Saturday, April 12, 2008



A recent termination of Dr. Barry Critchfield shows the lack of respect that Missouri Department of Mental Health has for the Missouri Deaf Community. This is a BIG black eye for each of us who have been advocating and wanting to see Department of Mental Health be more receptive to the needs of deaf and hard of hearing consumers.

It is deja vu all over again as we lost Steve Hamerdinger about five years ago. This shows that the management of Department of Mental Health are playing games with us. They prefer to play with money and keep the money to themselves and curry favors to anyone who brownnose the fat cats (politicians) in the state government and the community.

Effective upon the termination of Dr. Barry Critchfield, the Missouri Department of Mental Health is now liable and open for lawsuits. They are violating Americans with Disabilities Act by shutting down the Deaf program and not listening to our suggestions for improvements for the last decade. Dr. Barry Critchfield has been a staunch supporter of providing mental health services to the deaf and hard of hearing Missourians. He is to be recognized for trying to keep his foot in the DMH door.

To be frank, I have been advocating for mental health services for more than 35 years. I have experienced the private programs under mental health. I think the Missouri State has to get off its giant butt and focus on implementing the program that Steve Hamerdinger tried to propose and implement.

The state program needs to be accessable to the Deaf Community. For more than 50 years, many deaf have fallen through the cracks due to negligent and bureaucratic policies made by the hearing people at the Department of Mental Health. There is no meat in the program for the last decade. Despite the growh in the 1990's, it still lacked the meat of the program.

It took a suicide by a deaf man in Kansas City to shock the state legislature into implementing deaf program at the state mental health facilities. (I may be wrong but I am remembering from the scores of meetings the last 35 years.) There have been more suicides the past few years compared to the past. It happened a lot in rural areas. Many deaf are lonely in the rural areas as well as small towns around Missouri.

The deaf education and programs have been politically abused and lack the real dignity for the deaf and hard of hearing. There was no real truth in providing a convenient and direct program for the deaf. The majority of hearing people tend to politicize and manipulate the system to their ways. There was no real respect for the deaf in the community, employment, government, social programs, schools,

The Department of Mental Health refused to accept the Deaf Community's proposal to implement program at Missouri DMH. They just threw Steve Hamerdinger out the door. They repeated the same thing just recently with Dr. Barry Critchfield.

Both Barry and Steve are successful administrators of deaf programs in South Carolina and Alabama respectively. I am questioning as to why it happened twice. What is wrong with the DMH? It requires a check and balance now! Time is now to go to their offices and ask why they are messing up with our lives. We do need mental health services. We know it costs money to run the programs.

It is hell cheaper to hire deaf professionals to provide mental health programs and services. They have been squandering millions of dollars in interpreting. It is not working and only interpreters are richer benefitting the kind of compensation. That compensation should have gone to deaf professionals who strive for excellence and quality in providing mental health services.

I challenge you to think about this. Everytime the management at DMH meet, they do not think of real needs of deaf people. They are too busy covering their butts in satisfying the politicians. They have been in hot water with several deaths at a mental health facility in north St. Louis.

What they did for the past decade is no excuse. I am still alive because I thought of suicides in the past. I am the kind of person who can think suicide. I have gotten stronger to overcome the urges of suicide. I had difficult childhood with my family. My parents went through a very bitter divorce and I was the victim of the fights between them. I felt like a failure to them. I opened my mouth when I told my mother about my dad's girlfriend.

I did not know what it meant about relationships. My mother hit the roof and kicked my father out of house. She filed paperwork for divorce. It was unheard of in 1960 and my church disowned her. Divorce was a no no in 1960 and in Roman Catholic church. I had to deal with major embarrassment from my friends and strangers .

I started thinking suicide when I was in early teens. I was placed in mainstreamed programs. It was from 1967 to 1971. There were no interpreters. I had to use lipreading for the four years at a hearing high school. It was never easy task. I have thought of suicide many times. I thought of putting my car in garage to end my life. It did not work! I thought of cutting my wrists. I had razor blades and I hesitated and cut my fingers only. It drew blood and I was feeling confused. I kept this to myself for years and years.

The last attempt was having a noose around my neck. That was in 1988. I lost my business, my dad was dying and my family was very dysfunctional. I had hard time at work and trying to do more. I finally had noose around my neck. I got off chair. I remember the gasp for air and I struggled and got off the noose. I broke down and cried. I told my family what happened. They took me to a private hospital to get mental health services. My private insurance covered everything. The program was accessable. My psychiarist was receptive and focused on my issues.

So it has been now 20 years. I decide to channel my frustrations into advocacy and focus on improving the needs of services and programs for our deaf community. I do not feel the need to do anything anymore. I just want to live and see the results. However, there is no opportunity for aftercare programs. It is sorely lacking. Most of deaf do not have insurance to cover the costs of mental health services.

This is how and why we need mental health programs to help all kinds of people with depression, suicide, and many other vices in life that affects mentally. We need programs to make us stronger and move on. We need to initiate a lawsuit against DMH to implement the programs that Steve Hamerdinger and Barry Critchfield have been addressing for us.

Those deaf lives who have been lost are the markers on their watch and their files. They have failed our deaf friends so we need to get our sleeves rolled up and do more advocacy for mental health services for the deaf community. Other states have succeeded because the deaf took them to the court.

NOW IT IS OUR TURN TO TAKE MISSOUR DMH TO THE COURT! It shows their track record of kicking out Steve and Barry when they tried to implement programs for the deaf. Come on! Let's get off our butts and act on getting lawsuit ready!

This message is for Missouri Department of Mental Health! We are coming for you guys and we will be ready to initiate lawsuits against DMH!

Send e-mails to Keith Schafer at

Ask him to please re-instate Dr. Barry Critchfield!!! We need to finish the job that we started years ago and get the funding to cover the programs! DMH cannot screw us anymore. I need your help now! Please tell Keith Schafer to re-instate Dr. Barry Critchfield.

Thank you for reading my request for appealling to DMH!


Paul J. Kiel
April 12, 2008