Who are the “Stakeholders” in Oregon’s Mental Health System?

With the resignation earlier this year of Mary Claire Buckley as director of the Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) after a state investigation found she “regularly belittled, criticized, swore and screamed at employees, to the point that one woman confessed to crying for 45 minutes after an encounter”, the State of Oregon is now seeking applicants to fill the position of Executive Director. Juliet Follansbee is currently acting as the board’s interim director.

Recently, the board sent out an email to “valuable stakeholder(s)” soliciting input. It reads, in part:

“Dear Psychiatric Security Review Board Stakeholder,

Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God

Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God

The state of Oregon is beginning the process of selecting the next Executive Director of the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) agency. We consider you to be a valuable stakeholder and would greatly appreciate your insight and perspective. Thus, we would like to request approximately five minutes of your time to provide us with your thoughts on the attributes you believe we should be looking for in the next Executive Director to lead PSRB. Information provided in this survey may be subject to public disclosure. It is anonymous but not confidential.

Please click on the following link by September 18, 2013 to access our survey: Psychiatric Security Review Board Stakeholder Feedback Survey<http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PSRB&gt; [now closed]”

Many advocates from around the state have expressed concerned that they only learned of the survey after it had closed. This raises the issue of whom the PSRB considers “stakeholders”, as well as concerns over transparency. Twyla Lawson, Senior Human Resources Consultant for the Chief Human Resources Officer stated the survey email “went out to listservs that the PSRB maintains”.

Randy Altstock, whose son has been under the PSRB for 8 years and in The Oregon State Hospital for a combined 6 years was frustrated but not surprised that he wasn’t considered a stakeholder and offered a chance to provide his input. “The board has never listened to the families. We know what our son needs better than anyone; instead they have just kept him isolated and things have gotten worse.”

A person currently under the jurisdiction of the PSRB who wished to remain anonymous stated “We find it offensive that the former executive director was only ousted after complaints of abuse against ‘real’ people. Those of us under the board and our families have had to suffer under a tyrant for decades. We often spend far more time under the board than one would do in prison for a similar offense even though the state’s own statistics show we are an order of magnitude less of a risk. We can only conclude that this disparity in oversight and cost to the taxpayer results from the State of Oregon discriminating against those found to have a mental illness.”

He continued, “We want an executive director that understands there is a known connection between enforcing the Olmstead Act and the board’s mission of ensuring public safety. We want someone that will frequently visit and interact with clients at OSH and out in group homes, as well as our families. We’re tired of being hidden away for years simply to fabricate a low recidivism rate to justify an ever-expanding budget to the state legislature. We are people with families and lives – not political tools to be vilified so the state can fear-monger its way into more and more locked away citizens.”

The Psychiatric Security Review Board can be contacted at (503) 229-5596. Twyla Lawson can be reached at: 503-373-7677.

Oregon PSRB Executive Director Opportunity

The Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) has an exceptional opportunity for an experienced leader to serve as their Board’s Executive Director. The Executive Director is responsible for the overall direction of the agency in supporting the Board’s mission to protect the public through the ongoing review of the progress of “guilty except for insanity” adults and “responsible except for insanity” youth and a determination of their appropriate placement as well as through hearings to decide whether persons with mental health determinations should have their federal and State firearm privileges restored. This is a permanent, full-time, executive service position located in Portland, Oregon.

This position requires graduation from an accredited law school with a J.D. degree AND four years of experience in supervision, staff-technical, or professional-level work related to the legal system. The salary will be dependent on qualifications and experience at a rate of up to $120,000/year plus benefits. The complete recruitment announcement can be found at the following website: www.oregonjobs.org The recruitment is scheduled to close at the end of the day, Tuesday, October 15, 2013. If you are interested, please apply now.

Please forward this to anyone who may be interested in this opportunity. I invite you to contact me (Twyla Lawson) at (503) 373-7677 if you have any questions about this or other opportunities within the State of Oregon.