The following is a report from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Crisis Services Task Force from 2016, which focuses on transforming crisis response services to include recognition and response to trauma, a robust role for peer support, and a reorientation to recovery. This report, which we currently are finding very valuable in our on-going system transformation efforts in Connecticut, is a testament to the fact that even acute services, and even those services addressing persons in extreme distress, can be made strength-based, person-centered, culturally responsive (in including natural and community supports), and recovery-oriented.
After 40 years of working in the mental health field, I reflect on the beginning of my career in a National Institute of Mental Health–funded research project called “Soteria House.” I moved on to work in the public sector from crisis worker, to supervisor, to program manager, to Chief of Adult Outpatient services for the public mental health system in Santa Cruz County, California. I have come full circle, back to the lessons learned at Soteria House in the mid-1970s.
It is from this work experience that I learned about “extreme states”, aka persons labeled with psychosis and schizophrenia. As a 23-year-old undergraduate student working on my own major, art therapy, at University of California Santa Cruz, I was offered a field placement assignment at Soteria House.
My background was primarily art, but I was being encouraged to explore a new field called “art therapy.” This brought me to Soteria in San Jose, California. I arrived at Soteria, my first day on the job to find a Victorian-style large home in the heart of San Jose.Read More
Wishing you many blessings in 2018, the happiness you deserve, and challenges removed from your path! May we all approach 2018 with gratitude for what we have and the tenacity to improve the world we live in.
Here at The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care we are most grateful for all the projects and research being funded by you, our donors. It is these very projects that are helping to improve the world we live in by affecting access to recovery-based programs and research knowledge to help people make more informed choices for their own mental health.Read More
Acting like a “nice, compliant” individual has seriously harmed me for most of my 67 years. Due to my economic privilege, I received the best medical and psychiatric treatment available and, for most of those years, I accepted the “official” narrative, the dominant explanation for my ongoing suffering. That narrative is a limiting belief that harmed me and continues to damage all of us—not just we who have been diagnosed, but entire societies.
Many people identify the proliferation of psychiatric drugs as the root of our harm. I see neuroleptic drug use not as the root but as the fruit of the destructive narrative upon which most of our industrialized, “developed,” societies depend. And without deep transformative change, the damage from that dependence may be irreparable.
The people I depended on as an infant and young child did and said things that both helped and harmed me. My early life felt confusing and terrifying, and it was my connection with animals that sustained me. I lacked basic trust and hid my vulnerability.Read More
Earlier this year, the American Journal of Psychiatry published a paper, “The Long-Term Effects of Antipsychotic Medications on Clinical Course in Schizophrenia.” This was a response to the concerns that have been raised that these drugs negatively impact long-term outcomes. The authors conclude, albeit in a somewhat lukewarm way, that overall, the “evidence for a negative long-term effect of initial or maintenance antipsychotic treatment is not compelling.” Robert Whitaker and Joanna Moncrieff, whose work was cited by the authors, have written critiques of this paper.
Even if one accepts the paper’s conclusions at face value, there is little argument regarding some serious long-term risks such as movement disorders and weight gain. One of the most compelling reasons why these authors support long-term care is related to the relapse data: when one is started on these drugs, the relapse rate is higher when they are stopped than when they are continued (at least over the first two years). However, there is general consensus that there are some individuals who will recover and not need medications long-term. In fact, there is even consensus that some can recover without drugs; the dispute is over numbers.Read More
At the beginning of September, I wrote about the next stage of the Mad in America Continuing Education project—the development of webinar formats and I announced the planning for a “course” on withdrawal from psychiatric medications. At that time, I was able to provide only introductory information but now I can provide a full picture of the 7 webinars that comprise the course and update a few other developments.Read More
And the answer is I got hooked. After decades working in television, I was looking for stories that aren’t being told. I came across an article about a group of people diagnosed with mental disorders that were going to weekly meetings, 12 step style. I researched the mental rights movement and I started wondering why we weren’t talking more about the issues they were raising. I called David Oaks and when I got off the phone, my hands were shaking. I met a guy, diagnosed bi polar who told me, “all I have to do to get committed is make 2 doctors nervous…do you know how easy that is?” And then he described how devastating it was to be told that you cannot trust yourself anymore. Your mind, your mission control will have to be run by someone else.
Hmmm. Who decides that? And how?Read More
This series of seven 90-minute webinars will feature presentations by people with “expertise by lived experience,” psychiatrists, and other professionals on a topic of critical importance: What do we know about withdrawal from psychiatric medications? The educational purpose of the series is to present information and insights that arise:
The Mad in America Continuing Education Project is continuing to evolve. Earlier in this year, we initiated a new way of providing our courses—a webinar format which has been going over quite well. Over 200 people took Dr. Chris Gordon and Keegan Arcure’s live course on Open Dialogue —and the numbers have continued to grow as people watch the webinar after the fact. So we have decided to ramp up our webinar offerings. We have produced two more so far; one on Oregon’s early psychosis intervention program, EASA (Early Assessment and Support Alliance), and another with Denmark’s Olga Runciman speaking on withdrawing from antipsychotic drugs.Read More