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Excellence is neutral territory – where all of us can meet for discussion – for understanding one another, nothing compares to meeting face-to-face.

We sponsor symposia to build new mental health protocols, treatment strategies and a new standard of care focused on long-term recovery. We help other groups come together in a spirit of neutrality by providing event planning and fiscal agency services. Rising above the politicization of issues ensures that our philanthropists are effective in helping the mental health care community move towards viable solutions.

Call for Proposals now open for the ISPS-US 19th Annual Meeting, Deadline March 29

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Love + Justice in Engaging Psychosis and Extreme States
October 22-25, 2020, Atlanta, Georgia

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted. – MLK, Jr.

The socioeconomic and political landscape in the United States determines healthcare access and delivery. Vastly imperfect and fragmented medical, legal and social service systems impact how we care, and don’t care, for people experiencing psychosis and extreme states. With the basic human needs of millions unmet, with jails and prisons the default mental health treatment providers for thousands, and with divisive public rhetoric and policies leading many of us to check out, numb and exhausted, the possibilities for meaningful change can seem more elusive than ever.

The 19th Annual Meeting of ISPS-US will convene a diversity of ideas, perspectives, and approaches that inspire a way forward and unite us in our commitment to continue challenging the status quo. From innovative models of mental health treatment developed across borders, to collaborations aimed at removing systemic barriers, to common-sense ideas hiding in plain sight, ISPS-US will showcase how care and recovery are alive and well, often in unexpected places. Celebrating this compassionate and effective work, and refusing to adjust to the unconscionable, is our mandate for the conference.

In the southern United States for the first time, in the cradle of the civil rights movement, ISPS-US will bring together a vibrant community of researchers, clinicians, peer support specialists, and deep-thinkers, including people with lived experience and their families and allies, to share our hopes and visions for the new decade. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice,” and “hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In this spirit, we reaffirm our belief that healing, recovery, and transformation, so urgently needed, are indeed possible and are happening every day. Please join us in Atlanta for this inspiring event.

Keynote Speaker: Chacku Mathai
Chacku Mathai is an Indian-American, born in Kuwait, who became involved in consumer/survivor/ ex-patient advocacy and peer support when he was 15 years old. Chacku’s personal experiences with trauma, suicide, and disabling mental health and substance use challenges, including being diagnosed with psychotic disorders, launched Chacku and his family towards a number of efforts to advocate for improved services, social conditions, and alternative supports in the community. He has since accumulated over thirty years of experience  in a wide variety of roles including international, national, statewide, and local board governance and executive leadership roles.

Honoree: Michael Garrett, MD
Dr. Garrett is currently Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Director of Psychotherapy Education at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. He is also on the faculty of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York (PANY) affiliated with NYU Medical Center in New York City. He received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed his residency training in Psychiatry at Bronx Municipal Hospital Center. He has a particular interest in the integration of cognitive behavioral and psychodynamic approaches to the psychotherapy of psychosis, as detailed in his recent book, Psychotherapy for Psychosis: Integrating Cognitive Behavioral and Psychodynamic Treatments. Guilford Press/New York (2019).

Because this conference has a shorter time frame (2 full days), all presentations are limited to one hour. Please understand that we cannot accept every proposal. Proposals will be judged by their abstracts. We encourage presenters to create a panel, or to check that they are willing to have their presentations combined with a similar presentation (total of one hour). All accepted presenters must pay the registration fee or request a scholarship.Scholarships are not guaranteed and must be requested early, when registration opens. Presenters who would like to be considered for the Bert Karon Memorial Prize should submit a summary of their presentation by September 22. Please keep ISPS-US informed of any changes.No additional presenters accepted after March 29. More details and the submission form are available at The submission deadline is March 29, 2020.

INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATIONS include 15-20 minutes for discussion.
PANELS can include two to five presenters, and 15-20 minutes for discussion.
ALTERNATIVE FORMATS are conversation hours, creative workshops, videos, book talks, etc.
POSTERS will be displayed and presented on Saturday. Prize for best student poster!


Proposals must be submitted online by March 29, 2020.

Incomplete or late proposals will not be accepted. Proposals will not be accepted by mail or email. Questions about the submission process should be emailed to Karen Stern, . Questions regarding content of proposals should be sent to Meeting Chair, Ellen Dean, LCSW, .

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

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Use discount code FEMHC for $50 off your registration

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.

