Posts in News Commentary

Jermaine Massey tragedy sparks efforts for CIT Training through Greenville County Council

April 9th, 2018 Posted by Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media 0 thoughts on “Jermaine Massey tragedy sparks efforts for CIT Training through Greenville County Council”

April 9th, 2018

Fox Carolina wrote an article this evening reporting today’s Greenville County Council Public Safety Committee Meeting, made up of 5 county council members. The purpose of the meeting was to help build CIT for the Greenville County Sheriffs Office in order to prevent tragedies between law enforcement and individuals in crisis. 

The policy suggestions for the Public Safety Committees consideration included:

  1. Asking the GCSO to appoint a command staff deputy to become the CIT coordinator for their department with full buy in from the Sheriff
  2. Train all GCSO dispatchers in a 2 hour CIT course from NAMI as soon as possible
  3. Discuss training budgets and funding and potential future growth of CIT for the GCSO
  4. Discuss CIT International Core Elements (Read Core Elements Document Here) 

Read the Full Article on Fox Carolina’s Website

“I came out of three years of very severe bipolar episodes and suicidal level depressions,” Paton Blough said.

Blough is a mental health advocate and is open about his past interactions with law enforcement.

“I was hospitalized four times, three of those arrests went violently and I was tased by police,” he said.

Blough, Captain Stacey Owens from Greenville Police Department, and officials with the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) joined forces to see to it that all police officers become CIT trained – Crisis Intervention Training.

Blough said one incident making headlines back in August 2010 changed his world and the city of Greenville. Greenville police officers were called, after family of Andrew Torrez said he needed help. When officers responded, the situation escalated and Torrez was tased and later passed away.

Blough said inside the Greenville County Public Safety meeting Monday, the incident scared him. “I honestly had the thought that that could have been me.”

Captain Stacey Owens, GPD CIT coordinator, contributed to the conversation to explain what has worked and what hasn’t when it comes to CIT training in the police department.

“The Greenville Police Department started this back in 2010, it’s not something you can do overnight,” Owens said.

Now NAMI officials and members of county council suggest a CIT unit for the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. The group suggest also having a commanding staff deputy to oversee the unit, similar to Owens in the police department.

“The most successful CIT programs have a sworn officer that is really leading that program,” Blough said.

Officials said the deputy should be someone who is compassionate, can relate to those in a mental health crisis and that shows an outreach in the community.

Public Safety Committee Chairman Rick Roberts said, details revolving around the budget are still in the works and will be discussed at a later day. NAMI South Carolina said because CIT training is in such high demand statewide, funds are currently stretched thin. The organization is hoping for an increase in budget to help fund this county project.

“I think the timing is right, and as counsel we want to move forward,” Rick Roberts said. “There’s nothing more important than public safety and quality of life and having compassion for our citizens.”


Read more from the recent timeline of reaction to the Jermaine Massey tragedy through these media articles:

Greenville News

March 19, 2018  SLED investigating deputy-involved shooting of knife-wielding Greenville man

March 24, 2018  Family of Greenville man killed in deputy shooting: ‘We need answers’

April 4, 2018 2 Greenville County Council members question mental health training after deadly shooting

Fox Carolina

April 3rd, 2018  Greenville County Council members call for mandatory deputy training on mental health calls

March 20, 2018  Close friends of man killed during officer-involved shooting say it ‘makes no sense’

March 26, 2018  Greenville NAACP branch releases statement on deadly deputy-involved shooting

WYFF Channel 4 News

April 3rd, 2018  People in mental health crises should be helped, not shot, County Council members say


WSPA Channel 7 News

Victory, Congress & My Next Step

September 7th, 2017 Posted by Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “Victory, Congress & My Next Step”
Victory, Congress & My Next Step (more…)

Advocacy Alert: Judiciary Sub-Committee Hearing Needed for SC Senate Bill S.173

December 4th, 2016 Posted by Advocacy, Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “Advocacy Alert: Judiciary Sub-Committee Hearing Needed for SC Senate Bill S.173”

December 4th, 2016

Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) and de-escalation training for our police are incredibly vital for the safety of people with a mental health  or substance abuse crisis who encounter law enforcement. We want to thank Senator Vincent Sheheen for leading the charge on this life saving solution oriented legislation. Rehinge has worked closely with Senator Sheheen to produce this bill that will help push CIT throughout the great state of SC. Now is the time for momentum so we can get a Judiciary sub-committee hearing immediately after it is read on the Senate floor in January. Please call and write your Senator and ask them to co-sponsor S. 173 the CIT and Police De-escalation Training Act.

