Friday, August 21, 2009

Doesn't matter

I understand the pain and hurt the families of the slain students, but this is a law issue. It does not matter if the psychiatrist had the records or not. By law he would have to keep the information confidential until Cho actually hurt himself or someone else. They might have been able to retain the student with the 72 hour rule. Otherwise, Cho had every right to be as crazy as he wanted to be until he hurt himself or someone else. This is where the liberal laws have hurt and killed innocent people. Very big controversy and very sad.

Document filed in VT shooting suits demands former director 'admit or deny' allegations

Previous coverage

* Released mental health records provide details of Cho's counseling sessions
* Cho records may alter April 16 panel's findings
* Ex-director of Virginia Tech counseling center responds to discovery questions
* New document released in Tech shooting suit
* Virginia Supreme Court appoints special judge to Tech shooting suits
* Lawsuits keep Virginia Tech shootings at forefront
* Gov. Kaine: Tech panel won't reconvene
* Removal of students' records from Virginia Tech counseling center not authorized, Steger says
* Ex-director took Cho file "inadvertently"
* Cho records surface, raise many questions
* Complete coverage of the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech shootings

The latest legal filing related to two $10 million civil suits brought by families unhappy with Virginia Tech’s handling of the April 16, 2007, shootings demands that former Cook Counseling Center Director Robert Miller “admit or deny” 65 allegations and statements of fact.

The filing came after Wednesday’s public release of shooter Seung-Hui Cho’s student once-missing mental health records.

Bob Hall, a lawyer for the families of slain Tech students Nicole Peterson and Julia Pryde, released the “request for admissions” filing on Thursday.

Many of the items listed are facts already stipulated to by Miller, including that he removed Cho’s mental health records while packing to leave his office in 2006.

Miller has said he found the records July 15 while searching his Blacksburg home for documents relevant to the civil suits, in which he is named as a defendant. Gov. Tim Kaine announced discovery of Cho’s missing records July 22. The Cho family authorized their release earlier this month.

Among the declarations Miller is asked to admit or deny is: “Admit that at no time during your tenure at Cook Counseling Center did you record or cause anyone to record the history you received of Seung-Hui Cho’s violent writings, violent, threatening or intimidating activities, strange attire, bizarre behavior” or complaints from English department faculty, who had grown increasingly alarmed by Cho.

Miller, the document suggests, should have fully informed his staff of the extent of Cho’s problems. And, Hall said, Miller failed to ensure that Cho was treated for mental illness.

“This is a lawyer drafting his wish list of what the facts might be,” Ed McNelis, the lawyer representing several Cook Counseling center staffers in the lawsuits, said of Hall’s filing. “It does not mean they are true.”

“He could put in there, 'Admit that you shot JFK.’ It doesn’t mean you did it,” McNelis said.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lots of Reasons Why

I do realize that we have been locking up some of our mentally ill youths. One of the problems is the parents. Why have these young people gotten this far into a mental illness anyway that they are incarcerated? From my experience, with the special ed. children I work with, a lot of their problems are their parents. Ask any teacher and they will say that a lot of problems kids have are because of their parents. They need to do a better job.

Locking up Kids with Mental Illness

Locking up Kids with Mental IllnessA few weeks ago, we wrote about the opening of a mental health court in Philadelphia to help deal with a problem that’s overwhelming the U.S. justice system — poor mental health care in prisons, affecting up to 30 percent of those incarcerated.

Some of the problems our prisons face can be traced back to a pretty straightforward issue — our prisons are overcrowded. For instance, the prisons have been so overcrowded in California, the California prison system has been under a federal court’s oversight for years. And that court has become so frustrated by California’s lack of interest in the humane treatment of their prisoners, they recently ordered the number of prisoners cut by 27 percent within two years. The case that resulted in the court order began as the result of class action lawsuits addressing — surprise, surprise! — inadequate medical and mental health care in the prison system.

Which brings us to the sorry state of affairs in the juvenile prison system.

