Yaicha Provencher says she was never told about a long-term treatment program available in Maine, despite her ex-boyfriend's many hospitalizations.
The former girlfriend of a Poland man charged in the murder of his brother Thanksgiving morning said Maine’s failed mental health system is to blame for the tragic event.
Justin Butterfield, 34, who is charged with the intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder of his brother, Gabriel Damour, 38, is expected to claim he was not in a criminally responsible state of mind at the time of the crime, according to his lawyer.
Yaicha Provencher said Monday at a press conference at the Maine State House that she had never been told about a state law that would have put Butterfield on a strict monitoring schedule to help manage his illness.
Four years ago, Butterfield began to exhibit signs of a brain disorder that would later be diagnosed as schizophrenia, Provencher said.
He experienced paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, she said.
Butterfield has been hospitalized eight times since 2019, she said, seven times at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.
A Bangor man who spent years working in healthcare has formed a small committee urging lawmakers to stop brain disorder discrimination.
Joe Pickering Jr. said Maine’s approach to illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse are being devalued and more community services should be made available.
Pickering spent more than 30 years in healthcare and said our society, our local government, and the nation as a whole need to stop separating mental, physical, and behavioral health from one another because he said the head and the body work as one.
“All of our illnesses get impacted from our head to our body. There is no such thing as physical and mental illness. It’s all one,” Pickering said.
Pickering watched his son, Christopher, a gifted basketball player, fight schizophrenia for years.
Christopher passed away in a fatal house fire in 2020, but Pickering said the son he knew died years before that.
He said more funding is needed for community health services for those with brain disorders like his son.
Jeanne Gore, who is a member of the Truth Tear Down This Wall Committee and the coordinator with the National Shattering Silence Coalition, agreed.
“As many as 80 percent of those with substance use disorder, or SUD, have a co-occurring brain disorder. That is the sad reality,” she said.