The proposed legislation would require the S.C. Law Enforcement Training Council to create a Crisis Intervention Team training center and for every county to have at least one crisis intervention team. We need you to call, write, or email your local SC State Senator and tell them to co-sponsor Senate Bill S.173 so that it will reach a Judiciary Sub-Committee. This is an important first step towards getting this bill passed!

Bob Montgomery of Go Upstate also wrote an article on the bill being pre-filed, and includes quotes from Paton Blough and Senator Sheheen.

Law enforcement in South Carolina would get more training in dealing with people having a mental health or substance abuse crisis under a bill that the state General Assembly could take up next year.

State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Camden Democrat who has made two runs for governor, pre-filed a bill on the issue this week. The proposed legislation mirrors a measure he introduced late in the Legislature’s last session that died in committee.

“We’ve got a real crisis in many of our hospitals and detention facilities where people who suffer mental health problems are dumped,” Sheheen told the Herald-Journal on Thursday.

The proposed legislation would require the S.C. Law Enforcement Training Council to create a crisis intervention training center and for every county to have at least one crisis intervention team.

Mental health advocate Paton Blough of Greenville said he met several times with Sheheen as the bill was put together.

“This solves some of the policing issues … and gives people help and hope,” said Blough, a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “It’s about human kindness. It’s giving officers more tools — not taking away Tasers or guns — to possibly de-escalate a situation and help the person in crisis avoid injury and maybe themselves an injury.”

“It’s long overdue,” Brown said. “It’s a needed bill. As you see, there are a number of situations in our court systems that unfortunately have a mental health aspect to them.”

Brown and Blough said they are hopeful the General Assembly will pass the bill because both Democrats and Republicans realize that having more officers trained to deal with mental illness and drug abuse can lead to better outcomes and reduced pressure on jails.

“It will help keep people out of prisons,” Blough said. “It’s exciting to see solutions that work being promoted in the state from both sides of the aisle with the support of advocates and police departments.”

Read the Full Article on

We have also compiled a list of current SC Senators below with contact information that you can use:

Thomas C. Alexander 803-212-6220
Rex Rice Send an Email
Kevin L. Bryant 803-212-6320
Michael Gambrell Send an Email
Tom Corbin 803-212-6100
William Timmons Send an Email
Karl B. Allen 803-212-6040
Ross Turner 803-212-6148
Danny Verdin, III 803-212-6230
Floyd Nicholson 803-212-6040
Gleen G. Reese 803-212-6108
Scott Talley Send an Email
Shane R. Martin 803-212-6100
Harvey S. Peeler, Jr 803-212-6430
Wes Climer Send an Email
Greg Gregory 803-212-6024
Mike Fanning Send an Email
Ronnie W. Cromer 803-212-6330
John L. Scott, Jr 803-212-6124
John E. Courson 803-212-6250
Darrell Jackson 803-212-6048
Mia McLeod Send an Email
Katrina Frye Shealy 803-212-6108
Tom Young, Jr 803-212-6000
Shane A. Massey 803-212-6148
Nikki G. Setzler 803-212-6140
Vincent A. Sheheen 803-212-6032
Greg Hembree 803-212-6016
Gerald Malloy 803-212-6172
Kent M. Williams 803-212-6000
Hugh K. Leatherman, Sr 803-212-6640
Ronnie A. Sabb 803-212-6032
Luke A. Rankin 803-212-6410
Stephen Goldfinch, Jr Send an Email
J. Thomas McElveen, III 803-212-6132
Kevin L. Johnson 803-212-6048
Larry Grooms 803-212-6400
Sean Bennett 803-212-6116
John W. Matthews 803-212-6056
Bradley Hutto 803-212-6140
Sandy Senn Send an Email
Marlon E. Kimpson 803-212-6124
Chip Campsen, III 803-212-6340
Paul G. Campbell 803-212-6016
Margie Bright Matthews 803-212-6056
Tom Davis 803-212-6008

A Very Positive Hearing for H.5025 in the SC House Subcommittee

March 11th, 2016 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media, Video 0 thoughts on “A Very Positive Hearing for H.5025 in the SC House Subcommittee”

March 11, 2016

Yesterday was an excellent day for SC House Bill H.5025 as it received a very positive hearing in front of the House committee. Paton Blough was a part of the hearing, and was also featured in a couple of local news outlets as they covered the bill. While H.5025 hasn’t passed in the House Committee yet, we are expecting that it will next week.

