A Cause For Community

by Elizabeth Elfenbein, Columnist, February 3, 2017
We live in a patient-empowered world. People understand their healthcare challenges like never before. They become mini-experts during their journey to getting diagnosed. Yet, once a patient arrives at their diagnosis, they reach an inflection point and are suddenly alone with their experience. That’s where communities come in.

Shared experiences empower individuals and communities

Advocacy groups and communities for all kinds of disease states have the ability to ignite an individual and the greater community. And when we refer to communities, we’re referring to patients with a specific disease, the healthcare professionals who care for and treat them, and the caregivers who support them.

The power of these communities to help build understanding and awareness about a particular disease, educate, and bring together a group of people who are going through a shared experience is unbelievable. It has the ability to drive a cause and change behavior by getting people to fight for their health and their life. It has the power to effect industry change with research that attempts to find a cure, and it also has the potential to change legislation.


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Impaired Glucose Homeostasis in First-Episode Schizophrenia; A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Findings  In this meta-analysis of 14 case-control studies comprising 1345 participants, individuals with first-episode schizophrenia had elevated fasting plasma glucose levels, elevated plasma glucose levels after an oral glucose tolerance test, and elevated fasting plasma insulin levels,as well as greater insulin resistance compared with healthy individuals serving as controls.

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Blocking Overactive Enzyme Could Treat Symptoms of Schizophrenia

By Brain and Behavior Research Foundation

New research suggests that cognitive and behavioral symptoms of schizophrenia may stem at least in part from elevated levels of an enzyme called STEP, which is also thought to be overactive in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Experiments in cells collected from patients and in animals suggest that blocking the STEP enzyme, which acts on the connections between neurons to influence their communication, may be an effective future strategy for treating schizophrenia.

In an October 18 publication of the journal Molecular Psychiatry, a team of researchers led by Kristen Brennand, Ph.D., a 2012 NARSAD Young Investigator and 2016 Independent Investigator at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Paul J. Lombroso, M.D., Ph.D., a 1993, 2001, and 2003 Independent Investigator and 2006 Distinguished Investigator at Yale School of Medicine, report that blocking the STEP enzyme alleviates schizophrenia-like behaviors in animal models of the disorder.

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Dr. Carrie Bearden, CAPPS & the NAPLS: Early Detection and Intervention for Psychosis

Under Dr. Bearden’s leadership, CAPPS has revealed new evidence supporting biomarkers for oncoming psychosis, and provided life-saving treatment for hundreds of youth at risk.

Psychosis is one of the most distressing and debilitating mental health symptoms one can experience, and the earlier someone afflicted receives treatment, the better the potential outcome. The best-case scenario: prevention. At the Staglin Music Festival Center for the Assessment and Prevention of Prodromal States (CAPPS) at UCLA, young persons at clinical high risk or in a first episode of psychotic illness participate in research to discover symptomatic and biological indicators for oncoming psychosis (i.e. the prodrome), and engage in preventive programs to strengthen their mental health. In 2015-16, under the leadership of Carrie Bearden, Ph.D., CAPPS has collaborated with the 9-site consortium of which it is a part to reveal powerful discoveries aiding prediction: elucidating a potential biomarker for the prodrome, and confirming evidence for several other biological markers.


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Message from Schizophrenia Alliance, Coordinator Katie L.

In these eventful times, it may be good to take a moment, for ourselves. Perhaps, leaving Facebook and Twitter to fend for themselves; and to focus on our coping skills. What coping skills are we using to help bring ourselves to the surface? Are we acquainted with the calm place inside of us?
Have you tried meditation or radical acceptance? These skills help bring the busy world into perspective and help us to see our place in it.
Maybe, in the next month, we can work on our positive coping mechanisms. We can bring ourselves closer to that healthy perspective that we all aim for.
Best wishes,
Katie L.

