Posts by Rehinge

Climber Scales Table Rock Daily to Push Mental Health Court Bill

April 15th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media, Video 0 thoughts on “Climber Scales Table Rock Daily to Push Mental Health Court Bill”

April 15th, 2015

Paton and Rehinge made the front page of the Greenville News today with a wonderful article written by Liv Osby and photos taken by Heidi Heilbrunn. The article covers Paton’s recent journeys up Table Rock in order to push for SC House support for S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act. This article has great exposure for this bill, and will help bring the issue more into the light in the Upstate. You can learn more about how to support the Mental Health Court Program Act here.

Read the full article on the Greenville News website

day-05-01In 2006 after he was arrested on nonviolent charges, Blough went through mental health court. Though he dealt with a couple of issues since then, he said, he credits the experience with helping him come to grips with his illness.

He got support from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the right medication and therapy, he said. And for the past five years, he’s been an advocate for people with mental illness.

The daily climb up Table Rock and back, which he said takes roughly three hours, is the latest effort in that advocacy.

Blough starts out early in the morning on the trek, which begins with a gentle slope along a creek flanked by large mossy rocks before becoming more rugged and elevated in some sections.

“Parts of it are pretty easy,” said the stay-at-home father of six, “though it’s steep in some places and 2,000 vertical feel and a little over 3 miles.”

Sometimes he’s joined by supporters or his children. He believes he can continue until the bill becomes law.

“I recognize I can’t keep it up for a year or whatever,” he said. “But I think I can keep going.”

The bill doesn’t mandate the courts, but it creates a statewide program with the provision that solicitors who take state dollars for such courts must create them within six months. While it doesn’t include any funding, its sponsor Sen. Vincent Sheheen has said he hopes that money will be found in the budget at some point to help.

Blough says that although it comes with no funds, he considers it a leadership bill.

“I can’t say there will be a mental health court in every circuit in the next 12 months, but I think this is significant,” he said. “If it works, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be expanding it in our state.”

Judge Debora Faulkner of Greenville County Probate Court said mental health court is successful because it costs far less than imprisoning someone and it turns their lives around. Since it began, it has accepted 84 participants, she said, and 55 have graduated. There are now eight active participants.

“It’s a way to not only be prudent with tax dollars, but to get people the help that they need and out of that revolving door,” she said. “Those individuals are no longer in the criminal justice system. They are productive members of society.”

Mental health courts operate in Greenville, Charleston and Columbia. Greenville’s began with a grant in 2005, Faulkner said. But for years it’s been operating without any funding because officials believe so much in it.

Probate pays the judge’s time, she said, and other services are provided by Greenville Mental Health and Piedmont Mental Health employees.

“It’s a wonderful program. It’s a savings for the taxpayer, it keeps the jail population down, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to see the results,” she said. “They’re all trying so hard. I saw someone have their very first paycheck. And another graduate who has gone on and gotten a master’s in social work.”

Under the system, the solicitor selects the participants, who must meet certain criteria, like being charged with nonviolent offenses such as public disorderly or property crimes and have no past convictions for violent crimes, Faulkner said.

They must attend mental health court weekly along with seeing a case manager and medical professionals, she said. They are also subject to random drug testing and can be terminated if they are rearrested or otherwise violate terms of the program.

And they’re linked to community resources so they can find other help they might need, like employment and housing, she said. Once they graduate, the charges are dropped.

Read the full article on the Greenville News website

SC House Representative Letter & Contact

April 10th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy 1 thought on “SC House Representative Letter & Contact”

Following here is a sample letter/speech that you can use to email or call your local SC House Representative. You can find who your local House Representative is by clicking here, or feel free to contact multiple representatives in your area by looking through the list below. Below the letter here is a list of the House Representatives as well, along with their email addresses, phone numbers and districts. Your help in supporting S.426, The Mental Health Court Program Act, is greatly appreciated!

