County-focused Advocacy Agenda (DRAFT)
As of September 2012
(Items in bold indicate currently active initiatives)
Trenton Psychiatric Hospital Monitoring Project (“TPH Family Partners”)
Present in the NAMI Mercer territory is Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, one of the State’s three government-run psychiatric hospitals. NAMI Mercer Advocacy Committee volunteers and others serve as objective community monitors in periodic visits to TPH and report their observations and findings to the hospital management team. This subcommittee is currently seeking new recruits to join the monitoring team.
Mercer County Jails Project
A sad fact of American life is that jails and prison now house more mentally ill Americans than psychiatric hospitals. The NAMI Mercer Jails Project subcommittee is reaching out to the county’s corrections units to connect with those with mental illness and their families, as well as to educate corrections officials about the issues facing those in jail with mental illness.
Transfers and Transitions
For loved ones who must encounter the institutional aspects of the system, such as inpatient hospitalizations, outpatient community programs, and even legal proceedings, there is often a lack of communication and continuity from one institution to the next. This leads to bad handling and exascerbated conditions for the loved one and distress and frustration for the families. Examples:
- A county hospital accepts a loved one for a 72 hour crisis intervention assessment, but then releases the loved one without a discharge plan.
- One of the county’s designated Short-Term Care Facilities releases a loved one to a local PACT, but without the PACT team’s awareness, leaving the loved one without services for 11 days.
- A local private hospital, after receiving a loved one into its emergency room with acute alcohol poison as well as psychosis, releases the loved one at 4 am with a blood alcohol level still twice the legal limit.
- The State’s Central Administration, which manages all short-term care facility bed assignment, interrupts a loved one’s healing in a designated county Short-Term Care Facility by transferring him to a State psychiatric hospital on the day before Thanksgiving, causing the loved one to endure at the State hospital for five days before seeing a treatment team, and prompting the State hospital admitting psychiatrist to ask the family, “Why is he being sent here?”
The NAMI Mercer Advocacy Committee seeks to focus attention on this system deficiency.
Dubbed “The Capitol County”, Mercer County is home to the State Capital of Trenton. Recent redistricting has changed the representation line-up for the county. NAMI Mercer’s Legislative Subcommittee is reaching out to our county’s representatives to increase awareness and support legislative initiatives advancing mental health.
Some of the policies and legislation currently being considered:
- Accountability for public funding of county mental health services
- Funding for Family Supports
- Funding for Consumer Services
- NJ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services Budget
- NJ Outpatient Commitment Implementation
- NJ Medicaid Comprehensive Waiver
- NJ Medicaid Rates and Services
- US Medicare Rates and Services
Representation and Oversight
In the course of its regular business, the Advocacy Committee continues to watch for opportunities to represent family interests and oversee their concerns in these and other county entities:
- Mercer County Board of Social Services
- Mercer County Correctional Center
- Mercer County Mental Health Board
- Empowerment and authority
- New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services
- Proposal reviews and decision participation
- Program monitoring and evaluation by families
- New Jersey Mental Health Planning Council
- New Jersey Co-occurring Disorders Task Force
- New Jersey State Prison
- NJWINS (Work Incentive Network Support)
- Trenton Psychiatric Hospital
- Board meeting attendance
- Facilities monitoring (“Family Partners”)
Services and Systems
- CIT (Crisis Intervention Training)
- Crisis Screening Center
- Intensive Case Management Services
- Intensive Family Support Services
- Local Hospitals
- Discharge transition
- HIPAA regulations interpretations
- Family involvement on treatment teams
- Multifamily Groups
- PACT (CBT training)
- Short Term Care Facilities
- Bed Management
- Discharge Planning and Transitioning
- Supported Housing