Posts by Rehinge

Greenville Mental Health Advocate Pushes for Federal Funding

December 4th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media 1 thought on “Greenville Mental Health Advocate Pushes for Federal Funding”

December 4th, 2015

The Greenville Journal wrote an article yesterday on Paton’s meeting with Trey Gowdy where he announced his support and cosponsorship for HR731, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2015. We are still trying to get the rest of South Carolina’s Congressional delegation to support HR731 as well. Click here to learn more about how you can reach out to SC’s delegates to get them to support HR731.

Read the Full Article on the Greenville Journal’s Website

Greenville mental health advocate Paton Blough last week met with U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy and convinced him to support federal legislation that would help fund mental health treatment courts.

Blough, who benefitted from a mental health court program and is a state board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), started a petition campaign this fall to run against Gowdy. In a letter to the congressman, he said Gowdy lacked “leadership in the area of mental health reform.”

“The reason I got into this race… was to make the point of the needed mental health reform,” Blough said.

However, the evening after the meeting between Gowdy and Blough, which County Councilman Bob Taylor also attended, one of Gowdy’s staffers emailed Blough to let him know that Gowdy would sign on as a cosponsor of the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2015.

The bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee’s Crime Subcommittee, which Gowdy sits on, and Blough said he was excited and hoped Gowdy’s leadership would aid the passage of the bill.

The bill Gowdy agreed to support would expand veterans’ treatment programs, peer support programs for people going through long-term recovery and programs for adults and juveniles who have a mental illness or a substance abuse disorder, in addition to funding training programs to help police recognize mental health and substance abuse disorders.

Trey Gowdy Cosponsors HR731

November 24th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy 1 thought on “Trey Gowdy Cosponsors HR731”

November 24th, 2015

Paton and Rehinge would like to thank everyone for their support by writing letters to Congressman Trey Gowdy of the SC 4th district. Thanks to your efforts, Trey Gowdy has agreed to cosponsor bill HR731, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2015. HR731 renews a grant that will help fund mental health courts, CIT (crisis intervention team) training, and other programs throughout the country, including South Carolina, along with other services like veteran mental health care. This bill would help fund the recently passed Mental Health Court Program Act that was passed in SC earlier this year.

We also give a huge thank you to Congressman Trey Gowdy for deciding to support and cosponsor HR731 yesterday. Thanks to his support, this bill is a step closer to being passed. Greenville County Council Chairman Dr. Bob Taylor, who is in full support of HR731, was also present to talk to Congressman Gowdy with Paton yesterday.

We need to get the other congressmen in South Carolina to support this bill as well! Congressmen Joe Wilson, Jeff Duncan, Mark Sanford, Mick Mulvaney, Jim Clyburn and Tom Rice also need to be informed about HR731 and encourage to support it. You can find where to contact them at this website. You can send them a letter or an email like the following example:

Dear Congressman ________________________,

I am writing you today to ask for your support of house bill, HR731, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2015. This act would provide grant funding to mental health courts and services along with veteran services throughout country, including South Carolina. This bill would help fund the Mental Health Court Program Act in South Carolina that was passed earlier this year.

Federal grant funding for mental health courts in South Carolina would help relieve the cost of repeat incarcerations of mentally ill individuals, and save the state money. Mental health courts are a diversionary program that helps give mentally ill individuals the help they need while keeping them out of jails and prisons which will save South Carolina millions in expenses.

Congressman Trey Gowdy has already decided to cosponsor HR731, and now I am asking you to support your colleague as well. Please, let us work towards making South Carolina a leader in mental health reform.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead

Montana Presentation

October 22nd, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Montana Presentation”

View the Presentation Now

This is the Paton’s PowerPoint presentation detailing his history with mental illness, and subsequent recovery and advocacy.