To the honorable Representative’s Name,

My name is Your Name from Your Location, SC, and I am writing you in regards to the SC Bill S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act, that has recently passed in the SC Senate and will be moving to the House soon. I am urging you to please support and educate yourself on this bill as it moves into the House. The Mental Health Court Program Act will work to expand the three already-existing mental health court programs in SC to all 46 counties in the state. The passing of this bill will help to save the lives of many mentally ill individuals in SC, along with millions of dollars in the state’s budget. Mental health courts divert qualifying mentally ill offenders away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate programs for treatment.

A study by the Ohio State Bar estimates that mentally ill inmates will use $40,000 of prison services annually. Whereas, mentally ill individuals who go through mental health courts, which use existing services, can save the state tens of thousands of dollars annually per individual. According to Richland County’s mental health court program, 83.3% of mentally ill individuals who complete mental health programs are never committed or arrested again. According to Greenville’s mental health court program, 51 out of 78 individuals have completed the program, saving the state of SC over 2 million dollars.

Please do support and educate yourself on this crucial bill as it passes through into the House. It not only helps to benefit the lives of those with mental illness in our community, but will also save our beautiful state of SC millions of dollars annually that can be used to fund other needs.

List of SC House Representatives – 2015

Bill Whitmire – Email: billwhitmire@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3068 – District 1, Oconee County

Bill Sandifer, III – Email: billsandifer@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3015 – District 2, Oconee & Pickens Counties

B.R. Skelton – Email: brskelton@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6908 – District 3, Pickens County

David Hiott – Email: davidhiott@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3022 – District 4, Pickens County

Phil Owens – Email: philowens@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6913 – District 5, Pickens County

Brian White – Email: brianwhite@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3144 – District 6, Anderson County

Mike Gambrell – Email: mikegambrell@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2947 – District 7, Abbeville & Anderson Counties

Don Bowen – Email: donbowen@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6919 – District 8, Anderson County

Anne Thayer – Email: annethayer@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6889 – District 9, Anderson County

Joshua Putnam – Email: joshuaputnam@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6931 – District 10, Anderson, Greenville & Pickens Counties

Craig Gagnon – Email: craiggagnon@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6934 – District 11, Abbeville & Anderson Counties

Anne Parks – Email: anneparks@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3069 – District 12, Greenwood & McCormick Counties

Robert Riley – Email: robertriley@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6939 – District 13, Greenwood County

Mike Pitts – Email: mikepitts@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2830 – District 14, Greenwood & Laurens Counties

Samuel Rivers, Jr – Email: samuelrivers@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6890 – District 15, Berkeley & Charleston Counties

Mark Willis – Email: markwillis@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6882 – District 16, Greenville & Laurens Counties

Mike Burns – Email: mikeburns@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6891 – District 17, Greenville County

Tommy Stringer – Email: tommystringer@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6881 – District 18, Greenville County

Dwight Loftis – Email: dwightloftis@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3101 – District 19, Greenville County

Dan Hamilton – Email: danhamilton@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6795 – District 20, Greenville County

Phyllis Henderson – Email: phyllishenderson@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6883 – District 21, Greenville County

Wendy Nanney – Email: wendynanney@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6877 – District 22, Greenville County

Chandra Dillard – Email: chandradillard@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6791 – District 23, Greenville County

Bruce Bannister – Email: brucebannister@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3138 – District 24, Greenville County

Leola Robinson-Simpson – Email: leolarobinsonsimpson@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6941 – District 25, Greenville County

Raye Felder – Email: rayefelder@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6892 – District 26, York County

Garry Smith, Jr – Email: garrysmith@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3141 – District 27, Greenville County

Eric Bedingfield – Email: ericbedingfield@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2962 – District 28, Greenville County

Dennis Moss – Email: dennismoss@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3073 – District 29, Cherokee, Chester & York Counties

Steve Moss – Email: stevemoss@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6885 – District 30, Cherokee & York Counties

