The safety of our children is a sacred obligation we strive to preserve. Anything or anyone that harms them becomes the object of our distrust and potential wrath. I want to raise the possibility that psychiatry, for all its accomplished … Full Article →
Treatment by lay health workers is more effective than standard facility-based care at reducing disability and psychotic symptoms in people with schizophrenia diagnoses, according to research published yesterday in The Lancet. Findings from the first randomized trial to test community-based care against standard care in a low-income country “show even more positive outcomes than similar trials of collaborative community-based care in high-income countries.”
When Linda Sarage and Jake Powers first approached me about writing a section for the fantastic manual developed by the addictions community — From the Ground Up: How to Build Your own Peer-to-Peer Recovery Center — that would help connect this manual to the mental health community, I envisioned writing a section that would serve as some sort of translation tool that could connect two very different communities toward a common purpose. After reading the manual, however, I quickly remembered how much the mental health community has in common with the substance abuse community and how little “translation” is actually needed. Full Article →
There’s a growing (and soon to be quickly growing) group of us who are not therapists or psychiatrists but who offer “coaching,” connection and support. We offer this support to those coming off psychiatric drugs, or who would like to, or are opting to not go on in the first place but are facing pressure to. Most of us are psychiatric survivors so a lot of our knowledge and information is from firsthand experience. Others may have never been on psychiatric drugs but know a lot about the ins and outs of withdrawal through close association with those who have. Full Article →
I am being asked by a number of grassroots communities to facilitate a dialogue about how they can better welcome and support individuals who experience emotional distress. This is a challenge for many aspiring peers and allies in a culture where responsibility for our individual well-being has been increasingly transferred to psychiatrists, doctors, and other health professionals. Full Article →
As noted in Anatomy of an Epidemic, the prognosis for someone experiencing psychosis is far better in developing countries than in industrialized countries. Robert Whitaker and others posit that this is due to the treatment models used in the developing world, as well as to debility and chronicity caused by psychiatric drugs themselves. I think it’s also important to explore traditional tribal and village based models of helping people experiencing psychosis and examine why they may be effective. Do these traditional societies know something we don’t?
People who saw an advertisement for Cymbalta were less likely to offer help, endorse recovery, and have positive attitudes regarding self-determination towards people identified with mental illness, according to research in February’s Community Mental Health Journal. Those who self-identified as having a mental illness, however, reported less blame, less perceived dangerousness, less desire for social avoidance, more pity, and a greater willingness to help after viewing the advertisement.
For decades, one of the most prominent voices for radical change, or “non-violent revolution” in mental health care has been David Oaks, former director of MindFreedom International. Many activists today were drawn into their work due to David’s influence. Robert Whitaker, for example has credited an interview he did with David in 1998 for propelling him into noticing and writing about the way psychiatric drugs were harming more than helping. My own journey in becoming outspoken on these issues has also been massively influenced by David’s activism and ideas, which is one reason I care strongly about the issue I am bringing up here. While David has been helpful, directly or indirectly, to so many of us, he now needs our help. Full Article →
eCPR is a public health education program designed to teach people to assist others through emotional crisis through three steps: C = connecting, P = emPowering, and R = revitalizing. eCPR recognizes that the experiences of trauma, emotional crisis, and emotional distress are universal; they can happen to anyone, at anytime, anywhere. Full Article →
Research in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry looks at Oxytocin – a hormone thought to play a role in evaluating and responding to social stimuli – for its possible role in psychiatric disorders. “The evidence suggests a role of oxytocin in the pathophysiology of some psychiatric disorders, particularly those characterized by impairments in social functioning,” according to the authors, ““However, the preliminary nature of the currently available data precludes a clear understanding of the exact nature of this role.”
