Schizophrenia Daily News Blog: Advocacy Archives

April 10, 2005

NAMI Walks Schedule

Folks - check the list of cities and dates - and get out there and support NAMI's awareness raising campaign.

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Sponsors Walks in 38 States


   ARLINGTON, Va., April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Nobel Prize winner John Nash. President Abraham Lincoln. Profiles of courage and recovery from mental illness. Today, tens of thousands of Americans are taking to the streets to raise public awareness that recovery is indeed possible.

   Sponsored by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) -- the nation 's largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with mental illnesses -- NAMIWalks will raise a profile of hope in 50 locations in 38 states during April and May (Mental Health Month), and during the summer and fall -- including October's Mental Illness Awareness Week.

   The walkathons raise money for research, education, support and advocacy. For lists of teams and celebrated sponsors, visit

"NAMIWalks are an amazing phenomenon," said NAMI executive director Michael Fitzpatrick. "You don't have to be famous to raise awareness. Friends and neighbors come together, many of whom may not have mental illness in their own families, but still know someone affected by depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other conditions."

   One in five Americans are affected by mental illness. The U.S. Surgeon General and both presidents Clinton and Bush have called for an end to the stigma that sometimes surrounds mental illnesses. Instead, they have encouraged people to get help when they need it.

   "NAMIWalks are about individuals and families," Fitzgerald said. "They are about education. They are about communities and the future."

   "Every walk site is unique. Some are statewide. Others are local."

   "Many include balloons, banners and music. In 2003, NAMI held a dozen walks. This year there are 50. They continue to grow nationwide. They are an amazing grassroots success story. They are a celebration of dignity, courage and recovery.

"Most of all, they are about hope."
NAMI has 220,000 members nationwide and 
1000 state and local affiliates.

April 16  Phoenix, AZ; San Diego, CA; Naples, FL
April 23  Knoxville, TN
April 29  Waukesha, WI
April 30  Memphis, TN
May 1     Columbia, MD
May 7     Wilmington, DE; Iowa City, IA; Hays and Topeka, KS;
             Portland, ME; Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX
May 14    Fresno, CA; Orlando, FL; Davenport, IA; Boston, MA;
Jackson, MS; Albuquerque, NM; Cincinnati, OH; Greenville, SC
May 15    Long Island/Queens, NY
May 21    San Francisco, CA; Hartford, CT; L
ake Charles, LA; Detroit,MI;
Sioux Falls, SD; Nashville, TN; 
Seattle, WA; Charleston, WV

May 22    Ventura, CA; Portland, OR
May 28    St. Louis, MO
July 24   Salt Lake City, UT
Sept 24   Anchorage, AK; Harrisburg, PA
Oct 1     Los Angeles, CA; Orange County, CA; Atlanta, GA; 
Charlotte, NC;Cleveland, OH

Oct 2     Concord, NH; Oklahoma City, OK (tentative); Austin, TX
Oct 8     Winston, Salem, NC; Akron, OH; Toledo, OH; Helena, 
MT (tentative)

Oct 29    Washington, D.C.

Web sites:

Posted by szadmin at 02:50 AM | Comments (0)

Navigating Mental Health System

Book helps navigate mental health system

A new booklet has been produced by the Canadian Mental Health Association (Guelph Office) for individuals and families that have been newly diagnosed with a mental illness to help them nagivate the mental health system in that city.

If its not already available - it seems like this is something that every city should have- both for handouts and for internet access.

The local newspaper in Guelph, Canada noted that "once the shock of diagnosis wears off, there's a complicated mental health system to navigate, says Jessie Baynham, communications specialist with the Guelph office of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Baynham has put together a book of anecdotes, information and local mental health contacts for individuals and family members weaving their way through the system.

From Rollercoaster to Recovery: a guide for families navigating the mental health system in Wellington-Dufferin, will be launched April 25 at 4 p.m., at the Bookshelf.

   "It can be quite complicated," Baynham said.

   "We know that when a crisis hits, very specific information is needed by families at that point. But after the crisis, other information is still needed. This book is about getting through the crisis but also building a life after crisis, written for families and patients with input from family and patients."

   Someone diagnosed with cancer might seek out support groups, transportation programs and other community supports, but there's still so much stigma attached to mental illness, families are less inclined to search for those supports, Baynham said.

   "But they need them. There are complex emotions for the whole family. But that doesn't mean it has to be devastating," she added.

   The 160-page book includes chapters on coping with crisis at the hospital, plus information on medications, housing, finances, the legal system, education and employment

Posted by szadmin at 01:29 AM | Comments (0)

Scientologists and Mental Illness

There is much good research going on in schizophrenia - with new advancements being announced almost every day.

But - there are always some groups stuck firmly in the 15th century, and one of these groups is (ironically enough) known as "Scientology" - which for some unknown reason believes that every organ but the brain can be get damaged or diseased. Its as if they've completely ignored the progress in neuroscience and schizophrenia during the past 100 years; a truly disturbing situation. How many thousands or tens of thousands of children could be hurt by the delays of treatment caused by these recent effots by Scientologists?

This story (see below) is just in from Florida. We think advocacy groups nationwide will work very hard to counter these ill-informed efforts by scientologists and others who may have similarly uninformed opinions:

St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
April 9, 2005 Saturday

Scientologists push mental health law

Opponents say the legislation takes advantage of lingering stigma and will deter parents from seeking help for their children.

Legislation backed by an offshoot of the Church of Scientology aims to discourage public school students from seeking mental health services.

The measure would require schools to tell parents that any mental health treatment would be part of a student's permanent record, which is true only in limited cases now.

It also would require school officials to tell parents that no medical test can diagnose mental illness, they can refuse psychological screening and that students can't be barred from school activities if they refuse treatment.

[Editorial note - it will be interesting to see what Scientologists do when blood tests for schizophrenia -- or other similar tests -- finaly make it to wider availability - though of course, with these types of bill they never will]

The bills (HB209 and SB1766) are being pushed by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, or CCHR, established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology to carry out its mental health mission. Scientologists oppose psychiatry and other mental health services.

The sponsors, Tampa Republican Sen. Victor Crist and Miami Beach Republican Rep. Gustavo Barreiro, were guest speakers recently at Scientology's anniversary celebration. Crist touted the bill at the event and Barreiro gave the church an award for its volunteer efforts during last summer's hurricanes.

Barreiro acknowledged that the Scientology group approached him about sponsoring the bill and wrote parts it. But he said he's sponsoring the bill because he believes in it.

The legislation is being fought by several mental health organizations, including the state Office of Suicide Prevention.

...opponents say the bill could dissuade some parents from seeking treatment for a child with mental illness.

Mental illness is noted in student records only if the school is involved in treatment or the illness requires special education, according to the state Department of Education.

Opponents say the bill's backers are taking advantage of the lingering shame over mental illness to further an anti-psychiatry agenda.

Posted by szadmin at 01:18 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2005

Stigma and Descrimination Survey


The Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University is conducting a brief anonymous survey about the stigma and discrimination people in recovery encounter in everyday life situations and about the ways they deal with such negative experiences.

Findings from this survey will inform the development of a new intervention intended to foster the competence of people in recovery to cope with stigma and discrimination. If you are interested in contributing to this study, please complete a brief anonymous internet survey and/or let others know about this study.

To find out more about the survey and to participate, visit the following link:

Posted by szadmin at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

Michigan's New Treatment Law

The Beginning of Hope: Kevin's Law to Aid Mentally Ill; Program Launched Today Makes Michigan's Mental Health Treatment Law More Humane

Press Release - DATELINE: ARLINGTON, Va., March 29

Effective today, Kevin's Law enables Michigan to better help those who refuse treatment because of incapacitating symptoms of illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The package of bills known as Kevin's Law (SB 683-86) was championed by Sens. Tom George (R, 20th District) and Virg Bernero (D, 23rd
District) and signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in December.

Kevin's Law allows judges to order outpatient treatment for people with untreated severe mental illnesses who meet specific criteria, including a recent history of hospitalizations, incarcerations, or behavior dangerous to themselves or others because of their illness. Forty-two (42) states allow the use of this effective treatment mechanism, known as assisted outpatient treatment (AOT).

The progressive measure is named for Kevin Heisinger, who was beaten to death in a Kalamazoo bus station in August 2000 by Brian Williams, a man with untreated schizophrenia. Williams' illness caused him to cycle in and out of institutions and the criminal justice system for years. He was functional when in treatment, but his condition deteriorated when he stopped taking medication.

This preventable tragedy spurred Sen. George, a doctor and then state representative, and Sen. Bernero, a consistent champion of those afflicted by mental illness, to introduce Kevin's Law. "Kevin's Law will make our communities safer and at the same time provide compassionate, earlier care for people who seriously need it," Sen. George said. "Until today, families had to wait until their loved ones made a threat or actually hurt someone before they could get help, and then the only option was inpatient care. Now people can be helped earlier, and on an outpatient basis. If the treatment is successful, the person never needs to reach a crisis point and hospitalization may be altogether averted."

"Kevin's Law will refocus our state's mental health system on those most in need of treatment," said Sen. Bernero. "It is a vital first step in the revitalization of mental health care in Michigan."

"Gov. Granholm and Michigan's legislature are to be congratulated for reaching out to help a small group of people whose severe and untreated mental illnesses shatter their lives," said Treatment Advocacy Center Executive Director Mary T. Zdanowicz. The Treatment Advocacy Center is a national nonprofit dedicated to removing barriers to treatment of severe mental illnesses. "States that have effectively implemented assisted outpatient treatment laws have had well-documented successes in reducing rates of hospitalization, homelessness, arrests, and incarceration, saving both lives and money."

One example is Kendra's Law, New York's 5-year-old assisted outpatient treatment program. New statistics from that state show that during assisted outpatient treatment, 74 percent fewer participants experienced homelessness, 77 percent fewer experienced psychiatric hospitalization, 83 percent fewer experienced arrest, and 87 percent fewer experienced incarceration. Individuals in Kendra's Law were also more likely to regularly participate in services and take prescribed medication. Sharon Carpinello, R.N., Ph.D., Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health, also noted that AOT improved the mental health system as a whole, an unintended but welcome result. "We have seen improved access to mental health services, improved coordination of service planning, enhanced accountability, and improved collaboration between the mental health and court systems," she noted.

