LIVING WITH MENTAL DIVERSITY

Will Hall, MA, DiplPW, is a counselor, consultant, and community development worker in private practice with families, individuals, couples and groups. A survivor of a schizophrenia diagnosis and leader in the recovery movement, Will has taught in more than 12 countries and gained international recognition for his work with mental diversity, including coverage in the New York Times, The Guardian, and Newsweek. Will's work supports individuals, families and groups to find new ways to understand and live with altered states, different realities, voices, paranoia, mania, and "psychotic" experiences. He has a certificate in Open Dialogue from the Institute for Dialogic Practice, a Diploma in Process Work, and has studied somatic, trauma, and Jungian approaches. He has led trainings for professional staff and case supervision with psychiatrists and therapists, is co-founder of Freedom Center, past director of Portland Hearing Voices, longtime organizer with The Icarus Project, and co-founder of PracticeRecovery. Will Hosts the FM show Madness Radio and is author of The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Medications, translated into 9 languages.  He is longtime meditator and yoga practitioner, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his family.

www.willhall.net,  www.practicerecovery.comwww.madnessradio.net.

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March 31, 2016

Dr. Jim van Os presents something unlike any other psychiatrist I have come across: a clear vision, and a pathway, for dismantling the existing mental health system and replacing it with something new that actually works. And he is doing it with all the status and prestige not only of a psychiatry insider, but as one of the world’s leading scientists. Along with changes in the definitions of health and psychosis, van Os describes pilot programs now underway in The Netherlands to establish small, human-scale services — inspired by Open Dialogue — that engage the social network of people in distress. And, inspired by the best of the US “peer” movement, by involving people who have themselves recovered from madness in a treatment role.
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August 27, 2015

Marijuana is now legal in two states, and legal for medical use in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Polls show the majority of Americans support cannabis legalization, and more and more of the country is joining the legalization trend. As a counselor working with people diagnosed with psychosis and mental illness I am often asked about my opinion and clinical experience — as well as my personal experience — with medical cannabis.
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June 5, 2015

At the end of my talk at the American Psychiatric Association Institute on Psychiatric Services , a psychiatrist in the crowded lecture room put his hand up and posed a surprising challenge: Why was I so concerned about reforming psychiatry and ending iatrogenic harm from medications, diagnosis, and forced treatment when there are so many other issues in society to worry about?
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February 20, 2015

Again and again I am told the ‘severely mentally ill’ are impaired and incapable, not quite human. I am told the “high utilizers” and “frequent flyers” burden services because they are different than the rest of us. And when I finally do meet the people carrying that terrible, stigmatizing label of schizophrenia, what do I find? I find – a human being. A human who responds to the same listening and curiosity that I, or anyone, responds to. I find a human who is above all terrified, absolutely terrified, by some horrible trauma we may not see or understand.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Coercion, Featured Blogs, Involuntary Treatment, Legislation & Regulation, Popular

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January 30, 2015

We live in a culture bombarded by media and sped up by rapid-fire social interactions. It’s definitely useful to grab hold of a simple, short, sound-bite term, to quickly describe what we are feeling or suffering. “Depression” is such a word – it evokes and encapsulates, conjures the images of that ugly pit of despair that can drive so many to madness and suicide. Yet at the same time the words we use, strangely, become like those pens deposited in medical offices and waiting rooms around the world: ready at hand, easily found, familiar — and tied to associations, marketing and meanings we were only dimly aware were shaping how we think.
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Categorized in: Adult, Blogs, Depression, Disorders, Featured Blogs, Popular, Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

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January 13, 2015

When I was locked in a psychiatric hospital, I wasn’t able to have much of a conversation with my parents about what was going on. Phone calls were tense and filled with silence, and as I stood at the ward payphone I was so confused and frozen in fear that each call just confirmed to them how lost I was. Every day as a patient centered around the various prescriptions I was on, and like so many people suffering in a psychosis, helping me became a wait to “find the right combination of medications.”
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Categorized in: Adult, Blogs, Children and Adolescents, Disorders, Featured Blogs, Substance Abuse/Addiction, Substance Abuse/Addiction, Uncategorized

