Call for an Investigation Into Psych Meds and Violence

The killing of 20 children and six adults in Newtown has triggered a search for some way of preventing these kinds of tragedies.  The...

Adam Maier-Clayton: Assisted Suicide and Mental Illness

If we describe “death with dignity” as a benefit, a good thing, a release and relief and a mercy for people with chronic unbearable and unmanageable pain, why do we also describe exclusions from assisted suicide for people with mental illness as a protection rather than discrimination?

On Spiritual Emergence and Other Extraordinary Experiences

In a nutshell, I switched coasts and moved from Philadelphia to attend CIIS in San Francisco, because I couldn’t tell my story. In Philly I was known for my role as Storytelling Training Trainer, in which I facilitated a workshop to help people share their stories of mental health and substance abuse recovery. But I never felt I could tell my own real story, because the culture there wouldn’t allow it. The culture allowed me to be a person diagnosed with bipolar with psychotic episodes, who was living a meaningful life, but it did not allow me to be a person who is undergoing a very profound developmental process where my psyche was perceiving and processing my universe in ways that were shifting my paradigm of the potential of what reality can be, which for me, is a very spiritual process, and my true story.

Diagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

What can we say about the DSM that hasn’t already been said? Quite a lot, actually. The manual (full title: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), produced by the American Psychiatric Association, is incredibly powerful. It shapes research agendas, clinical practices, social care, economic decision-making and individual experiences internationally. As Rachel Cooper notes in her excellent new book, Diagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, changes to it impact ‘the lives of as many people as changes in the policies of most countries’ (p. 2). The DSM needs to be talked about.
autism definition

I Don’t Believe in Autism

The conversation about what truly constitutes “autism” is an ongoing one. Although I resist the label personally, I do not begrudge anyone for identifying as autistic, or seeking out an autism diagnosis. Leaving this discussion within the domain of medicine is limiting. That’s why a new discourse is emerging, not among doctors, but among activists who push for autistic self-advocacy.

Reappropriating Bipolar Beyond Pathology

It’s still not easy for me to say, “I’m bipolar.” Know that I’m bipolar for good reason, reappropriating a painful word, so those in pain can find me—so you can find me. This is how I reappropriate a term used to strip me of my humanity, a term used to sell me counterfeit versions of reality. I refuse to let go of a label that helps me find my people, no matter how painful it is to retain.

Inpatient Hospitalization: An Inside Perspective

When someone is in severe crisis due to feeling emotionally overwhelmed, one of the main access points for care is an inpatient hospital setting.  Though many disparage the hospital setting, there are few alternatives to this setting during an acute mental and emotional crisis. At the same time, there are a number of barriers to individuals getting optimal care. I will try to examine some of these barriers and some of the main critiques of hospitalization. In a perfect world, those experiencing severe emotional crisis would be able to find true sanctuary; a place for rest and healing. With enough time, nourishment and self-care, people experiencing severe emotional distress can and do get better.

Thoughts on Psychiatric Incarceration When Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

We are, more and more, as individuals with “mental health diagnoses,” living in a reality of senselessness, absurdity and and arbitrary outcomes. While I often believe that our movement simply calls itself a movement, but does not really move at all, it is in fact possible today to say that we are part of a post-Justina movement. The attention to her case highlights both the senselessness and the absurdity, but perhaps not the arbitrary nature of how the system functions for those it impacts.

Does NIMH Follow the Rules of Science? A Startling Study

Just as the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) long-delayed DSM5 was about to launch, the director of NIMH, Dr Thomas Insel, provoked a flurry of acrimony when he mentioned in his blog that his organisation intended to move away from the ideas behind DSM: “Patients with mental disorders deserve better... NIMH will be re-orienting its research away from DSM categories... we will be supporting research projects that look across current categories – or sub-divide current categories – to begin to develop a better system”. It now seems Insel's comments had more to do with NIMH funding needs than points of principle.

Mental Illness, Right & Wrong, Drugs, and Violence

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?”

“Active Minds” — What Conversation Are We Changing?

Active Minds allows college students to start conversations on some of the most difficult struggles we face in life, but I urge the organization to lead the conversation away from bad science and towards the common struggles that we endure as human beings.

Brain Disease or Existential Crisis?

As the schizophrenia/psychosis recovery research continues to emerge, we discover increasing evidence that psychosis is not caused by a disease of the brain, but...