Paton and Rehinge would also like to give a huge thank you to Mike Woody, the president of CIT International, and NAMI Indiana for their hard work on creating the Indiana bill, SB380, that laid out the blue print for Bill H.5025, the Crisis Intervention Team Training Act.

From WSPA News Channel 7

A South Carolina House subcommittee passed a bill Thursday morning that would change the way police handle people with mental illness. Officers would be required to go through much more training on crisis intervention, and they would no longer transport to mental hospitals people who are not a danger to themselves or others. Instead, ambulances could transport those patients.

Bill sponsor Rep. Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville, says, “I think mental illness is a health care issue, and in those cases where the mentally ill person is not an actual danger to himself or to other people, that that person should be transported in an ambulance and not in the back of a patrol car handcuffed.”

From The State Online News

Health care and police advocates appearing before a S.C. House subcommittee on Thursday pushed for new state laws they said would help de-escalate potentially explosive confrontations between police and mentally ill people.

Requiring police officers to have special training for dealing with the mentally ill would benefit both police and the mentally ill, said Paton Blough, 39, a Greenville resident who told subcommittee members of his six encounters with police while mentally troubled.

“Three of those arrests went well; three of those arrests turned violent. I believe the times I was calmly arrested had to do with the way officers dealt with me and not a difference in my mental state,” Blough said.

“All six times, I was under the delusion I was a god and police were trying to murder me,” he said. “… The officers’ ability to slow down and control the situation through verbal techniques was the main factor in calming my fears of death.”

In recent years, Blough’s personal experiences with mental illness have turned him into a state and national spokesman on ways to defuse confrontations between mentally ill people and police, who are often the first responders to calls concerning mentally ill people who might pose a danger to themselves or others. A board member of National Alliance on Mental Illness South Carolina, Blough now controls his illness through medication and various cognitive techniques.

The bill that Blough supports would set up “crisis intervention teams” operated through the sheriff’s department in each county, with specially trained officers who know how to deal with the mentally ill. It would also require more training by law enforcement officers in how to deal with mentally ill people.

“Law enforcement, health care, the (S.C.) Department of Mental Health — everyone who deals with or touches a mentally ill issue — would be part of a team to create a statewide crisis intervention program,” said Rep. Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville, chairman of the Constitutional Laws subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, in an interview after the hearing.

Rehinge Officially Endorses Governor Kasich for President

February 18th, 2016 Posted by Audio, Media, News Commentary, Published Media 1 thought on “Rehinge Officially Endorses Governor Kasich for President”

paton-kasichFebruary 18, 2016

Paton of Rehinge has officially endorsed Governor John Kasich for President. Governor Kasich also informed Rehinge that he would look into supporting federal bill HR1854, the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act; as well as contact Paul Ryan to ask for his support to present HR1854 to the House. Here is an article with fair journalism on John Kasich’s record for mental health issues.

In the first Republican presidential debate in Cleveland, he took the issue head on as he defended expansion of Medicaid in Ohio as important for helping people living “in the shadows.”

“I had an opportunity to bring resources back to Ohio. To do what? To treat the mentally ill,” Kasich told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, one of the moderators.

Paton was also able to speak with two radio hosts yesterday about his support for presidential nominee candidate, John Kasich, and his positive policies on mental health. First is the national radio show by Hugh Hewitt, who also recently moderated a GOP presidential national debate.

Paton on Hugh Hewitt’s National Radio Show

You can listen to the full show here.

Paton on The Tara Show

Paton was also able to speak about Kasich on The Tara Show.

You can listen to the full show here.

If you would like to support Governor Kasich’s Campaign, please do so here.

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.

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

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

House Gives Key Approval to Mental Health Courts Bill

May 13th, 2015 Posted by Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media 0 thoughts on “House Gives Key Approval to Mental Health Courts Bill”

May 13th, 2015

Tim Smith wrote a nice piece in the Greenville News this morning about the SC House passing bill S.426, the Mental Health Court Program Act. This is an exciting victory in South Carolina, and we hope to see many more in the coming months and years!

Read the full article in the Greenville News

The House gave key approval Tuesday to a bill to expand the state’s mental health courts.

The 98-2 vote came after no debate.

After a final reading, the bill will head to Gov. Nikki Haley.

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.

“It’s nice to see both bodies working together for the greater good of our state,” said Paton Blough, a Greenville mental health advocate who proposed the bill last year [….] “Hopefully, this is the beginning of years of mental health reform to come.”

Blough and other supporters for the bill, including Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Camden Democrat who authored the bill, have argued the legislation would save lives and taxpayers’ dollars.

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

Read the full article in the Greenville News


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
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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