Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI)
To protect and advocate for persons with “serious mental illness” in order to prevent or redress abuse, neglect and serious rights violations, including violations of state, federal and Constitutional law.
A person that has a significant “mental illness or emotional impairment” as determined by a mental health professional.
Priority 1: Investigate individual cases of abuse, neglect, and serious rights violations in inpatient facilities (VSH, designated hospitals, designated agencies, emergency rooms, facilities for minors), prisons/jails, and community settings.
Measure of Success:
- Work on a minimum of 100 cases of abuse, neglect, or serious rights violations of people with mental health issues. Among closed cases, at least 75% of those not withdrawn by client or found to be without merit by DRVT staff should be resolved favorably.
- In at least 2 opened cases at VSH, DRVT will advocate for adequate discharge in the spirit of the community integration mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- DRVT will assist at least 5 clients with medication-related issues including coercion, informed consent, and inappropriate medication ensuring that clients have been informed of the risks, benefits and alternatives to psychiatric medications.
- Note whether the individual describes the issue as having occurred during a first contact with the mental health system because of the potential for coercion and trauma.
Priority 2: Reduce the use of seclusion, restraint, coercion and involuntary procedures through systemic efforts. Continue systemic work to create culturally competent, trauma-informed, violence free and coercion free mental health treatment environments.
Measures of Success:
- Work with at least two institutions to create respectful, trauma-informed, violence free and coercion free mental health treatment environments, particularly during an individual’s first contact with the psychiatric system.
- Monitor the legislature and administration to insure that the rights of individuals with mental health issues are enhanced or at least not abridged, particularly their due process rights vis-à-vis involuntary medication, providing education as appropriate.
- DRVT will self-assess our services to insure that our services are delivered in a trauma-informed way.
Priority 3: Reach out to community settings, designated facilities, emergency rooms, prisons/jails, residential and therapeutic care homes. Monitor conditions and educate residents about rights and self-advocacy. Engage in systems work to improve conditions.
Measure of Success:
- Outreach and monitoring is conducted at a minimum of 20 community care settings, including but not limited to residential care homes, therapeutic community residences or licensed residential childcare facilities.
- Outreach is conducted at all eight state prisons.
- Outreach is conducted at all five designated facilities and the state hospital.
- DRVT literature is distributed to all of the community mental health agencies, prisons, and designated hospitals, including their emergency departments, and to homeless shelters.
- Outreach to individuals labeled with a disability who are victims of crime or domestic abuse.
- Monitor all treatment environments (e.g. designated hospitals & their emergency departments, residential care homes, correctional facilities) to assure that unnecessary or inappropriate use of seclusion, restraint, coercion or involuntary procedures are not used and that treatment is only administered with proper informed consent.
- Expand outreach to diverse communities and non dominant cultures, monitoring that they receive services in a culturally competent way.
Priority 4: Advocate for self-determination and access to alternative treatment options and community integration. Use legal advocacy to enforce and expand rights across the State of Vermont.
Measure of Success:
- Four self-advocacy and/or advance directive trainings for 40 individuals.
- Continue to work with other advocacy groups and individuals on the replacement of the VSH with a wide array of treatment options in the least restrictive and most community based settings possible.
- DRVT will participate in systemic efforts to improve state services for individuals in or at risk of incarceration to speed successful reintegration.
- Assist at least 5 individuals across the State of Vermont with their preparation of Advanced Directives.
- Participate in efforts to insure that state and local emergency planning efforts include the needs of people with mental health issues.
- Participate in coalition efforts to address transportation infrastructure needs of low-income people with mental health issues.
In addition to priorities, DRVT does not ignore evolving situations and other cases, or treatment facilities which require attention.