An Online Haven

Where To Call If You Have A Complaint

Almost every institution featured in Unsafe Haven has a Web site: the Joint Commission, the Inspector General, even Charter Behavioral Systems. The Web also offers a wide range of information on psychiatric care and the issue of restraints. Below you'll find sites from a range of perspectives.

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law is a non-profit legal advocacy group that works for the rights of the mentally ill. It has an extensive site with information about a range of related legal issues, including seclusion and restraint.

Office Of the Inspector General : A division of the Department of Health And Human Services, the Office of the Inspector General is investigating Charter Hospitals. Inspector General Hotline Page has information about how to telephone, mail or email pertinent information.

Restraint Hearings Testimony : The Senate Appropriations Committee held hearings April 13 on deaths from improper use of restraints. One of those who testified was Jean Allen, whose son, Tristan Sovern, died while being restrained.

National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems : This system, generally known as "P&A," is a quasi-public agency that investigates complaints of abuse and neglect at mental health institutions. This site has a transcript of the recent Senate testimony of Jean Allen, whose son, Tristan Sovern, died while being restrained at a Charter hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina. The site also has contact numbers and addresses for every P&A in the country as well as background on a variety of issues on which it works.

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill : Most of this nonprofit group's 208,000 members have a close relative who is mentally ill; 20 percent are mentally ill themselves. (NAMI refers to this last group as "consumers," because they consume mental health services). NAMI offers support for families, and advocates mental health reform. Its site features information about where to get help in your area , has a large list of books for sale on various mental illnesses, and gives frequent updates on the group's legal efforts and policy campaigns.

The American Psychiatric Association : The trade group for the country's 42,000 psychiatrists, the APA opposes the proposed restraint laws, including mandatory reporting, calling instead for Congresto "proceed cautiously."

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare : The Joint Commission (JCAHO) is the private organization that oversees psychiatric hospitals in the U.S. Because JCAHO is a private concern and hospitals pay (on average, $12,000) to be accredited, many critics say that its evaluations are not demanding enough. JCAHO's site has a lot of information, including a history of the organization, a message from the president, Dennis O'Leary (who appears in the CBS broadcast), and directions on how to report a complaint about a hospital. The site also has a section called "Today's Quality Quote," which offers an inspiring missive from a great personage.

Charter Behavioral Health Systems : With 91 hospitals, this company is the largest chain of psychiatric hospitals in the country. A year-long CBS investigation of its hospitals found falsified records and dangerous conditions. The site features a section on the company's television and print advertising campaigns ("We Help When Things Are At Their Worst"); a list of facilities all over the country with addresses and phone numbers; a section describing the Charter treatment philosophy ("Solution-Focused Treatment"); and a large section, aimed at employers who want mental health insurance coverage, on the company's cost-effective treatment solutions. Also known as the Knowledge Exchange Network, this site is a clearinghouse for information on mental health issues. You'll find lists of publications, links to other sites, and a database with state by state listings of where to get help .

Deadly Restraint : Last year, the Hartford Courant ran an extensive series on the misuse of restraint. Although many of the stories focus on problems in Connecticut and the Northeast, there is plenty of information about problems elsewhere.

The National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse : This non-profit organization teaches people how to set up self-help groups, and how to evaluate mental health treatment. The head of the group, Joseph Rogers, testified before the Senate earlier this month about his own experience with restraint.

U.S. Rep. Diana Degette's office : Degette, a Democrat who represents the Denver area in the House of Representatives, recently introduced legislation that would make it mandatory for psychiatric facilities to report restraint-related deaths. Connecticut Democratic Senators Joseph Lieberman and Christopher Dodd also sponsored separate, similar bills in the Senate.

North Carolina Department Of Health And Human Services : This agency is responsible for overseeing the state's psychiatric hospitals.

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Written by David Kohn