Leaders Sound Alarm on Abundance of Jail Inmates with Mental Illness

September 24th, 2015 Posted by Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “Leaders Sound Alarm on Abundance of Jail Inmates with Mental Illness”

September 24th, 2015

Gary Enos has written an excellent article in Mental Health Weekly about Paton and his experiences with bipolar in jail, and his activism for reform in the criminal justice system. The article also talks about Paton speaking at the Stepping Up Initiative in earlier this year in May.

You can read the full article on Mental Health Weekly’s website.

Referring to himself as a “medical criminal” because he was arrested numerous times as a result of manifestations of his bipolar disorder, Paton Blough took the microphone at a national launch event last week to put a human face on the problem of jail populations swelling with inmates who have a serious mental illness.

As one of many speakers who favor more effective crisis intervention and other strategies to avert incarceration for these individuals, Blough said of the typical jail experience of persons with mental illness, “They’re a lot more screwed up when they come out than when they go in.”

The May 5 event in Washington, D.C., was held to announce a joint initiative sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Council of State Governments and the American Psychiatric Foundation to reduce the ranks of the more than 2 million adults with serious mental illness who are jailed in the United States each year. The Stepping Up initiative will seek to lessen the human toll on a population that, once jailed, tends to stay incarcerated longer than the general population and that runs a greater risk of being jailed again.

You can read the full article on Mental Health Weekly’s website.

How Jails are Failing the Mentally Ill

September 16th, 2015 Posted by Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “How Jails are Failing the Mentally Ill”

September 16th, 2015

The Death Of Victoria Gray: How Texas Jails Are Failing Their Most Vulnerable Captives

Think Progress has written one of the most comprehensive and evidence-based articles on the issue of suicide and mental illness in prisons that I have read to date. Writer Erica Hellerstein has put together a story of not only Texas’ failure of treating mentally ill inmates, but the need for our country as a whole to more seriously address this issue.

Paton was interviewed for this article to explain how mentally ill inmates are treated in jail, and his own personal experiences of his treatment behind bars. Erica ties Paton’s knowledge, along with other case studies, into the failure of many jails to properly follow mental illness guidelines, which has resulted from the US prison system becoming the largest mental health hospitals in the country. This is an excellent article that should be read and shared.

Read the full article on Think Progress

Type “mental illness,” “jails,” and “health care providers” into Google and a number of headlines will pop up: “When did prisons become acceptable mental healthcare facilities?,” “Jails are America’s largest mental healthcare providers,” “Inside a mental hospital called jail.”

These days, it’s regularly said that prisons and jails have become the nation’s de-facto mental health providers. That this has become an untenable situation for the criminal justice system shouldn’t come as a surprise; obviously, jails and prisons are not mental health treatment centers, nor were they ever intended to be.

Forty years after Abramson’s prophecy, the number of people with mental illness forced into jails and prisons across the U.S. is nothing short of harrowing. According to a recent report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, there are ten times as many people in prisons and jails with serious mental illness than in state psychiatric hospitals. In at least 44 states, there are more people behind bars with serious mental illnesses than in the largest state psychiatric hospital. Moreover, they are more likely to be sexually assaulted, beaten, abused, and placed in solitary confinement.

“Emptying America’s mental hospitals without ensuring that the discharged patients received appropriate treatment in the community has been an egregious mistake. For the approximately half of discharged patients who have ended up homeless or in jails and prisons, it has been a personal tragedy,” the Treatment Advocacy Center asserted in an earlier report. “Although deinstitutionalization was well intentioned, the failure to provide for the treatment needs of the patients has turned this policy into one of the greatest social disasters of the 20th century.”

Those conditions have helped to create a system that’s often crisis driven, where people who may have previously been admitted to state psychiatric hospitals now only receive care when they’re in the middle of an immediate mental health crisis. Meanwhile, the care that they do end up receiving tends to be short-term — like a hospital emergency room, or in many cases, jail.

Paton Blough, the mental health advocate with bipolar disorder, was arrested six times over the course of three years — often because people would call the police on him during times of psychosis. “I had episode after episode,” he recalled. “I did all of the extreme things you read about a bipolar person doing.”

