Policy and Advocacy Articles

Tim Murphy Doesn’t Miss a Beat Turning Tragedy Into Political Opportunity

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Tim Murphy Doesn't Miss a Beat Turning Tragedy Into Political OpportunityOne of the disgusting fall-outs from the Santa Barbara tragedy on Friday is Rep. Tim Murphy’s opportunism to promote his regressive, forced-treatment House bill. He says he’s angry by Friday’s tragedy, where a lonely, narcissistic, shy person by the name of Elliot Rodger decided he was going to take out his anger on a bunch of innocent people.

But if Rep. Murphy is angry, I’m furious.

I’m furious a Congressperson is using a tragedy for self-promotion. I’m furious that — suspending all logic — he somehow believes his bill will be endowed with magical powers to prevent future tragedies of this nature. A tragedy where the criminal was actually assessed by police with specific training to assess people who may be at risk at harming themselves or others.

And who believed a consummate liar. Demonstrating that if someone wants to lie, no amount of laws, forced treatment, or effort will stop them.

Psych Central Supports The Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act (HR 4574)

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Psych Central Supports The Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act (HR 4574)A new bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month entitled The Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act (HR 4574). It is a breath of fresh air compared to Rep. Murphy’s offensive and regressive “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” (HR 3717).

The new bill is sponsored by Congressman Ron Barber (AZ), and is co-sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette (CO), Rep. Doris Matsui (CA), Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA), and Rep. Paul Tonko (NY). It is supported by more than a dozen advocacy, professional and non-profit organizations, including Mental Health America, the American Psychological Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and the National Association of School Psychologists, as well as The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.

Of course, Murphy’s office hates the new bill. But they don’t offer any reasonable or logical objections to it, since the two bills share a lot of overlap. The Barber bill, however, removes the controversial and unneeded forced treatment, privacy-busting and SAMHSA-gutting provisions.

Why the U.S. Should Place Broader Attention on Wellness

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Why the U.S. Should Place Broader Attention on WellnessRecently, the New York Times reported on a disturbing uptick in suicide rates among middle-aged Americans. Suicide among those ages 35-64 rose nearly 30 percent from 1999 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Times points out that previously, suicide was largely thought to be most prevalent among youth and elderly populations; the CDC findings come as a surprise to many. Moreover, it was found that middle-aged men commit suicide at much higher rates than women in the same category. The suicide rate for middle-aged women was 8.1 deaths per 100,000, while for men it more than tripled to 27.3 deaths per 100,000.

Can Youth Suicide Be Prevented?

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

cfym_logoMay is Mental Health Awareness Month and much will be written on the status of mental health care in our country over the next 30 days. As the leading peer-led national organization for people living with mood disorders, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is pleased to contribute to that conversation through our relationship with Psych Central. Beginning today we will author a monthly post to address mental health public policy issues. Our goal is to create awareness and foster dialogue around access to quality mental health care for people living with mood disorders.

We embarked on this goal a year ago when we partnered with Families for Depression Awareness (FFDA) and published the first Care For Your Mind post. Since then we have covered a variety of topics in that blog including the role of mental health parity and the Affordable Care Act in accessing quality mental health care, to the role of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in restricting access to antidepressants and antipsychotics for recipients of Medicare Part D.

The Seedy Underbelly of Rehab Centers’ Online Marketing

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The Seedy Underbelly of Rehab Centers' Online MarketingJust over a year ago, I wrote about the curious marketing of addiction treatment centers online, which used what I believed to be deceptive marketing practices.

The email that arrived on Oct. 2, 2013 piqued my curiosity yet again. It was promoting a self-made infographic about “porn addicted” communities online.  It came from a website called “Project Know.”

Sounds interesting, right?

The email started my second investigation into the seedy underbelly of the online marketing practices of rehab and addiction treatment centers. You know the ones, as you’ve probably seen at least one of their advertisements on TV, too.

