Mental Health Advocacy

DRM provides advocacy services to individuals with mental illness under the federal PAIMI program.  The federal PAIMI statute and regulations provides that the rights of individuals with mental illness are to be protected through activities that ensure the enforcement of their rights under the Constitution and Federal and State statutes, to investigate instances of abuse and neglect and to engage in outreach and monitoring activities. These laws grants the DRM authority to provide these services to individuals in the community and in institutional settings. 

Additionally, DRM has contracts to provides full time on site mental health advocacy services at three inpatient psychiatric hospitals: Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center and Acadia Hospital located in Bangor and  Riverview Psychiatric Center located in Augusta.

 DRM's Recent Work

DRM Enforces Right to Telephone Access

DRM received a complaint from an individual who was not able to make private telephone calls while staying at a mental health community crisis unit.  The individual wanted to be able to talk with her various medical providers without the staff hearing her private conversations. DRM contacted the mental health agency that operated the crisis residences and they agreed to purchase a cordless telephone so that residents in the future would be able to make private telephone calls.  The agency also agreed to provide training to staff to ensure that all residents were made aware of their right to be able to make private telephone calls.

DRM Advocates for Individual to Return Home

A 35 year old man with mental illness was living in a licensed mental health community residence.  The man went to the emergency room and was later transferred to a psychiatric hospital.  Staff at the community residence informed the man that he was being discharged from his home and could not return to the residence.  He had no other place to go and was facing the possibility of an extended long term hospitalization.  DRM staff intervened and educated the staff at the residence on the legal rights he possessed regarding his housing.  After being educated on his rights, the staff then agreed to have the man discharged back to his home at the residence. 

 Resources

The Complete Guide to Social Security Disability Benefits

From the website: "Developing a disability can be frustrating for many reasons, and the inability to work is one of the hardest things to deal with. In the U.S., 12.8% of people are disabled, and more than half of them (51%) are within the prime working ages of 18-54, according to an annual report funded by the NIDILRR, and the employment rate of disabled individuals ranges from 27.4% to 54% between the states. This leaves many unemployed, and not being able to work leads to depression and the feeling of being a burden on your family and loved ones.

Fortunately, disability benefits provided by the Social Security Administration can offer relief, giving a disabled person back their agency and dignity, though many are unaware of the rules and qualifications regarding the available benefits.

That’s why we’ve compiled this guide: to provide everything you need to know on the topic in a clear, concise manner. We’ll cover the available benefits, necessary qualifications for different age groups, how benefits are paid out, alternative sources of benefits, and more. After reading, acquiring the benefits that you deserve will be a whole lot easier."

This guide was developed by, and is available at, backgroundchecks.org

How to Request a COVID-Related Reasonable Accommodation

Everyone’s life is currently affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of COVID-19, many providers have made new rules and changed the way they offer services to people with disabilities. Sometimes these new rules make it hard for people to access their services because of their disability. If you or someone you know is having difficulty receiving services because of these new rules, you might be able to request a “reasonable accommodation” based on your disability. This webinar will talk about what a reasonable accommodation is, how to request a reasonable accommodation and what to do if your provider says no. There  will also be time at the end for questions and answers.

Handout:

Urgent Grievances in the Community & COVID-19

This training, jointly presented by Disability Rights Maine & the Consumer Council System of Maine, explains Maine's "Urgent Grievance" process under the Rights of Recipients of Mental Health Services. Please note that the recording begins as the presenter, Mark, is reviewing Slide 3.

Disclaimer:

  • This presentation and accompanying materials are intended to inform you about urgent grievances in the time of COVID-19.
  • Nothing in this presentation should be considered legal advice.
  • No attorney-client relationship is created through the presentation of this information.

Advance Health Care Directives for Planning Mental Health Care

Advance directives have been used in the field of general health care for several years.They were originally called “living wills”. They are now available to direct mental health care as well.Advance directives for mental health care are fairly new.

