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March 28, 2020 by Sandra Steingard, MD | Psychiatric Times

I Am a Critical Psychiatrist


In most respects, my career as a psychiatrist working in community mental health has been ordinary. I have a long-standing and deep curiosity about the phenomenon of psychosis. Although I worked in academic settings early in my career, my interests in clinical work along with my desire to work part-time when my children were young, led me to community mental health. I have worked for the same community agency for over 25 years and I am currently serving as its Chief Medical Officer. I feel fortunate that my interest in my patients and work has not waned. What is most surprising to me is that, nearing the end of my career in psychiatry, I have come to define myself as a critical psychiatrist.1

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March 27, 2020 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

New CEO Search Underway

Chief Executive Officer, Open Excellence (Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care)

Wilsonville, Oregon  (Portland area)


As the new brand for the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, Open Excellence seeks to connect the passion of private philanthropy with the world’s top researchers and programs to bring recovery–based care and support to every community. The organization was founded on the principle that people experiencing distress should be treated as people first—not as diagnoses or cases. Its core beliefs revolve around the conviction that the current medical model of mental illness should be challenged in favor of a wellness model where the expectation is recovery rather than a lifetime of disability.

Open Excellence links people from around the globe who share a common dedication to improving mental health outcomes through promising new programs. By relying less on medication and more on engaging families and communities, these programs empower individuals to create their own path to recovery.

Open Excellence is currently structured on a community foundation model and encompasses a variety of initiatives and funds, including donor-advised funds. It is a convener of interested parties and a catalyst for positive change in the field. Supported through donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and legacy gifts, it engages in a broad scope of activity to advance independent research, innovative programs and its own initiatives. It has a staff of 4.5 FTEs and an annual budget of approximately $1 million. For more information about Open Excellence, visit their website at

Position Summary

Open Excellence is seeking a Chief Executive Officer to lead and grow its U.S. and international programs. The successful candidate will have a passion for recovery-based care and be able to skillfully engage key constituencies to improve the mental health system. The CEO should embody an entrepreneurial spirit, seeking out creative new initiatives and engaging funders to enable those efforts.

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February 2, 2020 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

Excellence Bids Farewell to Founding Executive Gina Nikkel, PhD


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The Board of Directors is announcing that Dr. Gina Nikkel will be stepping down as the President & CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care to take a new position.

Gina was our founding director, and her audacious plan to promote reform in mental health care shepherded us from a start-up to a leader in funding independent research, education, and programs that support recovery-oriented practices. By connecting private philanthropy with top researchers and programs to support the Foundation’s unique vision, she knew we could encourage excellence and envision new benchmarks for care and approaches to research that are now becoming mainstream.

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January 21, 2020 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

Mad in America Continuing Education 2020 Webinar Course: Innovative Approaches with People Who are Suicidal

Early Bird discount of $75 if you register before February 15

Despite national and local suicide prevention efforts, the suicide rate in the United States has steadily climbed over the past two decades. The same rise in suicide has been reported among veterans. As a society, we need to rethink our efforts to helping people who are suicidal.

Mad in America Continuing Education is hosting an 11-seminar course in 2020 that will promote that “rethinking” effort. The eleven presentations will focus on the following:

  • What are the social factors, such as unemployment and gun ownership, that are known to affect suicide rates?
  • Why haven’t suicide awareness programs lowered suicide rates? Do antidepressants reduce—or increase—the risk of suicide?
  • A public health effort in Oregon that has successfully reduced suicide rates.
  • Innovative therapeutic programs, including several developed by people with lived experience, that are proving to be effective in lowering the risk of suicide.
  • How to protect mental health providers from liability when working with people who are suicidal.

We anticipate receiving approval for a total of 11.0 CEs (1.0 CE credit for each webinar) for psychologists, social workers, nurses, licensed professional counselors, and marriage/family therapists.

View schedule & register

(Use coupon code  FEMHC for $50 off the regular course fee.)

