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May 13, 2010 - ADMHN Applauds Heroic Architects of Mental Health Court

What: Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network 9th Annual Mental Health Benefit Luncheon

Where: Inverness Hotel and Conference Center

When: Thursday, May 13, 2010

Time: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

EMCEE: April Zesbaugh, co-host of 850 KOA's Colorado Morning News

Executive Director: Scott Thoemke

Speaker: Jennifer Ayers-Moore

Catering: Inverness Hotel and Conference Center

Music: live jazz orchestra

Sponsors: CityWide Banks, Haven Behavioral Senior Care, Lockton Companies, Behavioral HealthCare Inc, Kaiser Permanente, Arapahoe and Douglas Boards of County Commissioners, Arapahoe House, Aurora Mental Health Center, Cherry Creek School District, City of Glendale, Community Reach Center, Highlands Behavioral Health System, Intermountain Rural Electric Assoication, NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties, Dr. Nikolas Golosow, Rocky Mountain Institute, Signal Behavioral Health Network Inc.

Menu: Tossed greens with beet curls, grilled chicken breast, roasted garlic asiago fettuccine, spring vegetables, fruit tart with kiwi compote

Attendance: 400

Attire: Business Casual

Event Coordinator: Meryl Glickman

Board of Directors: Thomas J. Flanagan, Jr., Lt. Attila C. Denes, John Phillips, 'Nita Brown, Mario Harding, Todd Helvig, Robert lreland, Kelli Kane, Oksana Navratil, Patrica Opper, Jose Reyes, Cpt. Vincent Sauter, Richard Spielge, Carla Vellos, Melanie Worley, Susan Beckman, Barbara Drake, Tom Burger

Blacktie Photos by: M. Darcy

 The Honorable William Blair Sylvester being presented with the Distinguished Service Award by Sheriff Robinson
The Honorable William Blair Sylvester being presented with the Distinguished Service Award by Sheriff Robinson

 ADMHN Applauds Heroic Architects of Mental Health Court

Story by M. Darcy

You may have seen the movie, The Soloist, starring Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers, a gifted musician and schizophrenic street person who is discovered - and helped - by an L.A. reporter.  The story has a happy ending, but for thousands of people, the outcome is drastically different; they merely fall through the cracks of a broken system and an oblivious society.  

There is an alarming increase in the number of people with mental illness living on the streets or winding up in jail.  In fact, the jails have been decried as the new asylums for our country.  Paula Rios-Menter, Vice President of Psychosocial Services at Pinon Management points to the lack of funding or attention given to mental health.  Our community mental health services are inadequate to help people in a timely manner at a reasonable cost to the patient.  In many cases, people want immediate relief from their condition, but often can't be seen for two or three months, or they can't afford either the treatment drugs, or their insurance doesn't pay for enough doctor visits.  Sadly, it's easier for them to get drugs or alcohol than proper treatment. They self-medicate.  Street drugs can worsen their condition, making it more likely for them to end up on the streets or go to jail for minor crimes, such as disturbing the peace, or for more serious ones, like assault or theft. Without proper diagnosis, they get caught in a revolving jail door that boots them out on the street.  Arapahoe County jail alone sees 1100-1200 inmates per day.  Of those, an estimated 22% are there because the real problem is that they simply have a mental illness.  

Several judicial staff decided to do something about it.  The Honorable William Blair Sylvester of the 18th Judicial Court started the dialogue. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson came up with intervention methods that identified inmates with issues to separate them out of the judicial system and to deal with them before they broke any laws.  Gina K. Shimeall spearheaded the planning and implementation of what became, in 2009, the Mental Health Court.  They call it therapeutic jurisprudence.  By cross-collaborating with different agencies and providing case management and treatment to identified inmates, the Mental Health Court is working to break the cycle of incarceration and get people the help they really need.

On Thursday, May 13, proponents and participating agencies of the Mental Health Court gathered for the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network's annual benefit luncheon to present Judge Sylvester with the Distinguished Service Award and Ms. Shimeall with the Community Hero Award.

Guests were able to meet keynote speaker, Jennifer Ayers-Moore, sister to Nathaniel Ayers and founder and chair of the Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Foundation, which supports art programs at organizations that serve the mentally ill.  For families who have a member that may be suffering, she advises them to remain non-judgmental and to advocate for them to get them help.  For her brother, perhaps the greatest thing to come out of the movie was a sense of acceptance, and finally being a part of society.  Nathaniel told her that he was excited to have people to talk to now.  For others living with mental illness, that disconnection from others can make their symptoms worse.  Jennifer applauded ADMHN for the critical support they offer both families and patients.  "It takes a committed person to work with someone who has a mental illness," she said.

For more information about ADMHN, go to or call 303-779-9676.

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