Ann Arbor resident Donna Orrin, MSW, is a consumer, the author of Consumer Involvement in Policymaking for the Michigan Department of Community Health, and a member of Gov. Granholm's Mental Health Commission. There were times that Orrin did not believe she had bipolar disorder despite experiencing extreme symptoms of that illness -- a common condition that leads to treatment refusal. "My mother had me committed against my will three times, and I would get so mad at her," Orrin said. "But thanks to her willingness to help me when I was not able to help myself, I have now been in treatment for a number of years, and have gained insight into my illness. I have also worked on my recovery process and have created a quality life of my personal choice. I often now think that my mother must have loved me very much to intervene when my illness made me push her away."

Orrin's experiences have made her a strong advocate for other consumers and for Kevin's Law. "Assisted outpatient treatment is meant to help those who cannot identify their symptoms, and therefore do not seek help. As a result, they could be at risk for suicide, homelessness, incarceration, or vulnerability to danger from others. They could lose their spouses or other family members; they could lose their jobs. They could become violent, solely because of their symptoms. They deserve better. Kevin's Law can give them the same chance I had."

"There are too many people with serious mental illness whom we have not been helping, and Kevin's Law can change that," agreed Mark Reinstein of Southfield, President and CEO of the Mental Health Association in Michigan and a member of the Governor's Mental Health Commission. "We are worried about people who are homeless and living under a bridge, who would never choose that lifestyle if their brain disorder was being treated. They merit our intervention. The sponsors of this legislation deserve credit for their efforts to improve conditions for those with severe mental illness. Combined with simultaneous advance psychiatric directive legislation that was adopted, and with the report of Gov. Granholm's Mental Health Commission, Kevin's Law is an important step toward a broader vision to address the many challenges -- from treatment to housing to funding -- that confront our system."

The change in Michigan law is part of a national trend toward making mental health treatment laws more humane.

The Treatment Advocacy Center ( ) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers to timely and humane treatment for millions of Americans with severe mental illnesses.

Posted by szadmin at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2005

Schizophrenia Ups and Downs

The following is a great personal story of the ups and downs of schizophrenia. Special thanks to Douglas James Brown for permission to reprint the story here.

Schizophrenia is a life of ups and downs
By Douglas James Brown

I have a disease known as schizophrenia.

Individuals with this disorder vary in their presentation of symptoms. For me, there are days when everything is detailed, scary and frightening, and there are days of seeing things moving around in my apartment that are not really there. There are days where I weep because my life is one big roller-coaster. There are days where extra medication is the only answer.

There are the days where I've been successful. Days in which I function and can make sense of my world and the books I read, such as school texts, are the days where life becomes full of zest and brilliantly wonderful.

Sometimes, however, I feel insecure, dazed and even frightened of people. Then there are the days where I need to take extra medication because of extra stress, which invokes voices and hallucinations. I even fear being alienated by people with or without the illness.

I have my ups and downs.

It is the evenings when I feel most vulnerable to the ghosts surrounding me. Sometimes they make me feel I am "crazy in the head." These apparitions do not harm me; actually, they just move around and act like a group of people who live a life similar to mine.

However, the apparitions live in a different time frame, a different era. Really it is like a parallel world, and they do not really notice that I am around. The strange thing is, though, I notice them.

There are the crying days. On these days, I cry because I am all alone without many friends, and I lack social support networks. I also weep because I cannot function like other people, because I do not fit in, and because of the stigma associated with schizophrenia. I cry because I fear the voices may return when I am feeling "stressed out," and I do not want them to come back.

Medication is a necessary form of treatment for schizophrenia. Individuals on medication respond differently. Some individuals may be over-medicated to the point of slurring words, or sleeping all the time, or even to the point of behaving like a zombie.

For me, medication works and is necessary. It makes me feel great. I feel a lot better on medication.

Although my medications generally work well with my body and mind, there are times I need extra medication such as chlorpromazine. When I hear voices or see the apparitions, I take the chlorpromazine and it helps rid my mind of those disturbances.

I would like to share that I have completed two credits from a nearby college and I plan on obtaining my Writing for Publication Certificate within the next year and a half.

My medications have helped keep me mentally healthy and stable so I can complete my course work.

Thanks to the doctors who have made my life much happier and better, I don't at present experience many of the symptoms I've described in this article.

On medication I can now function like a regular human being and be successful in school and life.

If science didn't provide the medications that we individuals with schizophrenia now have, society might still be isolating us into asylums where they used electroconvulsive therapy, lobotomies and insulin overdoses to free the schizophrenic person from his or her symptoms.

We with schizophrenia need to be thankful for scientific discoveries and continue to advocate further research so a cure for schizophrenia is found.

Douglas James Brown lives in Burlington, Canada.

Posted by szadmin at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2005

Wine, Music and Schizophrenia

Wine, music and schizophrenia genes

California wine country music festival will aid a Rutgers scientist's research

Press Release - NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. – A California wine country music festival will aid a Rutgers scientist's research into schizophrenia, its causes and cures. Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disease that affects more than 2 million Americans and as many as 51 million people worldwide.

Dr. Linda Brzustowicz, an associate professor of genetics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, a board certified psychiatrist and an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), was selected from more than 35 highly qualified applications for the inaugural Staglin Family Music Festival NARSAD Schizophrenia Research Award.

The Staglin Family, through the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), the world's largest nongovernmental funding source for mental health research, established the $250,000 award to be made each year to a "rising star" scientist. It will be supported by funds raised by the Music Festival for Mental Health, an annual event at the Staglin Family Vineyard in the Napa Valley that offers music, fine wines and gourmet dining.

Founded in 1995 by Shari and Garen Staglin, the music festival has raised more than $25 million, with 100 percent funneled directly to research. "Our mission, through this festival, is to fund cutting-edge research to find the causes and cures for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses," Shari Staglin said. "We established this new award," added Garen Staglin, "to stimulate potential young scientists to enter the field of schizophrenia research." Despite the increased awareness brought about by the motion picture portrayal of Nobel Laureate John Nash's schizophrenia in "A Beautiful Mind," the conduct of research on this disease is still facing serious challenges in financial support.

"This award is particularly welcome because it comes at a time when federal funding in this area is shrinking, and we are not done understanding the genetics of schizophrenia by a long shot," Brzustowicz said. "Schizophrenia is a debilitating and lifelong illness, with afflicted individuals filling our streets and homeless shelters. It is important to us that the Staglins, through NARSAD, are stepping up to fill some of the funding void."

Researchers generally accept that susceptibility to schizophrenia results from the interaction of a large number of genes, each of which contributes to the manifestation of this mental malady. Brzustowicz said that work is at a point where genes for schizophrenia are being identified, including one with which she is credited. "With continued funding, research could produce significant progress in terms of turning these genetic factors into potential treatments," Brzustowicz said.

"I and all of Linda's colleagues are optimistic that her work on schizophrenia genetics may one day lead to better treatments and reduced morbidity," said Jay Tischfield, Duncan and Nancy MacMillan Professor of Genetics and chair of the Rutgers genetics department, and professor of pediatrics and psychiatry, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "The meticulous quality of her research sets a standard that is not often equaled by others working on the genetics of mental illness."

Brzustowicz hopes to use the Staglin NARSAD grant to support two lines of research, one involving a new statistical analysis developed by a colleague, Veronica Vieland, at the University of Iowa. "This is a new method of analyzing genetic data to more precisely localize the presence of susceptibility genes in the genome," Brzustowicz explained. Vieland has reanalyzed some of Brzustowicz's data from more than 300 people belonging to 24 large Canadian families with a history of schizophrenia. The results have provided new clues to additional areas to look for susceptibility genes which Brzustowicz will now investigate.

The new funding also will enable Brzustowicz's research into a recently described class of genes that functions differently from the standard model. Generally, a gene serves as a template for the production of RNA, which then carries genetic information to manufacture a protein that governs cellular processes. Researchers are now finding that many genes do not make a protein, but rather a micro-RNA, as it is known, that is involved in the regulation of the expression of other genes. Micro-RNAs seem to figure prominently in the expression of genes involved in the central nervous system, Brzustowicz explained.

Ronald Hart, professor of cell biology and neuroscience at Rutgers, has developed a "gene chip" or microarray specifically designed for simultaneously testing the expression of a large number of micro-RNAs. Brzustowicz plans to work with Hart, using his microarray tools to study a series of post-mortem brain samples from individuals with schizophrenia in order to gauge micro-RNA levels, an area of investigation never before pursued.

Tickets for this year's Sept. 10 Music Festival for Mental Health are available on, or by phone, (707) 944-0477, and e-mail,

For more information on NARSAD - see

Posted by szadmin at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2005

The Role of Poverty in Mental Illness

Although many studies have documented a positive correlation between poverty and the prevalence of mental illness, the causal order is still unclear. Is poverty caused by, or a cause of, mental illnesses?

A recent study of 34,000 patients, analyzed by diagnosis and zipcode (to assess affluence), favors poverty as a causal factor of mental illness, rather than a result. The study followed patients over a 6 year period, and documented "little downward drift" from more to less affluent zipcode areas.

There are certainly a few flaws that may confound this finding. For example, zipcodes are not a surefire way to assess economic status. None of the patients were actually interviewed by the researcher. Furthermore, patients were only enrolled in the study following a first hospitalization. As David Duncan, a Kentucky-based mental health epidemiologist notes, this may not account for downward drift that occurs during the prodromal phase, or before the first psychotic break and hospitalization.

However, despite these considerations, the study found that out of five statistically-tested hypotheses, the most likely one to explain the data was that "stressful economic conditions bring on mental illness." The study highlighted a striking disparity between the richest and poorest communities surveyed - a mental illness prevalence rate of about 4% in the former, as compared to a rate of 12-13% in the latter.

