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Hi guys…here’s the email that I sent to my US House Representative’s scheduling manager relating to H.R.3717, and a video of the preceding phone call to make this post at least somewhat interesting ;0)

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Dear Scheduling Manager,

My name is Marissa Varcho, I live in Delaware County, Ohio, and Pat Tiberi is my US House Representative.  I am an attorney here in the state of Ohio, as well as an individual who struggles to manage Bipolar I Disorder, and I have some concerns regarding proposed H.R.3717 introduced by US Representative Timothy Murphy back in December 2013 in the US House.

I started working autonomously as a mental-health legislative/consumer advocate last October 2013, trying to help educate Ohio’s Senate Civil Justice Committee and Ohio’s House Judiciary Committee, as to the negative impact proposed S.B.43/Sub.H.B.104 will pose for our mentally ill population here in Ohio.  These bills are different versions of “AOT” laws, referring to “assisted-outpatient treatment” – the same types of AOT laws heavily promoted by US Rep. Murphy’s H.R.3717.

Ohio’s currently pending proposed AOT legislation threatens to expand the legal definition under which the state government can step in and remove from persons struggling with mental illness, numerous constitutional civil liberties–including the right to manage one’s own healthcare decisions.  The newly proposed definitions in S.B.43/Sub.H.B.104 are so broad, that they include virtually every person with a “serious” mental illness – including, notably, me.

Moreover, the government seeks – as a part of the “treatment” plans outlined under AOT laws – to forcibly medicate people who struggle with mental illness, solely:

(1) For having been born with a mental illness; and

(2) Struggling amidst Ohio’s crumbling mental-health medical-care network, to find the competent mental-health medical support that we need.

These governmental forced-treatment AOT laws are problematic for many reasons – but especially:

(a) In light of the general incompetency of Ohio’s mental-health medical-care network; -and-

(b) That, when combined with the fact that psychotropic medications are often:

(i) Extremely dangerous (i.e. they can increase or even generate suicidal thoughts and ideation, induce mania and/or otherwise aggravate symptoms if the underlying mental illness has not been diagnosed correctly–which commonly happens–etc.); -and-

(ii) Pose significantly troublesome side-effects for the patient, that oftentimes outweigh any benefit actually received from taking the drug in the first place, and can also leave long-term permanent physical damage for the patient.

Psychiatric “medication management” is an extremely complicated, ongoing “trial-and-error” process between a patient and his/her psychiatrist, and I am afraid H.R.3717 is going to place the reigns over our mentally ill population’s wellbeing into dangerously incompetent hands.  In particular, I am notably disturbed by H.R.3717’s proposal to gut all federally-funded consumer-related programs (SAMHSA, PAIMI, etc.) that support the voice of the mentally ill.  This is a mistake — because, there is no recovery without giving voice, to those directly-affected who most need to be heard (i.e. http://blog.samhsa.gov/2012/03/23/defintion-of-recovery-updated/).

To wrap up then, I called Representative Tiberi’s office number today and was told that I should email you regarding my circumstances and concerns.  I would greatly appreciate if I could schedule a time to speak with Representative Tiberi at his earliest possible convenience.  Having lived with a serious mental illness now for 32 years, and having the legal education that I do – I can speak to almost any H.R.3717 issue from the legal/consumer perspective, and would like to share with Rep. Tiberi some of my own related personal experience.

And then lastly, before I forget, I was hoping also to briefly ask Representative Tiberi about his past experience in helping to fix Ohio’s cancer medical network.  I read that Rep. Tiberi figured out how to raise provider reimbursement rates, remove barriers to treatment, and generally advance the quality of cancer medical care, education and research.  That is exactly what we now need to do for Ohio’s mental-health medical support network.

Thanks very much for listening, and please feel free to email me back or to call me at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Marissa K. Varcho