MAY IS MENTAL HEALTH MONTH
APRIL 25, 2019
Remarks by J. Clement Cicilline, MS – President
Presented at the Rhode Island State House

Click to Download: MHA MIMH Month Speech

● THANK YOU FOR ATTENDING MHA’S ANNUAL MAY IS MENTAL HEALTH
KICK-OFF AS YOU JOIN WITH US IN CALLING ATTENTION TO THE SIGNAL
IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL HEALTH AS AN INTEGRAL COMPONENT OF
OUR WELL-BEING. I THINK WE ALL REALIZE THAT WE DON’T HAVE A LIFE
IF WE DON’T HAVE OUR MENTAL HEALTH.
● YOU HAVE HEARD US CALL OUT FOR PARITY FOR SERVICES TO
PERSONS LIVING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS BECAUSE THERE SHOULD BE
NO DISCRIMINATION WHEN IT COMES TO THE DELIVERY OF
HEALTHCARE. SADLY ENOUGH, WE KNOW THAT THERE STILL IS
DISCRIMINATION. SO, WE WILL KEEP ON MAKING THIS CALL UNTIL
INSURANCE COMPANIES, POLICY MAKERS, AND THE POWERS THAT BE
GET IT RIGHT!
● IT MIGHT SEEM MYSTIFYING THAT THIS PROBLEM STILL EXISTS WHEN
AN INCREASING NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY RECOGNIZE
THAT 1 IN 4 OF US HAS A DIAGNOSABLE MENTAL ILLNESS. WHAT OTHER
DISORDER OR ILLNESS HAS SUCH A HIGH INCIDENT RATE? I AM SURE
THAT YOU ARE NOT SURPRISED THAT THE ANSWER IS: NONE.
● SO, WHAT’S STOPPING US FROM RESOLVING THIS PROBLEM? I AM SURE
THAT YOU HAVE A LOT OF ANSWERS. I WILL SUGGEST SOME THAT ARE
MOST FAMILIAR:

1. MONEY…. SOME FEAR THAT THE COST OF MH SERVICES IS
PROHIBITIVE, WHEN, IN FACT, EARLY MH INTERVENTION
GENERATES VERY FAVORABLE RESULTS THAT END UP
REDUCING THE OVERALL MEDICAL COSTS OF ALL PATIENTS.

2. ILL-INFORMED, WRONG-MINDED POLICIES THAT PREVENT
ACCESS TO SERVICES BECAUSE THEY ARE MORE MONEY
SAVING- BASED THAN PATIENT CARE-FOCUSED.

3. STIGMA THAT KEEPS PATIENTS FROM TRYING TO TRAVERSE
AN UNNECESSARILY COMPLEX AND SOMETIMES UNFRIENDLY
BUREAUCRACY.

4. LACK OF POLITICAL DETERMINATION TO SEE THAT THE CIVIL
RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS ARE UPHELD.

● JUST THIS PAST WEEKEND, G. WAYNE MILLER PUBLISHED AN
EXTRAORDINARY ARTICLE IN THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL THAT
DETAILED HOW STUNNINGLY DIFFICULT IT HAS BECOME FOR PEOPLE
TO GET MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES. COMMUNITY PROVIDERS ARE
BEING DENIED PAYMENT, WREAKING HAVOC ON CLINICAL PROGRAMS
THAT PREVENT PEOPLE FROM RECEIVING CRUCIAL SERVICES. IN THE
PROCESS,THE FISCAL INTEGRITY OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS HAS BEEN
SERIOUSLY COMPROMISED..
● MENTION WAS MADE OF THE HIGH RANKING THAT THE STATE OF
RHODE ISLAND ONCE HELD IN THE FIELD OF MENTAL HEALTH
SERVICES. WE WERE ACTUALLY RATED AS NUMBER ONE AND TWO ON
SEVERAL OCCASIONS. OTHER STATES CAME TO SEE HOW WE WERE
DOING IT.
● I CAN ATTEST TO THAT VAUNTED RANKING. I AM OLD ENOUGH TO
REMEMBER WHEN THE DEPT OF MH, RETARDATION & HOSPITALS WAS
FIRST ESTABLISHED AND THE FIRST DIRECTOR WAS ANTHONY
TRAVISONO, FOLLOWED BY JOE BEVILACQUA, TOM ROMEO, DR.
CHARLES GOODMAN, AND KATHRYN POWER. IN PARTICULAR, IT WAS
JOE BEVILACQUA AND TOM ROMEO ALONG WITH DAN MCCARTHY, NEIL
MEISLER AND DANNA MAUCH, WHO WORKED WITH COMMUNITY
PROVIDERS TO LAUNCH AND IMPLEMENT DE-INSTITUTIONALIZATION IN
RHODE ISLAND.
● I REMEMBER THE PROGRAMS THAT WERE PUT IN PLACE TO MOVE
PEOPLE INTO COMMUNITY CARE SETTINGS. MOST SIGNIFICANTLY, THE
PLAN INCLUDED MONEY FOLLOWING THE PATIENT INTO THE
COMMUNITY. THIS WAS A REAL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN STATE
GOVERNMENT AND THE COMMUNITY PROVIDERS.
● BUT, WE WERE VICTIMS OF OUR OWN SUCCESS. THERE HAS BEEN A
CONSISTENT REDUCTION IN STATE FUNDING YEAR AFTER YEAR. AND,
NOW WE SEE THE DEVASTATING EFFECTS THIS LACK OF FINANCIAL
SUPPORT HAS HAD ON THIS ONCE HERALDED SYSTEM. THIS IS TRUE
FOR BOTH ADULT AND CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH. AND NOW, IT’S
EVEN QUESTIONABLE WHETHER WE STILL HAVE A SYSTEM OF MH CARE
ANYMORE.
● THE CURRENT SITUATION IS AN UNGODLY MESS. WE ARE SEEING THE
DENIAL OF MUCH-NEEDED SERVICES WHICH ACTUALLY PUTS PEOPLE
IN DANGER. WE MUST STAND UP AND WE MUST STAND TOGETHER IN
SUPPORT OF THE COMMUNITY PROVIDERS WHO ARE ESSENTIALLY
CARRYING OUT A STATE MAN BECAUSE IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN STATE
GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSIBILITY TO TAKE CARE OF THE FRAGILE,
IMPAIRED, NEEDY, AND SICK AMONG US.
● AS ADVOCATES, WE CANNOT BE QUIET AND ALLOW THIS PAYMENT
PROBLEM THAT ADVERSELY AFFECTS BOTH PATIENTS AND PROVIDERS
TO GO UNATTENDED ANY FURTHER. WE CONSIDER THIS A CRISIS THAT
NEEDS IMMEDIATE AND APPROPRIATE INTERVENTION! OF COURSE,
MHA STANDS READY TO HELP IN ANY WAY THAT WE CAN.
● SO, TODAY IS NOT SO MUCH ABOUT REMEMBERING THE GOOD, OLD
DAYS….IT IS ABOUT RE-DEDICATING OURSELVES TO THE
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE THAT WE CARE ENOUGH ABOUT ONE
ANOTHER TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! IT’S THE HUMAN AND DECENT
THING TO DO FOR PEOPLE WHO GENUINELY NEED OUR
UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORT.
● SO, WE ASK YOU TO JOIN US IN THIS CRUSADE FOR JUSTICE FOR
PEOPLE LIVING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS. WE THINK THAT THIS IS OUR
DUTY AS HUMAN BEINGS! WE HOPE YOU DO, TOO! THANK YOU.

J. CLEMENT CICILLINE, M.S.
PRESIDENT
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION OF RHODE ISLAND