News stories from Counterpoint

Legislature Considers Peer Mental Health Bills

Legislature Considers Peer Mental Health Bills

The first week of Vermont’s legislative session saw the introduction of two bills that would dramatically advance the development of peer-based mental health services in the state. Five peer-led mental health organizations – Alyssum, Another Way, MadFreedom, Pathways...

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New Use-of-Force Policy for Police Takes Effect

New Use-of-Force Policy for Police Takes Effect

Vermont’s first statewide use-of-force policy for police went into effect on Oct. 1, 2021. In preparation, law enforcement officers received in-person training by the Vermont Police Academy in August and September, with a self-identified psychiatric survivor providing...

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Act 114 Petitions Decline Slightly in FY21

Act 114 Petitions Decline Slightly in FY21

On Jan. 15, the Vermont General Assembly learned that the Department of Mental Health (DMH) recorded 50 incidences of court-approved involuntary non-emergency psychiatric medication in Vermont hospitals in fiscal year 2021 (FY21), which began on July 1, 2020, and...

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DMH Seeks New Pediatric Psych Ward

DMH Seeks New Pediatric Psych Ward

Amid emergency department logjams across Vermont, the Department of Mental Health (DMH) issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a new inpatient psychiatric unit for children and adolescents on Jan. 28. The Brattleboro Retreat is the only hospital in the state that...

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First Forensic Mental Health Report Arrives

First Forensic Mental Health Report Arrives

The Vermont Department of Mental Health (DMH) delivered the first of two mandated reports by its Forensic Care Working Group to the legislature on Jan. 15, in accordance with Act 57. Passed in 2021, the law initiated a process to contemplate new restrictions, as well...

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Executive Budget Calls for Additional Mobile Response

Executive Budget Calls for Additional Mobile Response

On Jan. 18, Gov. Scott released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2023. It calls for $7.7 billion in spending by the state, which would represent an increase of $350 million over the previous year. The executive budget recommends an appropriation of $287,273,887 for...

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Arts and commentary from Counterpoint

Four Poems

Four Poems

Poetry by Wim Alden (Woodstock, VT) A more developed thoughtI cannot bearFather leads the wayWith hardly a sideways glanceBrother trudges onKeeping up, forging a duplicate trailI sink, I swimIt depends upon the day. *** My therapeutic home is adequateI have a bedThere...

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Walking Through Depression

Walking Through Depression

Prose by Amanda Perry (North Hartland, VT) I walk through a darkened path only large enough for me to fit through. I move side to side, I feel the rough bark of the trees next to me. Turning my head toward the sky I see nothing but darkness. The trees are so dense and...

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Coercion in Survival Benefits

Coercion in Survival Benefits

At this year’s Alternatives conference in Washington, Calvin Moen, Kaz DeWolfe and I gave a presentation on the elements of psychiatric coercion that members of our community face in accessing survival benefits.

This was an effort on our part to broaden the scope of discussions that occur in the consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement to consider coercion more broadly.

All the people who attended our workshop were recipients of survival benefits and had a great deal to contribute to the discussion. They spoke to the precarious nature of life on benefits, as well as to the degree to which participation in the benefits system limits their ability to determine the conditions of their care.

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“Alternatives” — Plural

“Alternatives” — Plural

This was my second consecutive year attending the Alternatives conference. Like last year, I distinctly felt that there were (at least) two separate conferences happening concurrently.

One of these conferences centers the experience and perspective of a user of mental health services who is in recovery from a mental illness and has joined the peer workforce to serve others who are experiencing what they have gone through.

The other conference centers the experience and perspective of a survivor of psychiatric harm who works to resist and dismantle the coercive and forceful psychiatric system and to reinstate the human and civil rights of those who have been deemed mad.

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