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The purpose of the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program is:

  • To protect and advocate for the rights of individuals with mental illness

  • To investigate reports of abuse and neglect of individuals with mental illness in facilities and schools

People We Serve

The PAIMI staff serves individuals who:

  • Have a significant mental illness as determined by a qualified mental health professional

  • DC residents or individuals who are or who were patients, residents, or clients of facilities providing mental health care and treatment and who, during his or her stay at the facility or within 90 days of discharge, request help for problems related to care and/or treatment

DRDC at ULS is not able to represent everyone. Requests for assistance are assessed on a case-by-case basis according to the annual priorities and staff capability.

If DRDC at ULS is not able to take your case, we will try to provide you with information and/or refer you to another organization.

Other PAIMI Services

  • Provide public information and education about the rights of persons with mental illness

  • Monitor private and public psychiatric hospitals, facilities and schools in the District of Columbia

  • Recognize problems in the mental health services system and work to provide solutions through collaboration, advocacy and education.

Know Your Rights!

As a District consumer you have the:

  • Right to live in the least restrictive environment

  • Right to be free from physical, sexual, or verbal abuse

  • Right to freedom from inappropriate restraint or seclusion

  • Right to a safe, healthful, and human environment in facilities

  • Right to privacy

  • Right to assert grievances

  • Right to due process of law

  • Right to develop a treatment plan

How To Contact Us

To request help for yourself or someone you know, call (202) 547-0198 or 1-877-221-4638, or (202) 547-2657 or e-mail us at dneher@uls-dc.org. The office is located at 220 I Street, N.E., Suite 130, Washington, D.C. 20002. 

Requests for assistance are assessed on a case-by-case basis under our priorities.

PAIMI Objectives and Priorities 2021

THE MISSION of Disability Rights DC at University Legal Services (DRDC) is to ensure that District of Columbia residents with disabilities have the legal rights to which they are entitled, including the right to be free from harm, the right to individual choice, and the right to full inclusion in the community.

The following priorities and objectives reflect DRDC’s mission:

Assist individuals with leaving institutions, advocate for greater consumer choice, address rights violations and reduce the District’s reliance on institution-based and/or segregated services for children and adults diagnosed with mental illness.

a. Represent 10 adult consumers in inpatient, residential facilities and correctional facilities and advocate for them to live in the least restrictive setting appropriate to meet their needs.

b. Represent 20 adult consumers living in the community in their efforts to obtain appropriate, individualized mental health services, including interagency care coordination, and quality housing, address rights violations and enforce their right to access existing programs, housing, governmental services and public accommodations.

c. Represent 4 children and youth up to age 21 with serious emotional disturbance in accessing appropriate, individualized, coordinated mental health services, educational services and supports in the community.

d. Provide self advocacy assistance to 5 adult consumers in institutions and in the community so they can advocate for their rightsand for services and supports.

Monitor, investigate, and advocate against improper seclusion, restraint, and medication and other abusive and neglectful conduct in institutions where D.C. residents receive mental health services or seek to receive mental health services.

a. Investigate on behalf of 15 consumers who have been improperly secluded, restrained, medicated, or otherwise been abused or neglected.

b. Through advocacy, including the Department of Behavioral Health grievance procedures, represent 7 consumers to address rights violations in institutions.

Conduct outreach and education to individuals with a mental illness, family members, the government, court-appointed guardians, community members and service providers about individual rights and ways to reduce reliance on institution-based and segregated mental health services

a. Conduct 8 outreach, monitoring, and education sessions for children and youth and staff at local psychiatric hospitals and juvenile detention centers

b. Conduct 10 outreach, monitoring, and education sessions for adult consumers and staff at hospitals that accept involuntarily committed patients, at community programs supporting people with mental illness and for community members and stakeholders about the rights of people with mental illness, including coordinating with the PAIMI Advisory Council to identify 2 new community organizations for such outreach and education.

c. Conduct 5 outreach and education sessions at community residential facilities serving adults with mental illness. 

d. Conduct 2 outreach and education efforts in the community to promote inclusion and quality secondary transition services for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance in District of Columbia Public Schools and Public Charter Schools, and to educate parents and children about their educational rights and improve services.

Develop strategies to promote autonomy and self-direction for individuals who have been appointed a guardian or are at risk of having a guardian appointed.

a. Provide 2 educations sessions to mental health consumers, family members, and the community about the right of mental health consumers to make their own decisions and options for substitute decision-making and supported decision-making and coordinate with advocacy groups to advocate for alternatives to guardianship.

b. Provide individual representation to 5 adult mental health consumers to advocate for alternatives to guardianship, and draftpowers of attorney, advance directives, and supported decision-making agreements to ensure maximum autonomy.

Represent prospective class members in MJ v. District of Columbia to promote their rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Medicaid statute to intensive community-based mental health services in order that District children and youth with serious emotional disturbance can thrive in their community and are not institutionalized.

a. Litigate class members' claims in MJ v. District of Columbia and prepare and respond to motions filed by the defendants.


DRDC accepts cases, as resources allow, for individuals:

  1. Who have a significant mental illness or emotional impairments; AND
  2. Whose complaints fall within the above listed priorities; AND
  3. Who are residents of the District of Columbia.


While we recognize that every situation is important, please note that case acceptance is dependent upon available resources, including staff time.  If your case is not accepted and you wish to file a grievance, please submit your grievance in writing to the Executive Director.  Current clients may also submit a grievance to the Executive Director about the quality of DRDC’s representation.  A client may lodge an oral grievance with a DRDC staff member who shall put the grievance in writing and submit it to the Executive Director.  The Executive Director may be reached at: 

Jane Brown, Executive Director
Disability Rights DC at University Legal Services
220 I Street, N.E., Suite 130
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 547-0198 Phone
(202) 547-2662 Fax
(202) 547-2657 TTY

The Executive Director shall respond in writing within thirty (30) days of receipt of a grievance from any client or prospective client, or community member who has an interest in the operation of the protection and advocacy program.

A grievant may appeal the Executive Director’s decision to the Board of Directors within ten (10) days of the written decision of the Executive Director.  The decision of the Board of Directors shall be final and not subject to further appeal or review.  Client confidentiality shall be maintained.

The Executive Director shall report grievances to the Board of Directors annually.


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