The Great Turning

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When I first heard of the proposed “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013” (H.R. 3717)”, I felt relieved and thought “maybe somebody has finally got it!” However, as I read and processed the words I realized just how much Tim Murphy didn’t get it. Is this mental health system broke? Yes it is. Can it be fixed? Yes it can. But we must do it collectively and with the experience and voices of those with true lived experiences including their families and allies.

People have ended up in jail and on the streets due to sweeping enactments by the government such as H.R. 3717. Do we really want to continue this legacy of big government telling us how to treat the most vulnerable in our communities? Our communities collectively must do this. Communities that have family and neighborly support have better outcomes for those with mental health breaks. We have not yet developed community support such as that in this country. We continually rely on government, hospitals and law enforcement to treat and make better those in need. This is not the way to go. We need community and family to love, nurture and support those that are the most vulnerable.

I personally know how hard it can be for a family that seeks support for their child or loved one who is in need of treatment and how frustrating it can be when that help is not given. I have struggled for years trying to find services that work for my sister. As a person that has been diagnosed with a developmental disability and a mental health issue, no one system wants to support her. It has been a constant battle for 25-plus years to get her housing, benefits and treatment. I myself have battled the system as a self-advocate for fair treatment, culturally competent treatment and housing. I have received treatment and been hospitalized in four states, received public mental health care in six states and housing in none.

In one state I received excellent care but no housing. Thus I was being treated while I continued to live in my truck. Each time I went to my therapist I had experienced a new trauma. All other states were sub par at best. In each state I met individuals who were being forced into treatment. I remember thinking that they seemed like they were the walking dead. No facial expressions, just following orders. Is this what we want our communities to look like? Our fellow brothers and sisters being forced into treatment that we know does not work for everyone?

Medication is not the end all for mental health crisis. Some people respond to medications, some do not. Some go deeper into crisis while others just exist. We must and can do better. Our system can be fixed but not just by one person writing an act and thinking it’s a cure-all because he is a licensed clinician.

I stand with millions of others who have shown through our resiliency that our movement is real, has saved lives and most of all we have people that can give voice to what really needs to be changed within the system. If only people will listen.

In the District of Columbia we are doing just that, we are building a coalition of survivors, resilient individuals along with clinicians and providers who believe in recovery. We were awarded the State Networking Consumer Grant in 2013 and quickly set about building this coalition that aims to make real change by putting our words into action and by using our skills and community to build each other up. In December 2013 we partnered with The National Coalition on Mental Health Recovery and Howard University to hold a conversation on mental health and addictions. We brought together community members to build a bridge by having face-to-face conversations about real life issues and events. We had police officers tell stories about how they have been touched personally by mental health crisis in their families and how this has helped them be more caring in their interactions with those in mental health crisis. We need more conversations with those in first responder roles so they can hear first-hand how their interactions with us either empower us to seek assistance from them again, traumatize us and in some cases we end up dead. Real stories, real people, real conversations create change. We don’t need behind closed door meetings held by 60 and 70 year-old white men who only know what they see on TV.

In January we held a city wide Service 2 Justice conference in partnership with over 20 other community based agencies. With a broad range of topics that included advocacy, transgender services, integrating peer workers into organizations, fundraising and building boards and committees. We have also created a partnership with dozens of community based organizations and social justice advocates to bring racial equality to the city. We held a 2-½ day workshop on undoing racism in July of 2012 and will be holding 2 workshops this Spring.

The equality work we do around racism is of the utmost importance; most members of our community forced into IOC are people of color, the underprivileged and those living in the transgender and gender-non conforming communities. Understanding the historical context behind the treatment of these communities is important in the social justice movement. We must know what has happened in order to not ask what’s wrong. Creating community space where all members feel safe, respected and well cared for is a must.

We can only live the life we were created to live if we break the shackles from our past and awaken to the true threat of our existence. In order to do this we must focus on “The Great Turning” and what the great Joanna Macy has put forth in the universe;

“To be alive in this beautiful self-organizing universe—to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it—is a wonder beyond words. Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Furthermore, it is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world”.

