WILSONVILLE, OR, September 8, 2020 – Open Excellence, a public interest foundation dedicated to revolutionizing mental health care, today announced that Seana O’Callaghan has been named as President and Chief Executive Officer. Jessica Pratt, who has been acting Chief Executive Officer for the last six months will continue as Chief Communications Officer.
Seana O’Callaghan began her work in community mental health at the Nathan Kline Institute in the Department of Statistics and Services research over 15 years ago. There and at non-profit organizations dedicated to improving mental health services and ending homelessness, she gained experience in mixed methods research, grants administration and grant writing, project management and intervention research development. She has worked independently as a grant writing consultant in the fields of housing and public mental health, and established and operated a successful private retail and service business. Ms. O’Callaghan is currently based in Berlin, Germany.Read More
Cherished mentor and original board member Dr. Bill Anthony has passed. He was a true pioneer in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation and was instrumental in moving community programs all over the country away from the medical model to one that embraces the idea that all individuals have potential for growth. Dr. Anthony was the kindest, most thoughtful, all around great man.
Board member Dr. Gayle Berg, psychologist and student of Bill’s writes, “Aside from being an extraordinary teacher, mentor and friend– he was a Visionary in the field of mental health. He’s been referred to as “the father of the recovery movement” and devoted his professional life to creating a “paradigm shift” in mental health care. His contributions have been enormous and the world is surely a better place as a result of his life’s work. Not only have his contributions been vast but his ability to exude compassion and caring–the consummate human being is what I will remember most about him!!!”
Veteran state and national activist Laura Van Tosh shared her remembrance on Facebook:
The founder of “National Napping Day,” and a great leader in the behavioral health field leaves us with lessons.
My early understanding of recovery came from Bill Anthony and Judi Chamberlin. They modeled a peer-researcher collaboration in a college setting unheard of at the time. They paved the way to research the issue and for Bill, his work on employment made it possible for many peers to conceive of employment as a next step to living a life.
Dr. Gina Nikkel, founding Open Excellence CEO, said “The world has lost a visionary and those of us who were privileged enough to learn from and work alongside of Bill are truly blessed. Bill’s legacy as a scholar and a gentleman is an example for all of us. He will be sorely missed.”
This has been a horrid time in the United States – one that follows weeks, months, years, decades and, sadly, centuries of injustice. I was raised in the civil rights era, yet I was also taught an American history that failed to confront the full implications of a nation founded on principles of liberty and justice for all while sanctioning slavery.
The work of Open Excellence is nothing if it is not rooted in social justice. Open Dialogue and the Hearing Voices Network are premised on creating truly democratic spaces that respect all people and the perspectives they bring. Our work examining the optimal use of drugs in psychiatry exposes structural problems within medicine. We are obliged to call out and reckon with the structural factors that perpetuate racism and injustice.Read More
Wilsonville, OR: In an article published in the journal Psychosis, Gail Hornstein, PhD, Mount Holyoke College Professor Emerita of Psychology (and her co-authors Emily Robinson Putnam and Alison Branitsky), present the first set of results from their national study of Hearing Voices Groups (HVGs). Their project is the largest and most in-depth examination of such groups ever conducted, and the first to be based in the US. HVGs offer an alternative to traditional mental health interventions focused on stopping or trying to block experiences classified as “hallucinations.” Although these groups have spread to 30 countries on five continents and are rapidly expanding across the US, few studies have analyzed their effectiveness.Read More
Our hearts are with you now and in the months to come. While we are all in this crisis together, the nature and scope of our suffering will vary greatly. And so we extend compassion to ourselves and others, doing our best to cope and to stand in the gap for one another.
Open Excellence staff continue to work full time from our homes in Oregon, Washington DC and Florida to keep you informed, support our grantees and rally private philanthropy to bring into being the kind of mental health care we want for ourselves and the generations that come after us. Each of our current projects is more relevant than ever in this worldwide crisis and the recovery period to come.
The Rome-based international Open Dialogue research collaboration (HOPEnDialogue) is using its own practice principles to adapt to the needs and opportunities presented by the pandemic to support and improve crisis care now. Instead of its originally scheduled May meeting in Rome which has been postponed until June 2021, the project advisory board is spearheading the development of resources to support Open Dialogue practices around the world, including written guides, live webinars and facilitated online conversations in every country where Open Dialogue is practiced. We will share those resources from HOPEnDialogue.net as they come online.
Quarantine Relief Effort
Right now, under stay-at-home orders, voice hearers and their families may be confined individually or together over extended periods of crisis and uncertainty. Because of Open Excellence investors, new on-line options are coming online that may well be life saving for some.
Much like in-person meetings, online Hearing Voices groups offer fellowship, solidarity, and an opportunity to make sense of distressing experiences during a time when it is needed more than ever. Hearing Voices friends and family groups equip participants with the skills to support themselves and their loved ones and build understanding all around.
The transition to facilitating online rather than in-person groups involves a particular set of skills, including attention to sensitive privacy and security matters; managing multiple technical aspects; and minimizing disruptions to ensure the best quality experience for all.
Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community director of training Caroline Mazel-Carlton and lead trainer Cindy Marty Hadge, both longtime Hearing Voices facilitators and trainers, have the experience to help other Hearing Voices facilitators to make the transition as smooth as possible, for both themselves and participants. Your support is critical at this time.
Pacific Rim Hearing Voices trainer and facilitator John Herold is working with groups in Washington, Oregon and the Pacific Islands to increase their capacity for online support.
Nutrition as Disaster Response
Multiple studies have shown micronutrient supplementation to markedly reduce distress and increase resilience in the wake of major earthquakes and floods. A new multi-site study of the effect of micronutrients on symptoms of ADHD in children has nearly completed its initial randomized phase and will shortly start in on data analysis. Principle investigator Jeni Johnstone and her colleagues recently published two related papers: a demonstration of their primary outcome using a different but similar dataset and a description of the design and rationale of the study.
Let’s stay connected
As our board member and psychologist Gayle Berg reminded us this weekend, “with crisis comes opportunity if we can keep our wits about us to create it or see it”. So let’s stay connected, helping eachother see and create opportunities together. And finally, board member Keris Myrick invites us to laugh and cry with her as we make our way, and to attend the April 15 webinar Structural Competency Innovations & Opportunities in the Era of COVID-19.
Courage, strength and peace,
Interim President & CEO
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 OpenExcellence.org.
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.Read More
Hearing Voices peer-support groups are transforming the lives of people all over the world, enabling them to understand and cope with experiences that have long confused and frightened them. Many have spent years in the psychiatric system yet continue to struggle with extreme states or anomalous thoughts, perceptions, or feelings. Often labeled “chronic” or “treatment-resistant” patients, they can become increasingly isolated from others and estranged from themselves.
Hearing Voices groups offer a crucial alternative, allowing the transformational power of relationship to foster a deeper understanding of mental life, both in themselves and in other people.Read More
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.Read More
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:
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.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.orgRead More
HOPEnDialogue has been designed to connect the Open Dialogue research projects emerging worldwide. In February 2019, the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care awarded a research grant to the Italian National Research Council that allowed HOPEnDialogue to start. HOPEnDialogue has two purposes. First, it investigates the effectiveness of Open Dialogue in different contexts. Second, it aims to connect and support the Open Dialogue Learning Community in centers that adopt Open Dialogue with fidelity.
More details about the conference and the next Advisory Board meeting in May will come soon.