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Oregonians Support Bills for Psychiatric Survivor Empowerment: Good News, Bad News

Twenty-five mental health consumers, psychiatric survivors and allies showed up at a public hearing at the Oregon Senate and many testified in support of two bills for self-determination and human rights in the mental health system. Read an update about the results, along with a background about these two bills.

Oregonians Support Bills for Psychiatric Survivor Empowerment: Good News, Bad News

Psychiatric survivors Marie Parcell of Corvallis and Rick Snook of Portland testify for SB 363 and SB 364.

Looking back on 2007 Legislative Session



A little good news, mainly bad news for Oregon mental health clients


While the state legislature could somehow find a half a billion dollars of taxpayer money to build new brick and mortar institutions, and they could find millions of dollars for extremely expensive psychiatric drugs, that same Oregon legislature could not find even one dime to support the state-wide voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors, such as this proposed Office of Mental Health Consumer Affairs, that most states have.

On a positive note, at least a bill for consumer/survivor voice was passed, including putting into law the already-existing mental health consumer/survivor council. 

SB 364 was supported by a broad coalition of mental health consumer and psychiatric survivor groups. This successful bill has made "self-determination" -- or empowerment of mental heatlh clients -- the rule of law in Oregon's mental health system. It also requires that advisory groups include representation from mental health consumers.

Congratulations!

You may read about the progress of SB 364, as well as links to the version signed by Governor and previous versions, by clicking here:

http://www.leg.state.or.us/cgi-bin/searchMeas.pl

But to add insult to injury, a provision was slipped into that to ban reimbursement for transportation for consumer/survivors to get to this council meeting... making the situation worse than before that bill was passed. Given that a key barrier for consumer/survivor voice is Oregon's unique geography, banning money for transport for mainly poor and low-income was especially unwise.

The lesson: The public needs to vote out legislators who write blank checks to the mental health system while they turn a deaf ear to the customers of that system.

Consumers and survivors need to organize as never before, along with allies, and actually impact elections of some of the elected officials who voted the wrong way. Then we'll be ready for the next legislative session in two years!


Update 4 May 2007 Update on below story:

For the latest news about SB 363 and SB 364 from Sen. Morissette's office click here.


Update 20 April 2007 on below story:

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OREGON ADVOCACY CENTER LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

MENTAL HEALTH CONSUMER ADVOCATES BILL MOVES FORWARD

On Tuesday, the Senate Health Policy and Public Affairs Committee approved House Bill 363. House Bill 363 establishes an Office of Ombudsman for Mental Health Consumers in DHS to provide services to consumers, an Office of Consumer Affairs to promote consumer-directed mental health services and a Consumer Advisory Counsel to advise the Director of Human Services. The bill now moves to the Joint Ways and Means Committee consideration.

House Bill 364, a companion bill, was also heard on Tuesday, but not voted on. HB 364 requires that at least 20 percent of membership of all task forces, commissions, advisory groups and committees relating to persons with mental health or addiction issues be consumers of mental health or addiction services. It also requires DHS to adopt policies to support the self determination of persons receiving mental health services. HB 364 will likely be amended and approved by the Committee.

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Update 5 April 2007 on below story:

A new public hearing is scheduled this Monday, 9 April 2007, for more info click here.

SALEM, OREGON: You are invited to contact Oregon state representatives and senators in support of two bills written by psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers to support self-determination in the mental health system.

The Oregon State Senate's Committee on Health Policy and Public Affairs heard testimony from many of the 25 mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors who showed up for a public hearing on Senate Bills 363 and 364, filed by Senator Bill Morrisette. For photos of the hearing click here.

The 25 proponents showed up from throughout the state with only 48 hours notice for the 8:30 am hearing on 14 March 2007. MindFreedom Oregon assisted by using its e-mail alert system of more than 1,200 Oregonians, and several members showed up and testified. Groups such as BEARS in Corvallis, Empowerment Initiatives, Inc. in Portland, Safe, Inc. in Springfield, and more, all sent members to show support for the bills.

Below are summaries of the bills, and how you may contact Oregon Senators and Representatives to support these bills in your own words!

Oregon Senate Bill 363 would:

  • Establish a mental health consumer advisory council to advise the director of human services.
  • Establish an Office of Consumer Affairs in Department of Human Services to promote consumer-directed mental health services.
  • Establish an Office of Ombudsman for Mental Health Consumers to provide services to help provide advocacy.
To read the text of Oregon SB 363 click here.

Oregon Senate Bill 364 would:

  • Require the Department of Human Services to adopt policy to support and promote self-determination for persons receiving mental health services.
  • Require that at least 20 percent of membership of all task forces, commissions, advisory groups and committees established by public body and relating to persons with mental health or addiction issues be consumers of mental health or addiction services.
To read the text of Oregon SB 364 click here.

Support SB 363 and 364! Reach Oregon Legislators Today!

Oregonians especially are encouraged to contact their state Senator and Representative as soon as possible in support of these bills.

You may find the contact information for Oregon elected officials with a handy locator on the web. Just plug in your address and zip, and you'll find your elected officials. Note that for these State bills, you want to scroll down to your State Senator and Representative, not your USA national federal Senators and Representative. Just click here:

http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/

When you contact your State Senator and Representative, please use your own words, and try to include a brief personal story if possible. A phone call to and visit with your legislator is best, but even if you have only a moment to e-mail a quick message it may help to pass these bills! Include your address so your elected official knows that he or she represents you. Please act soon.

You may follow the progress of SB 363 and 364 by clicking the "Senate Bill" button and plugging the bill number into this status locator:

http://www.leg.state.or.us/searchmeas.html

You may also download a PDF copy of the bills with the above link.

For information about visiting the State Capitol in Salem:

http://www.leg.state.or.us/capinfo/

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Loren R. Mosher, MD

Loren (1933 - 2004) was a dissident psychiatrist who founded Soteria House, a commonsense alternative to the forced psychiatric drugging of the mental health system. Loren was a MindFreedom board member, and an ally to psychiatric survivor activists. (Photo by Tom Olin at an MFI international strategy conference at Highlander.)
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