Open Dialogue Foundation Training, April 2020-Feb 2021

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Ever since the Open Dialogue approach has been used to help people in crisis, the rates of schizophrenia in Western Lapland, Finland have gone from the highest to the lowest in Western nations. Open Dialogue has become the standard of care in this part of the world.

Open Dialogue is a human-rights-supported way of organizing mental health services and a way of being with others in times of need/crisis. The year-long Foundation course has been delivered to mental health hospital personnel internationally, offered to various professionals (psychiatrists and other physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, family therapists, advocates and activists, peer counselors, psychologists, social workers.)

20 full training days will cover:

  • The 7 principles of Open Dialogue practice
  • Reflecting and reflecting teams
  • The facilitation of network meetings
  • The elements of dialogic practice
  • Beginning to re-name power/hierarchy/colonizing structures in treatment
  • Family of Origin work
  • Redefining “crisis”
  • Working with those experiencing what-some-may-call “psychosis”
  • Experiencers/peer professional in network meetings

“My way is to make paths. Help people find a way to this present moment. I try to give enough space to stay in the past and in the future, even when there are fear and worries. Together in silence, or together excited or being interested in. Together. Those moments are often short, perhaps dialogue is just a trace, it is like something that you can notice, but you can’t view a long time. But those short moments are very powerful, shared.”

– Elina Löhönen Brown et al 2015

Open Dialogue International Research Collaborative Winter/Spring 2020

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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.

Check out the project websitetake the survey, and register now for the 3rd Meeting of the International Open Dialogue Research Collaboration conference on the 4th and 5th of May in Rome.

More details about the conference and the next Advisory Board meeting in May will come soon.

International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal Conference – Reykjavik, Iceland October 16-17, 2020

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This is the first conference of the International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, and will bring together international experts in the field, and leaders from many different countries. The three themes underpinning the conference are safe withdrawal from psychiatric medication, alternatives to psychiatric medication, and the need to question the dominance of medication in mental health care.

New Hearing Voices Online Family Support Group

Family and friends who truly love and want to help the voice hearer in their lives are often encouraged by the mental health system to hold beliefs and take actions that alienate and harm the very person they want to help. We are offering families a better way.

It is widely believed that the only appropriate response to hearing voices and other unusual experiences is to deny and silence them by whatever means necessary.

In reality, hearing voices isn’t so unusual. Various studies agree that it is (at least) as common as left handedness (and much more so in certain cultures where it is more broadly accepted and even, in some cases, revered). ‘Hearing voices’ is considered an umbrella term, and also encompasses seeing visions, as well as smells, touch, tastes, and unusual beliefs that may not be common or shared.

The Hearing Voices approach offers a non-pathologizing, open way of understanding and supporting people through the experience of hearing voices.

Parents and others deserve to have their own fears, frustration, feelings of guilt, and pain heard, and to be supported to create opportunities to build up – rather than tear down – their relationship with their loved one. As Maya Angelou was once quoted as saying, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Parents, and other family and friends, need space to reach that latter point.

To this end, we are pleased to introduce the new on-line Hearing Voices group for family and friends.  This group provides a space where people can discuss navigating the experience of supporting loved ones who may hear voices, have visions, or have a variety of other non-consensus experiences and beliefs. The group’s primary focus is supporting family members and friends to examine their own challenges in being present for such situations and relationships.

The group operates in keeping with the values of the HVN-USA Charter, meeting every Monday for 90 minutes beginning at 8:00pm Eastern (7:00pm Central, 6:00pm Mountain, 5:00pm Pacific).  To receive instructions for joining the meeting, please send an email to indicating your name and confirming that you  are seeking support as a family member or friend of someone with extreme experiences.

Our two facilitators, David Adams and Cindy Marty Hadge, are both parents, and Cindy is also a voice hearer and national Hearing Voices trainer.

Online Continuing Education CoursesMIACE-logo

Mad in America Continuing Education believes that the current drug-based paradigm of care has failed our society, and that scientific research, as well as the lived experience of those who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, points to the need for profound change. Its courses are integral to promoting such change. They are taught by leading researchers and practitioners in the field, provide a scientific critique of the existing paradigm of care, and tell of alternative approaches that could serve as the foundation for a new paradigm, one that de-emphasizes the use of psychiatric medications, particularly over the long-term.

View All Current Courses