Mental Health America leader calls for decriminalization of mental illness

Oct 11, 2018

A national mental health leader says too many people with serious mental health issues are lost in the system.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the expert appeared in Buffalo Wednesday to offer advice to local mental health care experts. 

Paul Gionfriddo, CEO of Mental Health America, spoke in Buffalo Wednesday at the WNED/WBFO studio as a guest of the Mental Health Advocates of WNY.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"We actually moved people out onto the streets and then effectively criminalized mental illness and ultimately moved people to our county jails and state prisons," stated Paul Gionfriddo, CEO of Mental Health America.

Mental Health Advocates of Western New York featured Paul Gionfriddo, CEO of Mental Health America.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Mental Health Advocates of Western New York invited him to speak Wednesday as part of recognzing World Mental Health Day.  Gionfriddo appeared in the WNED/WBFO studio. 

After his speech and audience conversation, we had a chance to sit down down with Gionfriddo.  Gionfriddo focuses on how policy, privacy rules and deinstitutionalization of the 1980's pushed those living at state facilities out into the streets, without proper treatment, have led to a national crisis.  Gionfriddo outlines how policy backfired. 

Gionfriddo's story of his son's mental health journey is featured in a special documentary created by WQED, PBS station in Pittsburgh titlted Before Stage Four: Confronting Early Psychosis.