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Interview with Iden Campbell McCollum:

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Iden,

    Thank you for your heartfelt article on the need for more caring communities. I think you nailed one of the greatest problems of being homeless is one of the greatest challenges and causes of mental and emotional distress that requires housing and not more bogus psychiatric stigmas and toxic drugging.

    I had been very impressed when I read about “housing first” initiatives that wisely recognized that focusing on so called health care of any kind was futile and even hypocritical as long at the clients lacked basic housing.

    http://www.hchmd.org/housingfirst.shtml

    http://usich.gov/usich_resources/fact_sheets/opening_doors_chronic_homelessness/

    I googled this topic and found several with the above two examples. One thing many providers have realized is that people refuse housing and services if forced psychiatric treatment and drugging are part of the so called bargain (with the devil in my opinion). Thus, in some cases they have been backing off on the type of AOT draconian measures being proposed now and focusing more on getting people into housing that often vastly improves their mental health, which comes as no great surprise as I’ve noted elsewhere on other recent MIA posts.

    You say that you and others got so called mental health services when homeless while help with getting housing was never part of the so called “treatment.” I find it disgusting to know that billions are wasted on a failed DSM biopsychiatry paradigm that pushes lethal drugs that are mostly useless and cause all the more problems while basic needs of such people in crisis are ignored for the most part.

    Are you aware of any recent initiatives that use such common sense that anyone would be in great emotional distress and trauma when forced to deal with homelessness, poverty and other life threatening issues on a regular basis. In my opinion, this should be the first priority.

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    • Donna, right now the most successful program I know of is Pathways to Housing, they now have programs in NYC, DC, Philadelphia and Vermont. Dr. Sam Tsemberis is the creator of the Housing First Concept. They are all vested in peer support and peer health workers. Pathways DC played a huge part in The Campbell Center start-up.

      https://pathwaystohousing.org/ny/
      https://pathwaystohousing.org/DC/
      http://pathwaystohousing.org/pa/
      http://www.pathwaysvermont.org/

      There are other programs that are ran by peer organizations that provide housing in upstate New York, Montgomery County MD and NYC. I can’t find the links to these programs but I will ask Leah Harris for the info and pass it on to you. Also Miriam’s Kitchen in DC just launched a movement in DC called The Way Home Campaign.

      http://www.balticstreet.org/housing.htm

      http://thewayhomedc.org/

      The Campbell Center along with about 50 other community agencies are meeting regularly, providing testimony to the city council and working with housing developers to help end homelessness in DC. I think we ourselves have to find a way to create housing options that are open to providing housing to those that are traditionally underserved by medication peddling providers.

      Thank you for your kind words and reviewing my first blog!

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      • I live in Portland, it is a bit warmer here. We have a peer run program that has not made everyone in it completely safe, but we know of no completely safe spaces. What we did here was to create a safe place to sleep. With the lack of affordable housing and not enough shelter space, we created a place where folks could just sleep, and have their stuff safe for 12 hours. It is completely peer run, with some housed folks supporting the process. We realized and tell many people that if people don’t get enough sleep, they start to hallucinate. So we called the place “Right To Dream Too” It has been here for 3 years. It started up the same week Occupy started up and slid through the loops of the police and other forces that were completely absorbed by what was going on with Occupy. I have seen some amazing peer support at this place. Providing one’s own security is key and the member organization is fully democratic and aims at consensus. I don’t live there cause I was living at another earlier model of self run shelter called Dignity Village. I am excited to be involved with this organization because of its client centered approach and participation heavy model of recovery. Ibrahim Mubarak is the leader of this whole concept, but has lots of friends who have helped him over time. He has carried the dream forward and is the big heart. He is in Tucson, AZ right now, helping a community start up a rest area as well.
        I wanted to also respond to your comments about the Great Turning. I have always felt that those who are going through their crisis of mental anquish are the people who will be able to most help the masses as we undergo a collective paradigm shift. They are painful as we well know. Learning how to convene large numbers of people is a great skill in healing. I am struck most strongly over the last five years by my discovery of Open Dialogue. At the time of my discovering it, I thought. This is IT. This is what all our problems are based on! our lack of connected language of words. Doesn’t it describe racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, when that theory talks about the problem not being in the person, but in the inbetween space! that the person suffering is bearing the burden of the problem in the relationship!
        I am greatly disturbed and uplifted by what is going on in Ferguson, that people are gathering together in great numbers and also, discouraged by local conversations with the people I work with. I work in a wellness spa.
        Also, wanted to send a shout out to a brother! Good to see you doing well! I transitioned in late 2007, so I’m kind of old and still kind of a teenager! 🙂
        It took soooo long for me to come out because of direct blocks that landed hard on my sense of self and that came from the ‘helping’ profession. Ha ha ha…
        I’ve come a long way! Glad to be here, now, just so struggling with the reality of where people are still going.. But, it is the connecting with others that make my day, and the people I work with. Peace and love

