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Friday, 15 December 2017

Regulations for DMH Complaints - Your Feedback Needed!

The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) has issued revisions to several of its regulations, most notably the regulations related to the complaint procedure and review.

DMH is currently inviting feedback on these changes until September 16.

You can read the notice and find links to all the changes HERE.

However, the most important section (focused on investigation and reporting responsibilities for the complaint process) can be found HERE.

There are many changes that have raised concern with the Disability Law Center and others around the state. Of particular note, the new regulations offer much more room to dismiss complaints including (but not limited to) the following reasons (page 5):

1. Concerns an allegation that is not perceived to be "dangerous, illegal, or inhumane"
2. Makes allegations that are objectively impossible
3. Repeats allegation of facts that have previously been investigated

Unfortunately, while these may seem logical exclusions on the surface, they leave a great deal of room for interpretation. Could 'objectively impossible' be as simple as saying someone attacked you on a day they weren't working because you got the days mixed up? Could 'repeats allegation' be used to dismiss the same complaint, even if its a new or repeated incident? What sorts of complaints may be deemed not "dangerous, illegal, or inhumane?"

It is critical to note that the DMH Complaint process as it currently exists is already seen as insufficient by many people who currently or have received services. People often share about not feeling heard, feeling that their complaints have been minimized or dismissed, or that accountability even for complaints that are validated is limited. Perhaps even more importantly, many (if not most) complaints don't ever get filed because people fear the consequences of speaking up in that way.

For these reasons, any weakening of the complaint process should be seen as unacceptable. We hope that you will take the time to speak up!

The deadline is SEPTEMBER 16 and the e-mail to send comments to is:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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