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Pennsylvania congressman uses Man in Tree as example of mental health failings

The man who caught the nation's attention for spending more than a day in a tree was charged with third-degree assault and first-degree malicious mischief. (AP)

The Man in Tree phenomenon has passed, but the fallout is just beginning.

Tim Murphy, U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, wrote on Facebook Saturday that the man who captured the nation’s attention by sitting in a Seattle sequoia for more than 24 hours has been ordered to “stay away from the tree,” but that nobody seems concerned with getting the man treated for his mental health issues.

The congressman says the Man in Tree episode represents the failings of mental health in this country.

“Friends, you really can’t make this stuff up. Schizophrenic ‪#‎ManInTree‬ who desperately needs psychiatric care is brought in shackles before a judge because he’s been charged with first-degree malicious mischief and third-degree assault. What was the outcome? The judge ordered him to stay away from the tree..but he first needs to make his $50,000 bail.

Just look at this picture and tell me our mental health system isn’t a mess. It’s unbelievable! Recall that for 24 hours last week, Cody Lee Miller remained atop a giant sequoia tree in downtown Seattle. Since that time, there’s been a greater outpouring of concern over the tree than the plight of this young man who is so clearly in the throes of a psychotic break. He’s ordered to have ‘no unwanted contact’ with a sequoia, yet no concern over getting him into treatment. Such a sad indictment against an abusive system that would order no contact with a tree, yet remains silent on getting the mentally ill into care.

Cody’s mom talks about his downward spiral and has made it her mission to be a voice for families who desperately want to help their loved ones but are blocked by federal & state laws that make it impossible to help mentally ill family members. Meanwhile, Congress is still stalling my Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, HR 2646.”

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