Message from Executive Director

Dear Friends,
Thank you all for your contributions to support the mission of SARDAA – improving lives affected by schizophrenia-related brain illnesses.
With your support we have accomplished much but there is so much more to do.  Our Schizophrenia App has been a great success and Harvard researchers are collaborating with SARDAA to make a difference in lives utilizing the App.  We exhibited at the American Psychiatric Association Conference in Atlanta and received many supportive comments from the clinicians who visited our booth.  They were in support of the BRAIN Campaign, showed great interest in the Schizophrenia App and the SA and FFS peer support groups.  We look forward to exhibiting at the national NAMI conference in Denver next month and always enjoy meeting people at their conference.
We continue to collaborate with many stakeholders in our efforts to advocate for improved access to treatment and the elimination of discrimination.  Our BRAIN Campaign video will be aired on Southwest Airlines inflight media during the months of October and November.  We are collaborating with thebloc communications to create a video showing the importance of supportive carers in the lives of individuals living with a schizophrenia-related brain illness.
Congratulations to the SA leadership, especially Brian Donahue, for the many hours and efforts to support SA – they provided a great workshop in Detroit, MI. where Zach E, Randen O, Sr Lucindia, Nora B and Emmett Biffle were fantastic speakers and trainers.
The SA leaders have worked diligently to distribute and collect surveys to help make the difficult decision to update the name of SA to Schizophrenia Alliance.  The new name will help people recognize that they are not their diagnosis as group members work together in their recovery journeys.
Happy Father’s Day and best wishes,
Linda Stalters, MSN
Executive Director
Schizophrenia And Related Disorders Alliance of America

Ditch the Pen and Paper

Did you know that journaling is proven to have a positive impact on wellbeing? Journaling is a powerful way to practice self-care by giving yourself a tool to learn, understand, and reflect on yourself and your situation. Use your SARDAA Health Storylines journal tool to capture your thoughts and emotions and improve your quality of life.

See how others benefit from self reflection on our

Need help? Feel free to reach us at 1-844-475-4637. Have a great weekend!

Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 2646)

In a historic moment for people with severe mental illness and their families, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 2646) passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee markup this morning with all provisions intact to help people with a severe psychiatric disease; now the bill advances to the House floor.

TODAY’s unanimous, bipartisan vote by the Energy and Commerce Committee is a tremendous victory for the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and for people with severe mental illness and their families.

Together we can continue the pressure to get this bill to the floor.  It is time for the nearly million Americans with schizophrenia and bipolar brain disorders to have access and opportunity to be treated NOT punished and for their carers to help them succeed.

Drug that suppresses immune system may help people with schizophrenia

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University recently conducted a small research study on the efficacy of tocilizumab, an immune-suppressing drug, as a potential treatment for schizophrenia. They found that — although the drug did not address the psychotic symptoms of the disorder — patients experienced a significant reduction in cognitive symptoms, such as memory loss and difficulties with complex planning.

The encouraging results of this study were published in a report in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

To read about the study further, please click here to visit the Sovereign Health blog page.

Unlocking the Black Box of Schizophrenia – 7 myths about schizophrenia

Few mental disorders are as misunderstood as schizophrenia. When we turn on the television, we’re saturated with images of unpredictable “psychotic” villains. The word “schizo” is an insult that might be heard in a high school hallway. People with schizophrenia are often discriminated against, in part because most of the public doesn’t understand what schizophrenia really is.

Here are seven commonly held myths about schizophrenia and the facts that prove them wrong.

1. People with schizophrenia have multiple personalities.

Many individuals incorrectly believe that people with schizophrenia have multiple personalities. In fact, a 2008 survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found that a startling 64 percent of the population couldn’t recognize the symptoms associated with schizophrenia and instead thought that the disorder caused people to experience “split” or multiple personalities.

To read further, please click here to visit the Sovereign Health Group website.

Unlocking the Black Box of Schizophrenia – Researchers identify schizophrenia’s strongest genetic link

Schizophrenia is a psychiatric illness that affects roughly 1 in every 100 adults. To put this into perspective, you are more likely to develop schizophrenia than to win the lottery, even if you buy over 130,000 tickets.