Kingsley Hall was the first of Laing’s household communities that served as a place where you could live through madness until you could get it together and live independently. It was conceived as an “asylum” from forms of treatment — psychiatric or otherwise — that many were convinced were not helpful, and even contributed to their difficulties. By the time I arrived in London in 1973 to study with Laing there were four or five such places. Getting in wasn’t easy. Full Article →
When I pick up a pen, I put down my fear. Sorry, they don’t both fit into my hand at once. Meditation teachers often say the hardest part is getting to the cushion. The hardest part of writing is probably picking up the pen. So, pick up a pen, I dare you. Write even if you think no one will read it, even if you don’t want anyone to read it. Full Article →
I understand that some people are staunchly opposed to public mental health services, and I understand why. However, millions of people reach out to these organizations and agencies for assistance in getting through difficult times. It is common knowledge that the “help” they get is not always helpful, but I have known a few people who found the support they were looking for and, let’s face it, until there are widely available and accessible alternatives that people are able to turn to, many people who are struggling reach out to public and private providers for help. Some people call me naïve because I have faith in the human capacity to make good choices, when given the opportunity and presented with evidence that supports a decision that is informed not only by data, but by recognition of their potential to be a force of healing and justice in the world. Full Article →
1.) I found my recovery journey in Texas after multiple failed attempts during the years 2004-2005. I hail from Austin, Texas (ATX) where ALTERNATIVES 2013 is being hosted this December 3-6 at the Hyatt Regency by the NEC. I’m a person with the shared life experience of mental diversity.
2.) I thank NAMI Texas, DBSA Texas, NAMI Austin and many in Texas for helping me get up off my knees, out of bed with the covers over my head, open the shutters and open closed doors where I lived solidly in my disease and walk through the dark tunnel, around the periphery of depression back into the light so to speak.
3.) Service goes a long way. I started out my journey making copies at NAMI Texas and lasted 1 day, basically, thinking this is for the birds, and I lasted half a day at DBSA Texas but that was a paid gig and I was optimistic. I even wore a suit for that job. I helped the NAMI Austin WALK working in the Austin State Hospital Switchboard Building and listened to Dr. Peggy Swarbrick’s story of how school helped her walk and so I did too. I finished my Master’s practicum at ASH and published my findings in the Psychiatric Quarterly Journal.
4.) I’m a psychiatric survivor solidly. I relate to that. I’m a consumer. I’m an Advanced Certified Peer Specialist and Community Health Worker from the State of Texas. I’m no more. No less.
5.) I found life in 2007 when I antied up $990 for my Certified Peer Specialist certification in ATX with DBSA Texas and DBSA National and it changed my life, to be perfectly honest. Profound. I was told that I’d get a job afterwards. It didn’t help. I didn’t. I got volunteering gigs at the old Austin Travis County MHMR (now ATCIC) 2nd Street and I loved it. I was determined to learn more. And so I did.
6.) I somehow got onto the TTAC (via HOPE) Steering Committee in 2010 through hard-headed work and in Texas we put together core competencies, issued an RFP, Larry Fricks’ Appalachian Consulting Group transformative CPS was put into place and voila. A State of Texas CPS certification and process was set into place and the rest is history.
7.) ”The Seed Group” started out of USPRA Texas Windows to Wellness State conferences with Dr. Dan Fisher and local Texas c/s/x interest, hard work, sweat, blood and tears. Now it’s called the Texas Catalysts for Empowerment. I resigned from the group in 2010. It lives on.
8.) I worked street HIV/AIDS/STD/HCV outreach with AIDS SERVICES OF AUSTIN and tested HIV, etc… and published more, presented more on HIV & SMI and Education and then had to work to get out of HIV/AIDS because MH an SA was more of my very real passion and so was peer supports.
9.) I attended AA, NA, CA, SA, SLAA and my partner Pam Hardin stuck by me loyally and I received dangerous invasive “clinically necessary” treatment at the downtown ATX provider of choice for 2.5 years. Painfully. It hurt. I don’t recommend it. It saved my life, I’m told. What it did for me, was take away that urge to kill myself. And Pammy stood by me. And so did my family. 1 friend stuck around that whole time. 1.
10.) I received a Certificate for 2 years of National Service with AmeriCorps working in ATX and Williamson County learning housing from the ground up and I realized quickly that without housing one literally has nothing. Truth.