Harold Mitchell, Jr – Email: haroldmitchell@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-6638 – District 31, Spartanburg County

Derham Cole, Jr – Email: derhamcole@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6790 – District 32, Spartanburg County

Eddie Tallon – Email: eddietallon@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6893 – District 33, Spartanburg County

Mike Forrester – Email: mikeforrester@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6792 – District 34, Spartanburg County

Bill Chumley – Email: billchumley@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6894 – District 35, Greenville & Spartanburg Counties

Rita Allision – Email: ritaallison@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3053 – District 36, Greenville & Spartanburg Counties

Donna Wood – Email: donnawood@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6878 – District 37, Spartanburg County

Doug Brannon – Email: dougbrannon@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6876 – District 38, Spartanburg County

Ralph Kennedy, Jr – Email: ralphkennedy@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6938 – District 39, Lexington & Saluda Counties

Walton McLeod – Email: waltmcleod@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3276 – District 40, Newberry County

MaryGail Douglas – Email: marygaildouglas@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6789 – District 41, Chester, Fairfield & Richland Counties

Mike Anthony – Email: michaelanthony@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3060 – District 42, Laurens & Union Counties

Greg Delleney, Jr – Email: gregdelleney@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3120 – District 43, Chester & York Counties

Mandy Norrell – Email: mandynorrell@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6937 – District 44, Lancaster County

Deborah Long – Email: deborahlong@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6874 – District 45, Lancaster & York Counties

Gary Simrill – Email: garysimrill@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3040 – District 46, York County

Tommy Pope – Email: tommypope@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2701 – District 47, York County

Ralph Norman – Email: ralphnorman@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6888 – District 48, York County

John King – Email: johnking@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6873 – District 49, York County

Grady Brown – Email: gradybrown@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2934 – District 50, Kershaw, Lee & Sumter Counties

David Weeks – Email: davidweeks@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3102 – District 51, Sumter County

Laurie Funderburk – Email: lauriefunderburk@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3044 – District 52, Kershaw County

Ted Vick – Email: tedvick@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6949 – District 53, Chesterfield & Lancaster Counties

Elizabeth Munnerlyn – Email: elizabethmunnerlyn@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6896 – District 54, Chesterfield, Darlington & Marlboro Counties

Coach Hayes – Email: jackiehayes@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3099 – District 55, Darlington, Dillon, Horry & Marlboro Counties

Mike Ryhal – Email: mikeryhal@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6935 – District 56, Horry County

Wayne George – Email: waynegeorge@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6936 – District 57, Horry County

Liston Barfield – Email: listonbarfield@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6946 – District 58, Darlington & Florence Counties

Terry Alexander – Email: terryalexander@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3004 – District 59, Darlington & Florence Counties

Phillip Lowe – Email: philliplowe@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2975 – District 60, Darlington & Florence Counties

Lester Branham, Jr – Email: lesterbranham@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6947 – District 61, Florence & Marion Counties

Robert Williams – Email: robertwilliams@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3142 – District 62, Darlington & Florence Counties

Robert Ridgeway, III – Email: bobbyridgeway@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6929 – District 64, Clarendon & Sumter Counties

Jay Lucas – Email: jaylucas@schouse.gov, hspeaker@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3125 – District 65, Chesterfield, Darlington, Kershaw & Lancaster Counties

Gilda Cobb-Hunter – Email: gildacobbhunter@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2809 – District 66, Orangeburg County

George Smith, Jr – Email: georgesmith@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3042 – District 67, Sumter County

Heather Crawford – Email: heathercrawford@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6933 – District 68, Horry County

Rick Quinn – Email: rickquinn@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6897 – District 69, Lexington County

Joe Neal – Email: joeneal@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2804 – District 70, Richland & Sumter Counties

Nathan Ballentine – Email: nathanballentine@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2969 – District 71, Lexington & Richland Counties