FDA Panel Recommends Banning Rotenberg Child Shock Devices

Friday, April 25th, 2014

FDA Panel Recommends Banning Rotenberg Child Shock DevicesAmerica is one of the few countries where you can provide an electrical shock to a child and still call it “therapy.” Aversive therapy, to be specific.

It is a treatment so out of the mainstream of modern treatment that it is used by only one treatment center in the entire United States, the Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts. It is an inhumane treatment used with little research evidence to support its long-term use or value.

And finally, after its use for decades, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Neurological Devices Panel on Thursday recommended their ban.

How Much Does That Free Prescription Drug Sample Cost?

Friday, April 18th, 2014

fHow Much Does That Free Prescription Drug Sample Cost?This may seem like a trick question because, after all, it’s free. How can something that’s free cost anything?

People and professionals have long wondered whether there was a downside to giving away free samples of prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies keep doctors’ offices well-stocked on such free samples, so they obviously suspected it was a way to introduce patients to their brand and get them to come back for more. As paying customers.

Now a new study puts the matter to rest and explains why that “free” sample actually results in higher costs — for everyone.

The Lie of Focusing on Those with Serious Mental Illness

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

The Lie of Focusing on Those with Serious Mental IllnessI’ve long scratched my head at one of the arbitrary political lines drawn in the sand in the world of mental health and mental illness advocacy — “serious mental illness.” (Some people refer to it as “severe mental illness,” but the correct term is “serious.”)

Focusing on this division is a lie. It is a lie told to Congress and to the public with earnest testimonials. But also with little evidence that it represents a valid — or meaningful — scientific distinction.

The Many Problems with the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

The Many Problems with the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis ActWe haven’t yet spoken up about the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013 (HR 3717), sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy because we were hoping Congress would see through this less-than-subtle attempt to gut SAMHSA, coerce states to pass new forced-treatment laws (even if their citizens don’t want them), and create yet another huge federal bureaucracy in the Department of Health and Human Services that nobody has asked for, with no data to support its creation, and that nobody wants.

Sadly, that hasn’t happened. The least offensive parts of the bill are starting to get passed, and that suggests that there may be some momentum to pass the more offensive, egregious components in the future.

So here are the major problems with this bill, and why it stinks for everyone — especially patients.

Track Your Treatment Progress! Target Zero Symptoms to Thrive

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Track Your Treatment Progress! Target Zero Symptoms to ThrivePsych Central is pleased to be a partner with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) in their project for April — Target Zero to Thrive. The campaign wants people to consider complete remission of your mental illness symptoms as a goal to strive toward.

We think too many people involved in treatment of mental illness — from therapists and psychiatrists, to patients and caregivers — don’t reliably measure symptom change of their illness. This would be akin to a doctor not ordering labs to see how cancer treatment was progressing in someone with cancer.

Treatment is most effective when it is tracked and measured. And so targeting zero symptoms seems like a worthy goal for many with mental illness.

Peer Support, Peer Problems

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Peer Support, Peer ProblemsFor Steve Harrington, president of the National Association of Peer Supporters, the loss of a relationship triggered a deep depression with psychotic features, resulting in hospitalization.

For Leah Harris, communications and development coordinator for the National Empowerment Center, it was her parents dying young from a combination of mental illness and the “toxic effect of overmedication and broken spirits,” and then her own treatment for mental illness during her youth.

They and other advocates describe years of languishing in traditional treatment settings until the peer support movement, with its emphasis on recovery and wellness, showed them another way.

Military, Media Quick to Report Fort Hood Shooter’s Mental Health Status

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Military, Media Quick to Report Fort Hood Shooter's Mental Health StatusThere’s no way to stop the rare mass shootings that occur in the United States. You may not like it, but it’s a fact no amount of laws or background checks will ever fix.

Every time a new shooting occurs, it’s a tragedy. No words can begin to describe the senseless violence of a mass shooting.

But it’s even more of a tragedy when the media — with the help of the military, in this case — is quick to report that an alleged suspect in such shootings was seeking mental health treatment for a concern. Especially when it ended up having nothing to do with the shootings.

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