Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Analysis of DMH at present

With recent developments going on at DMH, it continues to do more window dressings.

There is no meat in the program despite its so-called efforts to appease the deaf community by throwing in a few treats.

Likewise Nero fiddled while Rome burned in 64 A.D., this is similar to what Keith Schafer, the top honcho at Missouri Department of Mental Health, is doing - still fiddling while the Missouri Deaf community suffers.

Reflection of a year ago

About a year ago on September 11, 2008, Ella Eakins made a good presentation.

Her pointers were:

a. For the past five months, we have all been sitting together at the table to discuss what needs to be done.

b. We identified problems and barriers.

c. We wrote out a plan for the future and figured out how much money it will take to make that plan work.

d. Ella took out the stack of papers compiled since 1998.

e. Ella showed the paperwork done by groups for the past 10 to 15 years. There were town meetings, focus groups and cultural competence groups.

f. We have received reports, memos and budgets.

g. DMH kept asking, "Tell us what Deaf people need"

h. Again and again we showed DMH what works in South Carolina and Alabama.

i. DMH kept saying, "Let's set up a committee to talk about what Deaf people need."

j. The plan in South Carolina and Alabama appears the same as we drafted.

k. We have told DMH what deaf people needed.

1. Direct Care Services in Larger Communities or Regions;

2. Video Intervention;

3. Alcohol and Drug Treatment

l. We need inpatient care for people with serious mental illness.

m. We need professionals that are ASL-Fluent trained.

n. We need counseling, education and other mental health support services provided in a visual form that we can understand.

o. We need therapists and case managers as well as outpatient services.

p. Our deaf citizens are sitting in jails, hospitals, living on streets and lacking support services.

q. Some deaf citizens are fighting for their lives.

r. Some deaf children are horribly abused and neglected. Parents are in anquish and families are breaking up.

She also showed a chart of a circle of activities made in a loop. Going around and around.. .nothing happened.

1. Crisis
2 Media Attention
3. Guilt
4. Form a committee
5. Set up a focus group
6. Hold Town Hall meetings
7. Summarize list of barriers to Deaf Services
8. Submit Budget Request
9. Deny Budget Request
10. Window Dressing

It is in a loop over and over without any concrete results or solutions.


DMH (Missouri Department of Mental Health) had indicated that it spends $539,000.00 a year on interpreting services alone for the deaf and hard of hearing. This proved that they were mishandling the funds the wrong way. They failed to allocate the money for deaf professionasl who were available and ready to work with deaf clients needing mental health services.

They ignored our request to have them hire 4 deaf professionals. The cost of hiring deaf professionals can average $40,000 per professional. Take that and multiply by 4 and it equals $160,000.00. That would be roughly $200,000.00 (including benefits up to $10,000 each) per year and the rest of funds may be used for hiring interpreters. We prefer that they hire deaf professionals using that money.

They have chosen to use sign language interpreters again and again the past few years. I am not surprised about what happens in 2010! They continue to lie to us about what they are doing.

The deaf members of committee had worked hard to get the results and the DMH continue to "oppress" the progress.

The interpreters need to help us by refusing to work for DMH and force them to hire deaf professionals. One way or another, we need to show them we mean business. It will be helpful if those interpreters can turn down the assignments to force DMH to do something different.

No, it is some interpreters accepting assignments in "conflict" with code of ethics.

Also, it shows DMH reeks of audism when they refuse to hire any deaf professionals. They have only focused on interpreters only the past few years. What is their excuse? They continue to ignore deaf community requests.

DMH Commissioners ignored our requests.

I have written letters to Commissioners that oversee DMH. I requested replacements of Keith Schafer and Stephanie Winslow. They "refused" to do it. Now it is time to request again that the DMH Commissioners replace the three following people - Keith Schafer, Director of DMH, Lynn Carter, Deputy Director of DMH and Stephanie Winslow, the Deaf Program Coordinator.

Or perhaps replace the whole DMH Commission as they continue to ignore our requests. They lied to us last September when they agreed to do it. Nothing happened.

The following people need to be reminded that they are not doing their jobs when we do NOT have any services for deaf in mental health care. Sarcastically, they have this message on the website http://www.dmh.mo.gov/diroffice/commission/commission.htm which read,"The Commission, by law, must include an advocate of community mental health services, a physician who is an expert in the treatment of mental illness, a physician concerned with developmental disabilities, a member with business expertise, an advocate of substance abuse treatment, a citizen who represents the interests of consumers of psychiatric services, and a citizen who represents the interests of consumers of developmental disabilities services.

Tell those members that we do need deaf representation on the commission. Let's E-mail the Commissioners at MHCommission@dmh.mo.gov.

The present commissioners according to the website are:

Beth Viviano, Patricia Bolster, Kathy Carter, David Vlach, Joan Leykam and Dennis Tesreau

They have NO experience in deaf culture and even not using sign language. This is why we are suffering.

The Mental Health Commission, composed of seven members, appoints the director of the Department of Mental Health with confirmation by the state Senate. Commissioners are appointed to four-year terms by the Governor, again with the confirmation of the Senate. The commissioners serve as principle policy advisors to the department director.

DAC - Deaf Advisory Committee appears to be a tokenism for DMH as they did not listen to the suggestions of deaf leaders on DMH.

