2014-2015 Lilly Reintegration Scholarship -- Applications Now Available!
The Lilly Reintegration Scholarship was established 16 years ago to help students with severe mental illness offset their tuition, books and lab fees. The program is designed to help individuals acquire the educational and vocational skills needed to reintegrate into society and is open to persons living with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder and – this year the program expands to include those living with major depressive disorder, as well.
Click here to download the application and read more about the program.
2014 Inspiring Hope Awards- Application process is now closed, winners will be announced in January.
The Inspiring Hope Awards, supported by Eli Lilly and Company, are building on the legacy of the Lilly Reintegration Awards and Welcome Back Awards to recognize individuals who’ve shown extraordinary tenacity and courage in battling serious mental illness and are living full lives and pursuing their goals. These awards also honor the clinicians, advocates, and organizations that care for and support these individuals in their recovery, changing lives and building healthy communities. Since 2012, the National Council has partnered with Eli Lilly and Company to present these awards.
There are 12 categories to nominate an individual or an organization, learn more and apply online here.
We can do better for Mental Health
The mental health field has a tendency to sit back and avoid conflict. It’s part of the professional formation of mental health clinicians. This can be a useful tool when dealing with a “patient”, not very practical when it comes to dealing with systems and the broader society. Recently, two new tragedies (both in our nation’s capitol) point to the failure of a mental health system overburdened and underfunded.
For years there has been an outcry on how the mental health field has failed it’s “patients” and by direct consequence society as a whole. We look at how the average person with serious and persistent mental illness lives in a substandard living condition, often time s the victim of violence, as opposed to the perpetrator of it, with rates of unemployment reaching 80-90%. When an act of violence occurs, it will receive a disproportionate amount of media scrutiny compared to non mental illness related violence. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teenagers and Veterans.
Reasons for these discrepancies are numerous with long standing historical basis. Fear and ignorance are the predominant causes of this failure. Another important reason has been the lack of data supporting success for recovery from serious mental illness. We all know what doesn’t work, but how many people understand what does work when it comes to recovery from these terrible illnesses. Fountain House and its’ replications have shown success throughout the world. What we need is to raise the bar of expectations, and look for those programs that deliver hope and real opportunities for reintegration.
We are proud at the Center for Reintegration to be part of the Lilly Scholarships and the Reintegration Awards. For almost twenty years underscoring that recovery from mental illness is possible.
My Child Has Schizophrenia
What Should I Do, What Can I Do?
People with schizophrenia typically exhibit their first symptoms during adolescence or young adulthood, and thus are likely to be living with their parents. When parents first learn their child has schizophrenia, they usually experience a range of strong emotions - shock, confusion, dismay, sadness, and even anger. Parents often search frantically for answers that may not exist. They may even deny their child's illness or blame themselves or their circumstances for the illness. Read more>>
We See A Better Life ...
There are numerous forms of psychiatric rehabilitation available in our country; the sad fact is that less than 10% of persons with serious mental illness recieve any. The following is an article about one type of program that we encourage you to explore:
The Clubhouse and Psychiatry
By Thomas J. Malamud
Recently two activities of interest have transpired, concerning the relationship of clubhouse programs and the field of psychiatry. Just a few months ago a Utah-based clubhouse conducted a brief survey of ICCD programs asking if psychiatrists are present on Boards of Directors. Currently, Fountain House is planning on hosting a 2-day seminar exploring the ways that psychiatry and clubhouses can work together in the rehabilitation process.
DSM 5, NIMH distances itself?
The American Psychiatric Association recently released its new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Dr. Insel( director NIMH) recently stated that “The goal of this new manual, as with all previous editions, is to provide a common language for describing psychopathology. While DSM has been described as a “Bible” for the field, it is, at best, a dictionary, creating a set of labels and defining each. The strength of each of the editions of DSM has been “reliability” – each edition has ensured that clinicians use the same terms in the same ways. The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever. Indeed, symptom-based diagnosis, once common in other areas of medicine, has been largely replaced in the past half century as we have understood that symptoms alone rarely indicate the best choice of treatment.”
As you can imagine, this has set off a firestorm about the whole validity of psychiatry in general. Numerous media outlets have gone as far as to say that NIMH abandoning the latest DSM is proof that psychiatry is not real science.
There is little doubt that psychiatry has often times in the past not served its’ patients well. There have been numerous times where the practice of psychiatry has bordered on bad medicine, and there is no need to defend its’ bad behavior. What does need to be underscored are all those who worked and treated the serious mentally ill with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. What needs to be highlighted are the countless suicides that have been prevented. Yes, treating, preventing and helping people return to better quality of life should be the goal of the field. Not only with medication, talk therapy, and other rehabilitative programs such as Fountain House and similar programs. Housing for the homeless mentally ill, together with friends and families have been supportive interventions that are also part of this equation.
There is no blood test for schizophrenia, no x-ray for bipolar disorder and no genetic marker for major depression. Psychiatry bases its diagnostic criteria on symptoms, and history, and how persons are functioning in their daily routines. No, it is not precise, and mistakes happen, and yes, patients get misdiagnosed.
