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October 31, 2019 by Leah Harris

Could Your Gut Influence Fear Responses in PTSD? New Study Suggests the ‘Gut-Brain Axis’ May Provide Clues for Trauma Recovery

For many years, mental disorders were simplistically understood as imbalances or deficits in the neurotransmitters in the brain. Recent research has debunked the “chemical imbalance” theory, and has given rise to more complex understandings around how the various systems of the body interact to influence physical and mental health. For example, many people are unaware that 95% of the “feel-good” neurotransmitter serotonin in the body is produced in the intestinal tract.

In recent years, scientists have begun to study what is known as the “gut-brain axis,” or the system of communication between the brain and the gut. Scientists have discovered what could be called “a second brain,” located in the walls of the digestive system. This “second brain” is referred to in scientific literature as the enteric nervous system (ENS), made up of two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum. Increasingly, science is coming to understand that the ENS interacts in complex and significant ways with the central nervous system (CNS) via the vagus nerve and what is known as the “adaptive immune system.”

The recognition of the complex and delicate interactions between different systems in the body has given rise to a new field called “psychoneuroimmunology.”

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September 28, 2019 by Jacek (Jack) Haciak, Psy.D.

Who am I – Us or Them?

As several authorities* over time have researched, documented, and reported, there is no “mental illness.”  It is not an “illness”, as practitioners of psychiatry using the medical model, have long conjectured without evidence. There are no “them” with mental illness and “us” without.  How we interact with the world does not conform to the construct of illness in physical health, nor can it be treated using that construct to intervene when life challenges arise.

Instead, as I have experienced personally, with family members, and with those I have served, there appears to be a continuum of emotional vulnerability in play daily for all of us, with each of us experiencing fluctuating manifestations of those vulnerabilities in our unique and individual ways.  For example, some individuals can be seriously “thrown off” by a sequence of personal financial challenges; others by their spouses suddenly being inexplicably absent in the evenings from the home; or adolescents being bullied on social media, etc. 

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September 23, 2019 by Rebecca Troeger | MadInAmerica.com

Tensions in Mental Health Care in China: An Interview with Zhiying Ma

MIA’s Rebecca Troeger interviews medical anthropologist Zhiying Ma about mental health care in China today, including involuntary hospitalization, tensions between Western psychiatry and more holistic and socially-oriented local frameworks, and opportunities to rethink paradigms of care.

Zhiying Ma is a cultural and medical anthropologist and disability studies scholar whose work explores the experiences and rights of those receiving mental health services in China. Her current book project, Intimate Institutions: Governance and Care Under the Mental Health Legal Reform in Contemporary China, investigates how the Chinese state has placed paternalistic responsibilities on families through their role in the care of those diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, in part through the practice of involuntary hospitalization.

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August 29, 2019 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

System Change Webinars: Promoting Radical Change

During the past year, we have been working toward a series of Mad in America Continuing Education webinars on something we haven’t focused on enough.  That is the vital topic of how to make changes in real world programs that reflect the progressive reform agendas that reflect a “green” revolution in mental health care.

We have a series of monthly webinars starting on September 17 that we believe do this.  There are 10 topic areas with nationally and internationally recognized experts in promoting this kind of system change.  We will be discussing what’s worked and what we need to learn from what hasn’t worked. We believe that for anyone interested in radically improving mental health care, this is an essential course.

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August 25, 2019 by Andrea Zwicknagl

Open Dialogue and Research from the point of view of someone with lived experience

Talk by Andrea Zwicknagl for the HOPEnDialogue Kickoff Workshop 2nd July 2019, Rome

I am standing here today because – like perhaps many of you – there is a question about Open Dialogue that has been with me for a long time:

WHAT IF?  – What if we had had Open Dialogue?

I would like to share a little of my WHAT IF with you.

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August 15, 2019 by Sheila Hamilton & Cindy Marty Hadge | Beyond Well: Science

A life worth living

We are all on a spectrum of mental health and everyone will struggle at some point in their life. Let’s build a toolbox for living better.

Beyond Well: Science With Sheila Hamilton is here to explore our understanding of mental health challenges and what we’re learning about ways to help ourselves and others navigate and grow through them.

In this episode, Sheila talks with Cindy Marty Hadge about how a Hearing Voices support group in her neighborhood helped her move from a place of despair to a life of purpose and connection.

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August 5, 2019 by Andrea Zwicknagl

What if…

What if...

Andrea Zwicknagl’s presentation at the kickoff meeting of HOPEnDialogue, a new Open Dialogue international research collaborative, in Rome, Italy, July 2, 2019. Read by Guiseppe Salamina in her absence.

To learn more and to support this project, please visit https://mental-health-excellence.networkforgood.com/projects/72234-open-dialogue-research-development

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July 24, 2019 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

Responding to “The Case Against AOT”

Next Steps for Change

Robert Whitaker and Michael Simonson produced an essential review and critique of forced outpatient interventions in their July 14 article, “Twenty Years After Kendra’s Law:  The Case Against AOT.”

Bob has sometimes been criticized for not advocating more on the issues he raises.  The way I see it, that is not his job as an investigative medical journalist.  That is the job of his readers.

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July 21, 2019 by Christopher Gordon, MD

Reflections on Rome

Kickoff of the New Open Dialogue International Research Collaborative: Hopes for HOPEnDialogue

On July 2 and 3, 2019, I was privileged to attend the first meeting of the HOPEnDialogue International Research Collaborative in Rome.  I attended as a representative of the Board of the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, along with the Foundation’s President and CEO, Gina Nikkel, and the Foundation’s new Chief Philanthropy Officer, Kevin Aspegren.

The meeting was hosted by the leaders of the project, Raffaella Pocobello and Giuseppe Salamina, and brought together forty representatives from 12 countries, first in an open forum to discuss the goals and overarching strategy of the project, and a second day for the 20 international members of the Advisory Council to address more focused challenges, such as site selection requirements; inclusion/exclusion criteria; training; fidelity; and outcomes.

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July 12, 2019 by Bob Nikkel, MSW

System Change Toward a Green Movement in Mental Health

One morning a few weeks ago, I woke up thinking maybe we should begin to think of reforms in mental health systems as a kind of “green movement” with some striking similarities to the other greens: the green environment, a green economy, green energy, and so on.

The upcoming Mad in America Continuing Education series intends to use that as a framework for the ten webinars we will launch soon. More on that in a bit, but first, some quick background is in order.

An early leader of the Modern Green Movement was Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring (1962) laid out the dangers of detrimental effects to the environment caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides.

She made accusations against the chemical industry of spreading disinformation and public officials of accepting these claims. These accusations could just as easily be applied to the cozy relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and the major psychiatric organizations as documented in Robert Whitaker and Lisa Cosgrove’s Psychiatry Under the Influence (2015).

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