News, Views, and Information about Disability

Disability News, Views, Information, and Literature

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Panel on Maine's Mental Health System Focuses on "Public Safety"

by Sharon Wachsler

Last night a panel was held at the University of Maine, Augusta, on the state's mental health system. According to an October 31, Sentinel article by Susan McMillan, the scheduled facilitator was Senator Roger Katz of Augusta, and the event was spurred by an incident at Riverview Psychiatric Center:
...where a patient seriously injured an employee in the spring. The hospital, which is the state’s only mental health facility for patients who commit crimes, stands to lose an estimated $20 million in federal funding because of problems with governance, overcrowding and safety.
Panelists include various government and agency representatives and administrators, along with Helen Bailey of the Maine Disability Rights Center. Conspicuously lacking in the lineup were panelists who are consumers of the mental health system, themselves.

Overall, the article -- and seemingly the panel -- focuses on mental illness as a public safety concern. This fearmongering that people with mental illness are dangerous is in direct conflict with the data which show that people with mental health issues are no more likely to commit violent crimes than those with no diagnosed mental illness, and that people with psychiatric diagnoses are, in fact, much more likely to be victims of violence.

I could not find any articles about the panel after the fact. It is to be hoped that stereotyping and fearmongering did not carry the day. (If you attended or participated in the panel or have a link to an article reporting on the panel, please comment or drop us a line.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will become visible after it is approved. Thank you for commenting!