Former Senators Say Administration Should Issue Regulations On Mental Health Parity

 In an op-ed for the Washington Post (4/13, 553K), former Sen. Pete Domenici, a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and former Sen. Gordon Smith, president and chief executive of the National Association of Broadcasters, call on the Obama Administration to “issue its final regulations to implement the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act for mental health parity in health insurance.” They note that when Congress passed the Act in 2008, then-Sen. Obama voted for it, and “all indications are that he remains supportive” as president. However, “regulatory action has stalled since 2010. The final rule that would provide clarity to the millions who have a mental illness or substance-use disorder, and to their employers, has not been issued.”

Menninger Clinic Grand Opening and Agenda for Psych & Neuroscience

Outstanding event with profound speakers and enthusiastic attendees.  Many heroes involved in driving brain research and treatment, especially those who are “consumers”.  We thank The Honorable Patrick Kennedy for his passionate, courageous and tenacious work to eliminate discrimination and champion research.

Congratualtions Dr. Tamara Navarro – Lilly Reintegration Award Recipient

This is very exciting news! A SARDAA colleague, leader and speaker has been awarded the very prestigious award.

It is with the deepest and sincerest sense of pride that we congratulate Dr. Navarro on winning the Lilly Reintegration Award for Mentorship. Dr. Navarro is an extraordinary individual and most deserving of this award. We are honored to be affiliated with her and look forward to her presentation at our upcoming conferences.

Tammy is humble about her successes and is challenged with accepting the rightful acknowledgement of her accomplishments.

Tammy has worked tirelessly to help so many others in their challenges as she confronts her own.

“National Council Awards of Excellence honorees reflect the most innovative and inspirational achievements in behavioral healthcare organizations across the country…Congratulations on the selection of Dr. Tammy Navarro as the winner for the Mentorship category. The awards this year were extremely competitive and the judges had a very difficult time choosing only one winner.
Mentorship Award:
• Winner: Tammy Navarro, SARDAA, Houston, TX”
– From National Council Awards of Excellence

Friends and Family Support (FFS)

Every Tuesday @ 7 p.m. Eastern Time

The call in information: (888) 617-3400; Pass code: 1086548#
International Number: (760) 569-4400

Friends and Family Support Conference Call

Message From Susan, FFS Leader:
Good morning!
I just wanted to thank you again for participating in last weeks FFS phone meeting.
Please note, that we are a work in progress and will change format as deemed appropriate.
Your comments are most appreciated. I want to encourage you to try at least 6 meetings before you decide whether or not this fellowship is for you.
Please feel free to contact me at any time and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Thank you again and thank you so much for sharing your stories.
Best regards,

Friends and Family Support Group
Every Tuesday
The call in information: (888) 617-3400; Pass code: 1086548#
International Number: (760) 569-4400

Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Quality Reporting Measures

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) have released for public comment six measures that will assess the quality of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries in inpatient psychiatric facilities (IPFs). The measures under consideration are based on literature reviews of the evidence and reviews by a technical expert panel that includes clinicians, quality experts, and other stakeholders.
These measures are:
1. HBIPS-2: Hours of physical restraint use (patient safety)
2. HBIPS-3: Hours of seclusion use (patient safety)
3. HBIPS-4: Patients discharged on multiple antipsychotic medications (pharmacotherapy)
4. HBIPS-5: Patients discharged on multiple antipsychotic medications with appropriate justification (pharmacotherapy)
5. HBIPS-6: Post discharge continuing care plan created (care coordination)
6. HBIPS-7: Post discharge continuing care plan transmitted to next level of care provider upon discharge (care coordination)
More information may be found here:
CMS is requesting that stakeholders review and provide feedback on these proposed measures. All comments are welcome, but they are particularly interested in feedback in the following areas:
• Relevance of the measures to the mission of public reporting under ACA 3401, Subsection 10322
• Usefulness of the measures to improve quality of care for Medicare patients
• Feasibility of data collection for the purpose of public reporting under ACA 3401, Subsection 10322
We encourage you to submit your individual comments directly on NCQA’s Public Comments website at

First Friends and Family Support Conference Call

When I first came into the world of Mental Disorders and Drug Addiction, I had nobody to turn to for support.  We were in the emergency room and my family member was about to be admitted to the psychiatric ward for the first time.  We had no idea who to call or what to do.  We called our Clergyman who came to our aide but really had no experience in this field and was not equipped to guide us other than spiritually and with his friendship.  That being said, this is one of my main reasons for agreeing to volunteer for SARDAA.  It was a very lonely and scary journey for me and my family. We lived in isolation and in secrecy….  I have come a long way since that day and I feel so grateful to the people who I have met along the way.  I also feel it is so important to give back and to help those who are in need of support.  

