I Have A Dream: Martin Luther King Jr. and Lance’s Mom

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January 21, 2013

Today is Martin Luther King Day and I wanted to honor Dr. King’s memory and talk a bit about an ordinary Mom’s dreams, a Mom who wants to change the world – to educate people about addiction and mental illness. Twenty-nine years ago, my dream came true and I gave birth to Lance, a beautiful baby boy.  He had ten fingers, ten toes and seemed perfect in every way.  Fast forward to about 2002, a family of four boys and a journey through the world of drug addiction and mental illness.  My dreams turned to nightmares. I never dreamed we would enter into a world I knew nothing about: addiction and later, mental illness….  Without a known family history of addiction and mental illness, these issues were not in my realm of consciousness.  Be that as it may, I vowed to do anything I could to save my firstborn son who was smart, athletic, popular, the one everyone looked up to and idolized – until our world crumbled.  Today, my dreams are different than they were 29 years ago but I am happy to say they are filled with gratitude, faith and pride. My son’s mental disorder is stable and he is about to celebrate three years of recovery from substance abuse, a true miracle.   I encourage you to hold on to your dreams and although they may materialize differently than imagined, we can still find gratitude, peace and serenity. It may not be easy but if I can do it, anyone can!

In memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. and all those who have dreams, keep dreaming and never give up until the miracle happens.

Lance: The Long Road to Recovery

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January 15th

Every day is a struggle, do I get high or do I not get high?  This entails everything I have ever worked for.  Would you throw that away to spend a night with the devil?  Ever since I got clean I have gotten back my friends and family, sanity and a few odd and end things.  With all this on my plate, every morning I choose the large cup of coffee over a bag of cocaine for the last 2 years and 11 months.  I almost threw away my clean time but by the grace of G-d I will have 3 years clean on February 11th.  Why does G-d give us a choice to make?  The answer is very simple, for every reason in the world you stay clean, but I have learned to believe the devil was the test.  G-d created her to give us options.  Do I make a left or do I make a right?  I finally chose right!  The only reason I ever got high was to self medicate, to heal my pain and sorrow, but most importantly my mental illness was what really was bothering me and drove me to the drugs.  I know that if you choose right life’s miracles will come to you.  I am not promising you the sun, the moon and stars but you will be free from your sickness a/k/a addiction, and all kinds of mental disorders that stem from the wrath of drugs.  My drug of choice was ecstasy.  I thought it was the closest feeling to heaven.  But I was wrong! G-d did not make heaven in a pill form.  It’s unfathomable today what I believe heaven is.  It could be the ultimate relief of not getting high and experiencing happiness in life, whether it is the birds chirping on a nice day, piece of mind, or a sunny day on the beach.  Materials things would include, the birth of a child, a wife, house and money.  I made the right choice today; I believe so strongly that one day a higher power will pay me back, not necessarily in luxury but in serenity and peace.  If you are struggling with schizophrenia like me, there is a better way of life. You can always count on your belief that this too shall pass but if you have a mental illness, it usually doesn’t without the proper help.  My disorder took me to places you can only imagine, but the story is true. This is part of my story and my struggle, how about yours?

Lots of love,

Lance Sheena

Menninger Clinic Grand Opening and Agenda for Psych & Neuroscience

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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.

SARDAA is a supporter and sponsor of the Independence At Home Act

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On February 3, HHS Secretary Sebelius sent a letter to the Governors suggesting ways states might reduce their spending on Medicaid. http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/01/20110203c.html The letter and its attachment notes that “five percent of [Medicaid] beneficiaries accounted for more than half of all Medicaid spending and one percent of beneficiaries accounted for 25 percent of all expenditures” and that 15% of “dual eligibles” account for 40% of all Medicaid spending. The letter further notes that most of these high cost beneficiaries suffer from chronic and disabling conditions. The letter further show that reducing the cost of this beneficiary population by just 10% “could save $15.7 billion in total Medicaid spending and produce a significant positive impact on longer term spending trends.”

