General

Free Mental Health Care Makes Financial Sense

Often people fret about who will pay for "free" healthcare. One solution more communities should look at is a private-public partnership between the local hospital and the government.

In Orange County, Florida, a mental health clinic that opened in 2010 has served over 1,100 patients. And they did it without charging a dime to the poor, uninsured patients they serve.

How does this make any fiscal sense? You may be surprised by the answer.

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Depression

What Will It Take to Make Depression a Good Cause?

Once a year or so, I’m tempted to shave my head like I’m going through chemo to make my depression visible to others. I’m thinking if I pulled a Sinead O’Connor, people would take the illness seriously.

I saw a commercial the other day for some leukemia association and I was jealous. I know that's not the response the advertising team was looking for. But as someone who is now responsible for fundraising for a
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Disorders

Psych Central Supports the Bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act of 2015

We believe that mental health and behavioral healthcare reforms in the United States are vital. The vision that President Kennedy had in 1963 about accessible mental health care for all Americans was never realized. While the United States has cut 90 percent of the inpatient psychiatric beds available, we never made good on the community mental health services President Kennedy thought would replace them.

Instead, the U.S. shamefully sends many people with mental illness to prison -- an expensive alternative that naturally does little to treat the person's problems.

While we've previously explained why Rep. Tim Murphy's second attempt at a mental health reform bill remains a bad bill (e.g., tramples patients' rights; guts SAMHSA in a vendetta against the federal agency; creates even more unneeded federal bureaucracy), we've found a ray of hope. It comes in the form of the bipartisan Senate bill, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 (S. 1945) by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn) and Bill Cassidy (R-La).

It takes a more moderate, common-sense approach to reforms in how the federal government funds mental health care in the U.S. Here's why you should support it.

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Disorders

Should You Use Your Employer’s Mental Health Screening Tools?

In a word, no.

Employer's screening tools for any kind of mental health issue -- if not required by working in a sensitive industry -- should be avoided, as they bring little value to you, the employee, that you can't get elsewhere. And with much less risk to your health privacy and data.

While I'm sure such tools are well-intentioned, the downsides to providing this level of health data directly to your employer (and your insurance company) are still too many. We have not yet come to a point in our society where mental illness is treated just like any health diagnosis.

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Disorders

Schizophrenia is Best Treated with Combination of Meds & Psychotherapy

Going against decades of conventional wisdom, new, robust research from the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that schizophrenia shouldn't just be treated with antipsychotic drugs. Instead, a multidisciplinary approach that includes both psychotherapy and family support, combined with lower doses of antipsychotic medications, appears to work much better than drugs alone.

This new research should act as a wake-up call to all mental health professionals, people with schizophrenia, and their families.

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General

Where is Dignity for Rural, Low Income Countries Like Nepal?

This year's World Mental Health Day theme, "Dignity in Mental Health," reminds me of a particular patient that I had seen in my second year of residency in Nepal. For the sake of this story, let's call her Nina (not her real name).

Nina was a middle-aged woman from a hilly village of Nepal. According to her relatives, she had been showing some psychotic behaviors for the last three years. Because of these strange behaviors, most of the time she was restrained with a rope and shut in a shabby hut. This had been going on for more than two years. Her ropes were only undone for eating and toileting purposes.

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General

Dignity & Living with a Mental Illness

Dignity is easy to take for granted. It's something we assume will be afforded us when we come in contact with the government, a healthcare system, or even strangers on the street. After all, aren't we all worth of simple respect?

Sadly, dignity is one of those things all too often lacking in mental health care and treatment. From the language some people use to label people ("That schizophrenic I treated the other day...") rather than their behaviors, to how too many doctors and nurses in a hospital turn their noses up at someone with mental health issues.

All human beings are deserving of dignity. Especially when being treated for a mental illness.

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General

Congress & Policymakers: Stop Scapegoating Mental Illness in Mass Shootings

It's time that the United States Congress and national policymakers stop scapegoating mental illness for mass shootings in America. It's a simplistic -- but entirely wrong -- answer to mass shootings and gun violence in the United States. And it's also time that we hold our representatives in Congress accountable to have them stop shamelessly using another violent shooting to push their own agenda -- and blaming mental illness as the cause.

Mass shootings are generally not committed by people with a mental illness. People who commit violent acts with a gun are far more likely to have no history of mental illness. This includes the nearly-daily mass shootings we've experienced in the past three years.

It's time to have a serious, nuanced conversation about this issue -- and stop the simplistic fear-mongering that politicians and policymakers with their own agendas to push seem to revel in.

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Disorders

Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health issues now are the leading cause of illness in the workplace. A study conducted by the American Institute of Stress in 2014 showed that job pressure was the leading cause of stress in the U.S. The annual cost to employers in health care and missed work topped $300 billion.

Ignoring mental health in the workplace doesn’t make good business sense. Research shows that companies in the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index (FTSE 100) that prioritize employee engagement and well-being outperform the rest of the FTSE 100 by 10 percent. We know that work performance and effectiveness largely is dependent on mental health and well-being. With as many as one in four of us experiencing mental health problems in the course of a year, organizations understand that this is an important issue for them and their staff.

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General

Why Gun Laws Targeting ‘Crazy People’ Would Have Little Benefit

Two days ago, according to FBI crime statistics, approximately 38 murders took place in the U.S. Most of these murders were completed with a gun between two or more people who knew one another.

But people are only talking about two of them -- the deaths of TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by Vester Flanagan (aka Bryce Williams). Flanagan was a disgruntled former worker at the local TV station where the three of them briefly worked at the same time for about 9 months in 2012.

And one of the victims' fathers -- Andy Parker -- has now made it his mission in life to increase common sense gun control laws in the U.S. Targeting "crazy people."

Unfortunately, had his laws been in place, they likely wouldn't have prevented this tragedy -- or most tragedies like this.

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Depression

The Problem with Google’s Health Knowledge Graphs

Earlier this year, Google changed how it presented health search results. It added a new box to its search results it calls a "Knowledge Graph."

Apparently this new product came about because a Google product manager had a hard time finding information about a concussion, using -- you guessed it -- Google. Believing that health information is different than all other information people search for, Google decided to start becoming a health information publisher instead of a search engine.

And when you get into the publishing business, well, you better know what you're doing. Can a search engine company also offer vetted health information you can trust?

The answer is unclear.

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