News and Commentary from the 
Treatment Advocacy Center

April 2020

Below is a summary of recent developments and compelling news stories from across the country highlighting America's broken mental health treatment system and how to fix it.
News Highlights
A Family’s Quest

TAC Executive Director John Snook was interviewed by WHYY-FM in Philadelphia about the challenges of finding treatment in a broken system. The story concerns writer Marin Sardy and her family’s struggle to help her brother Tom obtain treatment for his schizophrenia. John commented: "If you have a serious mental illness, you are much more likely to end up in a jail cell than in a hospital bed. There are 10 times as many people with mental illness in a jail or prison than there are in a treatment facility. And that’s a nightmare, because jail is no place to get mental health care." Hear the full radio report (or read it in article form) here .
COVID-19 in Psychiatric Hospitals

Staff in psychiatric hospitals are finding that “a lack of testing, P.P.E., and seclusion protocols [a re] making a difficult task—maintaining the safety of a highly vulnerable population and their care workers during a pandemic—virtually impossible.” Read the full New Yorker article here .
Bedlam: A Must Watch
Dr. Kenneth Rosenberg’s deeply thought-provoking documentary Bedlam premiered April 13th on PBS’ Independent Lens . The film features commentary from experts including psychiatrist, schizophrenia researcher, author and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey.

Over the past seven decades, our nation’s supply of psychiatric treatment beds has been in freefall. Care for people in psychiatric crisis has fallen to the “safety net” systems that can’t turn people away, with emergency departments, homeless shelters, and ultimately jails and prisons serving as de facto mental health treatment facilities.

In 44 states, a jail or prison holds more mentally ill individuals than the largest remaining state psychiatric hospital; in every county in the U.S. with both a county jail and a county psychiatric facility, more seriously mentally ill individuals are incarcerated than hospitalized.

Nowhere is the direct relationship between the loss of treatment beds and the criminalization of mental illness more apparent than in Bedlam . If you missed the PBS airing you can stream it here until May 13th.
Getting Through COVID-19
Spring 2020 Catalyst
We at TAC are determined that COVID-19 will not damage the sense of community we share with our supporters. Through our work as advocates, we have met and partnered with inspiring people all over this country. Let’s use social media and the other tools at our disposal to keep building these networks and moving forward with our shared goals – and let’s really be here for one another during the difficult times to come.

Throughout this national emergency, with our staff dispersed but working diligently from the safety of their homes, the Treatment Advocacy Center will maintain its voice for those caught in the revolving door.

We have created and continue to update a page of COVID-19 resources for families impacted by SMI. The page includes a “crowdsourcing” link for users to contribute information or suggestions. Find it here .
The new issue of our newsletter Catalyst was produced prior to the domestic outbreak of coronavirus, but reflects the many ways we are spearheading mental health reform at all levels. It includes a report on our participation in a recent White House mental health summit, a visit to the exemplary AOT program in San Antonio, and a “ride-along” with the Tucson police’s mental health support team. We also feature two great stories from Iowa: Leslie Carpenter chronicles her invaluable work on the presidential campaign trail, pressing candidates to articulate their mental health agendas, and Torrey Advocacy Commendation winner June Judge reflects on a lifetime of mental health advocacy.

Read the latest Catalyst here .
DATAPOINT of the month  
62,603 deaths in the United States due to COVID-19.  

As of the writing of this news roundup,  more than 60,000 individuals  in the United States have died due to the novel coronavirus. This data includes both confirmed and presumptive positive cases, and likely is an underestimate due to lack of testing and the number of deaths occurring in homes. A significant number of these victims contracted the virus in institutional settings, such as jails and prisons, long-term care facilities, and psychiatric hospitals. 

If you are interested in reading the research highlights from this month you can click  here.

 To receive  Research Weekly  directly in your email inbox on a weekly basis, click  here .
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