The Independence at Home program was designed expressly to address the needs of the highest cost beneficiaries suffering from multiple chronic diseases and disabilities. The IAH home-based primary care model has been proven at hundreds of locations across the country for decades and has produced savings of 23% to 60% for this high cost patient population. This experience shows that the Independence at Home program could reduce Medicaid costs by more than $30 billion a year, based on HHS’ numbers.

The letter from Secretary Sebelius states that new service delivery models that focus on the high cost chronically ill population can be implemented without a waiver under the “Health Home” provision at section 2703 of PPACA that became effective January 1, 2011 and that the new Federal Coordinated Care Office is assisting the states to develop new models for serving the “dual eligibles”. Representatives of the American Academy of Home Care Physicians and staff from the offices of Congressman Ed Markey and Ron Wyden met on January 6 with personnel from the Federal Coordinated Care Office and showed how the Independence at Home program can be implemented by states under the “Health Home” provisions in section 2703. The Independence at Home program is the only program under the health reform legislation that (A) expressly targets the highest cost patient population, (B) provides primary care tailored to the patient’s individual needs in the home, (C) coordinates care across all treatment settings, (D) requires a minimum level of savings, outcomes and patient/caregiver satisfaction and (E) significantly reduces costs—not by cutting reimbursement or coverage—but by adding a new chronic care coordination benefit that better addresses the patient’s needs.

Several states are considering the Independence at Home program because it does not require any additional expenditures and is funded entirely from savings. Please let me know if you need more information about IAH as a Medicaid health home.

Jim Pyles
on behalf of the American Academy of Home Care Physicians and
The Independence at Home Coalition
POWERS PYLES SUTTER & VERVILLE PC
1501 M Street NW, Seventh Floor | Washington, DC 20005-1700
tel 202.466.6550 | fax 202.785.1756
jim.pyles@ppsv.com | www.ppsv.com

Aftermath of the Tuscon, Arizona Tragedy: Call for early intervention in serious emotional illness

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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.

The tragedy is another wakeup call for everyone. Details are emerging that Jared Loughner clearly had serious psychiatric difficulties dating long back, perhaps to High School. While several media reports suggest that he may have had a major mental disorder, the precise nature of what he might have had is still unclear. As details surrounding the tragedy continue to emerge, there are many potential lessons to be learned from this highly unfortunate event.

It is important to dispel several myths that exist in public perceptions of mental illnesses. Anyone can develop a mental illness. Mental illnesses are extremely common. About half of all Americans will meet the criteria for some type of mental disorder sometime in their lifetime, with first onset usually in childhood or adolescence. Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorders are not a sign of weakness, but are real diseases of the brain. Delays in their treatment lead to a snowballing of suffering and decline in function. People cannot just “snap” out of mental illness; symptoms cannot be just wished away or controlled at will. Like in other medical illnesses, effective treatments are now available, both psychological and medical. Treatments can lead to recovery, facilitating productive lives. Timely assessment and adequate services for early symptoms go a long way toward preventing later, more serious problems.

Unfortunately, efforts to get Jared Loughner help had been made but were not successful; the reasons perhaps will become clearer with time. It is time to take a serious look at the lack of public understanding of serious psychiatric illness in youth, glaring inadequacies in mental health care, as well as delays in care, often for many years. Most people with mental disorders in the United States remain either untreated or poorly treated.The mental health system in the U.S is dangerously underfinanced and its infrastructure is crumbling. Many students with emotional difficulties on college campuses tend to not seek mental health services because of stigma attached to being diagnosed with a mental illness.

Negative portrayals of mental illness in the media are one major cause of stigma. Seriously mentally ill individuals can often put themselves or others in danger especially when they are acutely ill, and not in treatment. However, studies in general show that violence is actually no more prevalent overall among individuals with treated mental illness than the general public; the mentally ill are in fact more likely to be victims of violence.

The emotional toll for the survivors of the massacre and the families of the victims is huge, and the loss is incalculable. The immediate response to provide prompt grief counseling is laudable. Counseling to deal with the grief is critically needed in order to minimize long term negative consequences of the trauma.

