While there is no empirical link between violence and psychiatric disabilities and over 25% of Americans will have a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetime, still the fear-mongerers are at work against this already stigmatized group of people.
The current leader is Rep. Murphy, who wants to strip HIPAA rights from people with psychiatric diagnoses. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) gives the right to privacy of health records to individuals. This is despite the fact that exceptions already exist in HIPAA where a public danger is perceived. Moreover, people with mental illness have been prohibited from testifying at Rep. Murphy’s hearings on this issue. There a petition sponsored by the Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is currently circulating–click here to tell Rep. Murphy not to leave the voices people with mental illness out of the conversation.
Nuanced public discussions are not easy, but it is important that when we talk about background checks for weapons purchases, or putting people’s names in databases, that we are aware of and accountable to those who we are targeting and have a rationale that is based in reason and can withstand scrutiny. Simply having a diagnosis of a mental illness cannot be a sufficient reason for someone to be targeted in this way. This is preying on people’s fears and ignorance and making mental health prejudice worse. This is going in the opposite direction we need to go; away from Love. We need to respond to this outrageous oppression.
The U.S. Surgeon General’s report on Mental Health in 1999 says:
“Confidentiality generally is considered to be a cornerstone of a doctor-patient relationship. Many psychotherapists assume that mental health treatment is most likely to be successful only if the client has a trusting relationship with the clinician. While the research findings on this subject are somewhat mixed, it is beyond dispute that many individuals in seeking treatment for mental illness reveal much of their private selves. It seems reasonable to assume that for many people, trust that their privacy will not be intruded upon beyond the confines of the clinical relationship is an important element in permitting unguarded exchanges during treatment. Concerns regarding confidentiality may cause individuals to take steps to protect themselves from unwanted disclosures in other ways that carry their own costs. For example, an individual may withhold certain types of sensitive information during treatment, or avoid seeking care.
“The law has given considerable attention in the last three decades to the idea that people have a right to privacy in making decisions regarding their health care… The general principle that the value of privacy is important to mental health treatment is not disputed.”
We encourage people to sign the ASAN petition and speak out against this discrimination.
EqUUal Access Board:
Carolyn Cartland, President
Suzanne Fast, Vice President
Linda Wright, Secretary
Carol Agate, Treasurer
Rev. Barbara F. Meyers, Policy Committee Chair
Bill Dockery, Communications Consultant