On Mental Health Awareness Month, Rhode Island still 1 of 7 states without an Olmstead Plan

Photo: Pamela Bhatia, Artistic Images

The Mental Health Association of Rhode Island (MHARI) and a coalition of state and community partners will gather on Tuesday, May 30th from 3:00-3:30 pm in the State House Library (2nd floor) to show support for Rhode Island’s need for an Olmstead Plan. 

Senator DiPalma, sponsor of Senate Bill 795, will speak along with people with lived experience. They will urge leaders to support the Joint Resolution to establish an Olmstead Planning Committee in Rhode Island (Senate Bill 795 and House Bill 5882). 

What is “Olmstead”?

Olmstead refers to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1999 landmark ruling in Olmstead v. L.C., which found that segregation of people with disabilities is discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The court decided that states have a legal obligation to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to live, work, and receive services in the community in the least restrictive setting permitted by their disabilities. The Court’s decision also noted that compliance with the ADA could be achieved if a state could show that it had a “comprehensive and effectively working plan” for moving people out of restrictive settings into the community.

So far, 26 states have created “Olmstead Plans,” and 18 states have published alternative strategies. Seven states (RI, FL, TN, ID, NM, SD, and DC) have neither.

Why the MHARI says Rhode Island needs an Olmstead Plan

The MHARI says an Olmstead Plan would assess the strengths and weaknesses of Rhode Island’s ability to meet the needs of populations at risk of institutionalization. It would set goals for the development of housing options and community supports. It would help the State to coordinate and secure services and resources, and it would compel the State to put permanent funding strategies in place.

Click here to learn more about the Mental Health Association, and an Olmstead Plan.

Other Legislative Support

The MHARI notes their support for these bills, working their way through the RI State House:

Publisher’s Note: RINewsToday is a Gold Sponsor of May is Mental Health Month for mental health awareness, with the MHARI.