According to a recent New York Times article, about two-thirds of the nation’s approximately 93,000 juvenile inmates have at least one mental illness, citing surveys of youth prisons.

You’d think with such high rates of diagnosable mental health concerns in these children, you’d be offering them the highest mental health care possible, right? I mean, if anyone can be helped by such care early on, it’s likely to be children who are under the state’s care.

Sadly, that’s not the case. Just as with adults, we warehouse the children in facilities that not only do little to provide for their mental health needs, but continue to cut back in tough economic times:

At least 32 states cut their community mental health programs by an average of 5 percent this year and plan to double those budget reductions by 2010, according to a recent survey of state mental health offices.

Juvenile prisons have been the caretaker of last resort for troubled children since the 1980s, but mental health experts say the system is in crisis, facing a soaring number of inmates reliant on multiple — and powerful — psychotropic drugs and a shortage of therapists.

The children and teens in the juvenile justice system are just that — children and teens. According to surveys, more than half have histories of exposure to violence, neglect, abuse and trauma. It is estimated that up to 75 percent of young offenders have a substance abuse disorder. Other research has shown that as many as 20 percent of this group also suffer from a serious mental disorder, like clinical depression or bipolar disorder.

There are no easy answers to these problems, especially in tough economic times. States have no money, so they cut back on these “luxury” items, like adequate medical and mental health care to those under its charge. And few people care about the criminal justice system in the U.S. (since most of us have never been to prison or have any direct experience with it). Yet you can tell a lot about a society by the way they treat not only their indigent, but also their criminals. Even more so when those criminals are our own children and teens.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sad Realization

Stigma surrounding mental illness remains despite abundant pharaceutical ads. The medicalization of such mental illnesses as depression and bipolar disorder, which have seen prescription drug advertisements on TV skyrocket since such advertising became permissible in 1997, has done nothing to remove the harmful stigma attached to the illnesses, according to sociologists from Indiana University and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. "The findings fly in the face of current thinking about ways that stigma can be reduced," said Peggy Thoits, Virginia L. Roberts Professor of Sociology in IU's College of Arts and Sciences. Stigma has posed a steadfast obstacle to the treatment of many mental health illnesses. Negative perceptions of mental illness color the support and advice people get from their friends, family and even their physicians and can create a reluctance to seek help. The study by Thoits and lead author Andrew R. Payton, graduate student at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, sought to see if attitudes toward mental illness have changed since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines allowing pharmaceutical companies to air TV ads. Theoretically, when a condition such as depression comes to be viewed as a treatable medical condition instead of a moral failing or spiritual condition, this should reduce the blame and stigma attached to depression. The researchers examined the Mental Health Modules in the General Social Survey during these intervening years and saw no change in attitudes toward people with mental illness, specifically when they compared depression, which was a focus of many TV commercials, to schizophrenia, for which no drugs have been advertised. "We're making a big assumption, that marketing drugs to treat some these conditions is actually penetrating the consciousness of viewers, giving them the ability to recognize symptoms and conceptualize them as disorders and to see that these disorders can be relieved essentially with drugs," Thoits said. The study was presented on Monday.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Off his Medication for Over Year

Mental illness may play a role in Oklahoma City shooting
Suspect is off his medication, report says

A shooting suspect told police he is a mental patient and his intended victims worked for the government and had satellites watching him, a detective reported.
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Harold G. Thomas, 61, was arrested Thursday after he allegedly shot up a Farmers Insurance office in south Oklahoma City. He is accused of firing three shots from his own business in a neighboring suite. Two men in the insurance office were nearly hit, the detective reported.

Bomb squad technicians spent hours Thursday examining suspicious items found inside Thomas’ business. The detective reported officers found an open gun safe there with several guns, rifles and ammunition as well as "several foil-wrapped objects and electrical tape-wrapped objects.”

Thomas told police he "is seeing visions and hearing voices,” the detective reported.

He also said he had been "off of his medication for over a year” and had been self-medicating with the energy drink Red Bull and the drug Lortab, the detective reported.