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"Why Zero for the State-Wide Voice of Oregon's Mental Health Clients?"

Since September 2002, the Oregon mental health system has spent zero (0) to support the state-wide empowerment and voice of mental health clients. Oregon continues to be one of the very few states in the USA to provide zero funding to support the state-wide voice, empowerment, self-determination and advocacy of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors. Why Zero?

 

Richard Harris of Oregon "Why Zero?" Campaign Update

 

December 2010

State of Oregon continues to pay zero (0) for the state-wide voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors.

However, Oregon's Governor Kulongoski suddenly found $2 million to pay for a consulting firm (Kaufman Global of Indianapolis) to help him find out what is wrong with the "culture" at Oregon State Hospital.

How about DISEMPOWERMENT?

You can read a blog entry about this controversy by clicking here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/mfi-blog/kaufman-osh 

 

August 2010:

Here is a letter to the editor by David Oaks, published in the Eugene Register Guard on 4 August 2010, asking about why Governor Kulongoski has continued to budget zero for the state-wide voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors.

To view the letter on the RG web site click here.

LETTER TO EDITOR OF REGISTER GUARD, PUBLISHED 4 AUGUST 2010:

No voice for the powerless

The tragedy of Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s leadership is that he has apparently refused to truly listen to Oregon citizens who are the most powerless and marginalized. For decades I’ve been a community organizer for the human rights of people in mental health care. I’ve had a view from the grass-roots.

Kulongoski recently keynoted a conference of the National Association of State Budget Officers. The irony is that most states at least provide a tiny amount of funding so that mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors can have a statewide voice. Most states fund a mental health consumer affairs department, a statewide mental health client organization, or some other way to hear directly from the customers.

Unfortunately, during Kulongoski’s entire tenure, funding for the statewide voice of Oregon’s mental health clients was zeroed out, and — overriding his own mental health agency’s repeated recommendations — he never proposed this item in his budget.

I am sure Kulongoski generally cares about everyone. However, he has not shown the self-determination and curiosity required to grapple with the slow-motion catastrophe that is our mental health system.

This is about more than money. The legacy of Gov. Kulongoski may be enormous, new, disempowering psychiatric institutions built with more than half a billion dollars of our taxpayer money. Our governor discovered hundreds of millions for bricks, but not one dime for the statewide voice of Oregon citizens who may end up dying behind those bricks.

DAVID OAKS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
MindFreedom International

Eugene

August 2009:

You may now read an exchange of letters back-and-forth with the interim director of Oregon's mental health system, Richard Harris, about why Oregon continues to budget zero for the statewide voice of Oregon's mental heatlh consumers and psychiatric survivors.


The bottom from this exchange of letters?


Once more, it appears to come down to the Governor's office. Someone in that office, or the Governor himself, is blocking funding.

The below exchange of letters makes clear that Oregon's mental health system claims it has been asking the Governor to fund the voice of consumer/survivors. But, say the letters, the Governor consistently -- for 7 years -- overrides his own mental health system's advice.

Without the Governor's support in his budget, it's an uphill battle for legislators to fund such a marginalized constituency.

As Mr. Harris puts it, below, "Without champions in the legislature and the Governor, the possibility of getting this program restored is doubtful. [Addiction and Mental Health] cannot be the sole 'official' entity advocating for this concept."

 

Background:


On 6 July 2009, the Oregon mental health system sent out a letter saying the budget turned out to not be all that bad for the mental health system, despite their earlier fears. The letter was from Richard Harris (pictured on right), who is Interim Assistant Director, Addictions and Mental Health Division, State of Oregon).

MindFreedom director David Oaks sent a letter back the same day, asking an important question:

Why zero?

Why, if Oregon's mental health system budget is not as bad as feared, then why is Oregon still one of the very few states with zero funding for the state-wide voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors?

Mr. Harris has replied to both David Oaks, and to others who wrote him with the same question.

You may now read the complete back-and-forth letters here, including replies by Mr. Harris, and add your own voice!

6 July 2009 -- To read a PLAIN TEXT version of letter from Richard Harris on behalf of Oregon Mental Health system, click here. Or to download the PDF version of this same letter from Richard Harris, click here.

6 July 2009 -- To read the civil response from David Oaks, Director of MindFreedom International, to Mr. Harris, asking "why zero?" click here. If things are not as bad as feared, then why is Oregon still one of the very few states with zero funding for the statewide voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors?

28 July 2009 -- For the plain text of the official reply by Richard Harris to the letter by David Oaks, click here. To download a PDF of the actual reply letter, click here.

4 August 2009 -- Because a number of people also asked "why zero," here is the general reply by Richard Harris to "stakeholders." For the text, click here. To download a PDF of the letter itself, click here.

 

Why now?


David Oaks received the response from Mr. Harris by 30 July 2009.

Oregon mental health advocates may recognize this as a significant date: The one year anniversary of the death of David Romprey. There was a memorial the next day for Dave Romprey, for info click here.

Despite the exchange of letters, questions remain: Why is the Governor's office overriding its own office of mental health?

You may ask for a response to the "why zero" question too! E-mail to Mr. Richard Harris at:

Richard.harris@state.or.us

 

What now?

 

It's more clear than ever, that "something is wrong in the Governor's office."

With less than 18 months to go, Governor Kulongoski is a lame duck, in that he will not preside over the next Oregon legislative session.

However, he will be working on the next budget.

Help solve this mystery!

We must reach Governor Kulongoski, to be more open to concerns from mental health consumers, psychiatric survivors, and even his own department of mental health.