In the aftermath of the Arizona tragedy, it is vital we emphasize the need for improving mental health services and early intervention for school and college campuses. There is no better antidote to stigma than education. Our high schools, colleges and universities need to be better educated about the signs of, and early detection for emotional disturbances, which can be nipped in the bud before they escalate into serious disasters. Proactive steps include disseminating mental health information at school orientation as well as training programs for staff, faculty, athletes, resident assistants, counseling services, faith-based organizations, sororities and fraternities. Security personnel and university operations and maintenance staff also need to be educated. Counseling centers need to be better staffed, and networked with state of the art capabilities of psychiatric diagnosis, preventive and therapeutic services.

Matcheri S. Keshavan M.D. is the Stanley Cobb Professor and Vice-Chair for Public Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry,
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and
Massachusetts Mental Health Center,
Harvard Medical School

Linda Stalters, MSN. Is Founder and Board Chair, Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America
Contact (240) 423-9432; linda.stalters@sardaa.org

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) works to improve the lives of people with schizophrenia and related disorders.

“Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia”

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A compelling documentary about schizophrenia which is coming to public television stations across the country beginning October 1, in conjunction with Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 3-9, 2010).

“Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia”is a look at one woman’s personal journey to reconnect with her father, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, after more than a decade of hiding from him and being unlisted in the phonebook. Delaney Ruston, a physician and documentarian, offers a rare real-world look into the myriad ways schizophrenia impacts individuals and families.

Schizophrenia is a heavily stigmatized disease – often fueled by misinformed characterizations seen in the movies or in sensational news stories – but we feel strongly that Delaney’s film can help to dispel myths and spark conversations that empower those touched by schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses, to be their own best advocates.

In recognition of airing of “Unlisted,” and Mental Illness Awareness Week, we would like to offer an interview with Delaney Ruston to discuss her film and the importance of bringing greater awareness and understanding surrounding schizophrenia. In addition, Dr. Marvin Swartz, Division Head, Social and Community Psychiatry, Duke University, is also available to discuss schizophrenia from a medical standpoint. We feel that this topic will be interesting, timely and relevant to your readers.

The film’s trailer is available for download at (ftp.opb.org / User: unlisted / Password: trailer). To learn more about Unlisted and for information on local airings, visit www.unlistedfilm.com.

Movie “The Soloist”

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The Soloist is a film is based on a true story of Nathaniel Ayers, a musician who has schizophrenia and is homeless. Jamie Foxx portrays Nathaniel Ayers, who is considered a cello prodigy, and Robert Downey Jr. portrays Steve Lopez, a Los Angeles Times columnist who discovers Ayers and writes about him in the newspaper. Production of the film began in January 2008 and will be filmed mostly in Los Angeles. The film was scheduled to be released on November 21, 2008, but has been delayed to March 13, 2009, and then to April 24, 2009.[1] 

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Soloist

Please visit the official movie site  The Soloist

You can purchase the book through our Amazon link and help support SARDAA – Here

I had the opportunity to view “The Soloist” on opening day.  It was quite realistic for the particular segment of the population covered.  The homeless people who have schizophrenia represent about 40% of the homeless but does not represent all the people who suffer with schizophrenia.  Having said that, the very cruel situation that people with schizophrenia may find themselves in is fairly accurately portrayed in the movie.  Even more unfortunately, the reality that  jails and prisons “serve” as a cruel psychiatric “institution” for people who require and deserve 100% better care and treatment.

I would like to see some films depicting the “other side of the coin”, the positive stories of hope and encouragement.  The true stories of the Joanne Verbanics, the Fred Freses, the Moe Armstrongs and the other bright, sensitive, altruistic successful people who demonstrate the struggles and the successful coping with schizophrenia.  It takes more than “will power”, it takes people helping people, education, appropriate treatment and support.  Thank you to the heroes who work daily to succeed.

Please see Pete Earley’s comments on “The Soloist”   http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/05/the-soloist-enlightens.html

Childhood abuse and adult psychosis

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The following is a link to a news report on a recent study about childhood abuse being linked to psychosis in adulthood.  It is not clear from the article how much effort was made to see if the claims of abuse were substantiated and verified by the researchers.

Abuse

Submitted by Darrell H

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Updates from NIMH

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