Friday, April 07, 2006

Scott Finn: Profiling struggle led to reform

It is rare to find a reporter willing to move past sensational headlines and take on the complicated issues surrounding providing care for the most severely mentally ill.

Fortunately for West Virginians, Scott Finn is one of those rare reporters. His “Brother’s Keeper” series in the Charleston Gazette (January and February 2005) profiled West Virginia’s urgent need for reform, and the struggle that families all too often face in seeking treatment for their loved ones.

Last week, the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization judged “Brother’s Keeper” the best investigative reporting in America by any newspaper of less than 100,000 circulation. Judges noted:
Finn’s storytelling acumen made this compelling reading, and undoubtedly was a factor in the impressive results: The state passed reform laws and restored funding for mental health services.

Truly impressive: Because of Scott’s series and strong advocacy by families throughout the state, the West Virginia Legislature passed a number of important mental health measures, including SB 191, which created an AOT program to provide care for individuals whose illness causes them to repeatedly cycle in and out of the system.

The Treatment Advocacy Center congratulates Scott Finn and all of the tireless advocates in West Virginia working to provide care to the most severely mentally ill.