The cause and effect order of poverty and mental illness may, of course, vary by condition. Other research shows that schizophrenia may be more likely to precipitate a downward drift in economic status, whereas conditions such as depression may be more likely to be exacerbated by poverty.

The researcher, a mental health policy expert in Massachussets, translated his findings into the following policy advice: states should allocate mental health funding to different areas based on differential illness rates rather than population size, and that poorer communities especially need more outreach programs that address mental health, as well as those to assist with jobs, housing, and education.

''We know that economic circumstances, the lack of supports, and the stresses that people are subject to sometimes overtax their cognitive and emotional and mental abilities." said researcher Christopher G. Hudson. In his opinion,
"...poverty is at least as important as innate or biological factors."

Source: "Mental illness and poverty: Does one cause the other?" (March 8, 2005). Available at

For more information on schizophrenia and poverty issues, see

Posted by Julia at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2005

Iowa Mental Health Insurance Parity

Health insurance coverage for brain disorders appears to be inching forward in Iowa.

The Iowa State House has moved forward with a plan that would require some employers that provide health insurance to their employees to offer coverage that pays for mental health treatment.

The Quad-City Times newspaper noted "Supporters portrayed the bill as a compromise that would be less expensive than the type of complete mental health coverage some had wanted. The bill cleared the House on a 74-24 vote last week.

Mental health advocates and some Democrats complained that the measure did not go far enough, but said they were supporting it with the hope it could be upgraded in coming years."

For Full Story: Plan to require mental health insurance advances in Iowa House

Posted by szadmin at 10:44 PM | Comments (0)

Mentally Ill and Death Penalty

Recent news out of Washington, DC this week suggests that there may, in the near future, be more humane treatment of mentally ill who have committed serious crimes.

This would put the US legal system more in line with other western countries in Europe, Canada, Japan, etc. - where severely mentally ill people who commit serious crimes are typically put into long term psychiatric care hospitals for treatment.

Last week the US Supreme court ruled to ban executions of teen killers. This ruling has given defense lawyers and others hope that the top court will next spare death row inmates who are severely mentally ill.

In the article by "", it was noted "“People whose mental illnesses are so severe that they can’t control their behavior should not be subjected to society’s punishment reserved for the most violent, heinous people,” said Dave Almeida, executive director of the S.C. chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

Full Story: Opponents encouraged by death penalty ruling - They hope U.S. Supreme Court next will ban execution of the mentally ill

Posted by szadmin at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2005

American Mental Health

There is a good story in this week's "Economist" magazine out of the UK (unfortunately you need to be a subscriber to view the article) that is titled "The Mental Health of Americans".

In the article it states that while every generation believes that their life is more stressed out than the previous gneration, in fact an increasing percent of Americans are looking for professional help for mental problems, and they are doing it at an earlier age.

"One study, conducted among students at a large mid-western university between 1988 and 2001, showed a dramatic increase in mental-health problems reported by college students: the number seeking help for depression doubled, while the number with suicidal tendencies tripled. Another study found that, in 2001, 5.5m more Americans were taking prescription drugs for mental-health problems, or problems of substance abuse, than was the case only five years earlier."

The Economist article sites the often quoted statistic that "one in five americnas suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder" - but that same statistic has generated a great deal of controversy in part because the number of "diagnosable mental disorders" has grown so much in the past decade or two (I don't have the numbers in front of me, but many people have talked about the DSM has expanded dramatically over the years, with increasing numbers of arcane sub-classifications of diagnosable disorders - many of which are so minor that reasonable people can question whether they are in fact "disorders" or just variations in the human experience - and sadly, these minor "disorders" frequenty draw attention and funding away from the extremely serious disorders of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression - areas that we believe should get the vast majority of the NIMH funding).

The Economist further states that "The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 13% of Americans-over 19m people between the ages of 18 and 54-suffer from anxiety disorders, 9.5% from depressive disorders and millions of others from conditions ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder."

The impact on America (societal and economical) of mental illness is very significant. "Four out of ten leading causes of disability in America (and other developed economies) are mental disorders."

The article very accurately points out that three of the most important issues relating to mental health in America is the significant gap between the most current research discoveries - and current tratments of the mentally ill, as well as the significant gap in access to treatment opportunities (due to lack of insurance, lack of education, etc.) and the continuing problem of stigma.

The Economist further highlights the fact that the trend away from psychotherapy and towards treatment only with medications troubles many people in the psychiatric professions, in part because of the problems identified with side-effects of the medications.

Source: The Economist

Posted by szadmin at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)

Researcher Interviews, TV, etc.

Following is another interview and an upcoming TV program (in Australia on Monday, March 8th) on the issue of Cannabis (Marijuana) and Schizophrenia.

This week there has been a flood of news on this topic in the International media - strangely I never see anything on the issue in the American popular press. The more I read the international news services (BBC, etc.) the more I realize how bad the regular news services are in the USA. Here is an important issue -- schizophrenia impacts millions of people in the US and costs over $30 billion a year in health services -- and the American press is completely missing the boat. I guess there are too many important news stories to do on "Paris Hilton", why waste coverage time on schizophrenia?

Anyway - here are the links to the interview and TV Program:

Interview - Professor Wayne Hall
An interview with Professor Wayne Hall, Director of Policy and Ethics, Institute for Molecular Bio-Science, Queensland University.

"what disorders are associated with cannabis?

R. Well apart from dependence, I guess psychosis is the most worrying one and that’s … been the greatest subject of this research. Depression’s not as well researched, but there’s some suggestion - including work done in Australia - that people who are depressed and use cannabis may well make their problem worse, and in the case of psychosis we’re talking about schizophrenia and possibly manic depressive or bipolar illness being either exacerbated or precipitated by the use of cannabis"

TV Program: Messing With Heads
Reporter: Janine Cohen

Broadcast: 07/03/2005

"Imagine taking every single emotion, memory, experience, tablet all into one … and those fighting each other to see who is the victor." - Danny, 22.

There will also be an on-line live chat with some of the top professors focused on prevention and early identification of schizophrenia on Monday. Perhaps you can check it out. Dr. Pat McGorry is a good guy - and helped us here at the site earlier when he reviewed our list of factors that are involved in causing schizophrenia

Monday's Forum on Schizophrenia in Australia

Posted by szadmin at 04:37 AM | Comments (0)

Hollywood and Mental Illness

Following is a good article about the persistant problem of Hollywood and other media almost completely ignoring modern science as they develop their movies and books. While not specifically about schizophrenia, it is a good overview of the important problems with Hollywood when it comes to mental illness. (Special Thanks to "learning" for letting us know about this story).

Time for Hollywood to Ground Freud

‘It’s all Mom’s fault’ makes great scripts but scorns brain science and families struggling with mental illness.

The opening scene of Martin Scorsese’s award winning biopic The Aviator shows us young Howard Hughes being sensuously towel dried by his mother who murmurs to him about the unsafe world around them. A cholera epidemic is rampant and she carefully teaches him to spell the word “quarantine.” The images are slow, shadowy and ominous. They provide the dark undercurrent which frames this otherwise fast-paced, opulent, and stylish romp through the glamorous life of Howard Hughes.

Click here for Full Story

Posted by szadmin at 03:36 AM | Comments (0)

Cannabis and Schiz - Interview

There is a very good, recent interview with an Australian psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Campbell on what he is seeing as the impact of cannabis as it relates to schizophrenia and other psychiatric issues. At we're not on any type of crusade against cannabis - we're just finding that there is a lot of recent news and research on the subject recently and the news is not good. (Special thanks to Moeder for pointing us towards this interview)

Some brief quotes from the interview:

"What I’m seeing now is a vastly greater number of young people smoking cannabis and you know in the clinical work – both in the acute services and in long term community management nearly 70 per cent of the problems are related to cannabis abuse, now either acute toxicity or the long term effects"

"I think we’ve had strong evidence for many years that cannabis always makes it more difficult to cope with schizophrenia"

"my impression is that a lot of people out there who’ve developed a psychosis who wouldn’t have otherwise developed psychosis, and that’s down to smoking daily cannabis in their teenage years."

In a nutshell, what’s your message to young people?

R. Don’t use cannabis. Certainly if you’re young - under 21 - I’m not recommending it for the over 21s, but it’s much more of an insidious poison for the under 21s. It creeps up on people. It changes the way they’re functioning. They don’t even know it’s happening until it’s too late. Amphetamines are quite different.

Click Here for the Full Interview with Dr. Campbell

Posted by szadmin at 03:03 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2005

$20 Million for Research

Last week it was announced by the University of British Columbia (Canada) that an anonymous donor has given the University $10 million to kick-start a new $20-million Institute of Mental Health.

The donation, along with a $10-million matching donation from the provincial government, will make UBC a world leader in the prevention and treatment of mental illness, UBC president Martha Piper said in a prepared statement.

Mental health has for too long been the "orphan" of Canada's health-care system, even though depression ranks only second to heart disease as a leading cause of disability, Piper told a news conference.

“The generosity of this very special friend of UBC will give a very special impetus to research into illnesses that impact all of our families and all of our communities,” said UBC president Martha Piper.

With the $20 million, UBC plans to:

Create three $5-million endowments to support research chairs in child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry and depression, and psychotherapy.

Use the $5-million balance for fellowships, junior faculty positions, and support for communicating research and clinical findings to clinicians and mental health professionals.

The $20-million investment will provide the UBC Institute of Mental Health with three $5-million research chairs in child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry and depression, and psychotherapy.

The new chairs will join a team of scientists and academic clinicians already in place thanks to funding from such sources as the provincial Leading Edge Endowment Fund and the federal Canada Research Chairs program, said Department of Psychiatry Head Prof. Athanasios Zis.

“Today’s announcement,” said Zis, “creates a unique cascade of opportunities, not only in leading edge research, but also in the training of clinicians and the development of innovative treatments that will benefit all Canadians.”

