Message From SA Administrator Brian Donahue

Brian Donahue

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  Here in Torrington, Connecticut, we will celebrate tomorrow evening with a Candlelight Vigil.  At this Vigil, persons in recovery will read their personal stories of recovery.

On May 21ST, we are holding a one-day Workshop on SA.  You must register before May 16TH, so we know how much food to order.  Come to hear everything about SA; from its beginnings in Detroit to its expansion across the country and around the world.  There is a $5 registration fee.  If you cannot afford the fee scholarships are available.

We are always looking for new SA group leaders.  If there is no SA group in your area, seriously consider starting one yourself.  If you have a friend to help you that will make it even easier.  Contact SARDAA and you will receive all the help you need.  You can call SARDAA at: 1-240-423-9432.

For the month of May, attend your local celebration of Mental Health Month, start a SA group, join our SA calls on Thursday, Friday, or Sunday nights, and most of all plan to attend our SA Workshop on May 21ST.

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.

Click here to read the seven commonly held myths about schizophrenia and the facts that prove them wrong.


Make your SARDAA Health Storylines app your own

Sardaa Health Storylines

Did you know that you can customize your SARDAA Health Storylines app to best meet your wellness needs? You can personalize your app with the tools that you need to optimize your care and wellbeing.

Simply go to the tool library on the left-sidebar of your app, and browse through many categories to find the tools that will best help you. Please let us know if you need any assistance, and don’t be shy to contact us at (844) 475-4637. We are here to help you!

Click here to know more about the SARDAA Health Storylines App.

Unbelievable: Colorado Debates Holding People in a Psychiatric Crisis in Jail

In another outrageous and devastating example of our national psychiatric bed shortage, Colorado state lawmakers are debating legislation that would place people in the middle of a psychotic episode in jail – even though they haven’t committed a crime. The bill has already passed in the Senate and is now in the House.

How is this even happening? Colorado only has 23 percent of the beds necessary to meet the needs of its population with severe mental illness. Law enforcement says they need to put people with severe mental illness somewhere and often there are no beds available. Holding someone in jail during a psychotic episode is NOT the solution. People with severe mental illness deserve #aBedInstead of jail.

To read further, please click here visit the Treatment Advocacy Center blog.


Transforming Mental Health Care

Reference: Report from Medscape

Starting With Change Around the Edges

As nurses, we hold an ethical imperative to care for all who are ill. We aspire to be forces for social good. And we are educated in holistic and humanistic theories of “caring.” Yet most of us work in health care systems that operate from the medical model. Health care delivery is divided by specialty care that is intent on disease intervention and focuses on reductionist reasoning for many of the tasks we undertake daily. From this dominant paradigm, health professionals have a shared view that approaches the treatment of a person by separating mental and physical illness. In practice, maintaining this paradoxical distinction in our work as caregivers can be straining and can impede our efforts to do what is right for our patients, families, and communities. To be sure, the Affordable Care Act expanded mental health parity for all Americans by making it one of the essential health benefits. But the implementation of this parity is far from complete. One need only follow the many stories presented by the media regarding mental health issues to form a picture of a bleak, complex, and broken system. There is some accuracy in the dark side of this picture, but there is also hope. Parts of the system are innovating and changing how we care for the whole person. Some of this innovation and change rests on a vision of a more comprehensive health care system that will also support mental health integration. Two steps toward fulfilling this vision are underway: Treating the patient at the point of care where she or he is most comfortable and using teams of health care providers that can address social, economic, and culture differences to truly deliver a patient-centered approach to treatment and prevention. This type of good news seldom receives the same level of media attention. Thus, it is essential for those of us who work in health professions to recognize the good work individuals and organizations are doing to improve the delivery of mental health services in communities across the country.

To read a pdf of the complete report, please click here.

Schizophrenia Awareness Week: 17 – 23 May 2016

Schizophrenia is an illness, a medical condition. It affects the normal functioning of the brain, interfering with a person’s ability to think, feel and act. Some do recover completely, and, with time, most find that their symptoms improve. However, for many, it is a prolonged illness, which can involve years of distressing symptoms and disability.

People affected by schizophrenia have one ‘personality,’ just like everyone else. It is a myth and totally untrue that those affected have a so-called ‘split personality’.

To get more information about Schizophrenia, please click here to visit The Psych Professionals Blog.

Unlocking the Black Box of Schizophrenia

Researchers identify schizophrenia’s strongest genetic link

(Source: Sovereign Health Group)

The Sovereign Health Group is pleased to release the first part of its editorial campaign “Unlocking the Black Box of Schizophrenia.” This series will explore the biological origins, symptoms and stigma associated with schizophrenia. This month-long campaign is designed to promote schizophrenia awareness during the month of May, which is designated as Mental Health Month, and in observance of Schizophrenia Awareness Week from May 17 through May 23. Coverage includes investigative reporting, educational articles, infographics and interactive elements such as slideshows.