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        • Hi, ptery, sorry just seeing this. Thanks brother for the shout out. I started my transition in 2007 as well. Still going through puberty myself. As far as the Gret Turning, you are absolutely correct. We, those familiar with long-term distress and familiar with open dialogue will be the ones leading the charge. As Joanna Macy said “It’s happening now”. Peace and love to you as well. Feel free to email me anytime [email protected].

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  2. I was thinking about Housing Firs too, Donna. It makes sense that people would reject help getting affordable housing when it would be used against them. This is a very positive development. I’m guessing that having a safe home to return to every time one left would relieve a lot more anxiety than any drug.

    You’ve done wonderful work Iden. Congratulations on your group’s grant and your coalitions. You’re filling a need in your community and setting a fine example, thank you.

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    • wileywitch, having an apartment, room or house is the best thing a person having a mental health break can have. Preferably with someone to come home to and support them. I have been homeless more times than I care to count and each time was due to me losing a job after a break, Luckily most times I had an automobile but I was still terrified on more than one occasion living in a shelter but still on the streets. Thank you for reviewing my first blog and offering inspiration!

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      • Yeah, I’ve been there, and was fortunate enough not to have suffered trauma from it, but it’s amazing how little it would have taken to prevent it.

        I spent many years in student housing co-operatives in which members could have all their home needs satisfied from rent and bills, to food, kitchen wraps, toilet paper and cleaning supplies for as little as $245.00 a month in the mid to late eighties. It’s a secure feeling to know that you don’t have to worry about any housing necessities or meals after paying your rent. There was a lot of very good and healthy food for that price, too, and everyone in the house did some work as part of the cost of living in those houses. The project of living together and running the household was educational, democratic, and sociable. There is so little community in our society, but it is possible to build it, as you and others are clearly doing.

        Houses for those in recovery or houses that are mixed would go a long way to prevent homelessness. With the long decline of wages, rent takes up too much of our earnings and requires too much work for too many hours. There isn’t a single county in this country where a person working 40 hours a week at minimum wage can afford their own apartment. Co-ops are a great way to cut costs and share the wealth.

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    • “safe home to return to”

      I have an AA friend who is always in treatment for alcoholism and “mental illness” (OCD) about every two months he drinks, gets kicked out of treatment or sober living then the anxiety-panic of being homeless causes him to drink to oblivion again and get arrested for public intoxication then he gets out and back into treatment. I told his parents who live 1000 miles away last time when I was trying to help him when he was drunk “I would like to tell him to just go home BUT HE DOESN’T HAVE ONE !!”

      They seem to be able to afford this stupidity and the treatment centers keep pumping him full of SSRIs (paxil) for his so called OCD that are likely causing his alcohol cravings. The family and treatment itself is causing the family in to be in” mental health crisis”.

      http://www.google.com/search?q=anti+depressants+alcohol+cravings

      I was just nasty to his parents last time saying “why don’t we feed him more pills put him in the same living situation again so that way if he drinks he becomes homeless again and see if we can avoid the same ******** is drinking and homeless crisis from happening?”

      His parents know everything, they read about “dual diagnosis” on WebMD and maybe a few NAMI pages so its back to treatment and more pills.

