Inner Fire: Healing and Recovery Without Meds

For five years, I and others worked to create a residential healing community in Brookline, Vermont, where people could recover from debilitating and traumatic life experiences, which often lead to addiction and mental health challenges, without the use of psychotropic medications. We welcomed our first six seekers to a yearlong, therapeutic and farm-based, day program last September, and we now can report on what we have learned during this time.
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Systemic Racism Erodes Mental Health, Study Finds

New research out of the United Kingdom examines the cumulative impact of systemic racism on the mental health of minorities over time.  The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, finds that people who experience repeated incidents of racial discrimination are significantly more likely to report mental health problems than those who experience fewer instances of discrimination.

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Study Finds Improved Functioning for ‘Schizophrenia’ Without Antipsychotics

Long-term treatment with antipsychotic drugs is currently considered the standard treatment for patients diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia.’ A new study challenges this practice, however. The results, published this month in Psychological Medicine, reveal that patients who were not taking antipsychotic drugs had significantly higher levels of functioning than medicated patients.

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Most People with Common ‘Mental Disorders’ Get Better Without Treatment, Study Finds

A new study suggests that most people diagnosed with depressive, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders recover without treatment within a year of diagnosis. “This study further supports the argument that meeting diagnostic criteria for a mental disorder does not necessarily indicate a need for mental health treatment,” the researchers, led by Jitender Sareen from the University of Manitoba, write.

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Yogurt Cooperative in Spain Provides a Different Form of Help: Meaningful Work

Every one of the Fageda Cooperative’s 300 workers – from milking shed to packing plant – will tell you that this cooperative makes the finest yogurt in all Spain, if not in the world. Last year, they made 1.4 million yogurts every week. In Catalonia, only Nestle and Danone sell more. But Fageda isn’t in business to make yogurt. For over 30 years, its sole mission has been to provide fully-paid, flexible employment to anyone from the region diagnosed with a mental health problem but who still wants to work.
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Call For Abstracts: Philosophical Perspectives on Critical Psychiatry

The Association for Advancement in Philosophy and Psychiatry is issuing a call for abstracts, with a particular interest in submissions from service users. The 29th annual meeting, to be held next May 20th to 21st , 2017 in San Diego, California, will feature keynote presentations from MIA contributors Joanna Moncrieff and Nev Jones, among others.

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Many Foster Kids Are Still Being Prescribed Antipsychotic Drugs

Many experts expressed concern when the rate of antipsychotic prescriptions to children in foster care showed a rapid increase, peaking in 2008, and new recommendations and policies have tried to curb the use of these drugs. While the rate has plateaued, a new study points out that the “new normal” prescription levels are still dangerously high. The data reveals that almost one in ten children in foster care are currently being prescribed antipsychotic drugs with dangerous side-effects, many for diagnoses like ‘ADHD’ and disruptive behavior.

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Air Pollution Linked to Mental Health Problems in Children

A new study, published in BMJ Open-Access this week, found a significant link between the level of air pollution in a community and the mental health of the children living there. After controlling for socio-economic status and other potential variables, researchers in Sweden discovered a strong association between the concentration of air pollution in a neighborhood and the amount of ‘antipsychotic’ and psychiatric drugs prescribed to children. The link remained strong even at pollution levels well below half of what is considered acceptable by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Smoking in Pregnancy Linked to Risk of Schizophrenia Diagnosis in Later Life

In the first study of its kind, researchers from Finland found the “most definitive evidence to date” that smoking during pregnancy is associated with the eventual diagnosis of schizophrenia in offspring.  After controlling for other potential variables, the study, published ahead of print in The American Journal of Psychiatry, revealed a 38% increased odds of developing symptoms diagnosed as schizophrenia in young adults who were exposed to high levels of nicotine in utero.

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European Expert Group Calls for Investment in Community Based Services

The European Commission (EC) recently published its 2016 country-specific recommendations (CSRs) to the Member States. Following positive statements on the way social care and support should be provided in the last few years by the European Commission, the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-Based Care (EEG) welcomes several recommendations promoting quality care and support and access to employment and inclusive education for disadvantaged groups. Nonetheless, the overall focus on austerity will be detrimental to the transition to community-based services in Europe if no safeguards are made available for public investment in this area.

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Eat Breathe Thrive: Chelsea Roff on Eating Disorders, Trauma, and Healing with Yoga and Community Supports

Chelsea Roff is the Founder and Director of Eat Breathe Thrive (EBT), a non-profit with an inspired mission to bring yoga, mindfulness, and community support to people struggling with negative body image and disordered eating. I reached out to Chelsea to learn more about her life and organization, which she writes, “…is like AA for people with food and body image issues, plus yoga and meditation.” Chelsea shared her journey from life as a patient to yogi, author, and innovative community organizer. With her permission, you can find this interview below.
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Are DNA Changes the Link Between Poverty and Mental Illness?

Researchers at Duke University who studied 183 adolescents for three years found that increased depression associated with poverty may be mediated by epigenetic changes in DNA. The researchers conclude: "These initial results suggest a specibiological mechanism through which adversity contributes to altered brain function, which in turn moderates the emergence of general liability as individual risk for mental illness. If replicated, this prospective pathway may represent a novel target biomarker for intervention and prevention among high-risk individuals."

