. Maybe where you live.

          I’m not saying Murphy couldn’t provoke mass resistance but there’s no guarantee that it will. There’s an unpredictable “subjective factor.” Better to nip it in the bud.

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  4. Again I urge people to beseech MIA to assist in this. I sense that we have the capacity to take the lead even at this late date. But information is vital and we need to know what’s happening, what to do and when to do it.

    This discussion could also continue on the organizing forum.

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  5. oldhead & Leah:

    If we were to have a Murphy Watch box, or Bill watch box on the homepage, it could update what is happening with the bill in real time, or we could simply post the bullet points from realmhchange.org with a link to that site.

    If we do not get a bill watch on the home page in time, hammering out a Manifesto on the organizing forum would be too slow for this bill, I know, but it could help us with articulating our own letters-to-the-editor & to our representatives. I spent a little time on realmhchange.org this morning, & I saw that the guidelines for the format & length were the most clear & concise I’ve seen on how to craft such a letter.

    How about we each write our own sample letter on the forum and then send it out where it needs to go? This will take me a little bit longer, as I only knew there was an alternative to the medical model since I found MIA this September! HOW PATHETIC IS THAT?

    I have been too busy researching complimentary health myself & reversing the damage to my body to care which organ was the origin of my imbalance–AND my first hospitalization was 30 years ago! That’s a long time for a survivor to find out that there was a better way all along. I knew there was. Always did.

    But you have to reverse the cognitive damage to your brain to follow the research in the first place! And that takes time.

    Leah: I have been interested in your work, and now I know where to follow your thoughts! I noticed that Pete Earley printed your article on his site on 11/10/15 and I want to thank him for that, should he be reading.

    I am not moving fast enough myself for all of this, as I just saw this article last night and it is now in the recent post section. Yikes!

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  6. Glad to see some interest in the organizing forum.

    Writing a manifesto and working to defeat Murphy are separate if related tasks, and the latter can ill afford to wait for the former! If a Murphy thread gets started I will surely participate in the discussion.

    As for the Murphy Watch idea someone would have to propose this directly to someone on the MIA staff, though I personally feel like too much of a nuisance already at this point to make it my personal project.

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      • I know. I saw it & had a problem logging into it, but not some of the other threads.

        At any rate, there looks like there may be 2 staff members that may be the right ones to contact. I feel the same way you do; I know they are swamped & I hate to bother them.

        But who is to say they cannot file it under “great idea” to work on it some other time?

        I’ll contact them though. Lemme hammer out the idea a little better. They may just want to direct us to a site that handles this exclusively, but even so, a link on the *home page* would be better than nothing. I’ll just make it a suggestion. With an apology!

        Watching for legislation that is an infringement on civil liberties for survivors is one of the *absolute best* things the consumer movement does. Why not take the best of that world? I’ll get back to you. On the forum, if I manage to get logged in correctly next time. Luddite here.

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        • Snowyowl and Oldhead, please feel free to get in touch with more details about your ideas. I’m not sure what you’re envisioning — something like a temporary content block on the front page where content related to the Murphy bill would be gathered?

          I need to clarify that MIA as an organization can’t create such content ourselves or advocate for or against specific legislation. It’s just not our role — but as Leah pointed out, it is the role of other groups, and they’re doing a good job taking the lead on that.

          So my suggestion for you would be to come up with a plan for where the content would come from, and then we can talk about where it would fit on the site. We’ve already published a number of pieces related to the Murphy bill and more are certainly welcome.

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          • Emmeline:

            Thank you for clearing up that MIA cannot create the content or advocate for or against specific legislation.

            That, in turn, is helping me to organize what would go onto the
            content block on the front page myself.

            Thank you! Thank you! for getting back to us. I will email you later today. I also noticed that you have a thread with advocacy links on the forum section. I need to peruse that as well because I am an advocacy lightweight in every way.

            I have seen the Murphy bill articles. I am grateful for MIA publishing these, as I am getting my education fast track.

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