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NAMI Bucks County Received Grant to help Fund and Expand “Ending the Silence”

Ron Bernstein, Foundations Community Partnership, presenting grant check to Laurie Pepe, Ending the Silence Coordinator and Debbie Moritz, NAMI Bucks Executive Director

Ron Bernstein, Foundations Community Partnership, presenting grant check to Laurie Pepe, Ending the Silence Coordinator and Debbie Moritz, NAMI Bucks Executive Director

NAMI of Bucks County was awarded a $12,000 grant to help fund and expand the “Ending the Silence” program from Foundations Community Partnership’s (FCP). “Ending the Silence” is a 50 minute anti-Stigma, Anti-suicide mental health education program presented to Bucks County high school students.

The grant program is an integral part of Foundations’ mission to improve the lives of underserved youth and their families in Bucks County. The grants included $124,000 in Bucks Innovation and Improvement Grants (BIIG), $40,000 in Capital Grants, $19,000 in Technical Assistance Funding, and a $7,500 Emergency Grant pledge.

“There are so many worthwhile organizations serving children in need in Bucks County,” said Joseph Stella, M.D., Chairman of the Foundations Community Partnership Board of Directors. “It is a privilege to support area non-profits that are making such a positive difference in the community by fulfilling unmet needs.”


Bucks County Commissioners Presents Proclamation

Declaring October 5-11, 2014 as Mental Illness

Awareness Week in Bucks County


 Pictured: Valerie Melroy, Executive Director, Voice and Vision; Charles H. Martin, Commissioner Vice Chairman; Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW, Commissioner; Kathleen Campbell, NAMI Bucks County President; Debbie Moritz, NAMI Bucks County Executive Director; Debra Ryan, Director of Business Development, Penn Foundation; Robert G. Loughery, Commissioner Chairman

Pictured: Valerie Melroy, Executive Director, Voice and Vision; Charles H. Martin, Commissioner Vice Chairman; Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW, Commissioner; Kathleen Campbell, NAMI Bucks County President; Debbie Moritz, NAMI Bucks County Executive Director; Debra Ryan, Director of Business Development, Penn Foundation; Robert G. Loughery, Commissioner Chairman




Debbie Moritz is the administrator of the Bucks County NAMI (holding laptop) stands with fellow NAMI members Lynn Plewes, support group facilitator(left); Jennifer Refford, board member; Kathleen Campbell, president of B.C. NAMI (right) and Raighne Kirk, board member (far right). The organization provides support and advocacy for people suffering from mental illnesses as well as their families. Moritz has two adult children who were diagnosed when they were younger, one with schizophrenia, the other with ADHD and bipolar.


Read the article online at Do-Gooders 

 The Intelligencer January 2, 2013

By Theresa Hegel Staff

For Lynn Plewes of Warminster, one of the hardest parts of caring for her three special-needs children was the isolation she felt.

Years ago, one of her daughters was diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder and was receiving psychiatric care by the age of 2. Another daughter has autism and intellectual disabilities, and her son struggles with learning disabilities.

“When you have a child with a mental health disorder, everyone seems to disappear,” Plewes said. “A lot of times, you’re told in a roundabout way that you’re not a good parent, that it’s your fault that your child is behaving this way.”

Plewes began an exhaustive search for someone who shared her experience. She tapped a network for parents of children with special needs, but the closest family she could find lived at the other end of the state.

Then, when she was almost ready to give up, she struck up a conversation with a new friend, who happened to know someone whose child also had childhood-onset schizophrenia.

That someone was Debbie Moritz, now the administrator of the Bucks County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Moritz became a friend to Plewes, introducing her to the camaraderie available at NAMI.

“She’s an angel,” Plewes said of Moritz. “She literally takes phone calls 12 hours a day, seven days a week, if needed. She’s always there and always such an inspiration to me.”

NAMI Bucks, which has about 200 members, provides support and advocacy for people recovering from mental illness and their families.

There are more people affected by mental illness than you may think. NAMI estimates that one out of 17 people has a severe and persistent mental illness and that half of those people show symptoms by age 14.

NAMI educates families and schools about the early warning signs and symptoms of these biological brain disorders and how to get effective treatment through free education classes and support groups, according to Moritz.