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      • Copy_cat, unfortunately this is normal in our communities. Recovery treatment centers have built in turnstiles and people seem to go through the revolving doors rapidly. The system is changing to a pay for success kind of system so that means these treatment centers that keep sending people back out through the revolving door won’t be getting paid to keep doing that. Will it work? We will have to wait and see but I think it will be better then this current system we have. I’m saddened when I hear stories like your friends story, no one should have to go through the cycle like tat if they are actively seeking treatment. Do you know if you have ACT Teams and Housing First in your community? If so you may want to try to link him up with them. Families need real support to and not just the kind that say your child has a brain disease. They need community support like when a family member has cancer and the community rallies around the family and cook meals and run errands and help with doctor appointments. It’s all abut community action at this point people need to wake up.

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  3. Truly, inspirational, the way you express the vision for the country I envision for my surviving 22 year old son, and the family I hope he may be blessed with one day. I wish you could present this exact letter at the next hearing on HR 3717. I have so much admiration for you, Leah Harris, and so many others fighting to change the current psychiatric wasteland ( to borrow Copycat’s phrase). Thank you Iden.

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    • larmac, thank you for your kind words. Your son is blessed to have a parent stand with him and I am happy to see you here sharing and being involved in conversations that can lead to solutions. Your son is young and he has the opportunity to have a family and lead the life he chooses in way past generations didn’t have. Let me know if I can support you in anyway. I just might make it to that next hearing.

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  4. Hi, Iden!

    I am the mother of a psychiatric survivor and living in the belly of the beast, so to speak (Johnson & Johnson headquarters are just outside my window). I have just read Bruce Levine’s book “Get Up, Stand Up.” I, like so many other activists, am asking, “How to we find our way and fund our way out of this mess?” Do we shut down the psychiatric system first or do we open alternatives first? Do we fund this using government funds that are so enmeshed with the Big Pharma or do we stay pure? I believe that Housing First is a helpful directive.

    I am the chaplain at a university intentional community with a second floor that could be used for a Respite center (thinking Soteria-like). It seems like we can do housing first and then focus on alternative modalities. The university setting is a portal from which young people, separated from their support systems, can be introduced to the psychiatric system for the first time. Often their continuing enrollment in the university is based on a medication plan (which is a form of compulsion). When I was just starting to feel really overwhelmed by the work to be done, you have provided a clear guidepost for next steps. Thank you!

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    • Awesome! Yes, be creative as you want, try to stay as pure as possible, raise money with other parents, open micro-enterprises and maybe even throw in a Kickstarter campaign. All things I am working on now. The Soteria model is amazing as well as Housing First. The one draw back with some Housing First models is that they require individuals to have Social Security benefits, which to me says we know you will be in this program forever. As Christy Respress, Pathways to Housing DC told me recently Housing First is not for everyone so we must be creative and find what fits each community. If you can do Housing First and invite those with earned income in that would be amazing. I know a lot of folks who are able to work but find it hard to maintain housing, I am one of those people. For a myriad of reasons our executive functioning just doesn’t function when it comes to housing and how to maintain it. I definitely prefer not to shut down the hospitals before we have alternatives in place. I don’t want to add to the homeless population in any city. I just don’t get why schools would push drugs onto a young person, especially one in school. So many schools recently have been expelling student after suicide attempts and mental health breaks. This is when the school should be supporting them the most. Good luck and keep me posted!

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  5. Yes, how to fund this? The state of PA has two programs which were offered to my son instead of SSI: Works for Me and Think Beyond the Label. He was assessed and scored very high which meant he was encouraged to take out student loans and “retrain” at a Pennsylvania college. The student loans provided housing costs. The catch-22 is that if the student does not comply with the counseling center’s “recommendations”, enrollment can be terminated. The SSI attorney questioned the assessment of my son. Rightly so. He now has student loan debt without a degree. If it were not for RISN House, he would be in a group home still drugged or on the street. So, I struggle with the purity issue of the funding.

