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Advocacy Group Sues Connecticut Mental Health Agency

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Advocacy Group Sues Connecticut Mental Health Agency

Advocacy groups are organizations that advocate for certain causes or issues. They may be concerned with the treatment of a certain group of people or represent an entire sector. Advocacy groups work hard to advance certain causes or issues and have proven successful at doing so.

On Thursday, an advocacy group filed a lawsuit against Connecticut’s mental health agency, alleging they routinely deny civilly committed patients their due process rights and are held in restrictive settings long after being declared “ready” to return home, according to The Hartford Courant. The lawsuit seeks to reduce the number of people incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals as well as improve mental health services for those incarcerated.

The state of Louisiana has 17 local mental health authorities (LMHAs) that offer a range of mental health services for those who qualify. These LMHAs may be directly operated by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, while others are independent non-profit agencies receiving public funds to offer these services.

Recent data from the American Psychiatric Association indicates that costs for mental health care are on average about 93 percent higher for those without access to Medicaid or Medicare insurance networks, than those covered by these programs. This makes it more challenging for many who require treatment to access necessary services.

At an online symposium on mental health held Tuesday, leaders from the General Assembly declared that improving the state’s overburdened and understaffed mental health system for children and adults will be their top priority during the upcoming session. Speakers and panelists discussed various topics from funding and staffing issues to policy changes and resources available to support individuals facing mental health problems.

One of the key topics raised during the session was the lack of community-based beds for those awaiting release from psychiatric hospitals. Attorneys representing those acquitted of crimes due to mental health conditions detailed their struggles getting into or staying in a community setting.

They cited a case in Middletown where an acquitted patient who had been cleared of murder had difficulty accessing psychiatric hospitals. He had been instructed by a state employee that he needed to apply to the PSRB for temporary leave and wait on their waiting list for months before being admitted. Eventually, he was sent away to an out-of-state psychiatric facility, where he lived on an isolated unit for over two years while waiting for discharge from PSRB.

At the same time, many service providers in Connecticut warned of an impending crisis: they cannot keep up with demand in a post-COVID-19 world. Some, like Rob Baril from SEIU 1199 Healthcare Workers Union, pointed to clinician shortages at some private mental-health agencies and shortages in beds at certain state facilities.

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