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witf introduces 'Smart Talk Friday' radio program

Radio Smart Talk: Is there a mental health crisis?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 14, 2013 4:20 PM

Radio Smart Talk for Tuesday, January 15:

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Is there a mental health crisis?  Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick III thinks so.  In fact, Commissioner Hartwick went as far as saying the mental health crisis is "a ticking time bomb" that is fast becoming "a public safety crisis."

Hartwick and other county officials throughout Pennsylvania are in his words, "in the frontlines of service delivery" and thus in a position to see the impact of budget cuts and society turning a blind eye toward the mentally ill.

Mental illness is getting more attention after the shooting that left 26 children and educators dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month.  The gunman, Adam Lanza, is reported to have suffered from mental illness. 

Many have suggested that the availability of guns and violent video games and movies are other possble factors that contribute to mass shootings.  Stricter gun laws are already being considered by the Obama Administration and in several states.  

So far though, there hasn't been much action taken on ways to recognize and improve access to mental health services.

Commissioner Hartwick will appear on Tuesday's Radio Smart Talk, along with Dauphin County Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities program administrator Dan Eisenhauer and Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute medical director Dr. Linda Durst.

Listen to the program:

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Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute medical director Dr. Linda Durst, Dauphin County Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities program administrator Dan Eisenhauer, and Dauphin County Commissioner Hartwick.

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Comments: 23

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-15 09:11

    Facebook comment from Keely:
    It is not just important, it is necessary. I believe the issue is that gun control (at least on the surface) is simplistic. You can ban certain types of firearms or ammunition, you can implement great checks.

    However, you can't "ban" mental illness. There isn't a booklet on what mental illness can and cannot do. There are also an infinite number of illnesses, situations, severities, and levels of care. True reform would require massive overall of our system and how we think about, treat, and communicate about mental illness. It is harder to address because I think most people just don't know where to start.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-15 09:12

    Facebook comment from Sasha:
    Yes its huge, especially in severe cases....it needs to be addressed!! If these services stop we have our hands full!

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-15 09:13

    Facebook comment from Damon in response to the question, “Should Mental Health get as much attention as gun control?”:

    It shouldn't get as much attention, it should get significantly more.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-15 09:36

    Email from Scott,

    We have succeeded in finding controls to mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.

    however we continue to misallocate resources. we spend more time in getting approvals for medicine which could have transformed the killer in Sandy Hook. However insurance blocks the availability of these resources as a means of rationing care.

    State hospital populations were the highest in 1949. That was the year chlorpromazine was discovered and became available for treating schizophrenia.

    We now are prohibited from using these medicines due to limited insurance availability.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-15 09:38

    Email from Dave in Harrisburg:

    The media’s and politicians’ new focus on the danger of unidentified mentally ill people and the characterization of the inadequate treatment of people with mental illness as “a ticking timebomb” makes it seem like this is a matter of us vs. them. This reinforces the stigma attached to mental illness and encourages people to fear the mentally ill. This does everyone a disservice.

    The goal of the mental health care is not the protection of society from “bad people.” It is the same as that of all healthcare: to make people as well as possible.

    Your guests seem to genuinely care about people who need treatment, but to focus today’s discussion on the potential risk posed by the mentally ill is to misdirect your listeners from the bigger picture. The mental health crisis is that people who need help are not receiving it. Adam Lanza was also a victim.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-15 09:40

    Email from Manuel:

    Mental Health should be talked about much, much, more than gun control. Mental health can be treated and healing can happen. Guns are inanimate objects which are merely used.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-15 09:41

    Email from Manuel:

    My wife and I adopted 4 special needs children from Cumberland County. Our oldest son was then diagnosed with RAD, (Reactive Attachment Disorder - SmartTalk). A disorder that basically means that he had no conscience. We spent 9 years trying to get him into a treatment facility to get help. And never was able to get him the help he truly needed. Since then, he’s outgrown the system, left the home on his own accord, and gone into society.