The UBC Institute of Mental Health will reside in the faculty of medicine's department of psychiatry, and will become one of only three mental health centres of excellence in Canada.

Dr. John Ogrodniczuk, assistant professor of psychiatry at UBC, said the institute is required because there is a "dearth" of research into child, adolescent and geriatric psychiatry.

Funding has typically been more available for research into the biological roots of mental illness, including genetics or neural transmission.

"This gift is not intended to further develop a neuro-science approach. It's more focused toward the psycho-social aspects."

More information:

Announcement of $20 Million for Mental Illness

CBC Canada News on the $20 Million for Mental Illness Research

Posted by szadmin at 04:20 AM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2005

Prisons Overloaded w/Mentally Ill

While the problem of USA prisons being overloaded with mentally ill prisoners is well known, a new report in by "Corrections Canada" (a government agency) reports that the same problem is true in Canada.

A recent news report by Canadian Press reports:

"An inept justice system is putting more mentally ill people in federal prisons, where there is little treatment available for them, says a newly released report.

Corrections Canada must spend more on doctors and facilities to treat as many as 1,500 prisoners who need urgent help each day, the internal study concludes.

"The criminal justice system continues to be used to catch those who fall through the gaps in Canada's social safety net," says the Corrections Canada report, obtained under the Access to Information Act."

Corrections Canada does no formal clinical assessment of new prisoners who may have mental health problems, such as schizophrenia or personality disorders.

  The report, prepared last summer for the department's executive committee, says that on any given day, 2,154 offenders are suffering from an anxiety disorder; 375 are suffering from organic brain problems, such as fetal alcohol syndrome; and 7,125 are suffering from an antisocial personality disorder. Many struggle with more than one problem.

   Research suggests about 11 per cent of newly arriving prisoners had a mental disorder in 2004, compared with about seven per cent in 1997.

   Corrections Canada runs five mental health centres with beds for only 5.5 per cent of the total Canadian prison population.

  The internal report was prompted in part by a complaint from the Kingston branch of the John Howard Society to the Canadian Human Rights Commission about the local mental health facility.

For more information see:

Canadian Prisons overloaded with mentally ill: report

USA - Mentally Ill in Prisons Report - As many as one in five (20%) of the 2.1 million Americans in jail and prison are seriously mentally ill, far outnumbering the number of mentally ill who are in mental hospitals, according to a comprehensive study. Source: Human Rights Watch

Corrections Canada - Home Page

Posted by szadmin at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

Mental Health Courts Spreading

With the number of mentally ill people in jail skyrocketing in the past decade (while, coincidentally, hospital facilities and resources available to treat people with brain disorders have fallen dramatically) its on a rare positive note that people are finally recognizing the special needs of the mentally ill when it comes to minor criminal offenses. (for more information see the "Schizophrenia and Violence" part of this web page)

This week Harris County, Texas, judges may create a mental health court to provide specialized legal consideration and treatment for those with diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychotic episodes.

    Harris county's felony court judges have asked the Legislature for $236,000 for a full-time court coordinator and a mental health expert. The move is an attempt to expand an existing informal mental health program.

    "We need to give appropriate treatment for people who are sick, and these people are just sick," state District Judge Jan Krocker told the Houston Chronicle. "They are not going to make their probation if they don't get extra encouragement and extra supervision. If we can help all these people on probation, they won't have to go to jail." The judge hopes the Harris County mental health court could be operational by September.

    The mental health court would be similar to Harris County's drug court created in 2003. The judges are looking at the court as an alternative to save money and reduce crime in the face of dwindling prison and jail space in Texas.

In Idaho they are also setting up mental health courts. The Idaho court was started by Judge Brent Moss. He told ABC News that he "tired of seeing drug addicts sent to prison, without treatment, when many were trying to self-medicate to control a mental illness they did not understand."

The judge realized that mentally ill defendants were not getting the help they needed and he thought they were getting in prison.

"I was naive," Moss said to ABC News.

Well, there are still a lot of naive judges out there - in all countries of the world.

Advocates are starting to change this now. In the US, NAMI seems to have been pushing this as an issue hard (Thanks to Ron Honberg's and others in the NAMI legal group).

For more information, see the following web links:

Survey of Mental Health Courts

Google News on Mental Health Courts

Posted by szadmin at 05:44 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2005

The Need for Early Intervention

The Need for Early Intervention in Schizophrenia

A Editorial by Marvin Ross

"Once the damage is done, it cannot be undone. Neither love nor money can ever undo the damage of delayed treatment for schizophrenia. The individual is disabled for the rest of his or her life and this is what early intervention can prevent."

These words were spoken by a man whose own diagnosis and treatment were delayed for over ten years and whose life today would have been considerably different if he had been treated early. In addition to the human cost, the cost to society would have been much less.

He went on to say that "it is only too self-evident to me that I have permanent damage that I must live with because I was not treated in the first six months. It is something that I think about everyday, something I have to reaccept every morning".

And it's not as if early intervention and prevention are foreign words in health care. We are continually being bombarded in the media with messages on the need to monitor our blood pressure and cholesterol in order to prevent heart attacks and stroke. We are continually being told about the value of early detection and the need to do breast self- exams and to have mammograms, or to have colonoscopies every five years for those over 50 or to get PSA levels checked.

But when it comes to schizophrenia and other serious mental disorders, that message is absent or only spoken by a few. Certainly, the funding for these initiatives is minimal.

Beside the horrendous cost to individuals and their families from this disease, there is an enormous cost of untreated or inadequately treated schizophrenia to society. A Canadian study found that the total cost of schizophrenia to Canadian society was $2.35 Billion in 1996. As the US is about ten times the population of Canada, we can estimate that the US cost is probably around $25 Billion a year.

Early identification is becoming more accurate for those at high risk. One study conducted in Melbourne and reported in Schizophrenia Research (April 2004), followed 104 young people with a family history of psychotic disorder combined with some functional decline or the presence of sub threshold or self-limiting psychotic symptoms. All were symptomatic but not psychotic.

A third of them developed psychotic symptoms within 12 months and this was predicted with very high accuracy based on the duration of their initial symptoms, poor functioning, high levels of depression and reduced attention. Also predictive of psychosis were a family history of psychosis, a recent significant decrease in functioning and a recent experience of sub threshold psychotic symptoms.

The British Journal of Psychiatry published a Scottish study in January 2005 on a simple test that can be given to those at high risk that can also help predict who will develop schizophrenia. The test, which measures IQ, memory, motor skills and verbal learning, was administered to 163 people aged 16-24 with a family history of schizophrenia. They also had brain scans.

45% of the group showed symptoms of schizophrenia but only 12% went on to become sick. The researchers were able to predict with high accuracy who would become ill up to three years before they actually did become sick.

Let us go back to the person in our quote at the start of this editorial. He, like so many others, has permanent damage because of the delayed identification and treatment for his schizophrenia. The Canadian consensus guidelines developed by psychiatric specialists from across Canada based on the best scientific evidence to date state "evidence indicates there may be long-term benefits when effective treatment of schizophrenia is started as early as possible in the illness".

In fact, the evidence implies that intervention early in the development of psychosis may lead to complete or almost complete recovery in a much larger proportion of patients than is currently the case and that there is evidence to demonstrate that untreated psychosis may have a negative impact on the functioning of the brain but that first episode patients may be much more responsive to drugs than they would be later in the illness and even require lower doses.

Early intervention for those at risk can help to predict who can be treated early so as to minimize the impact of the disease and to help them carry on as near normal lives as possible. Work is being done on other predictors but much more needs to be done and more funding is required from governments.

It is just as important to help identify early the potential onset of schizophrenia as it is to identify early hypertension, breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer. Our young people deserve it and should expect it.

Posted by szadmin at 05:26 PM | Comments (0) member speaks out member Brooke, who published her autobiographical book "I Think I Scared Her: Growing Up with Psychosis" in summer 2004, was featured in a recent story on the It's great to see people telling their stories, actively advocating for themselves and others!! Thank you Brooke, and great work!

See the full story - "Woman Battles Schizophrenai for Normal Life" (Feb 22 2005).

See the Recommended Reading section ( for more info on ordering Brooke's book.

Posted by Julia at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2005

Little Justice for Mentally Ill

Tragedies and violent crimes involving people who suffer with mental illness often get high-profile media attention, but for many, action from the legal system is the first real action that is ever taken in their cases. Due to publicity of violent cases, people with mental illness are seen as somehow more inherently violent or dangerous than the average person. However, examples such as the homicide committed by a mentally ill man in Alabama three weeks ago show that the danger is from the failure of legal and medical systems to intervene with treatment prior to a tragic breaking point.

Such is certainly the case in this most recent tragedy in Alabama. Prior to the incident, Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson concluded that "The warning signs had been there for a long time." However, lack of proper funding and a dirth of specially trained personnel are just two of the barriers to more helpful interventions. Although state law in Alabama allows the appointment of a special community health official with broad legal powers, there is no money in Calhoun County to actually hire such a person, or to pay for any medical treatment ordered by the hypothetical official.

This situation persists in many counties across America, despite statistics from a 1998 U.S. Dept of Justice study stating that ten percent of state prisoners and jail inmates reported a mental or emotional condition. Moreover, 52 percent of state prisoners with some mental illness in the study had committed violent crimes, and 25 percent of those offenses were against family members or intimates. With numbers such as these, it is hard to see why no one places a higher priority on equipping our law enforcement personnel with the tools and training they need to intervene before the crimes happen.

Presently in Calhoun County, even if someone appeals to the legal system to have a mentally ill and potentially dangerous loved one involuntarily committed, the case may sit in the courts for weeks before any action is taken. If and when the involuntary committment is approved, the person will most likely sit in jail instead of receiving the care they need.

Sherriff Amerson concludes: "The process is time-consuming and offers little relief for law enforcement officers seeking to protect a person from themselves or others."