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  6. Iden, great piece and glad to have your voice on this site. As someone who works part time in a hospital setting, I see how broken our system is for those who are in crisis and in emotional distress. The lions share of people who come through the door are either in poverty, unemployed, homeless, people of color, transgendered or some combination of those.

    We take in these people with tremendously complex socio-economic problems compounded by racism and discrimination and offer them….heavy psychopharmalogical drugs. And then we send them back out the door. “Here’s your 7 day supply and a shelter voucher.” And in a few days when the person decides they don’t like how the meds make them feel and stop them? The withdrawal symptoms can spike a new round of severe distress.

    And if we commit them and for outpatient treatment? Then we condemn people to ongoing side effects such as loss of libido (castration), cognitive fog and confusion, tics, tremors and long term health problems such as brain shrinkage, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

    You are right that this disproportionately affects the traditionally disenfranchised including the LGBT community and people of color. Essentially we are allowing tState sponsored racism and discrimination to chemically control and damage certain groups of people.

    So….I am heartened by seeing you address the deeper issues instead of this bandaid approach that can easily do more harm than good. Housing is a key issue as well as examining how the community chooses to help people in distress. This should be a neighborhood by neighborhood and city by city issue…not one overarching government law that appears to have good intentions but is actually draconian in practice.

    Thanks much for your words Iden.

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    • Thanks Jonathan, I’m thrilled that I did, the conversation has been great. As a trans man it has been an up hill battle to get my community to see that there is an epidemic in our community. Forced treatment, discrimination, homelessness, addiction, suicide and mental health issues. In no particular order of importance. We are slowly waking up after the 2010-2011 national study of over 6,500 trans/genderqueer individuals which showed that our suicide attempts are higher than the general population, our addiction and mental health issues are very high. Mostly due to medical/social service providers discrimination on all levels and the fear of seeking treatment. We are between a rock and hard place as a community. The DSM-V creates a situation where we have to prove we are not crazy in order to transition but yet it’s consider a disorder. Which is it? Is it a disorder that needs treatment or is it not? They can’t make up their minds. So were are forced to basically lie and say we have never felt suicidal or depressed in the wrong bodies so please give me those hormone shots!
      I will never forget one of my wake up calls to action around medication and what it does to our bodies. I was in an ER in Manhattan and the doctor treating me asked me out of the blue how did I feel taking Prozac and did it decrease my libido. I told very frankly that I was no longer able to have orgasms no matter how long I had sex. He looked me dead in the eye and said “look your too young not to be enjoying sex, you have options and you can tell your doctor you want to look at other treatment options”. He opened my eyes, I went home and started doing research on the web and haven’t looked back since. I don’t take a vitamin without research!
      Your right when you say we need to create change city by city and community by community. Massive federal change can’t create community but at a local level we can do so much more. Look at what Phoenix is doing with its campaign to end homelessness, on a local community level. http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/12/23/3099911/phoenix-homeless/

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  7. This helping families in crisis is supposed to “save lives” right ? A “Mental Health Crisis” is usually diagnosed as “mania”. The standard treatment for a person experiencing mania is brain-damaging neuroleptics, although most probably know of the drugs as being called ‘antipsychotics’.

    “Mania” is usually diagnosed as bipolar. Well check this out,

    The selling of bipolar disorder stresses that the disorder takes a fearsome toll of suicides. And indeed the controversy surrounding the provocation of suicide by antidepressants has been recast by some as a consequence of mistaken diagnosis. If the treating physician had only realized the patient was bipolar, they would not have mistakenly prescribed an antidepressant. Because of the suicide risk traditionally linked to patients with bipolar disorders who needed hospitalisation, most psychiatrists would find it difficult to leave any person with a case of bipolar disorder unmedicated. Yet, the best available evidence shows that unmedicated patients with bipolar disorder do not have a higher risk of suicide.