James Smith, Jr – Email: james@jamessmith.com – Phone: (803) 734-2997 – District 72, Richland County

Chris Hart – Email: chrishart@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3061 – District 73, Richland County

Todd Rutherford – Email: toddrutherford@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-9441 – District 74, Richland County

Kirkman Finlay, III – Email: kirkmanfinlay@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6943 – District 75, Richland County

Leon Howard – Email: leonhoward@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3046 – District 76, Richland County

Joe McEachern – Email: joemceachern@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6875 – District 77, Richland County

Beth Bernstein – Email: bethbernstein@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6940 – District 78, Richland County

Mia McLeod – Email: mia@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6794 – District 79, Richland County

Jimmy Bales – Email: jimmybales@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3107 – District 80, Kershaw & Richland Counties

Don Wells – Email: donwells@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6884 – District 81, Aiken County

Bill Clyburn – Email: billclyburn@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3033 – District 82, Aiken, Edgefield & Saluda Counties

Bill Hixon – Email: billhixon@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6898 – District 83, Aiken & Edgefield Counties

Roland Smith, Jr – Email: rolandsmith@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6917 – District 84, Aiken County

Chip Huggins – Email: chiphuggins@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2971 – District 85, Lexington County

Bill Taylor – Email: billtaylor@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6923 – District 86, Aiken County

Todd Atwater – Email: toddatwater@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6924 – District 87, Lexington County

Mac Toole – Email: mactoole@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2973 – District 88, Lexington County

Kenny Bingham – Email: kennybingham@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3114 – District 89, Lexington County

Justin Bamberg – Email: justinbamberg@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6907v90, Bamberg, Barnwell & Colleton Counties

Lonnie Hosey – Email: lonniehosey@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2829 – District 91, Allendale, Barnwell & Orangeburg Counties

Joseph Daning – Email: joedaning@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2951 – District 92, Berkeley County

Russell Ott – Email: russellott@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6945 – District 93, Calhoun, Lexington & Orangeburg Counties

Jenny Horne – Email: jennyhorne@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6871 – District 94, Charleston & Dorchester Counties

Jerry Govan, Jr – Email: jerrygovan@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3012 – District 95, Orangeburg County

Kit Spires – Email: kitspires@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3010 – District 96, Lexington County

Patsy Knight – Email: patsyknight@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2960 – District 97, Colleton & Dorchester Counties

Chris Murphy – Email: chrismurphy@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6925 – District 98, Dorchester County

James Merrill – Email: jimmerrill@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3072 – District 99, Berkeley & Charleston Counties

Eddy Southard – Email: eddysouthard@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6930 – District 100, Berkeley County

Ronnie Sabb – Email: ronniesaab@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6926 – District 101, Clarendon & Williamsburg Counties

Joseph Jefferson – Email: josephjefferson@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2936 – District 102, Berkeley & Dorchester Counties

Carl Anderson – Email: carlanderson@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2933 – District 103, Georgetown, Horry & Williamsburg Counties

Tracy Edge – Email: tracyedge@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6918 – District 104, Horry County

Kevin Hardee – Email: kevinhardee@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6796 – District 105, Horry County

Nelson Hardwick – Email: nelsonhardwick@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2967 – District 106, Horry County

Alan Clemmons – Email: alanclemmons@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3113 – District 107, Horry County

Stephen Goldfinch, Jr – Email: stephengoldfinch@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6927 – District 108, Charleston & Georgetown Counties

David Mack, III – Email: davidmack@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3192 – District 109, Charleston & Dorchester Counties

Chip Limehouse, III – Email: chiplimehouse@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2977 – District 110, Charleston County

Wendell Gilliard – Email: wendellgilliard@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6793 – District 111, Charleston County

Mike Sottile – Email: mikesottile@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6880 – District 112, Charleston County

Seth Whipper – Email: sethwhipper@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3191 – District 113, Charleston & Dorchester Counties