All courses are presented live and also recorded, and thus are available at times convenient for those who are enrolled.

If you have any questions, please contact MIA Continuing Education Director Bob Nikkel at

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October 14, 2019 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

Mental health is a care we must share

Wide social networks can help to shield people from mental disorder. A leading psychologist argues that we should celebrate this collective responsibility

The government published its first national review of children and young people’s mental wellbeing on 10 October, World Mental Health Day. The report found that four out of five children are happy with their lives. Or, more worryingly, that one in five are not.

But what lies behind these figures? Between 2012 and 2018, the number of children and young people referred for mental health treatment increased by about two-thirds. The number of university students reporting a mental health problem rose fivefold over the same period. How can we understand these dramatic increases? Has there been an actual rise in mental disorder?

In fact, reports of a rise in mental health problems are for the most part exaggerated: the prevalence of mental disorder in five- to 15-year-olds has increased, but only by 16% in the past 20 years, although the increase for emotional disorders for young women aged 16-24 is far higher.

The most likely explanation is that in recent years we have become better at expressing our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, wishes and desires and have passed this on to our children. Describing our mental states helps us, as a society, to collaborate, allows us to share our emotional experience and to build social support. This has tremendous benefits for mental health and wellbeing. People who are not able to collaborate are much more likely to express their difficulties through physical illness or anger.

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October 2, 2019 by Keele University News

“Emergency Poet” Opens Literary Pharmacy to Support Mental Wellbeing

Literature academics from Keele University are opening an innovative “Poetry Pharmacy” to dispense literary “first aid” as a way of bringing the therapeutic benefits of poetry to the local community and to support mental health.

“Emergency Poet” Deborah Alma, a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Keele, and senior lecturer and poet James Sheard have started the venture as a novel way of showcasing poetry, focusing on good mental health and well-being.

The “Poetry Pharmacy”, set in a Victorian shop in the high street of the Shropshire town of Bishop’s Castle, is holding a launch event on Thursday 3 October and will officially open to visitors on Friday 4 October.

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October 1, 2019 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care


During our Matching Gift Challenge

We have some wonderful news – for you and also for the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care.  We have received confirmation that one of our friends and philanthropic partners has stepped forward with a $400,000 Matching Gift Challenge!

If you are able to make a gift between now and October 31st, your contribution will be matched – dollar for dollar – by the Open Society Foundations.  For the next 31 days you can double the impact of your support for connecting philanthropy with the world’s top researchers and programs to bring recovery-based care and supports to every community.

Help us quickly turn this $400,000 gift into $800,000 so that we may continue to make great strides and impact bringing hope to individuals and their families, giving psychiatrists, psychologists and clinicians better tools, giving people better outcomes, and addressing a wide range of society’s challenges, save a great deal of public money and prevent unnecessary human suffering.

Please don’t delay.












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September 28, 2019 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

Excellence donor-advised fund director hits $1M goal for nutrition research

Scientific Advisory Council member and donor-advised fund director Dr. Bonnie Kaplan awarded $250,000 prize

In 2015, Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, Professor Emerita at U Calgary medical school, opened two donor-advised funds, one at the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care and one at the Calgary Foundation in Canada, with an initial goal of raising a million dollars for research into the best use of micronutrients to treat and prevent mental and emotional distress. Four years later, she’s reached that goal with a $250,000 award accompanying the Dr. Rogers Prize for Excellence in Complementary and Alternative Medicine presented to her at a gala event on September 27, 2019.

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September 20, 2019 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care


During our 2019 Matching Gift Challenge

We have some wonderful news – for you and also for the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care.  We have received confirmation that one of our friends and philanthropic partners has stepped forward with a $400,000 Matching Gift Challenge between today and Oct 31!












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September 13, 2019 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

World Film Premiere – Beyond Possible: How the Hearing Voices Approach Transforms Lives

Learn more and support the Hearing Voices Research & Development Fund.

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