General

Senate Summit on Mental Health #MentalHealthReform & A Patchwork of Care

It's time for mental health reform in the United States. And at the Senate Summit on Mental Health, a bipartisan meeting organized by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), we learned exactly what is propelling the need for action.

This is important stuff in the U.S. -- really important -- on par with the parity efforts that made headlines years ago. (Parity was the legislation needed to ensure that insurance companies stopped discriminating against mental illness, which they had regularly done since the 1990s.)

"It's not the end... [but] it's a great next step," said Sen. Cassidy, speaking at the Summit on the latest revision of the bill.

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Bipolar

Is Physician-Assisted Suicide Right for Severe Psychiatric Disorders?

Two summers ago, our family grabbed a bite to eat in downtown Annapolis and headed over to the Naval Academy for a parade -- celebrating the end of Plebe Summer, six weeks of rigorous physical and mental training for new midshipmen.

It was late August, and I was horribly depressed, trying out medication combination No. 45 or something like that (in the last 10 years). My inner dialogue sounded like this:

Does everyone want to be dead?
Where do these people get the energy to function?
I wonder if the young plebes would be excited if they had a way of dying.
Don’t all of us just want to die as soon as possible?
Why do we have to wait so long?
I wish I could die today.

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General

Busting the Lies About the ‘Myths’ About Mental Illness

I'm constantly dumbfounded by the lies and half-truths told by some who advocate on behalf of some people with mental illness. In an effort to lobby for their specific sub-group of people with mental illness, they spread ignorance and misconceptions about mental illness in general.

In a recent article one mental illness advocate wrote, he describes "myths" about mental illness that don't actually appear to be myths, but simple truths. That is, until they are twisted by arbitrary definitions, filters, cherry-picking of data, and exclusions to fit into this person's viewpoint.

Let's examine these supposed myths, and see whether the data support their view.

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Children and Teens

Running in Place: Improving Public Education

Reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. In popular culture, we have a cheerful image of little Jim and Jane skipping to their suburban elementary school. Cute? Yes. Accurate? Only if Jim and Jane hail from upper-class backgrounds.

Compare Jim and Jane, two adorable first-graders from Coldwater Canyon, to Marcus and Mariel, two adorable first-graders from Los Angeles. For Marcus and Mariel, domestic violence, physical violence, and food insecurity pervade their daily lives. On Mariel’s walk to her gang-infested school, she dodges used needles and condoms. In their bleak environment, elementary school represents a critical, stabilizing influence.

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General

Why We’re Proud to Partner with The Mighty

One of the pleasures of working in helping educate the world about mental illness and mental health issues over the past two decades is seeing so many great ideas and services pop up and take bloom. People and thought leaders who look at a problem and say, "Hey, I better we can help out here!"

The world of mental illness -- and its associated discrimination and prejudice -- is a big, too-often-ignorant place. It needs all the help, light, and attention it can get.

That's why today I'm pleased to introduce our new partnership with The Mighty.

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Depression

U.S. Suicide Rates Go Up & Up: What Does It Mean?

For the past 15 years, the suicide rate in the United States has gradually inched upwards year after year, reaching its highest point ever. This according to new research just published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Starting in 2006, it's gone up about 2 percent per year, rising 24 percent in the study period from 1999 to 2014. Women fared worse than men, with women's suicide rates rising 63 percent versus men's 43 percent.

What does it all mean? Why are suicide rates increasing at all, instead of falling?

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General

Mental Health Courts: Does Coercion Add Anything of Value to Treatment?

Mental health courts are America's sad, broken way of dealing with people who have mental illness -- who also happen to have committed a crime. Even something as small as a misdemeanor. I mean, what better way to treat a person's mental illness than to send them to a court tailored for their mental health needs?

The truth is that if a person is receiving adequate care in the community through the public mental health system, there'd likely be far fewer people who get involved in criminal justice system to begin with. People with mental illness get involved in the court system for a wide variety of reasons (psychosis, drugs, mania, etc.). Such involvement is usually just a side effect of a person who isn't getting any kind of decent treatment.

So do mental health courts work? Or could you offer the same services to people without the coercion and get similar results? The long-term data is in.

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Family

Child Abuse Survivors, Victims Need You to Talk About It

How do you recover from childhood abuse? Is healing possible? Will the shame ever go away? Will I always struggle with depression or anxiety?

These are important questions as we enter April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month. While the answers to these questions are different for everyone, sharing our stories can inspire hope and help other survivors heal.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” - Nelson Mandela
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Bipolar

A Tribute to Patty Duke

As you probably know, actress Patty Duke died on March 29, 2016. Of course, her talent as an actress can’t be denied, but her mental health advocacy was equally important. This advocacy is what puts her in my personal Hall of Fame.

First diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982, Patty Duke was one of the biggest spokespersons for people with the disorder. She made it a lifelong mission to dispel the stigma of the disease. She spoke openly about her illness in two books: Call Me Anna and A Brilliant Madness. Call Me Anna was published in 1987, almost 30 years ago. Patty Duke was completely out of the closet about her mental illness in the 1980s. That is a big deal.

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Addiction

Psychology Around the Net: April 2, 2016


Happy Saturday, sweet readers!

I'm hoping you all ended your week with some funny April Fools' Day shenanigans, and are ready to start the weekend with some of the latest developments in mental health!

Read on for news on how men are more vulnerable to developing stress-related depression, how people with mental health issues fit in when it comes to physician-assisted suicide, ways you can effectively help another person cope with anxiety or depression, and more.

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