There are some hopeful steps being taken. For example, mental health courts are springing up in certain areas specifically for the trials of defendants with mental illnesses. The sentences include treatment for their conditions as well as appropriate reparations for crimes. Organizations such as NAMI also promote special training for law enforcement personnel. These programs teach officers how to effectively deal with someone suffering from a mental illness without resorting to early or unnecessary force.

Help support and advocate for these sorts of vital programs by visiting NAMI's Criminalization site

Original Source: "Mental illness, justice system often meet", Feb 4 2005. From EverythingAlabama (

Posted by Julia at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2005

Med Bills Cause 1/2 Bankrupcies

Half of Bankruptcies Due to Medical Bills, Harvard Study Says

A report on Feb. 2 by Bloomburg on a new study by Harvard University indicates that Half of U.S. bankruptcy filers say that out-of-pocket medical expenses led to their financial hardship -- and most of the people had health insurance, according to a Harvard University study.

The news story states that:

"For the study, researchers surveyed 1,771 filers in five states, and as many as 54.5 percent cited medical expenses as a reason for filing. In addition, the study showed about a 30-fold increase in medical expense-related bankruptcies since 1981.

``Cancer was the most expensive diagnosis, with average out- of-pocket expenses of $35,000,'' said Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at Harvard Medical School and an author of the study. Death caused by any disease totaled $17,283 on average, followed by neurological diseases at $15,560 and mental disorders at $15,478. Insurance premium payments were not included in out-of- pocket expenses. "

MOre information:

Health Woes Lead to Bankruptcy

Posted by szadmin at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2005

Growing Up with an Ill Parent

Lisa Lieberman, author of "Leaving You: The Cultural Meaning of Suicide" has written an excellent and insightful memoir about the costs and responsibilities of growing up with a mentally ill parent. She includes some of her own anecdotes and experiences, as well as those of others she has interviewed. Read the entire article online by clicking on the link below:

"The Legacy of Madness: The Hidden Cost and Continuing Legacy of Growing Up with a Mentally Ill Parent." Hartford Advocate News (, Dec 30 2004.

Posted by Julia at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2004

Christmas Thoughts and Schizophrenia

This is a short editorial from this weekend's edition of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Florida) that seemed appropriate for the time of year...

When illness is a crime; Predictable results of mental-health crisis

This Christmas season, Castleberry Mejias isn't among the homeless on the streets of Miami.

   His story is not a happy one, though.

   The 54-year-old Mejias is in prison. He was sent there by prosecutors who could find no other way to get Mejias treated for the paranoid schizophrenia that has plagued him during his entire adult life.

   The Miami Herald's Joe Mozingo used the sad case of Mejias in writing about a problem that is much larger than one troubled man who causes trouble.

   "Across Florida, there are at least 25,000 people like Castleberry Mejias -- lives reduced to homelessness and jail by a mental illness that many of them do not understand they have."

   Among those people are many "filthy apparitions sleeping in the shadow, muttering aloud, smoking crack to fight off the disembodied voices in their minds."

   Police officers know them well. Mejias has been jailed 31 times. He was arrested once for trying to set a store on fire because he wanted a cigar to warm his "frozen lung." His most recent arrest came when he threatened to kill a bar owner with a knife he didn't have.

   Although the latter charge was dropped, prosecutors sought to put Mejias in prison for four years, for parole violations. Police officers had frequently taken him to hospitals rather than to jail, but he received only brief treatment. Within hours he would be back on the street.

   Unfortunately, his story is similar to the experiences of thousands of mentally ill people in this state.

   Florida ranks 46th in the nation on per capita spending on mental health, according to the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation. It's no wonder that thousands of mentally ill people are homeless -- except when they're housed in jail.

Source: The Herald Tribune

Posted by szadmin at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2004

Preventing Suicide in Colleges

Last week the Wall Street Journal had a good article on how colleges are working to aggressively prevent suicides with counselling programs for students.

In the article, it mentioned an example of a young woman who had indicated that she might commit suicide. Her boyfriend dialed 911 and got help. The story reports that "When later confronted by the police, the student claimed that she had never intended to take her life, arguing that she was simply trying to rile her boyfriend. At many universities, that might have been the end of the story.

But at the University of Illinois, it was just the beginning. Administrators promptly presented the student with a stark choice: Meet with a mental-health counselor for four sessions, or don't bother coming back to school the following semester.

In an approach that is controversial among college administrators, the university has a zero-tolerance rule with suicidal behavior. In almost every case, students who threaten or attempt suicide are automatically required to see a counselor for four sessions if they want to remain at the school.

In the two decades the program has been in place, more than 1,800 students have been through it, and not one has committed suicide while enrolled at the school. Only one student chose to leave school rather than enter the program. (She later completed the sessions off campus, was allowed to re-enroll, and graduated with honors.)"

Posted by szadmin at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2004

NAMI Training Police Officers on Mental Illness

A recent story came out of "The Mansfield News Journal" on how NAMI (the US-based National Alliance for the Mentall Ill) is working to train police officers on how to address people who have schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Its great to see some programs like this being started - but you have to wonder why the police aren't trained like this as part of their standard schooling since the problem is such a huge issue in the US and other countries.

Following is a short summary of the story:

Richland County law-enforcement agencies have 61 officers trained to deal with calls involving the mentally ill -- calming the person and easing tensions so the person can be taken for treatment, instead of to jail.

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Richland County wrapped up a 40-hour intensive training class this week with graduation ceremonies Friday afternoon at the Richland County Fairgrounds.

NAMI's goal is to get one-fourth to one-third of all police officers in the county trained.

New police officers who complete state peace officer training get only one hour's instruction on mental-illness issues as part of their standard training -- even though 10 percent of all the calls they'll respond to are mental-illness related.

The 40-hour NAMI course helps officers recognize the symptoms of schizophrenia and other serious illnesses, and shows how officers can bring incidents to a peaceful resolution, he said.

Officer Petrycki said he already has used his training several times.

One incident involved a father who reported his adult son outside his apartment with a knife, threatening him. When Petrycki arrived, "you could tell he (the son) was in crisis. He was agitated, pacing back and forth, not talking rationally..."

Petrycki asked what he could do to help and told the man he wasn't there to hurt him. Eventually, the boy calmed down and dropped the knife. The officer then gave the man money to call his caseworker. "He didn't end up in jail. I didn't up getting hurt. My partner didn't end up getting hurt. He didn't end up getting hurt," the officer said.

For More Information See:

NAMI Criminalization of the Mentally Ill Web Information

News Story:

60 Minutes II Investigates Police Training and Mental Illness

Posted by szadmin at 02:52 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2004

Kids Left Out of Support Networks

Researchers from the University of Alberta have highlighted a troublesome lack in our support progams - specifically, a lack of any programs that address the unique needs of children affected by the mental illness of a brother, sister, grandparent, or parent.

Schizophrenia has many troubling or frightening symptoms - among them hallucinations, delusions, intense paranoia, mood swings, emotional withdrawal, and apathy - that some, and particularly children, might assume are part of the ill person's natural personality. Children can suffer from the lack of a warm, nurturing relationship with their parent without ever realizing that it is caused by a brain disease instead of personality traits.

Anyone who has had firsthand or personal experience with mental illness in the family already knows what this and other studies have indicated - namely, that such damaging emotional effects often linger as the child grows up, causing interpersonal difficulties later in life.

For the full story, see "Researchers find troubling offshoot of schizophrenia" (Sept 21, 2004) at EurekaAlert (

Support group suggesions for younger children:

The Sibling Project ( is "the only national effort dedicated to the interests of over six million brothers and sisters of people with special health, mental health, and developmental needs." They have programs in all fifty states and in some countries overseas. The workshops are geared mainly towards children ages 8-13, but some are modified to be helpful to older/younger children as well.

Read about some of the common emotional issues/concerns that children of parents with schizophrenia often deal with (compiled from our own members at, and other sources as well):

Posted by Julia at 01:14 AM | Comments (2)

September 08, 2004

Family raises $$ for research

Brandon Staglin had a bright and promising future. As a child, he skipped grades at school, had a perfect GPA, stellar test scores, and a high IQ. As a national merit scholar and with aspirations of being an astronautical engineer at age 18, his descent into schizophrenia was sudden and stunning to him and to those who knew him. Within his first week of showing symptoms, he was picked up by the police for wandering around the town of Lafayette and put in a mental institution.

From the day his parents rushed home from a business trip in Paris to collect their son, the family started down a tumultuous and frightening road together.

"We thought there was a huge mistake," says Brandon's mother, Shari Staglin. "There was confusion, fear. We took him home from the hospital, and I remember him saying there was something wrong with his bed. He kept doing this unusual action with his hand."

Garen Staglin, Brandon's father, agreed. "He couldn't function. He was hearing voices that were tormenting him. He couldn't get rid of incoherent thoughts."

After his initial break in 1990, it appeared that Brandon might beat the odds of his illness, and go on to fulfill all his previous potential. He returned to Dartmouth and graduated in 1993 as an anthropology/engineering science major. Working first as a marketing analyst and then as an astronautical engineer, he planned to get his master's degree in engineering.

In 1996, he had his second major break.

"It was a new manifestation of my disease," said Brandon. "I would hallucinate pain. It started in my upper left forehead. Eventually I was experiencing stabbing pain in my stomach. The pain was so bad that I couldn't walk. I couldn't eat. It felt like a spear was going into my stomach."

Brandon checked into an out-patient psychiatric hospital at UCSF, and battled with his illness. Many times he had to pull himself back from the brink of suicide.

From watching and participating in their son's struggle, the Staglin's were moved to make a major contribution to the schizophrenia community. Through connections in venture capitalism, they initiated the Music Festival for Mental Health in 1994. Most of the $90,000 raised from the event was given to the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.

Today, the Staglins remain in contact with leading schizophrenia researchers, and have created an international council of scientists on the topic of schizophrenia. Their newest project is to offer a $250,000 grant to an young up-and-coming researcher (under the age of 45) who has a promising breakthrough project planned around schizophrenia.

