[Hpn] Copy of MWB's Public Comments to PNFMHC as Submitted Via Web

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Tue, 20 Aug 2002 05:52:58 -0400

Below is a copy of my own public comments which I sent to the President's 
New Freedom Commission on Mental Health 
<http://www.mentalhealthcommission.gov> as submitted via their Web site 
moments ago and which may be of interest to you and others whom you know.

In addition, for updates about the Commission's work from Commission member 
Daniel Fisher, make sure to visit the National Empowerment Center's (NEC) 
<http://www.power2u.org> Web page concerning the "White House New Freedom 
Mental Health Commission" available at: 

-- "Daniel Fisher has been appointed to the White House New Freedom Mental 
Health Commission. He sees his role as giving voice to the millions of 
mental health consumers, survivors, and ex-patients who are often without a 
voice. He will keep constitiuents informed of the commission's activities 
throughout this website."

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont


-------Forwarded FYI-------

President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health:
Public Comment Section

 Prior to providing your comments, please read our Privacy Statement 

The personal information you provide below is OPTIONAL. You do not need to 
provide personal identifiers to submit your comments. However, the 
identifiers you choose to submit will help the Commission better understand 
the perspective you present. Should you choose to submit your phone number 
or e-mail address, Commission staff will not contact you unless your 
comments require clarification.

Please select your primary affiliation: Other

if `Other` please specify:
Psychiatric Survivor /  X - mental patient / Shock Treatment Survivor

Name: Morgan W. Brown

Organization / Affiliation, if any:
Support Coalition International: MindFreedom

Phone number: None
E-mail address: norsehorse@hotmail.com
City: Montpelier
State: Vermont
Zip Code: 05601

Listed below are three topics for public comment. The final text box is for 
your submission of Additional/Other Comments.

NOTE: Please limit your responses to the space provided. Each text box holds 
approximately 325 words. If you wish to comment further, please send your 
comments <http://www.mentalhealthcommission.gov/contactus.html> to the 
Commission office. Thank you.

Topic 1:
 We are interested in your experiences and/or observations, including any 

When I first entered the mental health system in an acute state of panic and 
anxiousness, highly agitated, very severely depressed & extremely suicidal, 
I was treated with care, concern, validation and respect by the person who 
did the in-take and whom later became my first case-manager.

The key was that this individual slowly gained, earned and kept my trust; in 
fact, they never did anything to undermine it either.

With this particular treatment professional, my decisions about my health 
care -- while usually solely focused in these instances on my mental health 
alone -- were regarded and treated as mine to make, as it should be. It is 
not that they always agreed with me, because they did not. In fact we 
disagreed often. Yet they simply did not force anything on me however.

That would not prove to be the case however with any other mental care 
provider I engaged in services with since.

The later use of coercion and outright force was to be the most severe and 
persistent causation for my having a lack of access to needed services and 

Whether it was mental health services or other types of services and 
supports, I have had an ongoing and dire need of these in order to live a 
more integrated and independent life housed in a community of my own 

It was such re-traumatizing and stressful experiences which brought harm to 
and therefore caused a serious hampering of what quality of life I may have 
still had or ever hoped to regain.

Such experiences dug away at what little dignity, pride, self-respect and 
self-worth I once held.

Coercive and forced treatment, as well as psychiatric incarceration, in any 
form are major and significant barriers to true informed consent, choice and 
treatment of any form of health care which may have a chance to improve or 
enhance the quality of life for an individual who may seek it.

Topic 2:
 We are interested in your experiences and/or observations, including any 
gaps or unmet needs.:

Except for my initial experience (i.e, my very first point of contact) with 
the public mental health system, I have experienced extremely poor 
coordination of mental health and support services of any sort since that 

Major gaps exist in choice, quality, peer delivered and non-medical model 
mental health and support services of various types and approaches.

A huge gap has long existed and is growing ever worse concerning housing as 
well as how homeless services are delivered and who they are delivered by.

These needs include: non-segregated, non-congregate housing, home ownership 
programs (designed by persons they are meant to assist and packaged to 
assist persons living on very low incomes), tenant-based rental assistance 
programs, income, food, support, training, employment, healthcare and 

Meals on Wheels, personal assistance services, and Part B-Independent Living 
Services can play meaningful and vital roles in supporting individuals 
labeled with psychiatric disabilities to live independently. However, it 
would take a major shift in resources to fund these much- needed programs.

In order to do that, we must first begin to:

* Shift resources to fund a system that helps to meet the needs of 
individuals labeled with psychiatric disabilities in a way of their choosing 
and make mental health systems completely voluntary.

* Use vouchers to allow people real choices both in selecting care and/or 
service providers and the actual care and/or service that they may choose to 

* End the preferred-provider status, sponsored by state statutes, currently 
in place within community mental health systems across the United States.

Topic 3:
 We are interested in your experiences and/or observations regarding 
barriers or support systems.:

In this instance, there is a deeply disturbing as well as a very serious and 
even widening gap between what people are allowed or given an opportunity to 
attempt, do or accomplish and what they actually are capable of being and 

None of this has any thing to do with what becomes labeled, classified or 
diagnosed as being "serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance" 
either for that matter.

What it has to do with rather, is how people so labeled, classified or 
diagnosed are regarded and treated by the medical profession in general, the 
psychiatric and psychological professions specifically and society as a 

In my life experience(s), so far to date, my observations include:

People who are labeled, classified or diagnosed as being "serious mental 
illness or serious emotional disturbance" are no less fully capable of 
living quality, successful and fulfilling lives doing whatever they are or, 
can otherwise become qualified for as their interests may lead them, 
provided they receive the same quality life experiences, support, respect, 
opportunities and nurturing that anyone else not so labeled, classified or 
diagnosed may take for granted.

Of course, there are many fine examples of people with "serious mental 
illness or serious emotional disturbance" who have lived such lives in the 
past and there are those who are living such in our present as well.

Let us just hope that the same proves true of our future for even more to 

Thusly, if the items listed in the above topics (#s 1 & 2) were 
meaningfully addressed in the proper ways, the rest would begin to take care 
of itself: i.e., if coercion and forced treatment and psychiatric 
incarceration were no longer relied upon, societal prejudices and the 
discrimination which grow from them would not have the force or the power of 
the law to hide behind any longer.


For more, go to:

Where do homeless folks hang their hat?:


-- written by Morgan W. Brown

As published in:

Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Poor Magazine <http://www.poormagazine.org>
Street Newspaper
[San Francisco, California]

-------End of forward-------

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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