11.) I project managed in DFW with The Hope Concept Wellness Center helping institute dreams and WRAP driven by Northern Texans and Community Health Workers/Promotora’s. My sister and only sibling died of Cancer on November 20, 2012 and I left Texas for higher ground with a heavy heart, looking for transformative hope and found it in North Carolina and now Georgia.
12.) Coming back to ALTERNATIVES 2013 to co-present with my current work, ideas, hopes and dreams means much to me. I’ll see friends and see the hard work that many have set into motion for years. In Orlando ALTERNATIVES, Texas had the largest contingent. This year, via HOPE, The Texas Department of State Health Services and the University of Texas at Austin’s Hogg Foundation for Mental Health guarantees 300+ Tejano’s. How beautiful is that?
I will be co-presenting on Mobile Crisis Intervention based on the Certified Peer Specialist Perspective, helping out with the multicultural component and hopefully providing a gender-queer Caucus during the conference. See you there.
In my last blog, I talked about how I was attempting to cope with a “mini-relapse” without using psychiatric drugs. One Sunday morning in the midst of this episode I awoke in a particularly dismal state. I didn’t have a structure planned for the day. And without something to look forward to, both my anxiety and depression increased. Full Article →
The September/October issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry reviews the biological and therapeutic research findings for the role of oxytocin in attachment, and explores the relationship of the “love hormone” with “various neuropsychiatric disorders.”
It has been twenty years since my last suicide attempt. I was barely eighteen years old, and had already spent the last four years, my entire adolescence, really, in and out of the mental health system. On that day, twenty years ago, I left the hospital with nothing but a prescription for yet another drug in my hand, sent back to the decrepit group home where I began my adult life. Full Article →
The recent incident in the grounds of Washington Capitol, involving a young educated woman, brought shock to many people. It was another opportunity to blame a victim of mental illness and demand further restraint and medical attention for such individuals. Yes, we are lacking dignified, caring, discerning and attentive treatment for those whose spirits are broken. But we certainly don’t suffer from a lack of medical treatment for such individuals. It is time for policy-holders, and our scientific community to ask the ‘heretical’ question; “Could the drugs be the culprit behind the violence?” Full Article →
Researchers from the Netherlands and Sweden seek to update the hypothesis that the five major risk factors for schizophrenia (urbanicity, migration, childhood trauma, los intelligence, and drug abuse) can be explained by sensitization of the mesolimbic dopamine system (DA) resulting from the experience of social defeat (SD). A review of the literature finds a connection between SD and schizophrenia for migration and childhood trauma, and that while evidence for mesolimbic DA sensitization is lacking (due to a lack of studies), the evidence for this in animals is strong. The study was published by Schizophrenia Bulletin.
I think it is time to reclaim the word disability. Disability needs to be appreciated. To the extent we value community over isolation, anything anyone cannot do, or needs help with, builds community. There are infinite examples in every career and walk of life of how necessary “disability” (since we’re calling it that) is for connection, service and meaning in life. Without it we’d have absolutely no need for each other. And the fastest way to despair is to feel unnecessary. Full Article →
The Redhall Walled Garden provides a tiny glimpse into the future, as a potential alternative to psychiatric hospitals, halfway houses, and the other oppressive forms of treatment that comprises the current status quo in most countries around the world. We can all learn from this alternative approach, and we should popularize aspects of this program just as we do the Soteria House and the Open Dialogue model. Full Article →
Do you think youth prevention programs, sports, arts programs, or spiritual approaches can help people through emotional distress? We’ve been calling for this dialogue for years and now it’s time to get out in your city and participate in it. In four days in Kansas City we’ll have the first ever large scale public forum that includes information about medical harm and the full range of entrepreneurial solutions. Full Article →
As we approach world hearing voices day 2013 Karen and I are in Canada. We have just enjoyed running a preconference workshop for about 100 people in Winnipeg. I am sitting in my room before breakfast writing this piece and as I sit I am thinking back twenty-three years ago; I am in a psych unit in Manchester and I have a new support worker called Lindsay. By then I had been a psych patient for almost ten years and was fast approaching spending the rest of my life in the system. My support worker had convinced me to go to a new group that was starting in Manchester called a hearing voices group. Full Article →