NAMI Bucks is one of 10 exceptional charities the newspaper is highlighting in its Do Gooder series for the good deeds they perform daily for area residents, like Lynn Plewes.

Plewes said NAMI’s support has been invaluable over the last decade and a half, as she has struggled to raise her children in a world that still largely stigmatizes mental illness.

“It’s almost like a family to me,” she said of NAMI. “Nobody outside really quite gets it. It’s one of those things you have to live through. … It’s nice to know that there’s someone out there who has gone through the same thing and can give you little, helpful hints and that sort of thing.”

The organization is mostly volunteer, and Plewes herself now teaches one of NAMI’s free classes, helping families with young children and adolescents diagnosed with mental illness. NAMI Bucks offers a variety of classes, all taught by family members and people living in recovery, Moritz said.

“We feel very strongly about that,” she said. “It’s not that we’re trying to replace professionals. … We couldn’t replace them.”

But, as Plewes said, families and people in recovery have a perspective that others may lack.

Besides running support groups and classes, NAMI provides 40-hour crisis intervention training for police officers, teaching them how to handle a mental health crisis in a way that keeps the ill person, the police officer and the community safe, Moritz said.

NAMI hosts public forums five times a year, inviting doctors and others to speak about mental health issues. And the group runs an annual fundraising walk to raise money and awareness.

This month, the alliance will begin teaching 50-minute health classes at area schools. They are designed to help students understand what their mentally ill peers undergo and to help them understand what such a person needs from a friend, Moritz said.

“The bottom line is they just need someone to be a friend, just like anybody else,” she said.

Six times a year, NAMI runs something called the Lower Bucks Consumer Club, which Moritz describes as a Sunday dinner that’s just about socializing and fun, not therapy or programming.

“A lot of these people are in programming all week,” she said. By the weekend, “they don’t want to hear it anymore.”

Moritz said she runs NAMI because she doesn’t want to see other families founder in the system the way she and Plewes did years ago. Moritz has two grown children, one of whom was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 12. Now 31, he’s married, has a job and is living “a life just like everybody else.”

But when her son was younger, Moritz struggled with the same isolation and confusion about where to go for help that Plewes did.

“I just don’t want to see other families go through feeling like they’re alone, because they’re not,” Moritz said.

The Woman Who Died in the Waiting Room

Instead of helping her, they ignored her. The story behind the videotape that shocked the country.

By Jeneen Interlandi | NEWSWEEK

Published Jul 12, 2008

From the magazine issue dated Jul 21, 2008

for full story and video see

As disturbing as the circumstances of Esmin Green‘s death were, they should not have come as a surprise. Public hospitals across the country have struggled to provide acute psychiatric care to the poor and uninsured since the early 1960s, when large mental hospitals began closing their doors en masse. Rather than lock them away in cold, uncaring institutions, the thinking went, the mentally ill should be offered a place in society. But with insufficient outpatient services and a dearth of community-based support, the least fortunate of them have ended up in already overtaxed emergency rooms. They are the poor, the uninsured and the undocumented. Many of them suffer from chronic conditions that could potentially be treated with medication and regular counseling, luxuries most of them cannot afford. With just 50,000 inpatient psychiatric beds for tens of millions of people across the country, the mentally ill typically wait twice as long for treatment as other patient populations do. “It’s like landing airplanes at O’Hare airport,” says Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “For psychiatric patients in particular, every day is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at O’Hare. There is just no place for them to go.”

The Shortage of public hospital beds for mentally ill Persons
A report by the Treatment Advocacy Center

Since the 1960s there has been a mass exodus of patients from public psychiatric hospitals. Data are available on the number of patients in such hospitals in 1955 and in 2004–2005. The data show that:

In 2005 there were 17 public psychiatric beds available per 100,000 population compared to 340 per 100,000 in 1955. Thus, 95 percent of the beds available in 1955 were no longer available in 2005.
 The states with the fewest beds were Nevada (5.1 per 100,000), Arizona (5.9), Arkansas (6.7), Iowa (8.1), Vermont (8.9), and Michigan (9.9). The states with the most beds were South Dakota (40.3) and Mississippi (49.7).
 A consensus of experts polled for this report suggests that 50 public psychiatric beds per 100,000 population is a minimum number. Thus, 42 of the 50 states had less than half the minimum number needed, and Mississippi was the only state to achieve this goal.
 The total estimated shortfall of public psychiatric beds needed to achieve a minimum level of psychiatric care is 95,820 beds.
 The consequences of the severe shortage of public psychiatric beds include increased homelessness; the incarceration of mentally ill individuals in jails and prisons; emergency rooms being overrun with patients waiting for a psychiatric bed; and an increase in violent behavior, including homicides, in communities across the nation.
 The consequences of the severe shortage in public psychiatric beds could be improved with the widespread utilization of PACT (Program of Assertive Community Treatment) programs and assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), both of which have been proven to decrease hospitalization. It could also be improved with greater flexibility in federal and state regulations allowing for the development of alternatives to hospitalization.

read full report on Treatment Advocacy Center website:

A Vital Tool – Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT)



A Major Victory   The U.S. Senate passes legislation for equitable mental health insurance coverage.Read NAMI National’s publication online


January 29, 2007
Hospital losing mental patients

Bucks County worries it won’t have the resources to care for mentally ill patients once they leave Norristown State Hospital.
The Intelligencer

HATFIELD – As Linda Drakas looked around her Hatfield apartment, still decorated for Christmas, she rattled off things she never expected to have:  a job as a prep cook at T.G.I.Fridays, a Walkman blasting her favorite INXS tunes, and most of all, freedom.

Six years ago she lived at the state psychiatric hospital in Norristown
where someone else made all her decisions.

“People who live in institutions like I did don’t want a life like that,”
the 36-year-old said. “They want to go out and do something with their lives.”  full story


The New York Times
January 21, 2006
Medicare Woes Take High Toll on Mentally Ill
HILLIARD, Fla., Jan. 16 –
 On the seventh day of the new Medicare drug benefit, Stephen Starnes began hearing voices again, ominous voices, and he started to beg for the medications he had been taking for 10 years. But his pharmacy could not get approval from his Medicare drug plan, so Mr. Starnes was admitted to a hospital here for treatment of paranoid schizophrenia.    full story


Man triumphs over mental illness and succeeds in helping others

Lancaster New Era
LANCASTER, Pa. – Bob Forrey has heard the voice of God.
He once commanded Forrey to strip and plunge into the Susquehanna River.
But Forrey’s orders from God weren’t divine inspirations.
They were hallucinations, symptoms of an illness that put him on a tightrope between illusion and reality.

Forrey is the award-winning executive director of the Lancaster County Consumer Satisfaction Team, whose members, while struggling with their own mental illness, survey and advocate for mental-health consumers.  full story

Reported August 4, 2005
Severe Mental Illness Linked to Crime Victims

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — More than one-fourth of people with severe mental illness were victims of crime last year, according to a new study. That is 11-times the rate of the general population. read more

SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005;62:911-921
16 National Organizations Cite Crisis in Mental Health System, Release Roadmap for Reform

WASHINGTON, July 27 /PRNewswire/ — Today at the U.S. Capitol, the Campaign for Mental Health Reform released “Emergency Response: A Roadmap for Federal Action on America’s Mental Health Crisis.”  The coalition of 16 national organizations proposed 28 action steps as a “roadmap” for Congress and the Administration to transform the country’s ailing mental health care system.

Posted on Sun, Dec. 19, 2004
Mental illness pushes families to the limit
Across the country, the families of the seriously mentally ill are stuck in an all-consuming struggle to save the sick from themselves.

WASHINGTON, July 7 /U.S. Newswire/ — Thousands of children with mental illnesses await needed community mental health services in juvenile detention centers across the country, according to a new report released at a hearing in the U.S. Senate’s Governmental Affairs Committee this morning.

“Children who need a safety net instead wind up waiting in juvenile detention,” said Tammy Seltzer, senior staff attorney at the Washington-based Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. “Thousands of children are locked up because the system isn’t offering them the help that they need when they need it.”

Hastert stops bill to boost mental illness coverage
June 11, 2004

WASHINGTON — Aided by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), insurance companies successfully have blocked legislation to make them provide equal coverage for mental and physical illnesses if their policies include both.