Luckily — or unluckily, depending on your family history — schizophrenia is as much as 90 percent heritable. In other words, people who develop schizophrenia typically have a family member with the disorder. Because schizophrenia appears to be at least in part genetic, scientists have been on the hunt for genes that may contribute to the development of the disorder.

Earlier this year, a landmark scientific study was published in the prestigious journal Nature. A group of scientists claimed to have uncovered one of schizophrenia’s strongest genetic components.

The results of this study could very well alter the way in which clinicians treat schizophrenia — forever.

To read about the study further, please click here to visit the Sovereign Health Group website.

International efforts to increase global mental health

When we think of the top issues on the global scale, the list usually reads as follows: world peace, an end to hunger and increased prosperity in the far reaches of the earth. But what about mental health across our planet?

The latter is an issue worth international attention, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It states that depression affects 400 million people, making mental health diseases overall “the single largest contributor to years lived with disability globally.”

Mental health is a universal issue

According to the National Institutes of Health, as it concerns mental wellness, “all countries are developing countries.” WHO says the economic backlash of not treating mental health disorders costs $1 trillion internationally every year.

According to former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy, founder of the Kennedy Forum and co-founder of One Mind, parity in mental health care is the first global hurdle.

“It’s against the law to discriminate against someone who has a brain illness,” he says of the U.S. and describes mental health parity as a medical civil rights issue across the globe.

To read further, please click here to visit the Sovereign Health Group website.

Vitamin D in Schizophrenia: A Clinical Review

Vitamin D (vitD) is known for its essential role in calcium homeostasis and bone health. VitD is made endogenously in the skin from UVB radiation from sunlight. VitD is now considered as a potent neurosteroid hormone, critical to brain development and normal brain function, and is known for its anti-inflammatory property affecting various aspects of human health. VitD ligand-receptor, a receptor that mediates much of vitD’s biological actions, has been found throughout the body including the central nervous system. VitD deficiency is common in patients with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a debilitating chronic mental illness characterised by positive symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, and negative symptoms including flat affect and lack of motivation. Several environmental risk factors for schizophrenia, such as season of birth, latitude and migration, have been linked to vitD deficiency. Recent studies have suggested a potential role of vitD in the development of schizophrenia. For example, neonatal vitD status is associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia in later life obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, hyperlipidaemia and cardiovascular disease, which are commonly seen in patients with schizophrenia. It has been well established that vitD deficiency is related to these metabolic problems. The biological mechanism is most likely related to vitD’s action on the regulation of inflammatory and immunological processes, consequently affecting the manifestation of clinical symptoms and treatment response of schizophrenia. Potential benefits of vitD supplementation to improve schizophrenia symptoms as well as physical health in patients with schizophrenia should be further explored in future studies.

To read the complete report, please click here.

Adherence Therapy Versus Routine Psychiatric Care for People With Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders

Background: Current practice guidelines for schizophrenia care recommend that antipsychotic medication is essential for patients’ long-term maintenance treatment but their non-adherence to this medication is still a main obstacle to relapse prevention. This study evaluated the effects of a motivational-interviewing-based adherence therapy for people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

Methods: This randomised controlled trial was conducted with 134 outpatients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders; 67 of them received a six-session adherence therapy (in addition to usual care) and 67 received usual psychiatric care alone. Participants’ outcome measures included symptom severity, medication adherence, hospitalisation rates, insight into illness/treatment, and functioning. Results: The adherence therapy group reported significantly greater improvements in symptom severity (p < 0.003), insight into illness/treatment (p < 0.001), functioning (p < 0.005), duration of re-hospitalisations (p < 0.005), and medication adherence (p < 0.005) over 18 months follow-up, when compared with usual care alone.

Conclusions: Motivational-interviewing-based adherence therapy can be an effective approach to treatment for people with early stage of schizophrenia who poorly adhere to medication regimen.

To read the complete report, please click here

Jumping to Conclusions Predicts Worse Psychosis Outcomes

Patients with first-episode psychosis who jump to conclusions may be at risk for significantly worse longer-term clinical outcomes, new research shows. Investigators from King’s College London, United Kingdom, found that the trait of jumping to conclusions (JTC) was linked to a significant increase in the number of days of hospitalization and a more than threefold increased risk of undergoing involuntary hospitalization after 4 years of follow-up. The findings were presented here at the Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) 2016 Biennial Meeting.

To read further, please click here.