Mary Tinkler – Email: marytinkler@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6948 – District 114, Charleston & Dorchester Counties

Peter McCoy, Jr – Email: petermccoy@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6872 – District 115, Charleston County

Robert Brown – Email: robertbrown@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3170 – District 116, Charleston & Colleton Counties

Bill Crosby – Email: billcrosby@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6879 – District 117, Berkeley & Charleston Counties

Bill Herbkersman – Email: billherbkersman@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3063 – District 118, Beaufort & Jasper Counties

Leon Stavrinakis – Email: leonstav@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3039 – District 119, Charleston County

Weston Newton – Email: westonnewton@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6810 – District 120, Beaufort & Jasper Counties

Kenneth Hodges – Email: kennethhodges@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3062 – District 121, Beaufort & Colleton Counties

Bill Bowers – Email: billbowers@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-2959 – District 122, Beaufort, Hampton & Jasper Counties

Andy Patrick – Email: andypatrick@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 212-6928 – District 123, Beaufort County

Shannon Erickson – Email: shannonerickson@schouse.gov – Phone: (803) 734-3261 – District 124, Beaufort County

Hiking to Pass S.426

April 3rd, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Media 1 thought on “Hiking to Pass S.426”

hikepatonhike-logoApril 3rd, 2015

Starting April 6th, 2015, Paton Blough is committing to hike to summit of Table Rock state park every day until the S.426, The Mental Health Court Program Act successfully passes through the SC House and is signed into law by Governor Haley. That’s correct—Paton will be hiking around 2,000 vertical feet every day until South Carolina passes the Mental Health Court Program Act. Paton’s commitment embodies the steep climb that mental health legislation in the state has taken, as well as presenting the challenges to come. How many trips to the top of Table Rock will it take for the SC legislature to pass this crucial bill for mental health reform in South Carolina? The Mental Health Court Program Act will help save lives and money in SC, and is worth the cost of this kind of commitment.

If you would be interested in hiking with Paton, please call him (864.444.4409) or email him. You’re welcome to join Paton on one of his morning hikes to the summit of Table Rock! We hope that this is just the beginning of mental health reform in SC—we expect much more in the future!

You can also follow Paton on this journey on Twitter at #hikepatonhike!

You can also help out by contacting your local House Representative to inform them and ask them to support bill S.426, The Mental Health Court Program Act. You can find your local House Representative by clicking here. You support for this is greatly appreciated!

Senate Continues to Approve Bill to Expand Mental Health Courts

March 27th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media, Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “Senate Continues to Approve Bill to Expand Mental Health Courts”

March 27, 2015

mhc-bill-paton-quoteYesterday the SC Senate granted a second reading of the bill S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act, allowing it to move further into the legislation process. The vote was 40-0 in favor of passing the bill. This is a major step in getting this bill passed in the SC Senate! The bill will be going to a third reading in the Senate probably sometime next week, and after that, it will move on to the House of Representatives. This is an exciting time, and it’s thanks to everyone who contacted their senators to tell them to push forward with this bill.

Now we will need to begin to push forward this bill in the SC House of Representatives so that they will be aware of how the Mental Health Court Program Act will benefit the state, and for them to support it! You can find your local house members by clicking here–we will have more information on this soon. Thank you to everyone again for your support on this bill! SC is moving forward to mental health reform!

Read the full article in the Greenville News

Currently, three mental health courts operate in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston. Grants for their operation ran out years ago but they have continued to operate, officials say. Two other courts have closed in recent years due to lack of funding.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Paton Blough, a Greenville mental health advocate who proposed the bill last year. “It’s a bill that I believe will save lives, make the community safer and save taxpayers money.”

Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Camden Democrat and the bill’s sponsor, asked the Senate afterward to thank Blough for his work on the bill.

Sheheen’s bill doesn’t include funding but he has said he hopes to eventually find money in the budget to assist the courts.

The bill was amended to prohibit participation by violent offenders and to require that victims be notified when offenders enter the program.