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Study Finds Racial Differences in Psychiatric Diagnosis and Treatment

According to a recent study published in the journal Psychiatric Services, black patients are almost twice as likely as their white counterparts to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, while white patients are significantly more likely to receive a diagnosis of anxiety or depression. The researchers also found that the likelihood of receiving psychotherapy for any diagnosis (34%), regardless of race or ethnicity, was much lower than the probability of receiving a psychotropic medication (73%).

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Do We Really Need Mental Health Professionals?

Professionals across the Western world, from a range of disciplines, earn their livings by offering services to reduce the misery and suffering of the people who seek their help. Do these paid helpers represent a fundamental force for healing, facilitating the recovery journeys of people with mental health problems, or are they a substantial part of the problem by maintaining our modestly effective and often damaging system?
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Truth and Reconciliation: An Evening of Sharing and Healing

On Wednesday, March 20, 2016, Rethinking Psychiatry collaborated with The M.O.M.S. Movement and The Icarus Project to host our first Truth and Reconciliation Circle for Receivers and Givers of Psychiatric and Mental Health Services. In this three-hour event, both receivers and givers of psychiatric and mental health services expressed their thoughts and feelings in a structured, facilitated environment.
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Psych Patients Who Resist Stigma Do Better

A new study in press in the Journal of Schizophrenia Research finds that patients who actively resist the negative stigma associated with mental health diagnoses may have better outcomes. According to the researcher's meta-analysis of previous studies, stigma resistance is related to reduced symptoms and improved functioning, self-efficacy, quality of life, recovery, and hope.

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“Politicians and Experts Meet at Parliament to Explore Record Antidepressant Prescribing and Disability”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence is meeting today, May 11th, to discuss evidence of the link between the rise in disability and the record level of antidepressant prescribing. Both Robert Whitaker and Joanna Moncrieff will present their research and Peter Kinderman will chair a panel to debate the findings.

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Group Mindfulness Shows Promise Reducing Depression Associated with Hearing Voices

A new study out of Kings College London found that twelve sessions of a group mindfulness-based therapy relieved distress associated with hearing voices while reducing depression over the long-term. The person-based cognitive therapy (PBCT) intervention had significant effects on depression, voice distress, voice controllability and overall recovery.

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“World Benzo Awareness Day, First Step To End Global Dependency Woes”

“In a bid to raise awareness towards the global epidemic of abuse on Benzodiazepine or ‘benzos’ abuse, a global campaign dubbed as World Benzo Awareness Day (WBAD) has been gaining ground,” Morning News USA reports. “I have seen so many people suffering, committing suicide because they cannot tolerate the prolonged withdrawal reactions and the damage done to them any longer, and there is very little, if any, help available to them.”

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“Why So Many Smart People Aren’t Happy”

The Atlantic interviews Raj Raghunathan about his new book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? “If you were to go back to the three things that people need—mastery, belonging, and autonomy—I'd add a fourth, after basic necessities have been met,” Raghunathan says. “It’s the attitude or the worldview that you bring to life.”

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“New Counseling Toolkit Helps Boys and Girls Club Address Kids’ Real-Life Issues”

The staff at Minneapolis’ Southside Village Boys and Girls Club are implementing  a specially targeted free interactive counseling toolkit designed by a team of volunteers at the American Counseling Association (ACA). “We have kids from everywhere,” said Stephanie Siegel, Southside Village program director. “A partnership like this is good for a lot of staff that doesn’t have that training in mental health. It helps them understand where kids are coming from and why they may be acting the way they are.”

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Mental Health Documentary “Healing Voices” Premiers Across 130 Communities in 8 Countries

The producers of “Healing Voices” ­‐ a new social action documentary about mental health ­‐ are releasing the film via community screening partners in a coordinated global event. The movie will screen in more than 130 locations across the US, Canada, UK, New Zealand, and Australia on and around April 29th as part of the movie’s “ONE NIGHT, ONE VOICE” grass roots release.

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Victim Blaming: Childhood Trauma, Mental Illness & Diagnostic Distractions?

Why, despite the fact that the vast majority of people diagnosed with a mental illness have suffered from some form of childhood trauma, is it still so difficult to talk about? Why, despite the enormous amount of research about the impact of trauma on the brain and subsequent effect on behaviour, does there seem to be such an extraordinary refusal for the implication of this research to change attitudes towards those who are mentally ill? Why, when our program and others like it have shown people can heal from the effects of trauma, are so many people left with the self-blame and the feeling they will never get better that my colleague writes about below?
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Simple Things

Sometimes it’s the simple things that keep us going, especially when the complicated ones seem so overwhelming; when there’s too much chaos, too many emotions, too many possibilities and impending disasters. No one can give you a reason to live. You have to find it for yourself. Until you do, try simple things. For me, it was a turtle.
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“Social Media Use and Depression Linked in Large Study”

New research coming out of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggests that the more time young adults spend on social media, the more likely they are to be depressed.  “Participants who spent the most total time on social media had 1.7 times the risk of depression, compared with those who spent less time on social media sites.”

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