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December 31, 2014

Everyone has beliefs that seem too bizarre, illogical, or fantastic to someone else to accept. Religious views, paranormal interpretations, political convictions, interpersonal conflicts — all can put us in a category where other people consider what we think to be incomprehensible. We’ve learned to co-exist with different beliefs as one of our most cherished values of tolerance in a multicultural society. That lesson can be key for encountering the different realities that in situations where someone is being called psychotic, delusional, schizophrenic or mentally ill. Respect and support may stretch our thinking, but can be vital to recovery.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Uncategorized

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July 28, 2014

Shamans are the magician spirit healers in tribal, non-technological societies around the world. Anthropologists use the word “shamanism,” from the Tungus people of Siberia, to mean the commonalities between different traditions. Shamans find their calling through a life-threatening initiatory illness or crisis, go into visioning and trance to connect to other realities, shapeshift out of their regular identity to identify with animals, spirits, and even illnesses, and return to the ordinary world to share skills of healing and creativity. Living at the edge of society and defying conventional norms, conduct, and even gender, shamans are respected as a powerful community link to the divine.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Community, Featured Blogs, Mind/Body, Non-drug Approaches

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April 1, 2014

The Bay Area survivor and peer movement came out strong recently, pushing the Alameda Board of Supervisors to table a proposed expansion of forced outpatient commitment. AB 1421, more commonly known as Laura’s Law, says that if a court or judge decides that a person with mental health issues requires treatment, they must abide by a plan determined by a team of professionals on an outpatient basis. The law was passed in California in 2002 but is conditional on California county approval for implementation. Fueled by sensational accounts of the death of Laura Wilcox, who was killed by a man with a psychiatric diagnosis, AB 1421 holds the false promise that force and coercion are the solution to help people in emotional distress.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Coercion, Community Updates, Featured Blogs, Violence

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January 10, 2014

Many families trying to support someone in psychosis fall into the same trap professionals find themselves caught in: power struggles: “How can I make my relative change? What should I do to get them to see they are sick?” While it’s hard to argue with wanting someone to get better, control and conformity are at the heart of everything wrong with the standard psychiatric approach. The deeper families dig themselves into forcing change on their relative, the more they flounder.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Children and Adolescents, Featured Blogs, Non-drug Approaches, Recovery/Empowerment

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September 21, 2013

David Cohen’s work begins to address a paradox: medication effects are not simply chemical impacts on a biological brain, but rather the complex interactions of social factors, expectation, placebo, “nocebo,” and learning. As a harm reduction approach to withdrawal emphasizes, empowerment may be the most important consideration for supporting people’s wellness.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Medication Tapering/Withdrawal, MIA Articles about Psychiatric Drugs and Withdrawal, MIA Blog Archives, Mind/Body, Non-drug Approaches, Psychiatric Drugs, Research, Rethinking Psychiatry/Medical Model

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April 24, 2013

Is it really best to force someone into the hospital when they are suicidal? Do suicidal feelings plus “risk factors” really mean professionals can predict whether someone might try to kill themselves? And are suicidal feelings the symptom of a treatable illness that should include medication prescription?
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Suicide

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February 23, 2013

This is a transcript of my keynote speech at Alternatives 2012, which a Madness Radio listener recently transcribed.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Non-drug Approaches, Research, Rethinking Psychiatry/Medical Model, Violence

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November 8, 2012

The phrase “medication tapering” is being used more and more as the preferred term for the psychiatric medication withdrawal or coming off process. Based on my years of work educating many people around coming off medications — clients, support groups, and in workshops and trainings — I think that term is misleading, and let me explain why.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Medication Tapering/Withdrawal, MIA Articles about Psychiatric Drugs and Withdrawal, MIA Blog Archives, Psychiatric Drugs

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July 27, 2012

The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, written by Will Hall and published by The Icarus Project and Freedom Center five years ago, is now available in a revised edition! This Guide can be downloaded for free on …
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Medication Tapering/Withdrawal, Non-drug Approaches, Popular, Psychiatric Drugs, Research