Please continue to ask Governor Kulongoski why he kept recommending ZERO for the statewide voice of mental heatlh consumers and psychiatric survivors.


Action: Please contact the Governor today!

Just use this State of Oregon's web contact form for Governor Kulongoski here:

http://www.governor.state.or.us/Gov/contact_us.shtml

 

Sample message:

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~


SAMPLE MESSAGE -- YOUR OWN WORDS ARE BEST!

Dear Governor Kulongoski,

Please solve this mystery!

Why won't you be a CHAMPION of the statewide voice of Oregon's mental health clients?

Please comment on the recent letters from Richard Harris, your interim director of mental health system, which you may find here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/zero

In these letters Mr. Harris says you are not a "champion" of the statewide voice of mental health clients, and that for years you have continued to override the requests of your own mental health system on this important matter.

Please reply as soon as possible.

YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS HERE

~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Want to do more?


You can also read the below information and updates, asking why Governor Ted Kulongoski why he continues to recommend zero for the state-wide voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors.

Ever since Governor Ted's first month in office, there has been zero.

Why?

When will that change?

 

* A national mental health industry newsletter runs an article about how Oregon's Governor Ted Kulongoski continues to be one of the few Governors in the USA to propose zero (0) for the state wide voice of mental health clients in his budget since he has taken office.

Read the Mental Health Weekly article about Oregon here:

http://tinyurl.com/kulongoski-mental-health


* Back in 2003, when he first took office, the Governor started a "Stakeholder" committee to advise him about building the new, expensive, huge state psychiatric institutions that are budgeted for more than half-a-billion dollars. The Governor promised this Oregon State Hospital Replacement Project Stakeholder Committee would have adequate mental health consumer representatives. But six years later MindFreedom discovered his Stakeholder committee not only has three empty consumer slots. Turns out his staff "accidentally" counted attorney and advocate Bob Joondeph of Oregon Disability Rights as a "mental health consumer" in order to try to make their quota!

We would look at that label as quite an honor, but Bob has politely explained to the Governor's staff it's untrue, and he never identified himself as a mental health consumer, and he is not.

Find out more about the Governor's "Stakeholder" committee on their web site here:

https://apps.dhs.state.or.us/cfmx/oshrp/pages/index.cfm?ID=home

 

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski meets with mental health clients.

Time to ask again!

Ask Ted, Why Zero?

 

For his 2009 budget, Oregon's Governor Ted Kulongoski once more called for zero for the state-wide voice and empowerment of Oregon's mental health clients.

 

Action: Please contact the Governor today!

 

 

Just use this State of Oregon's web contact form for Governor Kulongoski here:

 

http://www.governor.state.or.us/Gov/contact_us.shtml

 

 

Ask the Governor if he understands these facts:

  • Since the exact month Governor Kulongoski took office, January 2003, the State of Oregon cancelled all state-wide support for mental health consumer voice.
  • During these six years, Oregon has been one of the few USA states to provide zero (0) to support the voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors.
  • Yet, Governor Kulongoski successfully asked the legislature for half a billion dollars to build new huge psychiatric institutions!
  • Oregon is one of the very few states to continue to build old-fashioned centralized institutions.
  • The Governor claims cut backs mean no money for the state-wide voice of mental health clients. But peer driven advocacy and support are even more important, and the best bargain, during a time of economic crisis.
  • The Governor has found funds to add thousands of more Oregonians into the mental health system... but without proper representation and advocacy.
  • A leader of Oregon's mental health system, Bob Nikkel, officially asked the Governor to put funding for a state-wide mental health consumer affairs into his 2009 budget. The Governor's health director, Bruce Goldberg, supported the proposal. The Governor not only rejected Nikkel's proposal, he transferred this pro-mental health consumer voice leader out of his job. You may read a PDF of Nikkel's mental health consumer affairs proposal, rejected by the Governor, by clicking here.
  • The Governor met with leaders of mental health client organizations just six months ago, June 2008, and pledged to support their state-wide voice and empowerment. To read about that meeting click here.
  • Why, after six years, have you been unable to locate adequate mental health consumer representation for your Stakeholder committee for the Oregon State Hospital Replacement Project? Why was attorney Bob Joondeph "accientally" listed as a mental health consumer to help make quota? Why are there three empy slots?
  • In the last legislative session, mental health clients helped pass a new law making empowerment a core principle of the mental health system. Apparently Governor Kulongoski hasn't read the law yet, you may read about it here: http://www.mindfreedom.org/as/act/us/or/sb363-364

 

Please act -- use this State of Oregon's web contact form for Governor Kulongoski here:


http://www.governor.state.or.us/Gov/contact_us.shtml

[if you use web form, keep comment below 1,000 characters.]

 

 

 

 

PLEASE FORWARD THIS ALERT to other Oregonians, with encouragement to contact the Governor NOW.

 

Be sure to use this easy web page to send your polite but firm question by e-mail, phone or postal mail to the Governor:

 

http://www.governor.state.or.us/Gov/contact_us.shtml

 

 

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For more info see "related content" below.

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Rae Unzicker & Justin Dart

Rae (1948-2001) was a psychiatric survivor activist who was a key bridge-builder between the entire disability movement and our movement to change the mentalh health system. Rae championed the National Council on Disability (NCD) report, From Privileges to Rights: People Labeled with Psychiatric Disabilities Speaking For Themselves. Rae is shown here with her beloved Justin Dart (1930 - 2002), widely considered one of the key disability activists of the last century, and also a bridge builder between our movements. Both Rae and Justin were MFI members. (Photo by Cookie Gant)
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