    Storosum and colleagues analyzed all placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trials of mood stabilizers for the prevention of manic/depressive episode that were part of a registration dossier submitted to the regulatory authority of the Netherlands, the Medicines Evaluation Board, between 1997 and 2003 . They found four such prophylaxis trials. They compared suicide risk in patients on placebo compared with patients on active medication. Two suicides (493/100,000 person- years of exposure) and eight suicide attempts (1,969/100,000 person-years of exposure) occurred in the group given an active drug (943 patients), but no suicides and two suicide attempts (1,467/100,000 person-years of exposure) occurred in the placebo group (418 patients). Based on these absolute numbers from these four trials, I have calculated (see Figure S1 showing calculation, and see Figure 2) that active agents are most likely to be associated with a 2.22 times greater risk of suicidal acts than placebo (95% CI 0.5, 10.00).

    Read more http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0030185

    This paper is called The Latest Mania: Selling Bipolar Disorder

    I don’t see how pushing drugs that are associated with a 2.22 times greater risk of suicidal acts is helping families in mental health crisis, that makes no sense to me.

    Mabey instead of spending billions and billions of dollars enriching the pharmaceutical companies and Universal Health Services, Inc. (NYSE: UHS) a Fortune 500 company based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania that runs abusive psychiatric lockups we should work on actually helping people with the things that lead to the mental health “crisis” in the first place.

    Things like maybe housing , transportation … hope.

    Just the cost of the prescriptions I left the UHS hospital with would rent an apartment and lease a new car !!!! The hospital stay was almost $20,000 to be abused and threatened with a forced injection (rape with drugs) to try and coerce me onto a bunch of brain disabling pills cause I had a drinking problem and went to the E.R sick and shaking. I was made sick with those brain disabling pills years before after trying them for “insomnia” and refused to take that med road again, I had to quit drinking and I did.

    More on UHS , This site is dedicated to all the people who were harmed or killed in UHS facilities. They speak for those who have no voice, to protect others from experiencing the pain they endured. http://watchinguhs.wordpress.com/

    UHS profits are in the 100s of millions wile many patients go out the door with no place to live and traumatized from the strip searches, injections, injection threats, abuse with oral medication, assaults by staff…

    H.R. 3717 is just one more expensive fraud called help brought to us by the psychiatric pharmaceutical industry in its quest for more billions.

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    • I just checked and the cost of the medication they “suggested” I take would make the lease payments on a new 2014 Mercedes S550 4MATIC® Sedan. No wonder Pharma pays NAMI to push for laws like H.R. 3717 , every “diagnosis” has the potential to bring in 100s of thousands of dollars.

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    • And I see the CEO has received a fortune 500 salary as well. “Alan Miller, chairman and CEO of Universal Health Services, reported total compensation of $11.7 million for the 2012.” Treatment hospitals and centers that are for profit should all be suspect just as for profit prisons. They abuse, murder and cripple people and hardly any governmental oversight, local or federal. And it’s a shame most cities, including the district of Columbia send our so called ‘Emotionally Disturbed’ children away to these hospitals for special treatment they can’t get at home. Like this survivor of the Rotenburg Center
      http://www.autistichoya.com/2013/01/judge-rotenberg-center-survivors-letter.html
      If you have access in your community to free alternative treatment please take advantage of it as well as meditation and yoga. It has done my body right.
      We have to bring it home to the community, we need to wake up individually and see what is happening to our neighbors, our loved ones and friends. We can’t keep sleep walking and pretending everything is fine as long as we are not the ones involved in a mental health crisis. Continue speaking out and being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

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  8. As the years go by I find it harder to believe that the system will be “fixed” anytime in the foreseeable future. We have been through various points where there was to have been no less then systemic improvement of our nation’s mental health system. For example, in 2003 the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health shared the united opinion that our mental health system was in “shambles.” What followed were countless activities on the federal and state level which were to have led to a system of care predicated on fostering the domains of wellness and evidencing the principles of recovery. Conferences, colloquia, trainings, webinars, presentations, PSA’s, changes in language, pronouncements, new organizations, tag lines, task forces, workgroups that once again failed to lead to meaningful systemic change.

    Consider the Mental Health Transformation State Incentive Grants which totaled more then $100 million between 2005 to 2010. The grantee states failed to achieve the very transformation that the grants were to have facilitated. There were plenty of activities as evidenced by the “Transformation Tracker” but too few actually made a difference. (In fact, the “Transformation Tracker” was taken down shortly after the grants were completed.) The grantee states even failed the proof of concept when it came to creating more recovery enhancing environments.

