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Posted: August 24, 2014

By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO of Mental Health America By now, everyone has heard the news from Ferguson, Missouri. An unarmed 18 year old named Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer. Michael Brown was black. Until recently, Ferguson was a community best known for its proximity to St. Louis and its designation as a Playful City, USA. But for the last two weeks, media reports have relentlessly referred to Ferguson as a community at unrest, and focused almost entirely on...

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Posted: August 12, 2014

By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO Robin Williams’ tragic and untimely death after a decades-long battle against bipolar disorder reminds us that mental illnesses are all-too-often serious and life-threatening chronic diseases.  Mental illnesses—especially serious ones—rob us of our health and well-being.  They present daily challenges that can sometimes overwhelm us.  No one is immune to them.  And no matter how many resources they have or how successful they may appear to...

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Posted: August 5, 2014

By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO During my first hundred days at Mental Health America, I have frequently made the case that mental health policymakers and practitioners are too often mired in “Stage 4” thinking when they think about serious mental illnesses. Here’s what I mean – they use an “imminent danger to self or others” as a standard for determining who gets care.  That near-death time typically only comes during the latest stages of a chronic disease process, or Stage 4. There...

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Posted: May 9, 2014

Patrick Hendry, Senior Director for Consumer Advocacy at Mental Health America, was presented the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Reintegration Lifetime Achievement award at its Annual Conference this past week. The award, which is supported by Eli Lilly and Company, recognizes a mental health leader and champion who has devoted his/her life to helping persons with mental illness recover; achieve their goals; and live full, productive lives in the community. Hendry is generously...

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Posted: January 10, 2014

Lars and The Real Girl is a sweet movie that shows the power of true community integration. It’s the story of a young man who needs help and finds it with his family, friends, co-workers and church. It’s the kind of story that needs to be told more often in the face of the cynical stories told today. Lars and the Real Girl was made in 2007 and stars a pre-stardom Ryan Gosling as Lars. He’s a withdrawn, awkward but sweet young man who lives in the separated garage of his brother and pregnant...

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Posted: January 2, 2014

William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet around 1600, telling the story of a prince dealing with the death of his father and the quick remarriage of his mother to his uncle. The play uses mental health, both real and faked, as a way to show human behavior. Commonly studied in high schools all over America, this tale has had a profound effect on the way mental health is viewed. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark tells the story of Hamlet, the young prince. When the play opens, his father has just...

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Posted: December 19, 2013

Psychopathy is a loaded term in today’s society, often misused and misunderstood. With all of the recent gun violence, the term is often used to describe the shooter. But its true meaning, and its true effect on a person, their family and their community is often obscured. We Need to Talk About Kevin, the 2011 Lynne Ramsey movie, tries to deal with this issue on a personal level. We Need To Talk About Kevin was based on a book by Lionel Shriver, and follows Eva Katchadourian, played by Tilda...

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Posted: December 12, 2013

Jacob’s Ladder is one of the most psychological movies I’ve watched for this blog, touching on a number of issues that have come up over and over again. It’s also one of the scariest and most genuinely upsetting movies I’ve watched in a long time. Made in 1990, Jacob’s Ladder is about a man named Jacob Singer, played by Tim Robbins. The movie opens with his unit being attacked in Vietnam, with many of fellow soldiers experiencing odd symptoms. The scene then switches to Jacob waking up on...

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Posted: November 12, 2013

November 26 Forum in Newark on Transferring Lessons Learned in the Public Behavioral Health System to the Expanded Options under the ACA Mental Health America’s Regional Policy Council will host an issue forum in Newark on Tuesday, November 26, on Transferring Lessons Learned in the Public Behavioral Health System to the Expanded Options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The briefing will be held at the Hilton Newark Penn Station, 1048 Raymond Blvd., from 10:00 am to 12 Noon. The...

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Posted: October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween, readers! Today’s topic is Edgar Allan Poe, the famous writer of dark tales and stories. With his own lived experiences with addiction, and his interest in science, psychology is all over his work in very exciting ways. Edgar Allan Poe was an author and literary critic in the early 1800s. His parents died when he was young, and he was adopted by the Allan family in Richmond. He dropped out of the University of Virginia due to gambling debts, enrolled in the army and went to...

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Posted: October 17, 2013

Crime is usually connected to mental health in fiction. What that really means and what that looks like in fiction may vary a bit, with some stories showing empathy for the person and others favoring lock them up and throw away the key scenarios. Often the interactions are cheap and over simplified and cater to the lowest common denominator. A perfect example of this is Primal Fear. Primal Fear is the 1996 movie that launched Edward Norton’s career. The story focuses on Richard Gere’s...

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Posted: October 10, 2013

It’s October, so I thought I’d use this month’s blog posts to go back to where we started, with horror. (I’m not reviewing this season’s American Horror Story.) The perfect place to start is with Fatal Attraction, with one of the most obvious villains with mental health conditions in film history. Fatal Attraction is a 1987 movie starring Michael Douglas as Dan, a seemingly happy family man, Anne Archer as his wife Beth and Glenn Close as Alex, a woman he has an affair with. Dan and Alex have...

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