 After finding SARDAA and inquiring about a support group, I agreed to restart the Friends and Family Support Group (FFS).  Our revamped Friends and Family Support Group had a successful first meeting on August 2nd.  We were a small group but shared our experience, strength and hope and even formed new friendships.  We urge you to try our program at least 6 times before you determine whether or not FFS and a Twelve Step Program is something you may benefit from.  The group is a work in progress and we encourage comments and suggestions from all who call in.  

 Anonymity is an important principle of the FFS program.  Everything that is said in the group meeting and member-to-member, must be held in strict confidence.  Only in this way can we feel free to say what is in our minds and hearts, for this is how we help one another in our program.  If you are not comfortable, you may even choose to stay quiet and just listen.  Nobody knows who is on the phone unless you decide to announce yourself. 

To those who joined us for our first meeting, I thank you and to those who were not able to dial in for the first meeting, I look forward to having you with us at future meetings.  

Best regards,

Susan S., FFS Leader

SA Member Letter to Pres. Obama

January 16th, 2011

To: President Barack Obama
c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

To: President Obama

From: Margery Wakefield

Re: Jared Loughner and the problem of untreated severe mental illness in the U.S.

“Individuals with severe mental illnesses are no more violent than the general population – so long as they are being treated.”
Dr. E. Fuller Torrey

Dear President Obama,

My name is Margery Wakefield, and I live in Denver, Colorado. I have the illness of schizophrenia. I was diagnosed at age seventeen after a severe psychotic break. I have been on medication since that age, and have actively sought treatment for my condition.

I will also say that I have a master’s degree in social work, and I belong to MENSA (I am intelligent). I work part time, have my own apartment, drive a car, teach piano, write books, travel, have many friends, and have a very quality life!!!

On Wednesday nights (for the past five years), I run a support group for adult schizophrenics at the mental health center in Denver. We are a part of SARDAA (Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America in Houston, Texas). The group is a social and educational support group in which we emphasize the importance of staying on medications, and using hospitalization when necessary. In addition to our regular meetings, we have parties, pizza nights, community outings, and an annual picnic for members and their families. We have fun!

I am very concerned about the problem in this country of the UNTREATED severely mentally ill population. When violent, they give the rest of us a bad name. I take that personally.

I would like to make a suggestion: please set up a task force to study this problem so that the tragedy in Arizona (and others) does not repeat itself. The purpose of the task force would be:

1. To study how this problem is handled in other countries.
2. To examine FEDERAL legislation re: involuntary procedures to restrain severely mentally ill persons who give evidence of being a danger to themselves and/or others until those persons can be properly evaluated and treated.
3. To make legislation that would require such individuals to have some sort of follow-up to make sure they are continuing in treatment.

The task force should include a consumer advocate as well as experts in the field such as Dr. Torrey.

As Dr. Torrey states in a recent article:
“The solution to this problem is obvious – make sure individuals with serious mental illnesses are receiving treatment. Many such patients will take medication voluntarily if it is made available to them. Others are unaware they are sick and should be required by law to receive assisted outpatient treatment, including medication and counseling… If they do not comply with the court-ordered treatment plan, they can and should be involuntarily admitted to a hospital.”
OPINION JOURNAL December 21, 2010

I am sick at heart that a nine-year-old child was a victim of this man’s (Loughner’s) sick rage.

Please see that this tragedy does not happen again!!!


Margery Wakefield

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) Response to AZ Tragedy

Aftermath of the Tucson, Arizona Tragedy:

Call for early intervention in serious emotional illness

HOUSTON, TX (January 10, 2011) – Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America mourns the loss of those killed during the horrendous tragedy on Saturday in Arizona. We extend our deepest sympathy to families, loved ones, friends and all who are affected by this dreadful catastrophe. Our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and all those were injured for a full recovery. We are all deeply saddened by this extraordinarily horrific event.

Read the Full Press Release

Articles of Interest continued…

  • Following is an article discussing recent research on comorbid OCD and schizophrenia.  It comes from Psychiatric Times and is somewhat technical.

Comorbidity:  Schizophrenia And OCD

  • Below is a link to a news article on a study showing that mothers who took valproate during their pregnancy had children with lower IQ.  Valproate is better known as Depakote.  It is an epilepsy medication also used as a mood stabilizer in psychiatric patients.

Children Born To Women Taking Valproate Have Lower IQ

  • Some new research from Vanderbilt holds promise.

Possible New Treatment For Cognitive Deficits In Schizophrenia

  • Some new insights into how lithium works to control bipolar.

Lithium And The Brain

  • Following is an article from the New York Times on combating stigma.  The author puts a slightly different twist on how to overcome stigma than the usual methods. 

A Different Look At Fighting Stigma

  • Following is the article:

Inducing Gamma Brain Waves In Mice To Study Brain Functions

Submitted by: Darrell H.