    Then there was was the 10 by 10 Campaign which was supposed to reduce the premature mortality of mental health consumers by ten years in ten years. It is now almost seven years past the campaigns original announcement. There have been some integrated health grants but well into its ten year “effort” there is no evidence that consumer years of potential life lost have decreased. It is telling that the original campaign and the original promise broaden in response to coverage by NPR’s Maiken Scott and the effort became 10 by 10 Wellness Campaign. Then it simply disappeared under the rubric of SAMHSA’s Wellness efforts. (The original 10 by 10 Report from 2007:
    http://store.samhsa.gov/product/The-10-By-10-Campaign-A-National-Wellness-Action-Plan-to-I)mprove-Life-Expectancy-by-10-Years-in-10-Years-for-People-with-Mental-Illness/SMA10-4476

    If the past is prologue I fear there may only be localized bright spots and the systemic change necessary for a fixed system will continue to be an aspirational goal. In ten years will there be empirical evidence that our mental health system has changed for the better that Robert Whitaker could quantify? I wonder ….

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    • Hi Joe, I did some research and you are correct on the campaigns 10×10 and What A Difference disappearing. The 10×10 campaign has been rolled over into the Promote Acceptance Campaign http://www.promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov/10by10/default.aspx
      and the What A Difference is now in archives at http://162.99.3.206/. Unfortunately I can’t give you much more than that as I don’t know much about either campaign. I did promote the What A Difference campaign as recently as last Fall but did not about it’s disappearance until reading your post.
      SAMSHA promotes bit ticket items that I think are place holders for us in recovery to pick up and run with. In that instance we are to create the change using their suggestions but also to create unique ways to use it in our communities. We can’t keep having meetings and expect change to come from a meeting if we are not creating deliverable that will show how to create change and identify change. Is it SAMSHA’s fault or the recovery community fault that we don’t see change with the transformation grants or the networking grants? I would say the blame can go to us all. We have a fallen for the old meeting trap and support group trap, thinking that’s all we need to do. Offer people a meeting and they will have discussion and go out and create change. It doesn’t work like that, we have to look at individual communities and the cultures those communities have and create change locally not globally. We are too different to fit the same shoe. Those campaigns were good campaigns but they were not used effectively by our community or SAMSHA. Let’s stop thinking the same and doing the same old thing. To create effective and long lasting change we use the tools given us but shape them to our circumstances. I think Robert Whitaker will have some good measures in 10 years if we wake up.

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  9. ​Joe:

    Something got glitched with a stray “)” in the URL in your message; let’s try this again:
    http://store.samhsa.gov/product/The-10-By-10-Campaign-A-National-Wellness-Action-Plan-to-Improve-Life-Expectancy-by-10-Years-in-10-Years-for-People-with-Mental-Illness/SMA10-4476​

    Unfortunately, the report is Out Of Stock, and unlike the other SAMHSA “Wellness Initiative” products, there’s no .PDF version available. Too bad, it would be an interesting read.

    ​The report​ was subtitled, “A Report of the 2007 National Wellness Summit for People with Mental Illness,” but the web site indicates it wasn’t published until October 2010 — no sense of urgency there, eh? 🙂

    Years ago I read where smoking cessation programs for vets wouldn’t help the Veterans Administration save any money; in the long run, it would cost the VA *more* if the vets *didn’t* get lung cancer and lived longer. It would seem that SAMHSA has similarly determined that extending consumers’ life expectancies by 10 years is no longer an active (or quantifiable) goal.

    Frustration with SAMHSA is nothing new. ​I keep hearing an old PSA late at night on ​my local radio station for SAMHSA’s “What a Difference a Friend Makes” project, but when you go to the advertised http://www.whatadifference.org URL, it’s an obsolete link on the SAMHSA site. It would appear helping consumers have supportive friends is no longer an active goal of SAMHSA’s, either.

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