NOVEMBER 17, 2020 5:00 p.m.

In Olmstead v. L.C., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states have an obligation to ensure that people with disabilities can live, work, and receive support services in the least restrictive setting possible. An Olmstead Plan provides the framework through which a state intends to comply with this legal obligation. Rhode Island does not have a Plan.

For years, our leaders have argued we can’t create an Olmstead Plan because we can’t afford to implement it. We believe Rhode Island can’t afford NOT to plan.

Our failure to plan means that people with disabilities who, if given proper support services, could live in the community, parent their children, be gainfully employed, or attend college or vocational school are otherwise left to fend for themselves, often unemployed or institutionalized, dependent on disability benefits, with little money to spend in the economy. Many individuals with severe mental illness cycle through hospitals, emergency departments, jail or homeless shelters at great public expense. With determination and creativity, Rhode Island can fund an Olmstead Plan.

Join us for an engaging discussion with representatives from other states that have working Plans. We will dig into how their state established a plan, how they funded and implemented it, and how they are keeping their Plans alive during the economic crisis.

*The Integration For All Town Hall Series is funded with support from
the Rhode Island Foundation*

MHARI Leads Campaign to Establish an Olmstead Plan in RI
On October 28, 2020, MHARI hosted its second virtual town hall in its three-part series, "Integration For All". In this second town hall, RI Community Leaders came together to discuss the Criminalization of Mental Illness. In Rhode Island, 15% to 20% of inmates have serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, brief psychotic disorder and substance use disorder. Mental illness itself is not predictive of criminal behavior. In fact, it increases the likelihood of being victimized. Many of the 400 to 530 inmates with mental illness at the ACI lack permanent housing and support options and were left to live on the streets. Untreated, symptoms of mental illness led them into the criminal justice system. Most are incarcerated for minor offenses or probation violations like missing an appointment. The ACI is now Rhode Island’s largest “psychiatric institution,” and we all pay the price.
Join the next virtual Town Hall on Nov. 17th.
Register at

MHARI Spearheads Outreach Campaign to Rhode Islanders Touched by the Pandemic
Over the next few months, "The Mental Health Association of Rhode Island Cares about Your Mental Health" initiative will be working to educate and distribute information to under-served communities. First, is a live webinar introduction to mental health first aid and access to care. This webinar is intended to help community-based workers and volunteers who may not have experience or training in mental health better support their communities during this time of crises.  We have partnered with the RI Dept. of Health HEZ Initiative and other state-wide networks including the RI Community Food Bank to get the word out and hope you will help too. Details below. Please share!
The Providence Journal recently published an editorial from our Executive Director, Laurie-Marie Pisciotta. In the editorial, Laurie outlines how Rhode Island can implement an Olmstead Plan to pay for housing and services to those with disabilities.

In the editorial Pisciotta writes, "In Olmstead v. L.C., U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states have an obligation to ensure that people with disabilities can live, work and receive support services in the least restrictive setting possible. An Olmstead Plan provides the framework through which a state intends to comply with this legal obligation. Rhode Island does not have a plan."

Pisciotta goes on to say, "For years, our leaders have argued we can't create an Olmstead Plan because we can't afford to implement it. I believe Rhode Island can't afford NOT to plan.

Click the link below to read the full editorial.
NOVEMBER 18, 2020
10:00 a.m
Do you work or volunteer on the front-lines in your community? Join the Mental Health Association of RI for this free town-hall webinar. We’ll provide tips and tools you can use to foster emotional wellness and respond to trauma in your communities via an introduction to mental health first aid and an overview of available programs and services to help your community maintain resilience during COVID 19.

The webinar will also include a brief overview of need-to-know information on health insurance coverage for mental health services and an overview of programs open to those with no coverage. Panelists will include a certified mental health first aid trainer, mental health clinician, and a health insurance specialist from the RI Parent Information Network's Health Insurance Consumer Help Line.

Send us a brief video stating what an Olmstead Plan would do for your or your loved one.

The video should be no longer than 10-15 seconds long using this script:
"My name is Jane and I live in Providence. An Olmstead Plan would provide employment supports to my daughter who has autism." Or, "I live in Coventry and an Olmstead Plan would help my brother who lives with Bipolar Disorder live in a psychiatric nursing home instead of prison."

Your story will be shared on social media, our website and with elected officials who can help us get an Olmstead Plan. 

Email your videos to Thank you!
If you are reading this newsletter, we know that you care about mental health. We do too and it is what drives us towards our vision of removing barriers to mental health treatment. You can make a difference and support MHARI on Giving Tuesday!

With one in five Rhode Islanders affected by mental illness, the need to educate and remove barriers to treatment is more urgent than ever.

The good news is that by donating to MHARI's #GivingTuesday campaign, you can make a difference and help to make mental health care a reality for all.