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Posted: March 17, 2015

By Paul Gionfriddo There are half a million homeless people with serious mental illnesses in desperate need of help yet underserved or ignored by our health and social-service systems. That number can seem overwhelming, but for me, it’s all about one person: my son Tim. Tomorrow is Tim’s 30th birthday, and I wish I could spend it with him. But I don’t know where he is, so this year I’ll have to settle for the memories of his childhood birthdays. Tim was diagnosed with schizophrenia over two...

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Posted: March 10, 2015

By Andrea Blanch, Ph.D. and David Shern, Ph.D. It is becoming increasingly clear that toxic stress and trauma play an important role in the development of mental health and addictive disorders.  We have recently explored some of the implications of this emerging picture for improving individual treatment. In this blog, we suggest that using effective trauma-informed treatments and family supports for adults will also help to prevent problems in their children’s development. We know...

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Posted: February 24, 2015

By David Shern, Ph.D. and Andrea Blanch, Ph.D. The outbreak of measles in Disneyland highlighted the importance of vaccinating children against contagious diseases.  Vaccinations prevent children from getting ill and from spreading disease to others. The fact that a few hundred cases of measles was front page news is a tribute to the progress we’ve made.  Measles, smallpox and polio, among others, have largely been eliminated People are very familiar with the concept...

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Posted: February 12, 2015

By Debbie Plotnick, MSS MLSP Dear E. Fuller Torrey and Doris Fuller: Early Saturday morning, I saw the op-ed that you both authored which ran in the Wall Street Journal.  It pretty much was all I could think of over the weekend. At first I was very, very angry. This was because it hurt me personally, as a family member, as a mental health advocate, and as a social worker. The subtitle and implications about those who are “high functioning” demeans people like my daughter and...

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Posted: February 10, 2015

By Andrea Blanch, Ph.D. and David Shern, Ph.D. As Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health wrote in a recent blog, precision medicine is a hot new topic in the research world. The basic idea is simple: Get the “right treatment at the right time to the right person” by addressing the underlying cause of the disorder, not the symptoms. In practice, accomplishing this goal may be a bit more complicated.  Dr. Insel points out that in many areas of health – including...

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Posted: February 5, 2015

By Paul Gionfriddo The JAMA headline is pretty sensational: Improving Long-term Psychiatric Care: Bring Back the Asylum.  And the article itself is generating a lot of discussion and debate. But headlines can be misleading.  As the authors write: “A return to asylum-based long-term psychiatric care will not remedy the complex problems of the US mental health system, especially for patients with milder forms of mental illness who can thrive with high-quality outpatient care.” They...

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Posted: January 29, 2015

By Patrick Hendry, Vice President of Consumer Advocacy, Mental Health America Download the Paper (PDF) For many years I have thought that it would be interesting to take an in-depth look at the intersection of compassion, safety, and rights and how they apply in mental health advocacy, practice, and law.  They are certainly reoccurring themes in the advocacy work I have done for twenty-four years.  I knew that they frequently overlap and often seem to be in conflict with each...

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Posted: January 27, 2015

By Andrea Blanch, Ph.D. and David Shern, Ph.D. On many measures, our society is now considerably less safe, healthy, and economically productive than other comparable countries. Toxic stress and trauma, especially when coupled with genetic vulnerability, are seriously eroding our public health, social stability, and world leadership.  In two recent papers, we argue that our well-being depends on the well-being of our neighbors as much as our health depends on their health.  Poor...

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Posted: January 22, 2015

By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO, Mental Health America The best news sometimes comes when we least expect it. And those of us who have been pushing for years for early identification and intervention in schools for kids with mental health concerns got some unexpectedly good news last month. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a letter that reversed a long-standing “Free Care” rule.  Here’s how the rule used to work. If a school offered health or mental health...

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Posted: December 14, 2014

By Paul Gionfriddo, Mental Health America President/CEO I was sitting at home doing some writing two years ago when I turned on the noontime news. There was only a small news item at first – there had been a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in Newtown, and there were at least a couple of confirmed casualties. It hit home for me, because of my Connecticut roots, and I began to pay close attention. As the next few hours unfolded and the extent of the tragedy became known, I was...

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Posted: December 4, 2014

By Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO, Mental Health America It’s disparity, not parity, that’s the norm for mental health status and services in America. That’s what you’ll discover as you look through the pages of Mental Health America’s ambitious new report, “Parity or Disparity: The State of Mental Health in America.” The disparities are striking across regions, populations, and age groups. We used the most recent available data, and they paint a challenging and discouraging picture of...

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Posted: October 27, 2014

By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO I was sitting at my desk when the news broke on Friday afternoon that a fifteen year old student at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington had opened fire in the school cafeteria, killing at least one other student before taking his own life as well. Another fourteen year old died over the weekend, bringing the death toll to three – all young teenagers. It is hard to know what to make of these kinds of tragedies, because we don’t really understand...

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