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“Cost of not caring: Stigma set in stone”


English: Image for mental health stubs, uses t...

English: Image for mental health stubs, uses two psych images – psychiatry (medicine) and psychology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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I’m not sure about the publication date, but in the URL there is what could be a date of June 24, 12014 in it, but I’m not sure if that was the publication date or the date the file was saved into their system.  I am sure though that this USA Today segment is lengthy, but has a LOT Of information packed into that anyone who has even an ounce of compassion or a hint of a willingness to learn about the realities of mental health care in America should really consider reading.   It is well worth the time it takes to read it.

“The Stigma of Mental Illness Is Making Us Sicker”

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This May 13, 2014 Psychology Today article talks about the very real impacts of stigma on people with mental illnesses and their families, and offers some thoughts on what changes are needed and what those changes could mean to those with mental illnesses.

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“Erasing a stigma: It’s time for more effective mental health care”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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This July 7, 2013 article on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website talks a little about the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourages people to see beyond the stigma and stereotypes and see that there are people who need help who may not be getting it because of our society’s misconception of mental health issues.




“Mental health facility protested”

  I almost hated to post this article because of the stigmas and stereotyping that filled it, but I felt that folks needed to be aware of what a portion of the general public feels in regards to Mental Health treatment facilities.  I found some of the reasons that folks didn’t want this facility to be absurd and most definitely fear based instead of being based on facts.

  I know from personal experience, having grown up in a house whose property bordered on the grounds of a state hospital.  I never felt threatened by patients housed at the state hospital, and spent many days playing on the state hospital grounds having never been bothered by patients out on privelage time (spending time walking around on grounds).  It was great as a kid growing up, because the vast fields were like an extension of my own yard where kids would play and have fun.  I have parents who worked at the state at that time and I know that if they felt there was any danger of us getting hurt by the patients that we would not have been allowed to play there.

  In short, people need to realize that people with mental illnesses are no more likely to become violent towards others in the community, then someone without a mental illness is.

The article was found on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website at the following address …. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08304/923875-55.stm

Mental health facility protested
Thursday, October 30, 2008

Baldwin Township residents came out in full force Monday night, filling the Castle Shannon Fire Hall, to make sure members of the planning commission heard their fierce opposition to the residential mental health facility that Mercy Behavioral Health hopes to open in their neighborhood.

“I know that mental patients need a place to go but not in the middle of a residential community,” said Jane McMullen, a former Baldwin Township commissioner and tax collector.

Mrs. McMullen expressed the same concerns shared by dozens of other residents about safety in the neighborhood and about the facility taxing the tiny township’s fire, police and ambulance services.

“We are limited with the resources we provide,” Mrs. McMullen said.

Mercy filed an application with the township Sept. 19 to use the former Rolling Hills Manor Assisted Living Center on Newport Drive as an in-patient mental health facility that would operate two programs for a total of 32 patients.

The biggest fear among about 150 residents who attended Monday’s meeting was that patients would escape from the facility and harm someone in the neighborhood.

“There’s a lot of concern that you won’t be able to keep the people in there,” said Robert Downey, a retired Allegheny County Police lieutenant who is now police chief at Slippery Rock University. “This facility is in my backyard.”

That fear was intensified yesterday when an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that homicide suspect David Wayne Alexander of Shadyside had a court-ordered plan that required him to seek outpatient treatment at Mercy Behavioral Health.

Mr. Alexander, 40, is charged with homicide in the death of his roommate, Dawn McGuire. Her decomposing body was found Oct. 23 in Mr. Alexander’s apartment by his probation officer.Mr. Alexander had a history of mental illness and a criminal record.

At Monday’s meeting, Mercy officials said no one with criminal records or active drug or alcohol addictions would be admitted at the Baldwin Township site.

Mercy officials stressed that they expect the patients they house at the Baldwin Township facility to recover from their illnesses and go on to lead productive lives. When planning commission chairman Robert Wagner asked about the “success record” of the program, Jeff DeSantis, a unit manager for Mercy Behavioral Health, said the program is new.

Mr. DeSantis will supervise the staff at the Baldwin Township facility. Plans call for Mercy to operate a 16-bed acute care program that would house patients for up to six months.

In addition, Mercy would rent space to the state for a 16-bed long-term structured residence program for patients with serious mental illnesses who would live there for extended periods as part of their therapy.

The long-term program would employ some staff members from Mayview Hospital, which is slated to close at the end of the year, and could get some former Mayview patients.

Mercy officials have said the patients in the programs will be those who suffer from chronic mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and major depressive disorder.

A psychiatrist will visit the Mercy program every day for three hours. Those visits will take place five days each week for the state program. In addition, both programs will have on-call psychiatrists.

The staff ratio will be one worker for four patients. Nurses and security guards will be on staff around the clock. Guards will not be armed but will be trained in non-violent crisis intervention. Patients will come to the program from hospitals.

“They are people who don’t need to be in the hospital but are not ready to live independently,” Mr. DeSantis said.

Mary Jeanne Serafin, the current chief executive officer at Mayview State Hospital, will supervise the state long-term program. Ms. Serafin said the state planned to operate the program for two years and then turn it over to a private operator, possibly Mercy Behavioral Health. She said one of the reasons the program is being created is to provide jobs for Mayview employees.

Mercy attorney Arnold Horovitz told the planning commission the residential mental health facility meets the definition of a nursing home and therefore meets the criteria for approval under the township zoning regulations if conditional use is granted.

But residents argued that wasn’t the case. Susan Kindelberger told the planning commission that unless the state licenses the facility as a nursing home, it should not be considered one.

Frank Goldba, the architect for Mercy, said there would be no additions to the building. He said an enclosed garden on the side of the building would be used by patients and an additional secured garden area would be created in the rear of the building. It would be surrounded by a six-foot-high wooden fence.

The only entry for visitors would be through the main door. All visitors would be scanned with a metal detection wand.

The building will hold a commercial kitchen and laundry for patients’ services and also smaller kitchen and laundry areas for patients to learn life skills. There will also be community rooms and activity and therapy areas.

Residents raised concerns about patients being discharged into the community — with day passes or for their final discharge.

Mr. DeSantis said neither would take place. He said patients would be accompanied by staff members when they leave the facility. When they are discharged, they must have discharge plans that identify where they will be living, either with a relative or friend or in an independent living facility.

Residents also expressed concerns about their property values. Rick Sikora, a real estate agent for Keller Williams, said he had two offers rescinded on homes in the neighborhood since word of the proposed Mercy facility hit the news.

The planning commission took no action on Mercy’s proposal at the end of the three-hour meeting. It will hold a public discussion at 7 p.m. Nov. 12.

After that meeting, the commission will make a recommendation on the matter to the Baldwin Township commissioners who have a public hearing planned for 7 p.m. Nov. 17.

Mr. Horovitz said the commissioners have 45 days from the public hearing to make their decision on Mercy’s application.

Mary Niederberger can be reached at mniederberger@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1512.
First published on October 30, 2008 at 6:17 am
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