Police get primer on mental illness
Their numbers are not large, but the quality training they received may help reduce the jail population.

Twenty-nine police officers, including two from the Venice (CA) Police Department, other local police departments and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, graduated Friday from the community’s first-ever Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training at Keiser College in Sarasota.

“The idea is to re-educate our officers so they can help get people into crisis centers instead of jail,” Sarasota County Health Department spokeswoman Dianne Shipley said.

Highway sniper case highlights need for improved mental care  03/19/2004


McCoy has paranoid schizophrenia, an acquaintance told reporters, citing what she’d been told by his family. Authorities won’t confirm that, but have said McCoy has a mental illness and had stopped taking his medication.

The legal system will provide justice for McCoy and his victims, we’re confident.

But the fact that McCoy is mentally ill should not be used to further tar the much-stigmatized image of our neighbors who are mentally ill. We want to make sure they are treated justly by the public as well. Being ill is not a crime.   read full article

Daily News (New York) …
More than 1 million New Yorkers are at increased risk for depression or anxiety, heart attack, stroke, muscle and joint problems, weakened immune systems and sometimes premature death. Those same New Yorkers also are prone to sleeplessness, fatigue, weight gain and gastrointestinal problems. Who are these individuals?
They are ordinary people who care for disabled or chronically ill family members or friends, sometimes for decades – without pay, training and/or support from the health care system.

Senate bill defines mental illness
Lawmakers are asked to clarify competency in SB49
By Jennifer Dobner
Deseret Morning News

When a death warrant was signed last summer for Roberto Arguelles, questions were raised about the state of the convicted killer’s mental health.
In court hearings, Arguelles, 41, would spit and shout obscenities, rambling in long incoherent sentences. In his cell at the Utah State Prison, he ate his own feces, court documents and plastics.
The Department of Corrections asked the court for a competency evaluation to ensure the inmate understood the ramifications of the death warrant. But Arguelles, who raped and murdered four women, died of natural causes last fall before that evaluation was complete.,1249,590041889,00.html

Ed Kuny and son, Thomas have learned much about about mental illness since Thomas was diagnosed with schizophrenia 29 years ago. 

By BIBB UNDERWOOD – Special Writer
“Thomas is very intelligent,” Ed Kuny said, as he began this interview. “He is reasonably fluent in French and he does wonderful art. He has done more than 30 pictures and we are planning to take them to San Antonio to a ‘starving artist’ exhibit and see if he can sell a few.”

Thomas is Ed Kuny’s 44 year-old son who suffers from schizophrenia. Ed says Thomas was around 15 when they began to realize something was not normal, but he was not positively diagnosed until age 20.

“Because of Thomas, my wife, Sally, and I became very involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It literally saved our family. ..”

Homelessness and Mental Illness :  
A downward spiral to the street 

January 28, 2004

Workplace stress and depression are exacting a heavy toll, particularly among conscientious employees “in their prime working years,” say a group of corporate leaders who have pledged to conduct mental health audits of their own organizations.
A set of guidelines, to be released today by the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health, says mental illness is now the leading cause of employee disability and, as such, should be addressed at the corporate board level.

…studies by the National Institute of Mental Health and others have shown that 90 percent of suicides are related to undiagnosed, untreated, or inadequately treated mental illness...Montana has the second or third highest suicide rate in the country.  Suicide has hit the front page in Montana newspapers recently. There have been four suicides at the Montana State Prison in the past eight months.  On Jan. 29, Governor Judy Martz and Gail Gray, director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services, held a press conference dedicated to preventing teen suicides in Montana.

Troubled Students Feel College Nudges Them Off Campus
Harvard Crimson Staff Writer
Peter F. Lake ’81, a professor of law at Stetson University in Florida who has published a book on university legal obligations, says that nudging students off campus is one way universities currently deal with the burgeoning mental health “crisis” on campuses.

“There’s a number of approaches to the first generation of the problem, and one thing is to push the problem off campus,” Lake says. “It may not be the best thing for them or the school, but it’s one solution to the campus issue.”

Hyman says that liability is always a concern for medical institutions because of the number of lawsuits filed by patients…

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