Ethics & Morality

The Hoffman Report: After Years of Lies, Who Holds the APA Accountable?

After years of lying to its members, the public, and other professionals, the American Psychological Association (APA) finds itself in the awkward position of being a professional organization that no longer has a moral or ethical leg to stand on.

According to a new report by independent investigator David Hoffman, not only did individual APA members lie and cover up their extensive involvement with post-9/11 torture. But on behalf of these members, the entire APA organizational structure colluded to keep these lies going.

And not just a decade or more ago. No, the lies and justifications for the lies continued right up until last year. After a book critical of APA's stance on torture was published last year (Risen, 2014), did the APA suggest the book had merit? Nope, instead the APA kept making excuses, discrediting the author and the book saying it was "largely based on innuendo and one-sided reporting" and "a thorough review of these public materials and our standing policies will clearly demonstrate that APA will not tolerate psychologist participation in torture."

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We All Agree: Don’t Put a Mental Hospital In My Backyard

Sadly, in many communities across America, people still feel it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate against people with a mental illness.

Now in a small town north of San Luis Obispo, California called Templeton, residents there are saying no to a voluntary inpatient psychiatric hospital that a company would like to build -- adding to the town's tax rolls and job base.

Would they be equally likely to say no to a regular, medical hospital? Or is there something specific about a psychiatric inpatient hospital that the residents of Templeton object to?

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Brain and Behavior

3 Lessons about Psychological Well-Being from a Social Media Tsunami: Professor Holding a Baby

In the past few weeks I have been swept up in a social media tsunami. A photograph of me holding a baby while lecturing, taken without my knowledge in one of my lectures, went viral.

For those knowledgeable about these things, apparently being number one on BuzzFeed Trending and Facebook Trending is “huge.” The frenzy included mainstream media with articles and interviews appearing in the Washington Post, The Guardian and The Independent, as well as on CNN, Canadian television, BBC Radio 5, South African radio and the list goes on and on. On one site alone the photo received more than one million likes.

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You Are Not Your Diagnosis

Far too often in society, people use their diagnosis to define them. Or other well-meaning people or professionals describe someone as "Oh, that person is bipolar" or "She's just borderline." I've even seen leading mental health advocates refer to themselves as a "depressive" or "schizophrenic."

I think this kind of shorthand, self-labeling is a bad thing. Here's why.

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Mental Health and Wellness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

If you hadn't yet heard, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Stress seems to be a fact of modern life. Like many people, you may be juggling multiple demands and multiple roles.

If you are finding that it is causing you to lose sleep and to feel anxious or depressed, use this month to get back in charge of your life. Here are a few reminders of practical things you can do to improve your state of mind and your life.

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Playbuzz: Making Fun of Mental Illness & Bipolar

Playbuzz, the self-proclaimed "#1 shared Publisher on Facebook," apparently thinks making fun of mental illness is perfectly a-okay by them. They have a quiz called "How Bipolar Are You" that's generated over 4,600 comments on Facebook. The "fun" quiz actually doesn't review the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder. Instead, it offers a mish-mash of pop psychology and random questions that have absolutely nothing to do with bipolar. Then it provides everybody with the same answer, no matter what their responses.

The site just closed on a $16 million funding round, and has over $19 million in total venture capital funding from VC companies that include 83 North, Saban Capital, Carmel Ventures and FirstTime Ventures. These venture capital companies fund Playbuzz's apparent enjoyment of mocking people with mental illness.

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May is Mental Health Month: 2015 Campaign Roundup

May is officially Mental Health Month. That means it's time once again to get the word out about the science behind mental illness -- and help people understand mental illness is just as real as any other disease.

Organizations around the world each have their own unique way of trying to get people to think differently about this problem. Discrimination and prejudice still exist when talking about things like overwhelming anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and ADHD.

Heck, there are still some ignorant people in this world that think mental illness is that person's own fault. That all it takes is pure willpower -- as if willpower alone could cure cancer or keep diabetes at bay. This month, we help put such lies to rest and shine the light of knowledge on mental illness.

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Ethics & Morality

It Is What It Is

When I told my dad how upset I was that I had not been accepted into the college of my choice, he looked up at me and replied, "It is what it is, honey."

I looked at him in disbelief. "Are you serious? Is that the best response you can offer me?" It drives me nuts when he uses that phrase. I told him so but he didn’t get what was so bad about it. He was just stating a fact. "It is what it is, so why go on about it and make yourself feel worse?" was his take on the matter. My take: he's missing an empathy gene.

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Too Many Preschoolers Getting Medications for ADHD

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just published its first national study on the various forms of treatment used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. The study examined the use of medication, behavioral therapy, and dietary supplements -- and its results were eye-opening.

Almost 1 in 4 preschoolers were treated with medication alone.

That is an astounding number, when you stop and consider that a preschooler's brain is still under active development. Prescribing stimulants to such a young child's brain is a bad idea, given we have no longitudinal, long-term studies demonstrating that these medications won't be harmful in a child's development.

Read on to learn more about the study's key findings.

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Would it Help to Restrict the Means to Suicide?

Most people think that a suicidal person is one determined individual who will try to complete their suicide by any means possible, for as long as it takes.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you survive a suicide attempt, the chances you'll die by suicide in the future are drastically reduced. About 90 percent of people who live after a suicide attempt eventually die, not by suicide, but by some other means.

So if suicide is really an act born out of desperation, hopelessness and ready means, couldn't it be possible to try and address it not only by attacking the mood, but also be addressing the availability of the means?

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Massachusetts Psychiatric Patients Get Right to Fresh Air

A month ago, Massachusetts became one of the only governments in the world to recognize that its citizens have a basic human right to fresh air -- especially while undergoing treatment for a mental illness. Outgoing Governor Deval Patrick surprised mental health advocates with his signing into law the "Fresh Air" act.

The law adds the right to "daily access to fresh air and the outdoors" to persons confined in inpatient psychiatric facilities in the state.

Jonathan Dosick, a long-time champion of mental health rights in the state, had been tirelessly working to get the Fresh Air bill passed since 2005. Ten years later, his efforts have finally paid off.

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Kaiser Continues to Improve, But Can Do Better for California

Apparently a $4 million stick wasn't big enough to encourage Kaiser Permanente in California to offer residents better mental health care in the state. While Kaiser fixed two of the deficiencies originally identified by the government agency charged with oversight of care in California, it still didn't fix two others to the agency's satisfaction.

The two issues still a problem for Kaiser are: providing timely appointments for behavioral and mental health services, and Kaiser's inability to share information with patients.

What's the point of offering mental health care if nobody can access it?

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