    This may not seem dangerous. However, you need to realize that one factor that almost every serial criminal, from serial rapists, to serial murderer suffers from, is RAD.

    These children need treatment when they are young, instead of waiting until they become a danger to society. It is far cheaper to prevent these, that deal with these.

  • Robert Colgan img 2013-01-15 09:42

    Nothing like reinforcing unfair and inaccurate societal stigma re mental illness than to point to someone who does something violent and claim they were experiencing "mental illness" ----when mental illness, like all illnesses, is one that cuts across all lines of behavior.

    For every automobile driver who mistakenly presses the accelerator instead of the brake and hits a pedestrian there are probably hundreds of drivers who miscalculate and damage the bumper or fender---but we don't condemn all drivers for the errors of the publicized few as we blanketly condemn the mentally ill for actions of a very few.

    If anything, the conversation re mental illness needs to shift away from stigma------based on fear------and toward an awareness that everyone shares to some degree the same instabilities that we see in larger measure in those labeled mentally ill.
    Their abnormality is not that different from anyone's.
    They're us.

    Peer to peer programs for the mentally ill are the best in terms of cost containment and efficacy . . . those who have walked the walk know how to help others.

  • Howard D. Burger img 2013-01-15 09:43

    Many of the residents who were living in the State Hospital were transferred to group homes. State Hospital direct care workers were earning $18/hr and up. Group home staff are earning less than $10.00/hr Many group home direct care workers hoped that when the State Hospital residents were moved into group homes that there would be a pay increase for group home direct care workers. Instead there were pay cuts to MH/MR group homes. The only pay increases group home direct care workers recieve is COLA. Group home supervisors who did as much direct care as their staff actually had their pay reduced and their workloads increased. That's why so many people are leaving the MH/MR field.

  • MentalHealthPatient img 2013-01-15 09:43

    We need to reopen the state mental hospitals and put all drug users there. No more should drug users be put in jails. Its a mental disease and not a criminal one.

    REMEMBER PEOPLE WE TAX PAYERS ARE MAKING PRIVATE PRISON OWNERS RICH.. WOULDN'T YOU RATHER YOUR TAXES GOING BACK TO STATE HOSPITALS FOR THE MUCH NEEDED CARE OF OUR CITIZENS!!

    also BIG PHARMA makes BIG BUCKS on pushing drugs on patients verses in the old days back in the 60's and 70's they had to BE OFF DRUGS TO GET OUT OF THE MENTAL HOSPITALS..

    Its about GREED PEOPLE... and the evil destruction of society by those who would destroy america FROM WITHIN

    Get the people out of prisons and put them back into state hospitals and that is where much of the funding can come from.

  • lhb17201 img 2013-01-15 09:43

    1- Please don't lump ID and mental health together. They are VERY different.
    2- The choice to increase the compensation to politicians but take the monies that were promised to the community to care for people who were in the state hospitals. How dare they!
    3- Few people with mental illness are violent.
    4- The general public doesn’t know what a “consumer” is.


    We need to look at the compensation of the workers, be concerned about the burnout rate, and look into what programs work. Psychiatric Rehabilitation works. PA has the most Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) than any other state and we are not recognized for what we do. We’re called a Day Program, we are far from that. We help people gain the skills they need in a Choose, Get Keep model.

    Choose the goal, get the skills, and learn how to use supports necessary in order to not lose what was gained.

    To top it off we are not compensated for our educations or experience. Yes I am a mental health professional, with a BA and a CPRP and get 30k per year with over 17 yrs. Exp. How many of the politicians would do that? The crisis workers get paid about 25k to start with a BA. We don't get the compensation, and most care workers get minimum wage. Most men leave the field unless they get higher education because they can’t support their families on what we make. A teacher works 9 months, has the same basic degree and gets 35k to start. A starting wage of $3888.00 compared to the BA mental health worker who starts at $1760.00.

    The point is lack of everything where we’re concerned. No one cares, all they do is talk, and only when something like the shooting in CT happens, then it goes back behind the secret bookcase until another one happens.