The legislation does not mandate mental health courts but instead creates a statewide program with the provision that solicitors who accept state dollars for such courts must create them within six months.

“It is purely optional for the solicitors,” Sen. Shane Massey, an Edgefield Republican, told the Senate.

The programs under the bill are operated by each judicial circuit’s solicitor but allows those already in existence that might be operated by a probate judge under a prior court order to continue.

Read the full article in the Greenville News

Read this full article on the WLTX 19 Website

The State Senate voted 40-0 in favor of a bill Thursday that could expand mental health courts across the state.

Mental health courts divert those with mental health issues away from the criminal justice system.

Mental health advocate Paton Blough went through the program and has been pushing for this bill.

“We’ve worked so hard to get to this point, and I’m just so thankful to see all the senators working together to get meaningful legislation passed that will help save lives,” Blough said. “To be a part of it just feels overwhelming.”

Senators have also been passionate about getting this bill passed.

Sen. Vincent Sheheen said after seeing the current system for patients with mental illness, he wanted a change.

“Folks who were just mentally ill were just locked up for months at a time,” Sen. Sheehen said. “When I saw that kind of human tragedy, I looked for a solution, and I saw that in some few counties, mental health courts have been making a difference. This bill will allow mental health courts to be established in every community in South Carolina.”

The bill will now be read in the Senate for final approval, which is expected to take place next Tuesday. Following that, the the bill will head to the House of Representatives.

Read this full article on the WLTX 19 Website

Mental Health Providers Survey

March 24th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy 0 thoughts on “Mental Health Providers Survey”

Thank you for taking the time to reply to our survey! Below you will find a number of yes/no questions to fill out about local Upstate SC and mental health providers and services. Every answer we get will help out future endeavors in improving mental health services in South Carolina. When you’ve finished taking this survey, please share it with local friends and family as well.

  • By providing your email address, we can send you future mental health newsletters and updates. You can unsubscribe from these at any time.

  • The following questions will ask you if you are familiar with these mental health service providers and the programs they offer in the local Upstate of SC. Also, please share this survey with friends and family as well who are located in the Upstate.













Senate Gets Bill Expanding Mental Health Courts

March 18th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media, Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “Senate Gets Bill Expanding Mental Health Courts”

March 18th, 2015

Senate Judiciary Panel Passes Mental Health Courts Bill!

Yesterday was a major step for mental health reform in South Carolina! The SC Senate Judiciary Committee voted 23-0 for the Bill S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act, to move forward to the SC House. This is a crucial piece of legislation that will help reduce the number of mentally ill individuals incarcerated in state prisons, while diverting them to appropriate mental health services. This bill passing the SC Senate yesterday was thanks to not only the efforts of Paton Blough and other mental health advocates and local politicians, but also everyone who contacted their senators to encourage them to support the Mental Health Court Program Act. Thank you for your support now and in the future as this bill moves through the legislative process!

Read the full article about the vote in the Greenville News.

The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted unanimously to approve a bill to expand mental health courts in the state, sending the proposal to the full Senate.

Sen. Shane Massey, an Edgefield Republican, said the bill establishes a framework for a statewide system that is already being used in several judicial circuits.

“These things have been very popular and successful in communities where they are now,” he said.

Mental health courts divert mentally ill offenders away from the criminal justice system and into treatment programs, much as drug courts do for drug offenders.

Currently, three mental health courts operate in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston. Grants for their operation ran out years ago but they have continued to operate, officials say. Two other courts have closed in recent years due to lack of funding.

“I think this is a huge first step for the Senate to acknowledge mental health reform in our state,” said Paton Blough, a Greenville mental health advocate who has spent a year pushing for the legislation. “I hope this is just the beginning.”

Read the full article about the vote in the Greenville News.

