Staff file photo by Joe Phelan Daniel Wathen Maine Today Photo Store The long wait is in apparent violation of a long-standing consent decree that settled a lawsuit brought two decades ago by mental health advocates that holds the state mental health system to agreed-upon standards of care. One part of the consent decree, according to former Chief Justice Daniel Wathen, who oversees the decree and files regular reports on its implementation, requires the state Department of Health and Human Services to assign a caseworker to people with severe and persistent mental illness to assist them in accessing services in the community within seven days of a request for a caseworker. Wathen, in his court master’s report for the period of January to June 30, wrote, “The most persistent and glaring example of non-compliance with the consent decree is the department’s failure to promptly provide timely community integration services for those with severe and persistent mental illness.” Wathen said six months ago that there were 387 people on a waiting list for assignment of a caseworker with an average wait of more than 40 days and some waiting up to 300 days. “Today, the situation is worse,” Wathen’s most recent report, released Thursday, notes.”543 people, both class members (the term for former Augusta Mental Health Institute patients covered by the terms of the consent decree) and non-class members including those who are MaineCare eligible and those who are not, are now on the wait list, and they are waiting an average of 58 days, with some waiting more than 350 days. Clearly the trend is in the wrong direction, although it may be influenced to some extent by the funding uncertainty that accompanies the budget process and the end of the fiscal year.” Guy Cousins, director of the state Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, said a lack of adequate funding is part of the problem and seconded Wathen’s suggestion that it is exacerbated by some service providers who are hesitant to take new clients into programs with uncertain funding.
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Maine lawmakers OK prison mental health unit bill
Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 | Posted: 5:33 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 Maine lawmakers OK prison mental health unit bill Sponsored Links The Associated Press AUGUSTA, Maine Maine is poised to create a mental health unit at Maine State Prison to help bail out a troubled psychiatric center. The Democratic-controlled House overwhelmingly approved a measure authorizing the unit on Thursday, followed by the Senate.
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Child mental-health commission launches six-month study
Starting next month, Miami-Dade County will train school personnel to spot warning signs of disturbed students. The “Typical or Troubled?” program, designed by the American Psychiatric Foundation, helps adults distinguish normal teen angst and rebellion from indications of deeper psychological problems. Underwood and others said warning signs include withdrawing socially, persistent sadness, agitation, substance abuse or sudden changes in appetite or sleeping patterns. The National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Orlando also offers a program called “Ending the Silence” to teach high school students the signs and symptoms of mental-health problems and what they should do about them. Donna Helsel, the group’s director of education, said a pilot program in May at Edgewater and Evans high schools showed promise.
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