  • lhb17201 img 2013-01-15 09:44

    1- Please don't lump ID and mental health together. They are VERY different.
    2- The choice to increase the compensation to politicians but take the monies that were promised to the community to care for people who were in the state hospitals. How dare they!
    3- Few people with mental illness are violent.
    4- The general public doesn’t know what a “consumer” is.


    We need to look at the compensation of the workers, be concerned about the burnout rate, and look into what programs work. Psychiatric Rehabilitation works. PA has the most Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) than any other state and we are not recognized for what we do. We’re called a Day Program, we are far from that. We help people gain the skills they need in a Choose, Get Keep model.

    Choose the goal, get the skills, and learn how to use supports necessary in order to not lose what was gained.

    To top it off we are not compensated for our educations or experience. Yes I am a mental health professional, with a BA and a CPRP and get 30k per year with over 17 yrs. Exp. How many of the politicians would do that? The crisis workers get paid about 25k to start with a BA. We don't get the compensation, and most care workers get minimum wage. Most men leave the field unless they get higher education because they can’t support their families on what we make. A teacher works 9 months, has the same basic degree and gets 35k to start. A starting wage of $3888.00 compared to the BA mental health worker who starts at $1760.00.

    The point is lack of everything where we’re concerned. No one cares, all they do is talk, and only when something like the shooting in CT happens, then it goes back behind the secret bookcase until another one happens.


  • lhb17201 img 2013-01-15 09:45

    1- Please don't lump ID and mental health together. They are VERY different.
    2- The choice to increase the compensation to politicians but take the monies that were promised to the community to care for people who were in the state hospitals. How dare they!
    3- Few people with mental illness are violent.
    4- The general public doesn’t know what a “consumer” is.


    We need to look at the compensation of the workers, be concerned about the burnout rate, and look into what programs work. Psychiatric Rehabilitation works. PA has the most Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) than any other state and we are not recognized for what we do. We’re called a Day Program, we are far from that. We help people gain the skills they need in a Choose, Get Keep model.

    Choose the goal, get the skills, and learn how to use supports necessary in order to not lose what was gained.

    To top it off we are not compensated for our educations or experience. Yes I am a mental health professional, with a BA and a CPRP and get 30k per year with over 17 yrs. Exp. How many of the politicians would do that? The crisis workers get paid about 25k to start with a BA. We don't get the compensation, and most care workers get minimum wage. Most men leave the field unless they get higher education because they can’t support their families on what we make. A teacher works 9 months, has the same basic degree and gets 35k to start. A starting wage of $3888.00 compared to the BA mental health worker who starts at $1760.00.

    The point is lack of everything where we’re concerned. No one cares, all they do is talk, and only when something like the shooting in CT happens, then it goes back behind the secret bookcase until another one happens.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-15 09:46

    Facebook comment from Anonymous:

    2 years ago I moved into the state of PA. I have a diagnoses of Bi-polar. The move, one of 15 in 10 years, compounded with my mental issues caused me a great deal of stress. I needed my medication adjusted. I could not get into a private mental health facility to see a physiologist before 4 months. I called 3 facilities . I have private insurance. I had private care in IL and just needed a transfer in care. My health declined and eventually I had to self-admit myself to the hospital, through crisis intervention. Once I was admitted I received a calm atmosphere, however my meds were not changed. I still had to wait, for 3 months to get into private care. This is a problem.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-15 09:46

    Email from John,

    With the science of neurology making leaps and bounds and knowing psychosis is only a symptom, why aren't more people being treated at the receptor level.

  • MentalHealthPatient img 2013-01-15 09:47

    I am STRONGER AFTER HAVING BEEN IN HAVERFORD STATE MENTAL HOSPITAL.. stop the lies... take it from me who went there and got help..

  • MentalHealthPatient img 2013-01-15 09:48

    I am STRONGER AFTER HAVING BEEN IN HAVERFORD STATE MENTAL HOSPITAL.. stop the lies... take it from me who went there and got help..

