Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mental Health 'human rights' as Obama administsration comes on board: 'all persons shall have the right to best available mental health care'

There's an interesting article in Harper's by an attorney who is an expert on human rights/ international law (see: Six Questions for Mary Ellen O’Connell on the Power of International Law By Scott Horton

"Mary Ellen O’Connell, a law professor at Notre Dame University, is a prominent voice in the legal community on international law and the law of war, and the author of a new book entitled The Power and Purpose of International Law. As the Bush Administration exits under a cloud of controversy concerning its accountability for war crimes, I put six questions to Mary Ellen about her book, the legacy of the Bush presidency on the field of international law and the challenges facing President-elect Obama."

In that article, this is discussed (and it bears relationship to mental health treatment and human rights, in general):

'...4. (Harper's Mag: "The idea that international law is impotent, that there is no effective sanction for its violation, seems to be in the background when one reads the torture memoranda. We see a very casual attitude taken towards the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, for instance, as if they are not really law. Doesn’t this suggest that the neoconservative theory of international law as “no law at all” is directly connected to detainee abuse in Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and elsewhere? The neocon theory saw no effective limitations in international law and essentially unlimited presidential powers in wartime. The torture and mistreatment of prisoners was effectively an opportunity to take these theories for a test drive. Does this not suggest that the focus of accountability should be on the lawyers who enabled the abuse?


I see contempt for international law on every page of the torture memos. There are serious errors of analysis throughout—some, perhaps, from ignorance, but there are many errors that even a lawyer who never studied international law should not make, such as interpreting treaty terms by looking at terms in unrelated United States statutes.

And yet the memos were ordered. Obviously, someone understood the widespread belief in and commitment to international law in this country. The decision to torture, disappear, and abuse detainees could not simply be enacted by top officials saying “take the gloves off.” Hundreds of pages of memos misconstruing international law had to be written first. The lawyers who wrote the torture memos must have been particularly frustrated in needing to make arguments about international law. But their poor results—their misconstruction of the law is directly related to the violations of human rights and humanitarian law that have been perpetrated since 9/11.

The CIA, contractors, and military believed they needed clearance from international law obligations. The investigation of crimes, I suggest, should include the lawyers.

The clearest standards these lawyers have violated are standards of professional conduct. Regardless of their personal opinions about international law, the rules of professional responsibility require competent advice on the law. There is nothing of the kind in the torture memos.....'"

And so, as we move into an era associated w/ human rights (whileas before, we looked 'thru a glass darkly'), people who have mental health challenges should be accorded the same rights as others. This is the basis, as I understand it, for human rights. And yet, as re: NC mental health reform, we find that this is not the case.

Indeed, state funded clients are subjected to a variety of interpretations as per the administrative LME's ploughing thru their NC tax-payer money----as pertaining to how to spend the state's money paid for by NC citizens when it comes to the mental health treatment of people with mental health challenges and have no insurance/ no Medicare/ no Medicaid. In a phrase, they are the 'working poor.'

And you do not have to look very far to see the pylon driving down upon the heads of the Big Three automakers employees as the Republicans try to break the back of the UAW union and turn them also into 'the working poor.'

The INTENTION of NC mental health reform was to provide:

*choice of providers for those seeking mental health treatment
*availability of mental health treatment (which precludes choice)
*take the services into the community (which was basically the driving agenda behind Community Support Services)

Some might define these as 'Cadillac intentions on a Chevy budget.'

The problem is: no one ever owned to the fact that this is what took place as the NC State Legislature progressively robbed and defunded the coffers set aside to undergird these purposes.

You can't have any serious intentions about human rights or eye-balling the capacity and failure as pertaining to NC mental health reform until you own up to how the mission was devalued and then fell into a funk.

I don't see anything like this taking place. I just see more of the same bullshit in terms of avoiding addressing the issue.

I see directors of hospitals downsizing into other hospitals. I see tax payer $$$$$$ flying out the window as 2 or 3 of the 4 public psychiatric hospitals cannot re-attain CMS/ Medicare/ medicaid funding---which costs NC tax payers $2 million or more/ month. I see co-chairs of Joint Legislative Oversight Committees of the NC State Legislature unable to get answers to simple questions like: "Why are there no outpatient therapy services for state funded clients under Smoky Mountain Center LME, the largest LME in NC?"

To be sure, the notion of choice of providers ran away years ago and no one even talks about it. The talk now is about finding what there IS and the scramble that takes place as Community Support Services companies yank clients away from each other----depending on who is unhappy this week----is doing nothing but churning CSS.

Oh yeah: did I tell you? Competition----what Dr. Vince Visingardi---the guy w/ the Hawaiian shirts from MI----- envisioned as fundamental to having a healthy, competitive providing of mental health services----is ALIVE and WELL.

Here are the World Health Organization points about mental health human rights:


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