Although Blough didn’t have a criminal record before his arrests, he ended up receiving two felony convictions while he was incarcerated — one for spitting on a jail officer and another for threatening a sheriff. “I felt like there were several instances when I was not taken care of,” he said. “I lost everything.”

Unfortunately, Blough’s story is not uncommon: Half of all previously incarcerated people with mental illness are rearrested and returned to prisons. “Once you get in the system, it’s very difficult for you to get out,” he said. “People have to understand that we don’t lock people up for cancer or diabetes, but we do for the medical condition of mental illness… It’s a big massive problem of epidemic proportions that we’re dealing with in the most incarcerated nation in the world.”

Read the full article on Think Progress

Paton’s Presentation at the Riley Institute

August 7th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Paton’s Presentation at the Riley Institute”

Here is Paton’s presentation at the Riley Institute last week. He had the honor of speaking along side of others involved with criminal justice system in SC. Together they discussed experiences and possibilities for improving SC’s justice and prison system, including how to better treat mentally ill individuals who may end up in said system.

Police, Prisons, and Public Safety

July 30th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Police, Prisons, and Public Safety”

July 30th, 2015

Paton spoke the other night at the Riley Institute on his past experiences with law enforcement and prisons in South Carolina. He covered his current advocacy work with CIT training and how it has improved the outcomes for police enounters with mentally ill individuals. He was also able to speak on the importance of mental health courts, and how the recent mental health court program act that passed in the SC legislature will help improve the lives mentally ill inmates.

I was incredibly honored to be invited to speak at this event tonight that included the Chief of police from Charleston, the Director of the SCDOC, The Director of The SCPPP, The Sheriff of Richland County and several more distinct advocates in our community including Stuart Andrews of Nelson Mullins. – Paton

The Riley Institute at Furman is also still having presentations for the next couple of weeks on prisons and the justice system in South Carolina! You can learn more about the Riley Institute’s Summer Series on their website, and how to purchase tickets. Straight Talk SC Crime and Punishment: Thinking Outside the Cell


Crime & Punishment – Paton Speaking at the Riley Institute Summer Series

July 3rd, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Crime & Punishment – Paton Speaking at the Riley Institute Summer Series”

July 3rd, 2015

On July 28th, Paton will be speaking at Straight Talk SC, Crime and Punishment: Thinking Outside the Cell, a summer series of presentations put on by the Riley Institute at Furman University, SC.

On the 28th, session moderator Mark Quinn will host a conversation with community members and law enforcement officers looking at the challenges facing police and the communities which they serve. Paton will be among the presenters on this day where he will talk about being arrested and sent to prison due to actions related to Bipolar I Disorder. He will also talk about his recovery work through advocacy for mental health reform, such as pushing for the passing of the Mental Health Court Program Act, and teaching CIT training to local law enforcement.

From the Riley Institute’s Website

It is clear that something is broken in today’s criminal justice system. The massive growth in American prisons over the last four decades has burdened tax payers, overcrowded the prisons, and devastated vulnerable communities. Strong economic arguments as well as compelling compassionate reasons exist for why we can no longer maintain the status quo.

This year’s summer series will examine the data around crime, incarceration and the impact of our existing system of justice on communities, discuss our state’s law enforcement and prison system practices in light of historical and contemporary contexts, and highlight innovative programs that are being implemented in South Carolina.

Stay tuned for more information and coverage of this event in the near future!

Mental Health Court Program Act Passes!

June 2nd, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Media 0 thoughts on “Mental Health Court Program Act Passes!”

June 2nd, 2015

Exciting news! The Mental Health Court Program Act, bill S.426, was signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley! This a great victory for South Carolina and mental health reform. The Mental Health Court Program Act will help establish a mental health court program in every county in the state, which will help divert indicted mentally ill people to appropriated mental health programs instead of jails and prisons. We still have a long way to go for mental health reform, but for now we can celebrate this great victory! A HUGE thank you to everyone that helped us get this bill passed! Your calls, emails and support helped make this law a reality; you deserve the greatest thanks for your efforts.