Other projects funded by the Staglins include an endowed professorship at UCLA, and a pilot program at UCSF that uses software programs to provide intensive therapy training to schizophrenia patients.

Besides their generosity and activism, the Staglins have done much to break down the barriers of stigma. "They have decreased the stigma of mental illness," says Craig Van Dyke, chairman of the UCSF Dept. of Psychiatry. "In telling their story, they are giving other families hope."

The Staglin's continue to stress that they do what they do for their son. Today, 34 year-old Brandon is stable on a regimen of medications. He manages his own illness, setting his watch timer to remind him of his meds, and works independently as a writer and a web designer. But he is still troubled by common banes that affect many schizophrenia patients - emotional flatness that isn't helped by medication, apathy where there once was energy.

"I'm not the dynamo I once was, but I'm feeling warmth again," Brandon says. "I wrote a poem called 'To Live on The Moon.' It's about the sun rising in my mind, about my starting to feel passion again, about starting to feel ambition."

Why did I love to live on the moon?
Cold, remote, desolate
Yet magnificent, claimed one whom I followed
So easy it is to take life hard
So natural to be lost
So long as you don't realize it
Some part of me was talent latent
And I don't think it is now
The sun's limb warms my eyelids
Thaws my hands
Without ice, I'll need new material
The ground is still slippery
How to get up and run
God, can I even remember?

For the full story, please see "A family's journey to madness and back: Son's schizophrenia spurs parents to raise millions for research" (Sept 7 2004). San Francisco Chronicle (

To read other stories of hope and success from people with schizophrenia, please see "Success Stories" on the website (

Posted by Julia at 03:09 AM | Comments (1)

September 07, 2004

Childhood Schizophrenia and Other Brain Disorders

This month, The Detroit Free Press is starting a three part series on Children in Crisis: Mental Health,". It is an important, but disturbing report - and is valuable reading for families, support groups, and especially public policy makers.

The series, is available at

So far, Michigan has settled for a sort of mental health shuffle board.
Some kids are lucky enough to have their problems spotted and be referred for
managed mental health care. A great many, though, are far less fortunate. They
either go un-cared for or are shuffled into juvenile detention, foster care or
jails -- all overburdened systems that are ill-equipped to diagnose, let alone
care for, children with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression.

Much of the problem is that Michigan is like a dog chasing its tail on this
issue. If the state had a method, which it incredibly does not, of accurately
counting each child in need, legislators might understand the consequences of
inadequately funding the Department of Community Health. They might even see the danger in the shortage of state-run psychiatric hospitals for young people. Once there were six, now only one.

Posted by szadmin at 02:59 AM | Comments (1)

Tasers (electric guns) still Deadly

Personal experience by families of people with schizophrenia suggests that even the electronic guns called Tasers (that are supposed to be harmless) can still be deadly.

A father wrote this recently in a letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic:

Taser analysis not so simplistic

The writer's analysis is as shallow and misleading as Taser President Tom Smith's.

The issue is not whether or not the Taser can be used in a high percentage of cases to reduce death and/or physical trauma to officers and civilians alike. The issue is whether or not it's OK to kill the rest through ignorance and rationalization just because it's a small percentage.

I'm happy for letter writer Jim Barber that his son is an officer and has a
healthy heart. My son is dead. He suffered from schizophrenia most of his adult life and yes, was developing heart problems. As a full-time resident of a group home for the mentally ill we might have expected more for Ray when he went into crisis.

Ray was stunned in the chest and behind the left ear. Maybe Jim's son can tell me why, if the Taser is so effective, it is necessary to stun people multiple times in the presence of multiple officers.

I think Jim and Taser International should do a bit more research. The successes aren't the problem -- the failures are. Is there a reason the X-26 (current model) is less powerful than the M-26 introduced in 1999, about the time the death statistics start? Does Taser know something it isn't telling?

Posted by szadmin at 02:27 AM | Comments (2)

September 01, 2004

Lilly Scholarship Opportunities

Lilly Announces Recipients of the 2004-2005 Lilly Moving Lives Forward
Reintegration Scholarship;

Program Helps People With Bipolar, Schizophrenia and Related
Schizophrenia-Spectrum Disorders Reintegrate Into Society

EDITORIAL NOTE: While this is a good start - Lilly earns billions of dollars from Zyprexa each year and our hope would be that they could offer a more extensive program than a scholarship program that is only for 50 people. We hope to see them expand the program in the future.

Source: Lilly Press Release (produced by Lilly and Company):

For the seventh straight year, Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) has awarded scholarships to people with severe mental illness to help offset their tuition, books and lab fees for the 2004-2005 school year. Lilly announced today that 50 individuals have received Moving Lives Forward Reintegration Scholarships for the upcoming school year.

The scholarship program is designed to help persons with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and related schizophrenia-spectrum disorders acquire the educational and vocational skills they need to move their lives forward and reintegrate into society.

"For many of us, the Lilly Scholarship provides the essential funding needed
to pursue an education and thereby gain intellectual freedom," states Joseph Wleklinski, a four-time recipient of the annual scholarship who is in the combined Masters/Doctorates program in Mechanical Engineering at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "I truly believe that for someone like me with mental illness, education and working closely with my physician to achieve wellness are the foundation of reintegration into society."

"The goal of the Lilly Moving Lives Forward Reintegration Scholarship is to
help people whose lives have been seriously interrupted by severe mental illness improve their prospects by providing education that is necessary for them to realize their full potential," explained Dr. John Lechleiter, Executive Vice
President of Pharmaceutical Operations, Eli Lilly and Company.

"Since its inception in 1997, this program has assisted students in pursuing a wide range of educational opportunities -- from Masters of Social Work to tradesman certificates. We're very proud of this program and these dedicated students."

Of the 50 recipients for the 2004-2005 school year, more than two-thirds (67 percent) are previous winners successfully continuing their education. An
independent panel of judges made up of nine psychiatric care professionals chose the winners. Levels of study range from high school equivalency programs to graduate degrees, with the areas of endeavor including engineering, law, psychiatry, graphic design, social work, architecture, education and computer sciences.

Winners are attending such schools as Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Culinary Institute of America, Purdue University, California
Institute of Technology, The University of Tennessee, and others. Since the
program began in 1997, about 600 people have been awarded Reintegration
Scholarships. Many are multi-year recipients, allowing them to continue and
potentially complete their education.

"We want everyone to know that a diagnosis of severe mental illness no
longer has to put an end to your hopes and dreams. Newer medications are
helping to keep people in treatment and allowing them to focus on goals such as
education, which previously seemed out of reach," said Ralph Aquila, M.D.,
director of residential community services at St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital
Center in New York and chairman of the scholarship judging panel. "When we began this scholarship program seven years ago, we knew there were individuals battling mental illness who had the qualifications and skills to attend some of the finest learning institutions in the country. Today, we have proved that to be true -- in fact, we have Lilly Scholarship recipients at some of the top
schools in the nation."

About Eli Lilly and Company.

LillyAnswers ensures that low-income Medicare enrollees with the greatest
need have complete access to the Lilly products they require. The centerpiece of
the patient assistance program, the LillyAnswers card, allows seniors and people
with disabilities under Medicare to pay a flat $12 fee for a 30-day supply of
certain retail distributed Lilly drugs. Since Lilly implemented LillyAnswers in
2002, hundreds of thousands of people without prescription drug insurance have
received more than a half million Lilly products. LillyAnswers enrollment
applications are available by calling the toll-free number: 1-877-RX-LILLY
(1-877-795-4559) or online at

SOURCE Eli Lilly and Company

CONTACT: Marni Lemons of Eli Lilly and Company, +1-317-433-8990

Posted by szadmin at 06:07 AM | Comments (1)

August 27, 2004

Underestimations of MI in College

The incidence of, and lack of awareness about, mental illness among college students was revealed in a recent survey conducted during Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day.

Survey results (conducted by NAMI) included the following points:

-- One in three students report having experienced prolonged periods of depression
-- One in four students report having suicidal thoughts or feelings
-- One in seven students report engaging in abnormally reckless behavior
-- One in seven students report difficulty functioning at school due to mental illness
--50% of students rate their mental health as below average or poor, as opposed to 25% of parents who report their student's mental health to be in this range.

According to Dr. Ken Duckworth, asst. professor at Harvard Medical School and medical director for NAMI, "[T]he impact of untreated mental illness on a college student's life can be devastating. In the majority of circumstances, bipolar disorder, like diabetes, can be managed and controlled. However, if left untreated, it can result in negative outcomes and even premature death. Unless we educate our students and work to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help on America's campuses, young people will suffer needlessly."

Although many students experience and display warning signs of mental illness, they go unrecognized by parents, teachers, and administrators. In response to the survey results, NAMI strongly encourages parents to speak with their college-age children about mental illness, and keep in touch throughout their time at school and young adult years.

"Parents should talk to their college student about mental illness before they leave for college and maintain a regular dialogue throughout the school year," said Mike Fitzpatrick, executive director of NAMI. "The majority of people with bipolar disorder, for example, experience an onset of symptoms before the age of 20, making late adolescence an essential time for awareness. While parents can't prevent mental illness, educating themselves and their college age children can help encourage early diagnosis -- and early diagnosis can save lives."

Given the apparent scope of the problem, there is a severe deficit of available information and awareness among students. Not only do many students not recieve education about mental health before beginning college, approximately half say that their college/university campus does not educate students either. Due to this lack of education and prevailing stigmas around mental health services, students continue to suffer in silence, and misconceptions about mental illness remain unchallenged. Some common beliefs about mental illness among parents and students include the following:

-- Thirty-five percent of parents and 48 percent of students believe bipolar disorder is at least somewhat attributed to a character flaw or weak willpower.
-- Fifty-five percent of parents and students somewhat believe that people with bipolar disorder should not be in positions of responsibility.
-- More than 70 percent of parents and students would be uncomfortable to some extent if a close friend or family member was dating or marrying a person with bipolar disorder.
-- Nearly one in four parents and students do not agree that untreated bipolar disorder can lead to suicide, but other studies show as many as 50 percent of people with untreated bipolar disorder attempt suicide at least once.
-- More than one in four parents and students do not understand that untreated bipolar disorder can lead to contact with the criminal justice system, yet sources show that people with untreated mental illnesses spend twice as much time in jail.

