Mental Health Advocacy is an area of law that has begun to leave the compliance sector and move more firmly into a high profile area of criminal law. A part of the reason for this stems from the changes in federal and state funding for public care, and due to the use of private corporations for services by public institutions. It is not unusual for complaints to result in criminal charges against individual practitioners, institutions and public entities. While there has been a grass roots movement to produce lay advocates, the bulk of the work is falling to lawyers experienced in criminal law.
The move toward legal advocacy
The move toward criminal law experience as a requirement for mental health advocacy has gotten a recent boost by the institution of what is colloquially known as “Obamacare.” More people are now insured, and more people who were covered by insurance have had changes made to their long term coverage practices. It also means that care facilities are currently overwhelmed by patients seeking treatment. The lack of regulation and certification requirements for certain staff members, and the increased use of uncertified staff to manage mentally ill population is resulting in more abuses, rights violations and instances of criminal neglect than ever before. Montoya Shaffer can help with law cases as a great criminal defense lawyer philadelphia.
Don’t discount the volunteers
While it is best that the lead role of the mental health advocate be undertaken by someone with criminal and negligence experience, don’t discount the volunteer advocates. Many are coming out of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and what they may lack in legal training and experience they make up for with contacts and understanding of how the system works from the patients viewpoint. They can very much be the eyes and ears of a good lawyer. You should also become more familiar with the Peer Specialist designation and how persons in this role can be an asset to proving instances of criminal abuse or negligence in the mental health environment.
The changing face of mental health
With more people able to receive mental health treatment, there has also been a rise in the percent of population being diagnoses with serious mental illness. The pressure on public and community institutions to provide care for all levels of society is causing an increase in charges of criminal abuse, neglect and the violation of rights by caregivers. This can be a challenging area of criminal law to undertake as you will always be taking on public, private and government institutions. It will give you great experience in policy and procedural law too.