Here’s a word of thanks from Paton:

I just received a call from the Governors office that S.426 The Mental Health Court Program Act was officially signed into law by Governor Haley…. A special huge thanks and congratulations to everyone who wrote emails, made phone calls, shared posts etc to make this happen. I am especially thankful for Vincent Sheheen who authored the bill and for Senator Shane Massey who kept it going with strength. We also could not have done this with out all the help from the media! Thank you Greenville News, Wyff 4, WSPA, WORD Radio, WLTX Columbia , The State News, The Greenville Journal, The Washington Times, The AP, Eric G. Wood, Liz Lohuis Stanislawski , April Morris, Tim Smith, Liv Osby, Gordon Dill, and Joyce Koh. Finally thank you is well deserved for the support of Marie Limnios Dunn-Blough and her team from Redhype with the point person being the fabulous designer, copywriter and web guru Mika Hearn. I thank you all, the NAMI and mental health community thanks you and the entire state thanks you or will some day! And thank you as well to James Hayes, Elaine Hester and Tamar Paltrow Zwerdling.

Mental Illness is No Crime

June 2nd, 2015 Posted by Articles, Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “Mental Illness is No Crime”

June 2nd, 2015

Newt Gingrich and Van Jones wrote an excellent article for CNN about how mental ill people need to be treated by appropriate mental health providers, and not be locked up in prisons for their actions. Paton and his person story of dealing with bipolar are highlighted in the article. Please take the time to read this piece.

Read the full article on CNN

Before Paton Blough got his bipolar disorder under control, it nearly cost him everything.
The Greenville, South Carolina, resident was arrested six times in three years, each for an episode related to his illness. Instead of receiving treatment, he was thrown in jail. In the rough prison environment and without proper treatment, he ended up with two felony convictions for crimes committed while incarcerated.

Blough managed to find a path to treatment. That makes him one of the lucky ones. Today, mentally ill Americans are disproportionately more likely to be arrested, incarcerated, suffer solitary confinement or rape in prison and commit another crime once released.

Quick: Name the largest provider of mental health care in America. If you guessed “our prisons and jails,” you would be right.

A 2006 U.S. Department of Justice study found that three out of four female inmates in state prisons, 64% of all people in jail, 56% of all state prison inmates and 45% of people in federal prison have symptoms or a history of mental disorder.

America’s approach when the mentally ill commit nonviolent crimes — locking them up without addressing the problem — is a solution straight out of the 1800s.

Read the full article on CNN


About Rehinge

Rehinge exists to provide hope, education, and spiritual inspiration for all people affected with mental health issues and to fight stigma while pushing for global mental health reform.

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What People Are Saying

  • “It has been one of my greatest rewards as NAMI Greenville, SC Program Director to see your recovery from when we first met to your award as NAMI South Carolina’s Recovery Person of the Year to your appearance on the same stage with author Pete Early. I hope your book is every bit as successful as his has been.”

    Brian Lewis
    • Fletcher Mann
    • Program Director NAMI Greenville, SC
  • “It’s incredible. If you aren’t sure, always go for Cast. I don’t always clop, but when I do, it’s because of Cast. I made back the purchase price in just 48 hours!”

    Patrick Bates
    • Patrick Bates
    • CEO, SouthCentral
See all
  • “It has been one of my greatest rewards as NAMI Greenville, SC Program Director to see your recovery from when we first met to your award as NAMI South Carolina’s Recovery Person of the Year to your appearance on the same stage with author Pete Early. I hope your book is every bit as successful as his has been.”

    Brian Lewis
    • Fletcher Mann
    • Program Director NAMI Greenville, SC
  • “It’s incredible. If you aren’t sure, always go for Cast. I don’t always clop, but when I do, it’s because of Cast. I made back the purchase price in just 48 hours!”

    Patrick Bates
    • Patrick Bates
    • CEO, SouthCentral