Message from FFS, Family and Friends, Coordinator Mary Ross

Ideally ‘self-care’ should be at the top of our priorities in our lives. We love our family members, our friends, but if we are not at our optimal best we are less able to be there in a support role of them. In my search for self-care I realized that I fortunately have found myself on a health path for decades, but somehow have overlooked the health of one’s brain. I’ve been aware of a renowned psychiatrist by the name of Daniel Amen, MD, who has gone above and beyond, in my opinion, in teaching about the importance of practicing brain health. I found his comprehensive address of this in his book ‘The Brain Warrior’s Way’. Having a stack of books awaiting time to read them I opted for his version of the book in CD form. While on lengthy drives to visit my daughter I listen with interest to his insights. In summary Dr. Amen advocates looking at one’s lifestyle including a health supportive diet (not the SAD…standard American diet), engaging regularly in physical activity and exercise (not being sedentary) and stress reduction by participating in things such as meditation and yoga, among others. Dr. Amen’s website is www.brainhealth.com if you wish to learn more. This message is intended for care partners of those diagnosed, but I believe the information would be appropriate for one on the recovery road or having interest in getting there.

To your health,
Mary Ross

Message From Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Thank you all for the courageous and brave work you do every day. Everyone who lives with psychosis and wakes up to live each day to their best ability and maintain their plan to pursue a meaningful day, congratulations. Everyone who helps their loved one or others get through each day in their pursuit of hope and success in their life, congratulations. You are heroes and you each have your unique challenges and gifts and success is measured distinctively for each individual. We applaud you all.
We are grateful for your helping us help others and welcome your comments and suggestions.
Please be sure to create a brief video to add to the hearingvoicesofsupport facebook page and add your voice of support on the hearingvoicesofsupport.org website. Based on these entries we will create our very unique and award winning Hearing Voices of Support Experiential event in New York City during Schizophrenia Awareness Week, the third week in May. Your voice can be heard by thousands!
Please share your artwork – we will post the juried items.

Warmest regards,

Linda Stalters, MSN
Executive Director

Strategies to Improve Mental Health Care for Children and Adolescents: Research Review

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality review assesses the effectiveness of quality improvement, implementation, and dissemination strategies that seek to improve the mental health care of children and adolescents.

Approximately one in five children and adolescents living in the United States has one or more mental, emotional, or behavioral health disorders according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria in any given year. These disorders contribute to problems with family, peers, and academic functioning; comorbidity (including other mental and substance use disorders and chronic health conditions); and reduced quality of life; they also increase the risk of involvement with the criminal justice system and other risk-taking behaviors and suicide. The evidence base for pediatric mental health interventions that target mood disorders, anxiety disorders, disruptive behavior disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, and substance use disorders continues to grow. Despite advances in the evidence base, outcomes for children with mental health problems remain suboptimal because of issues with access to care, failure of systems and providers to adopt interventions with proven efficacy (e.g., evidence-based practices [EBPs]), and variability in the quality of mental health care received. Studies using nationally representative data on U.S. adolescents show that only approximately one in five children with mental health problems receives services, and only one-third of treatment episodes are considered minimally adequate (at least four visits with psychotropic medication or at least eight visits without psychotropic medication). The current health care system continues to provide fragmented care to children in numerous uncoordinated systems, rendering inefficient delivery of needed services. Other issues include providers not having the time available or knowledge/training to identify mental health problems and treat or refer accordingly.

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HHS selects eight states for new demonstration program to improve access to high quality behavioral health services

HHS announced the selection of eight states for participation in a two-year Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program designed to improve behavioral health services in their communities. This demonstration is part of a comprehensive effort to integrate behavioral health with physical health care, increase consistent use of evidence-based practices, and improve access to high-quality care for people with mental and substance use disorders. The eight states HHS selected for this demonstration program include Minnesota, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.

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Chantix and Zyban: Drug Safety Communication – Mental Health Side Effects Revised, FDA

Based on a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of a large clinical trial that FDA required the drug companies to conduct, FDA determined the risk of serious side effects on mood, behavior, or thinking with the stop-smoking medicines Chantix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion) is lower than previously suspected. The risk of these mental health side effects is still present, especially in those currently being treated for mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia, or who have been treated for mental illnesses in the past; however, most people who had these side effects did not have serious consequences such as hospitalization. The results of the trial confirm that the benefits of stopping smoking outweigh the risks of these medicines. FDA review of the clinical trial results also confirmed that Chantix, Zyban, and nicotine replacement patches were all more effective for helping people quit smoking than was an inactive treatment called a placebo. These medicines were found to better help people quit smoking regardless of whether or not they had a history of mental illness.

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