We, the National Shattering Silence Coalition (NSSC), are currently reaching out to the top 6 Presidential Candidates running in 2020, along with President Trump and Bill Weld, to have them declare to us their willingness to work for the welfare of the 18.2 million people affected by serious mental illness (SMI) in the United States — 11.2 million adults with SMI and an estimated 7 million children with serious emotional disorders (SED). NSSC wants each candidate to make a commitment to addressing the specialized needs of our long overlooked loved ones. We want to back a candidate who’s not afraid to make a stand against the disgraceful treatment of those living with mental illnesses like schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder. NSSC will support any candidate willing to offer a compassionate alternative to the current failed mental health system and jail system our country has relied on for over 50 years.
NSSC is asking each candidate to make a Pledge of Allegiance to the National Shattering Silence Coalitions Points of Unity. In doing so, they will be showing the millions of people who live with SMI/SED they are willing to right this gross injustice we’ve lived under for over 5 decades. Their pledge will show those with SMI/SED and caregivers, family members, and professionals in the trenches who’ve been on the front lines, battling this broken system that they are the type of candidate we can support with confidence.
We will be collecting their responses to share throughout our mental illness advocacy circles. Our coalition boasts many well-connected and professional individuals, all of whom are eager to learn of each candidate’s personal stance on our Points Of Unity. Please be advised that these POU’s have been created through the combined experiences and collective knowledge of years of dealing with failure from an inept and incompetent mental illness system. Many have lost their loved one through suicide, some have had their child killed by police, and others have lost their child to the criminal justice system where they are often abused, neglected and remain untreated, or to the streets.
We are the veterans on the front lines! We have found all the holes in this discriminatory, inhumane system of abandonment and suffering. NSSC is ready to be heard, and our voice is getting louder. We will not be silent anymore and watch our loved ones die slowly and cruelly from a lack of care. We want change and we want it now!
Below is a copy of the letter that will be sent to all Presidential Candidates for 2020 — In it, they will be asked to take a stand with us or against us!
“NSSC is a nonpartisan alliance of family members, individuals suffering from SMI, professionals in the trenches, and people who care who are uniting to ensure that mental illness, health, and criminal justice systems count those with SMI, SED, and their families in all federal, state, and local policy reforms. We are voices for the 11.2 million adults and 7 million children living with and dying too young from serious mental illness.”
The National Shattering Silence Coalition (NSSC) is asking the top 6 Presidential Candidates, along with President Trump, where they stand on our coalition’s Points Of Unity. By pledging their allegiance to those living with serious mental illnesses, their caregivers, and professionals in the trenches, those candidates who choose to will, if elected, work with Congress to develop a more compassionate system of care that effectively meets the specialized needs of our society’s most vulnerable, those affected by SMI/SED. By doing so, they will proactively reduce homelessness & incarceration rates, and prevent the unconscionable suffering of the over 54.6 million United States citizens (18.2 million with SMI/SED times 3 (average family size in 2019 is 4 people) equals 54.6 million) who live with, or care for someone living with an SMI/SED like schizophrenia, bipolar or schizoaffective disorder. That’s 22% of all eligible voters in 2019, not including professionals in the trenches and others who care (the US Census Bureau estimated that there were 245.5 million eligible voters in November 2016.54.6 million divided by 245.5 million equals 22%). Please keep in mind, our estimate is conservative. Others have estimated this number to be as high as 72 million or 29% of eligible voters.
Can You Pledge Allegiance To Our Points Of Unity?
As a nonpartisan coalition of individuals and organizations from diverse political, economic, and cultural backgrounds, we agree to the following shared values and principles of unity:
1. SAMHSA Reforms: Implement evidence-based programs and strong policies that will recognize mental illness as a medical disorder, not a behavioral problem.
2. PAIMI Reform: Focus on abuse and neglect, its original mission, instead of lobbying to prevent medically needed inpatient and outpatient treatment and supports.
3. HIPAA Reform: Clarify and improve HIPAA policies to include family rights and prevent the harm that occurs when parents who provide care are shut out of the process.
4. End Discrimination: Support the full repeal of the IMD Exclusion and call for parity and a right to treatment under Medicaid/Medicare.
5. End the Incarceration of those suffering from SMI and SED
Promote, strengthen and fund Assisted Outpatient Treatment, mental illness courts, crisis intervention teams, FACT and any other evidence-based pre-incarceration alternatives that permit treatment and care for seriously mentally ill people based on treatment standards that focus on the need for treatment and grave disability, not on danger to selves and others.
Dramatically increase the number of psychiatric hospital beds, providing a hospital bed instead of a jail cell.
Support evidence-based post-incarceration diversion solutions. Invest in re-entry programs for SMI and SED.
End the hospital practice of criminalizing the symptomatic behavior of mentally ill patients while under treatment or medical management. Patients must not be prosecuted and punished for the consequences of poor ward management, deficient facility dynamics and infrastructure, poor staff training, and other critical factors. People who work with this patient population, including security staff must be provided comprehensive education to impart knowledge and comprehension of psychotic disorders and the behavioral aspects of the disorders.
End solitary confinement for those suffering from SMI and SED.
6. Support the funding of programs designed to grow the mental illness workforce.
7. Support both long-term to permanent dignified institutional housing for those who are too ill to live in the community and supportive and independent housing for those who are able to safely live in the community.
8. Seek to identify other points in federal law that need reform.
Can you agree to unite with us on these issues to end the cruel and inhumane treatment of those who suffer from SMI/SED and their loved ones who suffer right along with them?
We are no longer asking; we are demanding that their needs be met. As caregivers, we are tired of shouldering the cost of not caring that the United States Government dumped on us over 50 years ago when it deinstitutionalized the US but failed to construct the community support programs that we were promised to replace state hospitals. We are tired of the absolutely discriminatory Institutes of Mental Disease (IMD) exclusion that locks our family members out of receiving care! We are tired of broken promises, and we are tired of this broken system that is destroying our children’s lives as well as our own. We have millions of people who are eager to know where each candidate stands on these key issues. One of you is going to become the President of The United States. It will be in your power to correct the barbaric, archaic, and inhumane treatment of those who suffer from mental illnesses. They do not deserve to die behind dumpsters or live in solitary confinement isolated from their families, just because the government has failed to take proactive steps to ensure their right to treatment for over 50 years! Time is up. We are sick and tired of waiting! Many of us have already lost a child to these diseases! If you become President, we want you to work with us to fix this horrendous stain on America’s human rights history. We are sick of our children living in cages, being killed by the police, and being lost to vagrancy and suicide — we need your help — and our kids need it even more!
WHERE DO YOU STAND?
Please Reply With Your Acceptance Of This Pledge Of Allegiance To Support The Mentally Ill In America And Address Their Specialized Needs Through Our Points Of Unity! Failure To Reply With Your Pledge Of Allegiance Will Result In You Being Marked As “In Opposition” Of Our Points of Unity!
___ I Pledge Allegiance To NSSC’s Points Of Unity and Vow to See That They Come To Fruition During My Term as President of The United States Should I Be Elected!
___ I Reject Your Points Of Unity