  • MentalHealthPatient img 2013-01-15 09:51

    The hospital was a safe haven that gave me time to think and there i went to school with other kids and i found out there were others like me. That helped me greatly.

  • MentalHealthPatient img 2013-01-15 09:52

    The hospital was a safe haven that gave me time to think and there i went to school with other kids and i found out there were others like me. That helped me greatly.

  • lhb17201 img 2013-01-15 09:58

    The other issue is to get people the education about their illness not just medicate. In the community the only place to learn and be part of their recovery is Psychiatric Rehabilitation.

  • MentalHealthPatient img 2013-01-15 10:00

    I have done many positive things in my life since being in haverford state mental hospital. I have built homes and ran homes for recovering drug addicts and i was a delegate for a presidental candidate who won 2 times. I have resolved my gender issues and have gotten involved in many progressive causes. Today i own a farm and take care of my mother. I am also a vietnam era veteran who has a honorable discharge. I volunteered too. I vote and have no felony convictions. I pay my taxes and need to be heard because i have been thru it all.

  • MentalHealthPatient img 2013-01-15 10:02

    I have done many positive things in my life since being in haverford state mental hospital. I have built homes and ran homes for recovering drug addicts and i was a delegate for a presidental candidate who won 2 times. I have resolved my gender issues and have gotten involved in many progressive causes. Today i own a farm and take care of my mother. I am also a vietnam era veteran who has a honorable discharge. I volunteered too. I vote and have no felony convictions. I pay my taxes and need to be heard because i have been thru it all.

  • Holly img 2013-01-20 18:15

    In regards to the mentally ill and gun control: I think it's a fallicy to believe that if you commit a violent act that you must be mentally ill. What if the person is just plain BAD, for whatever reason? It seems that the majority of experts agree that the mentally ill are not much more likely to commit violent crimes than the general population. And we can agree that for the most part these horrific events have been escalating at an alarming rate in recent years. So we must take a look at what is different now, then from say a generation ago. Why are our kids going awry? A generation ago, we had guns; same as now. I hate to keep coming back to the same old thing, but a generation ago I was playing space invaders and pacman on Atari. Not Grand Theft Auto and Resident Evil. I suggest that anyone reading this do a search on Top 10 Most Violent Video Games". (They are also the biggest sellers). The details are frightening. How many of you generation Xers and older, had parents that allowed you to sit in the living room with them while they watched bloody and violent horror movies? Mine didn't, and neither did any of my friends. We managed to sneak behind their backs to watch a few, but that's pretty much it. Now, how many of your adult friends allow their 6 or 10 year olds to sit there and watch these violent movies with them? I bet it's more than you'd like to admit. What do we equate a child with? Innocence. And what is it doing to a child's development when we live in a society that steals this innocence at every turn? Where they are barraged with violent images and ideas, before we can even establish a sense of right and wrong and empathy within them? They begin to go off the tracks. Add a dysfunctional household or bullying in school, and then you are creating disaster. How will these kids react (these kids that have been entertaining themselves with bloody games for years, gleefully killing life like represenatations of humans for fun) when they feel thay have been mistreated? Hmmm, might they be likely to blow someone's head off? We focus on all these other issues because we know, in this "anything goes" culture there is no way to fight the obvious. We're not ALLOWED to ban the sale of mature "games" to kids. The US Superior Court keeps striking it down under some warped idea of "freedom of speech". (States have tried and lost alot of money in the process).I don't know how to fight poor parenting, but maybe the schools can attempt the teaching of empathy. "Look at that poor homeless man! How cold he must be! How hungry he must be! Doesn't that make you feel sad? wouldn't you feel good if you could take him a sandwhich?" or "Look at that poor little girl in the corner crying? What if that were you? What would you want someone to do for you?" Innocent minds are being corrupted at an early age. We can't legislate the media, nor parenting, so we need a plan to counteract it when it occurs...and teaching kids empathy could maybe be one step...

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