What We Talk About When We Talk About Bipolar Disorder

On the 6th of June 2013, ITV's This Morning hosted the News Review. One story was about the actor Stephen Fry and his recent publicity on how he has battled with his ‘bipolar’ condition and suicide attempts. While we don’t have any issue with this and the important message Mr Fry was trying to put across, we do have grave concerns over the comments made by the two guest speakers, and with what was imparted to This Morning’s vast susceptible viewing audience.

World Mental Health Day 2017: Challenging the Messages – A Call to Action

If we can have a presence and visibility, this could be life-changing for individuals with no current access to the bigger truths about psychiatric theory and practice. So let's infiltrate and disrupt the hashtags #WMHD2017 #worldmentalhealthday and share messages of hope, healing, validation and solidarity!

My Story of Benzo Withdrawal and Activism

My story starts in 1976. I had a nervous breakdown whilst studying for my Accountancy Technician examination. I was then prescribed a series of benzodiazepine/anti depressant drugs for 5 years. I have been campaigning for the last 28 years at local, national and international level on this public health scandal and government cover-up. The following questions need to be asked to those responsible: Why have the doctors and psychiatrists ignored the 1988 Committee on Safety of Medicines Guidelines on the prescribing of benzodiazepines? Why are the same physicians making the same mistakes with the newer drugs?

The Downfall of Peer Support: Are You Kidding Me?

In April of this year, Sera Davidow authored a blog titled “The Downfall of Peer Support: MHA & National Certification.” I do not agree with much of what she says in her blog, and as the vice president of Peer Advocacy, Supports and Services at Mental Health America I'd like to respond.
World Mental Health Day

Seven Points to Ponder for World Mental Health Day

Why do I inwardly cringe at the approach of things like “Mental Illness Awareness Week” and “World Mental Health Day”? Because I’m mentally preparing myself for the onslaught of societally-approved messages about human suffering, messages ranging from the ill-informed to the downright dangerous.

Forced Treatment Ineffective: Advocacy Essential

Most Americans would agree that we have problem with mental health in this country, but what many do not know when they consider that people who are in distress are not getting the help they need is that hospitals in this country are not giving people a choice when they are in the most need. This is based on laws that currently exist in 45 US States, which allow individuals to be petitioned into an inpatient psychiatric unit against their will if they are deemed to be a “danger to themselves or others.” I have worked for 3.5 years as a Peer Support Specialist within my local public mental health system, where I see this happen to the individuals I serve, on a regular basis. I myself have been forced.

A Tribute to Bonnie Nelson

Activist Bonnie Nelson was a force of nature. She and I definitely had our differences. So why am I writing to commemorate her? Among many other reasons, because she would have done the same for me. Bonnie Nelson was a person of principle, and once she decided what was right, the rubber hit the road.

Support for SB 614 with Amendment to Supervision Qualifications

Throughout California, the nation, and the world, peer specialists provide services to individuals with mental health challenges. In California, over 6,000 peer specialists are employed. In 2007, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services guided states to create peer certifications. Since then, more than 30 states have created statewide peer certifications, and if Senator Leno’s Senate Bill 614 goes through, so will California

The Winding Road and the Importance of Going Sideways

The winding path is very often the only path that a human being can follow. It has to become an acceptable path. We have to stop pushing young kids because WE want them to be somewhere without regard to what they are ready for.

Creating More Equal Societies Decreases Mental Illness: What Should We Do?

Consider what would happen if people in the United States were able to bring about greater income equality, akin to Japan’s.  The rate of mental disorders would drop by half.  Life expectancy, even of the upper middle class, would increase.  There would be more trust, fewer homicides and fewer prisoners.  These are some of the well documented effects of increasing income equality, as the social scientists Roger Wilkinson and Kate Pickett explain in their book The Spirit Level, and on their website,
mental illness

Creating “Mental Illness” – An Interview with Christopher Lane

The story behind how the ICD and the DSM came to include certain mental disorder descriptions is a fascinating one. Christopher Lane, a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow, wrote about these seminal events in Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness. We discuss what led him to write this book a decade ago, and why the questions he posed are still relevant today.

Who Is Isaiah Rider???

Our children are not safe. Not because of terrorists, but because it is becoming dangerous to advocate for their medical care without fear of losing them. A new charge, "Medical Child Abuse,” is now used by hospitals to remove inconvenient parents from the role of advocating for their children.

The Unforeseen Relationship: Psychiatric Medication and Spirituality

In 2015 I completed a qualitative research study exploring the interrelationship between psychiatric medication and spirituality. The key finding was that people were engaging spiritually with their prescriptions in ways that significantly impacted the course and outcome of recovery.