All of us - campuses, parents, and students - must take an open stand mental health and illness, destigmatizing this vital issue and staving off preventable tragedies within our future generation.

To read the full article, please see "Mental Illness Prolific Among College Students" (Aug 25 2004).

Listen online to the following radio programs concerning college-age students and mental health:

1) Mental Health and Illness in Teenagers (BBC radio).
2) College students and Mental Health (Voice in the Family public radio).

Posted by Julia at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2004

Australia Show focuses on Artists w/Schizophrenia

The Mercury newspaper in Australia noted today that there is a special art show in the city of Hobart - with a focus on art from people who have schizophrenia.

High Watermark III is the third exhibition of paintings, watercolours and sketches by patients from the Royal Hobart Hospital on display at the Side Space

Launching the exhibition, Deputy Premier David Llewellyn said it was one way to remove the stigma associated with mental illness.

"Living with schizophrenia is tough," he said. "While learning about art and
developing their own work, the group provides positive peer contact in a safe environment."

The RHH Clozapine Clinic Art Group is funded by the pharmaceutical company that makes the drug, he said.

Clozapine is prescribed to control auditory hallucinations and delusions often associated with schizophrenia.

Art tutor Julie Oh said the nine artists regularly attended the weekly art classes, and other patients occasionally attended.

She said she preferred not to know too much about her clients' mental health
issues and instead preferred to focus on them as artists.

"Art provides wonderful opportunities for self-expression," she said. "I enjoy seeing my clients' confidence grow as their techniques develop."

Ms Oh said the work of an artist known as Stephen was abstract and showed a
strong relationship to colour; Other paintings reflected an emotional state implied in a particular approach to landscape.

The exhibition is open until August 30.

Posted by szadmin at 06:52 AM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2004

Brain Disease Film Wins NAMI Award

The documentary film "People Say I'm Crazy" won the NAMI Outstanding Media Award for best television documentary of 2004. It will be aired on Cinemax at 7pm, August 18. Director John Cadigan, diagnosed with schizophrenia, and producers Katie Cadigan and Ira Wohl jointly accept the honor.

The video-diary talks about director Cadigan's own experiences with schizophrenia, from the onset during his college years to the present day. According to NAMI, it is the first major film directed by someone with schizophrenia.

"People Say I'm Crazy is an extremely important and moving film," said NAMI national board president Margaret Stout. "It will touch millions of people, welcoming them into the mind of a talented artist with a severe mental illness and the love of a family who have stood by him."

The NAMI media awards recognize works that raise awareness, tolerance, and compassion for mental illness issues.

To read the article, see "Cinemax Reel Life 'People Say I'm Crazy' Wins NAMI Award" (Aug 4, 2004), available at

To visit John Cadigan's website, which has information about his illness, his film, and his artwork, please see

Listen to an interview with John and Katie Cadigan about the documentary, aired on WNYC radio (April 26, 2004).

Posted by Julia at 06:03 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2004

How Far Should Confidentiality Extend?

Following the suicide of a 24-year-old mental health patient on the grounds of Calvary Hospital, the woman's family and the Canberra coroner are charging that the need to protect and care for a patient should override a patient's right to privacy. The woman's treating psychiatrist did not inform her parents that her diagnoses had been changed from bipolar disorder to schizo-affective disorder, "because of a need to protect patient confidentiality and maintain her dignity." They were also not informed by the hospital staff of their daughter's suicidal intentions.

Other concerns raised by the family in court included the lack of an adequate follow-up plan, at least one that they were informed about. According to the patient's father, his daughter waited six weeks after being discharged from the Calvary psychiatric unit before meeting for the first time with her treating psychiatrist.

There are currently forms for patients to designate certain people to whom medical and treatment information can be released; however, different measures may be necessary in the case of the mentally ill. One of the hallmarks of many mental disorders is poor insight of the patient into their own illness - because of this, they may decline to release diagnosis and treatment information to family members. Another problem is that many families are unaware of current confidentiality legislation, and the need for such a release form.

For the full news story, see the Canberra Times (
Article: "Protection Ahead of Confidentiality" (July 9, 2004).

For further opinions about changing confidentiality and commitment laws in the mental health care system, see 'Getting more say: families want laws changed in mental health system.' (available at

To read about individual state legislation involving patient confidentiality, commitment criteria, and other legal issues related to the mentally ill, see 'Legal Resources' at

Posted by Julia at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2004

Children await mental health services in detention

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) have recently commissioned the first Congressional investigation into children with mental health needs improperly incarcerated and forced to wait for services in juvenile detention centers.

The report findings were staggering. Key statistics include the following:

-Over a 6-month period, nearly 15,000 youth in detention centers were waiting for mental health services. The number of youth waiting in detention each night for needed services represents about 7% of all incarcerated youth.

-While waiting in detention for health services, youth in over 160 facilities attempted suicide. Research indicates that youth in detention commit suicide at a rate 4 times greater than that of the general young population.

-A quarter of the detention centers that answered the survey indicated that they provide no or inadequate mental health services. One administrator from Pennsylvania stated that "mentally ill youth placed in juvenile detention facilities stress our centers more than any other problem." Moreover, the estimated cost to such facilities due to mentally ill youth come to about $100 million.

Suggested legislation to address the problem includes the Keeping Families Together Act, a bill supporting state efforts to coordinate care and improve community-based services for mentally ill children.

Tammy Seltzer, senior staff attorney at Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, supported the bill.

"Today's hearing underscores the critical need to do something concrete to address the crisis in children's mental health...Senator [Susan] Collins' bill is an essential step toward creating a children's mental health system where kids get services, not jail time, when they need help."

The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law is a national legal advocate for children and adults with mental disabilities. For more information, see

View the survey and its findings at

See the full news article at
Article: "Thousands of Children with Mental Illness Warehoused in Juvenile Detention Centers Awaiting Mental Health Services" (July 7, 2004)

Posted by Julia at 05:15 PM | Comments (1)

July 03, 2004

Stigma at Work

Recent statistics estimate that a quarter of all people are likely to suffer from a mental health problem. For this population, discrimination in the workplace remain a very real problem. The save survey estimates that one in three of those experiencing mental health problems will be bullied or harrassed by bosses or coworkers.

Due to such stigma, mental health advocates say, much productive talent is wasted because people who suffer mental illness are afraid to reveal their problems to employers on job applications, during interviews, or when up for promotion.

To address this problem, a recently launched UK-based campaign addresses prejudices associated with mental illness, and works to change prevailing attitudes.

For example, NHS Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm has pledged funds to support an existing mental health information program. This is after a three-year inquiry in the mental health services available in Scotland, which concluded that there was "far too much variation in the standard of care."

For the full news article, please see 'Mental Health Workplace Concerns' in BBC news (, July 1 2004

For more information on dealing with mental illness in the workplace, see Disclosing Mental Health Difficulties When Looking for Work at

Know your rights: review the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects people with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere.

Posted by Julia at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)

Growing Empathy for Mentally Ill

It's nice to know that all the efforts to promote understanding and fight the stigma of mental illness are having some positive results.

According to a Houston Area Survey in March of this year, 63% of respondants said that mental illness is primarily due to a brain disorder (click here to see a pie chart of the survey results). According to Stephen Klineberg, a Rice University sociology professor, "[t]he findings demonstrate an "evolving understanding" of mental illness that has markedly improved since a 1996 national survey showed 35 percent of people surveyed attributed mental illness to sinful or immoral behavior."

Philip Burguieres, former head of a Houston Fortune 500 oil-field service company, knows the importance of such understanding. When he revealed (more than a year after his resignation) taht he had to leave the company due to "debilitating depression," he recieved unexpected support from friends and other CEOs. This was despite warnings that making such an announcement could ruin his career and his public life.

However, the underlying stigma, and the fear of being ostracized, keeps many from admitting their own struggles with mental illness or seeking help. Burguieres said at a Wednesday news conference that many CEOs he knows pay for psychiatric services with cash, so that no records will exist of their visit.
Among other things, the March survey also revealed that people who know someone with mental illness were more likely to favor equal insurance coverage and higher taxes for better treatment, and also believed more strongly in the efficacy of treatment. So keep sharing your own stories!

Other findings of the survey (article excerpt):

Democrats and liberals are more likely than Republicans and conservatives to approve legislation requiring corporations to provide mental health insurance or raising taxes to improve access to mental health care.

Minorities are more liable than whites to be concerned if someone in their neighborhood is being treated for mental illness.

Women are more inclined than men to agree that most people undergoing treatment can lead a normal life.

For the full news article, please see 'Empathy for mentally ill increasing, survey shows' in the Houston Chronicle (, July 1 2004.

For another recent news story about fighting mental illness stigma (the story of Robert Lundin), see 'The Long Haul: Fighting Day-to-Day Mental Illness Stigma' in the Newsblog (, June 29, 2004.

Posted by Julia at 12:55 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2004

The Long Haul: Fighting Day-to-Day Mental Illness Stigma

Although we are all tempted at times to tease our friends with good-natured name-calling - obsessive, nut-case, whacko, psycho - Stigmabusters at NAMI remind us that these terms can perpetuate harmful stigmas held against the mentally ill population.

The Stigmabusting team at NAMI takes issue with insensitive images and slogans that they find in the media - everything from Disney to Nintendo to the Boy Scout magazine 'A Boy's Life'

Robert Lundin, active NAMI stigmabuster and schizophrenia patient, is a prime example of someone seeking change in issues that directly affect his own life. Lundin speaks simply about his illness and his life at police departments, schools, companies, nursing homes, and community centers, believing that "There is no more powerful way to change attitudes than to make positive contact with people with mental illnesses."

Lundin has also co-authored his own story in "Don't Call Me Nuts: Coping With the Stigma of Mental Illness", in an effort to bring that positive contact to a larger audience.