This manual is designed to help you:

  • Learn more about an advance directive for mental health care.
  • Decide whether you want one.
  • Develop an advance directive for mental health care.
  • Use your advance directive for mental health care.

Involuntary Hospitalization & Outpatient Services Laws

A Basic Guide to Laws Covering Involuntary Admission to Psychiatric Hospitals and to Outpatient Services

This manual is designed as a simple guide through the involuntary hospitalization process and the involuntary outpatient services laws.

The involuntary hospitalization process can also lead to an order for involuntary treatment. A guide to this process is included in the section on involuntary hospitalization. Involuntary treatment is generally treatment with medications.

This manual also includes a guide on the process whereby outpatient services may be ordered involuntarily. These services are called the “Progressive Treatment Program”. Procedures dealing with this program are in a separate section in this manual.

This manual is not a substitute for legal advice. For specific questions or assistance with particular issues, please contact Disability Rights Maine.

Your Rights in Maine’s Community Crisis System

This brochure provides an overview of your rights when accessing telephone, walk-in and mobile crisis services in the community.

Your Rights in Crisis Stabilization Units

This brochure provides basic information about what to expect when accessing services in a crisis stabilization unit ("crisis residence").

How to File a Grievance Against a Community Mental Health Provider

Are you unhappy with your (adult) community mental health services? Download this brochure to learn how you can address your concerns through the grievance process.

Rights of Persons Living in Residential Facilities that Provide Mental Health Treatment

The AMHI Consent Decree - A Primer

This document provides an overview of the AMHI Consent Decree.  It was developed by Kevin Voyvodich, managing attorney, for the Joint Standing Committee on Health & Human Services.

Peer Recovery Training Manual

This manual provides a menu of program options that support efforts to promote recovery, and improve patient experience and outcomes.

A Basic Guide to Self-Advocacy

This manual is intended to provide a simple yet informative overview of how to be a self-advocate. This manual is not a substitute for legal advice. If you have specific questions or need assistance with a particular issue, please contact Disability Rights Maine.

 Trainings & Upcoming Events

 News

 Systemic Work

DRM Attorneys Train Substance Use Disorder Providers on the ADA & Mental Health Regulations

DRM attorneys Kevin Voyvodich and Ryan Schmitz conducted a rights training for SUD providers. DRM attorneys provided a comprehensive training on the disability rights for clients of SUD providers. A significant portion of that training was the interplay of rights protections related to mental health services and how those intersect with both types of providers. DRM’s goals was to ensure that SUD providers understood both their obligation but also how to recognize when to reach out to DRM and other organizations related to the rights of their clients.

DRM Attorney and Patient Advocate Train Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center Staff on Supported Decision-Making

In August of 2020 DRM attorney Kevin Voyvodich and patient advocate Casey Escobar provided training to clinical and administrative staff of Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center on Supported Decision Making, the changes to the probate code, and other alternatives to guardianship. DRM provided the training at the invitation of the state hospital and was able to discuss in depth how SDM and other legal tools can be used to preserve client autonomy and avoid guardianship.

DRM Attorney and Patient Advocate Train Riverview Psychiatric Center Staff on DRM’s Updated Mental Health Advance Directives Guide

DRM attorney Kevin Voyvodich and patient advocate Caleb Baker provided training to medical staff of Riverview Psychiatric Center on DRM’s guide on mental health advanced directives. The September 2020 training provided the clinical staff of RPC with an overview of mental health care directives and how patients at RPC cane use the new DRM guide. The training gave an overview of how the advanced directive works, what it does and does not do, and how it can help RPC clients potentially avoid more restrictive measures such as guardianship.

DRM Participates in Statewide CCSM Event “Re-inventing the Adult Mental Health System”

DRM attorney Kevin Voyvodich participated in 3 online community forums with the Consumer Council System of Maine in August of 2020. DRM heard from consumers the pressing issues they are seeing in the community and what they believe the adult mental health system should really look like. Further, DRM asked questions and provided input on what rights issues and unmet needs consumers are concerned about and how DRM could provide assistance in addressing them.