Even one person kept asking for names of so-called professionals to help deaf patients, the list was given but it was not the kind of list we needed for deaf patients. The list included an office more than 500 miles from here. The list did not show any true deaf professionals. DMH continues to outsource the services.

The BIG picture is that DMH continues to favor spending ONLY on INTERPRETERS!

My past experiences with DMH

I used to work with the past administrators of Deaf program at DMH. It was cordial and not problematic.

It became problematic when the first administrator decided to leave when DMH refused to honor the request by Deaf community to set up a 10 bed facility for deaf patients. They went out to shut down several deaf programs in the state without any reasonable accomodations or back up plans to help deaf patients. They simply slammed the door in deaf people's faces.

Then the second administrator of deaf program tried to follow the same steps as the first administrator. I was on the committee to help him reach the goals. DMH continue to block any progress or plans we envisioned for deaf patients.

Then in plans for looking for third administrator, we asked for the following requests. Keith agreed with us at that time.

Keith "promised" us that we will hire deaf person.
Keith "promised" to put out employment notice to hire one in all deaf media publications.
Keith "promised" to enable the program to continue.
Keith "promised" to work with us in reaching the goals that we envisioned.

All the promises have been broken.

Keith did NOT hire a deaf person - instead he hired an interpreter to fill in a mental health position. He even hired the interpreter before the job announcement expired. I was told that he hired someone before the deadline date of September 30, 2008. He did NOT wait for us to have opportunity to do more in terms of searching for more deaf individuals. The past activity of meeting with prospective candidates were controlled by Keith. He did NOT listen to the committee. He ignored their pleas in not hiring the individual that Keith wanted.

Keith did not submit job listings to media outlets such as Gallaudet University, NTID, CSUN, Signews and the other media sources.

Keith did not continue the program we wanted.

Keith continues to break his promises.

Why does Keith Schafer continue to ignore the real needs of Deaf community?

Keith Schafer is hearing impaired himself. He wears hearing aid. Why can't he understand the deaf culture? He used to set up the deaf program after a deaf man committed suicide in Kansas City in mid 1990s. (If I recall). He came back to help DMH out of his retirement recently. I think it is time for him to retire as his services are NOT helping the Deaf community at all.


1. Write letters to DMH Commissioners seeking removal of Keith Schafer, Lynn Carter and Stephanie Winslow.

2. Request that DAC (Deaf Advisory Committee) take an active role in replacing Stephanie Winslow with a more qualified deaf professional to handle the needs of mental health services for the deaf and hard of hearing.

3. Implement the programs as envisioned by the deaf committee.

4. Install a Deaf member of DMH Commissioners to help balance the needs of deaf patients.

5. Develop sensitivity training for all DMH personnel from top to bottom to teach them about our deaf culture.

The Conclusion

I had been quiet for the past few months as I decided to step back out and look at the big picture. It is very unfortunate how DMH plays politics with life and death of our deaf peers.

To this day, we are still NOT getting anything from DMH.

No case manager? No treatment plans? No qualified staff that are trained in ASL and Deaf Culture? Deaf Missourians are still NOT getting mental health services for the past year.

It is that the Missouri laws forbidding anyone to hire interpreter from out of state. I understood that DMH was planning to use VI (video interpreting). If they consider contracting with out of state interpreting services. It is in clear violation of Missouri Law as it requires that they have Missouri credentials to do the job. Please keep your eyes out on the upcoming legal proceedings in Jefferson City. They probably want to get around the law to do that.

We need to have a registry of qualified mental health professionals who are deaf, asl trained and deaf cultured. We will welcome any hearing professionals who are fluent in ASL We do not need the fake list that contained names of so so people. The last list showed people from KC, VR, MSD, etc. That's not true mental health professionals.

We want the real meat so where is the beef?

At the last check, there are several deaf people suffering from lack of mental health services...

one lady needing help at a mental ward, but the staff continue to ignore her requests, keep drugging her into senseless and not listening to advocate's pleas to modify the care....

one man needing communication has his hands tied to bed as the nurse refused to accept advocate's advise to hire interpreters to communicate and that nurse continue to refuse to listen to advocates... the poor man is suffering and his hands are still tied to bed at this time of writing...

some deaf families are going through difficult times due to bad economy, loss of jobs, marital problems, child care issues, money management lacking and they keep falling through cracks...

there are some deaf adults contemplating suicide and there are no preventive measures to help them....

There are no support programs to enable them to help themselves....

Keith continues to fiddle while the Missouri Deaf Community burns!

WHO's definition of mental health

According to World Health Organization (WHO), it defines mental health as "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."

Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how "mental health" is defined.

In the Deaf World, we view hearing people as audists - they do not respect our deaf culture - they make wrong assessments as trying to eradicate deaf from societial associations, and they practice oppression by defining who deaf people are according to hearing terms.


The words are mine. I am saying it from my heart. I have spent over 30 years in mental health programs and services. I have been in mental health programs a few times. I know what it is like to needing mental health services. My concerns are valid as I have seen and known enough people who have committed suicide. I used to consider suicide when I was younger twice. I am still here today as I want to help deaf consumers receive proper mental health care. It is hard enough how the hearing people continue to oppress deaf people in mental health.

September 1, 2009