Lundin finds that after hearing him speak, many people with similar problems feel encouraged enough to come forward and seek help. Others who are not diagnosed themselves find better understanding for the mentally ill they encounter at work, at school, or in their neighborhoods. is proud and happy to be doing our part to foster positive contact between those with mental illness and those that interact with them. This positive impact comes largely from the active participation of our members, who freely and generously share experience, stories, advice and support. Thank you all for being stigmabusters!

To read Robert Lundin's own account of his illness and his struggles with stigma, see 'Coping With A Major Mental Illness' at

To read more about NAMI's stigmabusting efforts, or to become an official NAMI Stigmabuster yourself, see 'Fight Stigma: Become a StigmaBuster!' at

Source: Chicago Final Edition, Section Q ; Zone C; Pg. 7
Article Headline: Mental Health Stigma Obscures Real, Vital People (Byline: Julie Deardorff).

Posted by Julia at 04:59 PM | Comments (4)

June 27, 2004

An Advocate's Opinion: Equitable Treatment Act

The Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act, currently stalled in Congress, is a ticket to mental health parity from health insurers.

The bill would prevent limits on mental-health benefits (such as higher deductibles or higher co-payments for services) that are currently not imposed for physical health conditions.

Janet McCracken is a psychologist at Highland's Association in State College and an associate professor at Penn State. She is of the opinion that such a bill, rather than causing excessive increases in insurance costs, would actually improve the financial situation by relieving the public health sector from providing costly services for the mentally ill whose private insurance benefits have run out.

Her opinion piece in the Centre Daily Times (originally submitted on May 26, 2004) compares the projected increases to health care insurance under full mental-health parity (less than 1% increase in premiums) to the estimated $80 billion current annual loss to our economy in sick leave, unemployment, and lost productivity of the mentally ill.

For Dr. McCracken's complete opinion piece in the Centre Daily Times (, please see 'We Can Do More to Help Those with Mental Illness.'

For more information on the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act, and how you can help support its passage by contacting your congress member, see 'Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act of 2003 Introduced' at or 'Mental Health Parity Update' at

Posted by Julia at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2004

Schizophrenia Patient Working as NAMI Advocate

Marc Stolzer was a bright and active college junior, an honors student and talented athlete at Penn State University, when he began to notice certain changes in his moods and behavior. These uncharacteristic patterns deteriorated rapidly into 'mental breaks from reality', or psychotic episodes involving visual and auditory hallucinations.

Stolzer's health forced him to withdraw from college, and he returned home to live with his parents, where he became even more withdrawn, isolated, and irrational. Finally, Stolzer's parents checked him into a hospital following a suicide attempt, where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 21.

Doctors speculated that a past head injury from a bicycle accident may have been the trigger to his symptoms.

Even after beginning medication and a rehabilitation program, Stolzer said his psychotic symptoms and episodes continued to wax and wane. However, contrary to a commonly held stigma against the mentally ill, Stolzer says he never felt any violent impulses due to his condition.

"The stigma with schizophrenia is that people who have it are violent...most people with mental illness would rather hurt themselves than another person," Stolzer said.

With the help of medication, a support network of family and friends, and a long-term recovery phase, Stolzer has successfully controlled his psychotic symptoms.

"Thank God for the medication, because without it, I would not be productive," Stolzer said.

Now 46, Stolzer currently works with the National Institute for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) to dissolve such stigmas. He gives lectures to companies, medical professionals, schools, and other institutions to help spread understanding about how a mental illness affects a person, their life, and their actions. As well as educating the public, Stolzer also hopes to assist other mentally ill patients to integrate themselves back into life and society.

For the full article, please visit the NJ Sentinel

Posted by Julia at 05:27 AM | Comments (1)

May 26, 2004

National Schizophrenia Awareness Day

National Schizophrenia Awareness Day
The National Schizophrenia Foundation has declared May 24 as National Schizophrenia Awareness Day (NSAD). In its seventh year, the goal of this year's NSAD observance is to increase public awareness and understanding about schizophrenia to help "Break the Chains of Stigma."

While we at fully support increasing awareness of schizophrenia in the general public - we wish that the NSF had taken a more co-ordinated and well-organized approach to the issue. Sending out a press release on one day of the year hardly counts as a serious effort at countering this issue. In the future we'd like to see a situation where they worked more closely with other major groups and web sites to rally support across a broad range of people who have an interest in this - with support from groups such as NAMI, Schizophrenia Society of Canada, etc. - and a serious campaign in the months leading up to the date to get the word out to editors and journalists - would seem much more effective than simply sending out a press release. We support the goal - but not the implementation method - of National Schizophrenia Awareness Day.

Posted by szadmin at 06:43 PM | Comments (2)

May 12, 2004

Personal Story

MIT Grad Finds Poetry in Mother's Schizophrenia; Performs Solo Show in May, National Mental Health Month

A recent press release announced that a Boston-based poet and performer Michael Mack has developed a one-man play Hearing Voices (Speaking in Tongues). Mack's 90-minute monolog draws on his life as a child raised by a mother with schizophrenia.

What inspired such a play? "When I was a student at MIT, I took a poetry workshop for elective credit," Mack said. "You know, easy A." But soon he found himself writing with an urgency that surprised him. Encouraged by his mentor Maxine Kumin (Pulitzer Prize for Poetry) and by Seamus Heaney (Nobel Prize for Literature), Mack began full-time study in the MIT Writing Program.

"My mother's illness profoundly shaped me," he said. "I felt shadowed by it, afraid I'd get sick too." "Whenever I do this show, people come up afterward to tell me about their own mother's illness, or their father's, their sister's, their son's," Mack said.

Posted by szadmin at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2004

Infinite Mind Recording

Personal Stories of Managing Schizophrenia - A very good audio recording of four people's stories of their successes in fighting schizophrenia.

In this special presentation called Four Lives, we feature the stories of people dealing with mental illness today, whose extraordinary lives and work offer hope and inspiration to all of us. Joining us on the program are Texas State Representative Garnet Coleman, a champion of healthcare reform and mental health issues who also has manic-depressive illness; Meera Popkin, a professional musical theatre actress who has appeared on Broadway and in London's West End, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia; and twin sisters Pam and Carolyn Spiro, who have written a book about Pam's struggle with schizoaffective disorder and how that has affected their relationship. Carolyn herself is a psychiatrist.

Posted by szadmin at 01:26 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2004

NSync Album - Schizophrenic

I'm not entirely sure how to respond to this recent news on the "NSYNC Singer Causes Stir With 'Schizophrenic' Album Cover" issue. On the one hand I certianly sympathize with Bill MacPhee's concerns that it may increase stigma because it shows a distored and misleading image of schizophrenic people as being put in straight jackets (which of course is rare) - but at the same time it gets people talking about the disease (I hope) and perhaps out of that discussion there will come some knowledge and education. I"m sure there are other CDs/Albums that are named after other diseases like Alzheimers or Parkinsons - and perhaps with members of one of the top bands in the US promoting it - it will get more people talking about what exactly schizophrenia is. Perhaps a good opportunity for mental illness groups and schizophrenia societies to leverage NSync's publicity for their own educational purposes?

What do you think?


The article mentions: "The singer who was dumped from the Pro Bowl halftime show is angering a publication dedicated to people who suffer from schizophrenia.

J.C. Chasez is causing a stir with the publisher of the Schizophrenic Digest over the cover of his debut album "Schizophrenic." On the cover, Chasez -- a member of the pop group *NSYNC -- is pictured in a straight jacket. "

Posted by szadmin at 10:12 PM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2004

Special Courts for the Mentally Ill

I just found this web site that has been set up as part of a project to help people with mental illnesses get better legal treatment:

"The Criminal Justice / Mental Health Consensus Project is an unprecedented, national effort coordinated by the Council of State Governments (CSG) to help local, state, and federal policymakers and criminal justice and mental health professionals improve the response to people with mental illness who become involved in, or are at risk of involvement in, the criminal justice system"

Sounds like a good way to get improved legal help and processes for the mentally ill. See the web site at:

Posted by szadmin at 07:24 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2004

College/University Support Groups

Dartmouth Student Creates On-Campus Support Group for People with Mental Illnesses like Schizophrenia

This is an idea that we think is a great one - in fact we'd like to see a major push for college mental illness support groups in colleges and Universities around the world - because of the importance of early treatment in positive outcomes for schizophrenia, and because the first signs of schizophrenia usually show up during college years or shortly afterward.

It seems like this should be a major area of focus for support groups (like Schizophrenia Society of Canada, and NAMI in the US) over the coming years - groups for both the mentally ill, and their siblings. Or perhaps these groups should simply share a lot of information and resources so that they can help each other help people.

The article states:

"A new chapter of the national student mental health group, Active Minds, may soon be meeting at Dartmouth.
Having met with the Harvard chapter of the organization, Joanne Kim '05 now intends to bring Active Minds to Hanover.

Kim was already volunteering as a Sexual Abuse Peer Advisor and a volunteer at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock psychiatric ward when she attended a meeting of the Harvard chapter over Winter break.

When she returned to campus and witnessed some peers dealing with mental health issues, Kim decided an advocacy group would provide beneficial support network, complementing the services already provided at Dartmouth, she said.

"Many disorders like schizophrenia and depression emerge around college age," she added. "With the formation of Active Minds, people who haven't been introduced to psychology yet can get a safe place to be open about their experiences and form alliances."

The group is even considering hosting events on campus to raise awareness. One possiblity cited is bringing Andy Berman to campus to speak about his best-selling "Electro Boy," a memoir on bipolar disorder that will be turned into a movie starring Tobey Maguire.

It seems that these groups are already starting to spring up around the US - here are some of their web pages:


University of Pennsylvania:

And another Recent Story on Active Minds in U. Pennsylvania

The Main Organization or Focal point for these groups seems to be:

The Full List of Chapters can be seen at:

Be Sure to Check out there Annual Conference on March 27 & 28, 2004

Posted by szadmin at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

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