Advocacy Alert for the Mental Health Court Program Act

March 13th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media, Video 0 thoughts on “Advocacy Alert for the Mental Health Court Program Act”

March 13th, 2015

An article and video published yesterday by WYFF News Channel 4 discusses the Mental Health Court Program Act and SC’s need for it. The article features Paton Blough and Senator Larry Martin of Pickens discussing the necessity of the bill in the state. Bill S.426 (formerly titled S.209), the Mental Health Court Program Act, is a bill designed to treat mentally ill criminals, rather than incarcerate them for actions that are often outside their control. This bill has been a crucial bi-partisan effort by Paton Blough and a number of SC politicians like Senator Vincent Sheheen (D) and Senator Larry Martin (R).

You can watch the video on the WYFF Channel 4 website.

You can help us out in fighting for the Mental Health Court Program Act as well!

You can help us to fight for the passing of this bill by contacting the SC Senate Judiciary Committee! By contacting the following senators, you can encourage them to support S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act in the Senate Judiciary Committee. By showing these senators your support for this bill, you are telling South Carolina that we NEED mental health courts and mental health reform in the state. Following is a list of the SC senators currently sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee along with their contact information. Now is the time to act for mental health reform!

Not sure what to say when you contact these senators? You can use this example letter/speech to help yourself out.

2015 Senate Judiciary Committee

Larry A. Martin (Chairman)

SRulesComm@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6610
Room 101 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 2 – Pickens

Lee Bright

LeeBright@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6008
Room 602 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. No. 12 – Greenville & Spartanburg

George E. “Chip” Campsen, III

ChipCampsen@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6340
Room 305 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 43 – Berkeley, Charleston & Collecton

Creighton B. Coleman

CreightonColeman@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6132
Room 508 Gressette Bldg.
Dist.17-Chester, Fairfield & York

Ronnie A. Sabb

RonnieSabb@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6032
Room 504 Gressette Bldg.
Dist.32-Berkeley, Florence, Georgetown, Horry & Williamsburg

Thomas D. “Tom” Corbin

TomCorbin@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6100
Room 501 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 5 – Greenville & Spartanburg

Chauncey K. Gregory

GregGregory@scsenate.gov
803-212-6024
Room 606 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 16 – Lancaster & York Cos.

Greg Hembree

GregHembree@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6016
Room 604 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 28 – Dillon & Horry

A. Shane Massey

ShaneMassey@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6024
Room 606 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 25 – Aiken, Edgefield, Lexington, McCormick & Saluda Cos.

Luke A. Rankin

SethicsComm@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6410
Room 205 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 33 – Horry

Katrina Frye Shealy

KatrinaShealy@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6108
Room 502 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 23- Lexington

Paul Thurmond

PaulThurmond@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6172
Room 513 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 41 – Charleston & Dorchester

Ross Turner

RossTurner@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6148
Room 512 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 8 – Greenville

Tom Young, Jr.

TomYoung@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6124
Room 506 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 24 – Aiken

Sean Bennett

SeanBennett@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6116
Room 601 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 7 – Berkeley, Charleston & Dorchester

C. Bradley Hutto

BradHutto@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6140
Room 510 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 40 – Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell,Colleton, Hampton & Orangeburg

Kevin L. Johnson

KevinJohnson@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6048
Room 612 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 36 – Clarendon, Darlington, Florence & Sumter

Gerald Malloy

GeraldMalloy@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6172
Room 513 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 29 – Chesterfield, Darlington, Lee & Marlboro

J. Thomas McElveen, III

ThomasMcElveen@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6132
Room 508 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 35 – Kershaw, Lee, Richland & Sumter

John L. Scott, Jr.

