Landmark Schizophrenia Study Recommends More Therapy

Results of a large government-funded study call into question current drug heavy approaches to treating people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The study, which the New York Times called “by far the most rigorous trial to date conducted in the United States,” found that patients who received smaller doses of antipsychotic drugs with individual talk therapy, family training, and support for employment and education had a greater reduction in symptoms as well as increases in quality of life, and participation in work and school than those receiving the current standard of care.

“Can Madness Save the World?”

Writing for CounterPunch, Paris Williams writes that when an individual is experiencing what has been termed “psychosis,” it is important to recognize that this may also be the manifestation of a breakdown in their larger social groups, the family, society, and even the species.

John Oliver on Mental Health

On his weekly HBO show, Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver argues that the tendency to discuss mental health in the wake of a mass shooting is "deeply misleading."

Long-Term Social Supports Needed After Onset of Psychosis

New data on the effects of social support after early onset of psychosis suggests that patients with intense social support function better than those without such help, but than once supports are removed the effects diminish.

“’Psychiatric Survivor’ Wilda White Says She Is Ready to Lead”

When Wilda White recovered from a manic episode triggered by her ADHD medication, she had lost her relationship, her home, and her dream job as a public interest lawyer. She reached a turning point when, she told Seven Days newspaper, "in the course of trying to figure out what had happened to me, I went on the website Mad in America.” Through the site, she connected with a job listing from Vermont Psychiatric Survivors, a non-profit dedicated to empowering and protecting the rights of people labeled “mentally ill.” She is now their executive director.

An “Epidemic of Anguish” on College Campuses?

The Chronicle of Education has called the soaring rates of anxiety and depression among college student an “Epidemic of Anguish.” PBS interviews Jennifer Ruark, the editor of the Chronicle series, and Micky Sharma, the director of counseling at Ohio State University. Ruark reports that about “1 in 4 students reporting to campus counseling centers now are already on some kind of psychotropic medication.” Sharma adds that “just because a student is crying does not mean he or she needs psychotherapy. Sometimes that’s actually the type of emotional response that I would want to see.”

“How a Kitten Eased My Partner’s Depression”

In this week’s NY Times Modern Love blog Hannah Louise Poston tells the story of living with her severely depressed boyfriend, Joe, and how her decision to buy a kitten improved their relationship. “The next morning when we woke up, the first words out of Joe’s mouth were, ‘Where’s the kitten?’ And the kitten’s first act, when she heard his voice, was to ice-pick her way up the quilt and jump on his face. That same summer, Joe mustered the energy to make major changes in his life…”

Compassion and the Voice of the Tormentor

I'd like to share some personal thoughts on the nature of the Hearing Voices group method, and the insights that this kind of support generates. Through these groups, a tradition of mutual healing is being created that honors subjective experiences, and sharing our stories with each other in this way propels this exciting movement forward.

The First “Working To Recovery” Camp: June, 2015

About a year ago, my partner Ron Coleman said to me "let's have a recovery camp." I said "what’s one of those?" and he said "I'm not sure, but let's invent it." And so, from June 7th to 12th 2015, we created a community of recovery for a week. The next step is to create communities of recovery around the world — not just as temporary camps, but long-lasting oases within our communities.

“I Did Psychedelic First Aid at a Festival in Costa Rica”

-Eamon Armstrong describes the Zendo Project, and his own experience providing support for people taking psychedelic drugs.

Peer-to-peer App for Stress, Depression, Anxiety Support

-A peer-to-peer application that trains people to consult with each other reportedly produced positive results for reducing stress, depression and anxiety.

Fighting for the RLCs Continued: Where’s the Evidence?

The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (along with the five other RLCs across the state of Massachusetts) remains in jeopardy of a 50% slash to our budget that would go into effect July 1, 2015 should it come to pass. As noted in my previous post (Peer Supports Under Siege), the proposed reduction was introduced by Governor Charlie Baker in early March. However, there are many hoops to jump through and so we’ll remain in budget limbo for some time to come while the House and Senate draw up their own recommendations and then everyone comes together to make a final call.

Peer Supports Under Siege: A Call for Help and Solidarity (And how this...

We need all of our voices to come together to challenge that sort of power in order to have any sort of hope at all. To the best of my knowledge, the majority of people who hang around these ‘Mad in America’ parts are particularly interested in prioritizing, promoting, and creating access to (true) alternatives, including those built upon peer-to-peer supports. But, whenever one of us falls, it becomes that much easier to knock the next one down. We need more examples to point to, not less; more places to reference and say, “If they can do it, why can’t we?”; more places to call upon and say, “If you don’t believe us, how about them… or them… or them?”

“Respite from the Storm”

-There's a resurgence in interest in small peer-run centers that help people who might otherwise land in psychiatric hospitals.

First-ever Peer-supported Open Dialogue Conference

-On March 11, 2015, the NHS Foundation and three other Trusts are hosting a free conference to "take stock" after one year of Peer-supported Open Dialogue.

“The Post-Irene Mental Health System of Care”

-Hurricane Irene seems to have left some community-based approaches to psychiatric care in its wake.

I Am “Pro-Healing”

Yoga helped me explore and reconnect with the body I’d abandoned and abused for years. My pain and sadness had me living exclusively in my mind, my body nothing more than a battleground for my inner wars. Through yoga and meditation, I slowly began to love myself again, learning to treat myself with care and respect. I felt a greater sense of self-awareness, and a sense of connection to something greater. This was a drastic contrast to the days when I felt as if god had forgotten about me, or like I was a mistake not meant for this world.

“Vermonters Using Social Media as Peer Support”

The Rutland Herald uses a recent study about online "mental illness peer support" as an opening to interview people in Vermont concerning what they...

“I would not tell people when my voices were still very loud”

Mae Harden is interviewed by about her years of attempting to medicate away the voices she was hearing in her head, while hiding...

Mad In America Film Festival In The News

2 has published an article about the Mad In America Film Festival, running through this weekend in Medford, Massachusetts. "Making people rethink psychiatry —...

Peer Support in Mental Health: Exploitive, Transformative, or Both?

The first time I tried to write about peer support—that emerging form of “service delivery” in which one person in recovery from what is described in the field as a “serious mental illness” offers support to another person who is in distress or struggling with a mental health condition—was in 1994. The manuscript was summarily rejected from an academic journal as representing what one of the reviewers described as “unsubstantiated rot.” That same article was eventually published 5 years later, and used by the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health to support its recommendation that peer supports be implemented across the country. Now, more than a decade later and as peer support arrives at something of a crossroads, both of these reactions remain instructive.

Psychiatrists Discuss Concerns About Peer Support

Dr. Sunny Aslam writes a brief report in Psychiatric Services about working alongside mental health peer support employees, based on feedback he obtained from...