This first installment introduces exciting new research from Harvard Medical School about the genetic origins behind schizophrenia. Researchers have found a gene that appears to be significantly involved in the development of psychosis. So far, this marks the most conclusive evidence of schizophrenia’s biological origins thus far. “This study marks a crucial turning point in the fight against mental illness. It changes the game,” explained the acting director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D.

Check out the first installment of the series,Researchers identify schizophrenia’s strongest genetic link.” This article includes a slideshow and infographic for readers.

Significant Treatment Effect of Adjunct Music Therapy to Standard Treatment on the Positive, Negative, and Mood Symptoms of Schizophrenic Patients

Background: Music therapy (MT) has been used as adjunct therapy for schizophrenia for decades. However, its role is still inconclusive. A recent meta-analysis demonstrated that MT for schizophrenic patients only significantly benefits negative symptoms and mood symptoms rather than positive symptoms. In addition, the association between specific characteristics of MT and the treatment effect remains unclear. The aim of this study was to update the published data and to explore the role of music therapy in adjunct treatment in schizophrenia with a thorough meta-analysis.

Methods: We compared the treatment effect in schizophrenic patients with standard treatment who did and did not receive adjunct MT through a meta-analysis, and investigated the clinical characteristics of MT through meta-regression.

Results: The main finding was that the treatment effect was significantly better in the patients who received adjunct MT than in those who did not, in negative symptoms, mood symptoms, and also positive symptoms (all p < 0.05). This significance did not change after dividing the patients into subgroups of different total duration of MT, amounts of sessions, or frequency of MT. Besides, the treatment effect on the general symptoms was significantly positively associated with the whole duration of illness, indicating that MT would be beneficial for schizophrenic patients with a chronic course.

Conclusions: Our meta-analysis highlights a significantly better treatment effect in schizophrenic patients who received MT than in those who did not, especially in those with a chronic course, regardless of the duration, frequency, or amounts of sessions of MT. These findings provide evidence that clinicians should apply MT for schizophrenic patients to alleviate disease severity.

To read the article further, please click here to visit the Medscape website.

‘You Are Okay’: A Support and Educational Program for Children With Mild Intellectual Disability and Their Parents With a Mental Illness

Background: Children of parents with a mental illness or substance use disorder (COPMI) have an increased risk of developing social-emotional problems themselves. Fear of stigmatisation or unawareness of problems prevents children and parents from understanding each other. Little is known about COPMI with mild intellectual disabilities (ID), except that they have a high risk of developing social-emotional problems and require additional support. In this study, we introduce a program for this group, the effectiveness of which we will study using a quasi-experimental design based on matching. The program ‘You are okay’ consists of a support group for children and an online educational program for parents. The goal of the program is to increase children and parents’ perceived competence with an aim to prevent social-emotional problems in children.

Methods/Design: Children between ten and twenty years old with mild ID (IQ between 50 and 85) and at least one of their parents with a mental illness will be included in the study. The children will receive part time treatment or residential care from an institute for children with mild ID and behavioural problems. Participants will be assigned to the intervention or the control group. The study has a quasi-experimental design. The children in the intervention group will join a support group, and their parents will be offered an online educational program. Children in the control group will receive care as usual, and their parents will have no extra offer. Assessments will be conducted at baseline, post-test, and follow up (6 months). Children, parents, and social workers will fill out the questionnaires.

Discussion: The ‘You are okay’ program is expected to increase children and parents’ perceived competence, which can prevent (further) social-emotional problem development. Because the mental illness of parents can be related to the behavioural problems of their children, it is important that children and parents understand each other. When talking about the mental illness of parents becomes standard in children’s treatment, stigmatisation and the fear for stigmatisation can decrease.

To read the article further, please click here to visit the Medscape website.

Scientists Find Gene Fault That Raises Schizophrenia Risk 35-Fold

Scientists say they have conclusive evidence that changes to a gene called SETD1A can dramatically raise the risk of developing schizophrenia – a finding that should help the search for new treatments.

The team, led by researchers at Britain’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said damaging changes to the gene happen very rarely but can increase the risk of schizophrenia 35-fold.

Changes in SETD1A also raise the risk of a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, the researchers said.

In a study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the team found that mutations that remove the function of SETD1A are almost never found in the general population, but affect one in 1,000 people with schizophrenia.


To read the article further, please click here to visit the Medscape website.