JohnScott@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6124
Room 506 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 19 – Richland

Karl B. Allen

KarlAllen@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6040
Room 610 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 7 – Greenville

Shane R. Martin

ShaneMartin@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6100
Room 501 Gressette Bldg.
Dist.13 – Greenville, Spartanburg & Union

Marlon E. Kimpson

marlonkimpson@scsenate.gov
(803) 212-6056
Room 613 Gressette Bldg.
Dist. 42 – Charleston & Dorchester

Local Agencies Seek Solutions for Mental Health Issues

March 6th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, Published Media 0 thoughts on “Local Agencies Seek Solutions for Mental Health Issues”

March 06, 2015

April Morris of the Greenville Journal has written an excellent piece in the Greenville Journal as a follow up to the recent Mental Health Round-Table that Rehinge and Redhype sponsored a couple of weeks ago.

Read the full article in the Greenville Journal

Representatives from Upstate agencies and providers met at the Commerce Club in Greenville recently to discuss service gaps and find ways to support residents struggling with mental illness.

….

“We have a tremendous opportunity in our community to do something different,” said National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Greenville executive director Ken Dority in support of mental health courts.

Those at the Greenville roundtable also praised crisis intervention training (CIT), which helps law enforcement officers de-escalate a situation with someone in crisis. Since Greenville police officers began receiving CIT training in 2010, only 15 out of 168 crisis cases resulted in the use of force in 2013, said Capt. Stacey Owens.

Rich Jones, director of Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), said more everyday support is needed. “The best crisis intervention is what is done between the crises,” he said.

Attendees voiced a wide variety of ideas to address the challenges the mentally ill and their families face.

….

Members of the group agreed to reconvene soon to discuss next steps.

Read the full article in the Greenville Journal

Ride With Us to Mental Health Advocacy Day!

March 3rd, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Media 0 thoughts on “Ride With Us to Mental Health Advocacy Day!”

March 03, 2015

Would you like to ride with others from NAMI Greenville to the SC State House? NAMI Greenville going there for Mental Health Advocacy day on Thursday, March 19, 2015, Columbia, SC on the State House North Steps!

We are encouraging as many people as possible to be part of Mental Health Advocacy Day 2015! That is why NAMI Greenville is considering renting vans to transport us together to and from Columbia, SC on Thursday, March 19th. In order to reserve enough transportation, we need to tally the number of people who are interested by March 12th!

Want To Participate?
Please contact NAMI Greenville by 12pm (noon), Thursday, March 12th
by calling 864-331-3300 or email info@namigreenvillesc.org.

Joining forces on this day will be:

  • NAMI Greenville (those who choose to participate)
  • NAMI South Carolina (state office)
  • Mental Health America – South Carolina
  • South Carolina SHARE
  • South Carolina Chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • South Carolina Department of Mental Health
  • Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc.
  • South Carolina Federation of Families

More Mental Health Courts Could Open in SC

February 20th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, Published Media 0 thoughts on “More Mental Health Courts Could Open in SC”

February 20th, 2015

The Bluffton Times published a nice article today featuring Paton and his work towards more mental health courts in South Carolina.

Read the full article in the Bluffton Times

Paton Blough thought the police were trying to kill him.

When he was 29, he had demanded to use the telephone at a gas station, and the attendant called the police. Blough, now 38 and a father of six, racked up nine charges, including one for breaking the leg irons confining him in the backseat of a patrol car when an officer tased him.

“It’s actually kind of a miracle that I’m here today,” Blough told a Senate subcommittee Thursday. He urged the lawmakers to support a proposal allowing counties to establish mental health courts, similar the drug courts created 10 years ago.

Blough is a graduate of mental health court in Greenville County and credits it, in part, with saving him and allowing him to live psychosis-free for five years.

He said the answer is not to send those with mental illness into the state prison system.


 

“If you go into any hospital today, if you go into any jail today, you’ll see warehoused folks who are mentally ill who are in the revolving system,” said Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, who introduced the legislation. The idea is modeled on Richland, Greenville, and Charleston county programs to encourage other counties to divert convicts with mental illness away from the prison system.

“It’s not good for them, and it costs taxpayers a lot of money,” Sheheen said.

Read the full article in the Bluffton Times

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  • “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
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    • 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!”

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