Hypertension, is predominately measured with a sfyngmometer, a devise developed around 1900. The problem is that it captures your blood pressure at that point in time, does not necessarily have the whole picture of how your blood pressure reacts to stressful conditions. Treatment therefore occurs based on that small window of time, leaving out the rest of ones life.
Psychosis, left untreated, can lead to very painful and dangerous moments. Auditory command hallucinations can lead to suicide or homicide.
The DSM is no bible or Rosetta stone, it’s a guide to assist in an often difficult task to help those or suffer from these terrible diseases.
Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder can be very traumatic words when presented to a person who has just had their first break. Losing your mind, not being able to distinguish reality from fiction can be a scary moment. Imagine if you are 20 years old and told you will never be able to move forward with your life because of it? Usually, many months to years pass before a person gets the appropriate attention for psychotic or mood labile symptoms. Often the person ends up in an ER brought in by police and if the ER isn’t equipped to deal with psychiatric emergencies, the injury gets compounded by the patient hearing derogatory terms thrown at them like “crazy”, wackadoo etc.
In our society there remains fear when dealing with psychotic thoughts that lead to aberrant behavior, including many health professionals. Much is said about quality mental health programs, but what does that mean? Symptom relief, staying out of the ER or inpatient unit, is this the best we can do, are these our standards of care?
Over the last ten years we have seen progress in the treatment of serious and persistent mental illness, many persons have moved forward with their lives, working, going back to school, reconnecting with friends and family. Unfortunately, many others have not. Large numbers of homeless persons have serious and persistent mental illness, large numbers of inmates in our prisons have serious and persistent mental illness, too many people are left floundering left to their own devises.
We know what works and we need to present persons struggling with these illnesses real hope and opportunities so they may heal and have productive and fulfilling lives. Programs like Fountain House in New York, the Village in California are two examples of mental health services that go beyond symptoms relief. These programs do reintegration, get people back to work, back to life.
Academic medicine has not embraced this concept; the Harvard’s, Mayo Clinics of the world have not integrated state of the psychiatric care with rehabilitation and reintegration. Without hope and real skills trainings persons with these illnesses will continue to struggle to turn their lives around. They will continue the revolving door of mental health care, they will continue to end up in our prisons, and we will continue to read about terrible incidents like Tuscon, Arizona.
It all begins with each of us understanding that schizophrenia is an illness, no different than any other medical condition. It is an illness that can be treated and that people do get better.
We are what we eat!
Recently, there has been a general revision of the food pyramid and an overall look at nutrition in our country. The FDA is now recomending that ultimately we reduce our total caloric intake, in other words eat less. As more information emerges around nutrition, we believe it is important to revisit how we approach food. Historically we have struggled with good nutrition, poverty being a major impediment to this goal. Today with a greater abundance of food in the western world, often times choices affect the quality of what we eat. Obesity is becoming a greater killer than smoking, and the cost of this disease is breaking the healthcare budget.
We would love to hear your thoughts and comments about this topic. Read more >>
Jury Duty for Persons with Serious and Persistent Mental Illness
A search of the literature for jury duty and mental illness shows the how’s and why's of getting out of jury duty.
However, there is no data that points out the frequency and adherence of persons with serious and persistent mental illness serving as jurors. In most mental health settings, both public and private, it is almost a knee jerk response to excuse persons with illnesses, such as schizophrenia, from taking on their responsibilities as citizens.
We believe, as part of Reintegration, persons in recovery from illness’s such as Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder disorder should participate in jury duty.
If anyone has any information on jury duty participation from persons with serious and persistent mental illness please let us know.
People Say I'm Crazy:
A Filmmaker with Schizophrenia Presents His Personal Experience
People Say I’m Crazy is the first documentary on schizophrenia that was crafted by someone who lives with the illness. John Cadigan produced the film to gain a better understanding of how his schizoaffective disorder—a combination of schizophrenia and depression—impacts himself and his family. Read More>>
Journey into the Brain with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., was a 37-year-old Harvard-trained and published brain scientist when a blood vessel exploded in her brain. Through the eyes of a curious neuroanatomist, she watched her mind completely deteriorate - she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. Because of her understanding of how the brain works, her respect for the cells composing her human form, and an amazing mother, Jill completely recovered her mind and body. In My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey, Jill shares with us her recommendations for recovery and the insight she gained from having this ironic and unusual voyage into, and back out of, the silent abyss of a wounded mind.
Jill Bolte Taylor is a spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center. Known familiarly as "The Singing Scientist," Jill has served on the NAMI National Board of Directors and has presented in San Angelo and at various NAMI Annual Meetings around the country, including many times at NAMI national meetings. She has a brother who is living in recovery from a serious mental illness.
You may purchase Jill’s book through her publisher at http://www.lulu.com/content/458594.
Helping the Mentally Ill and Homeless in Harlem Find a Home
Weston United Community Renewal, is a not-for-profit organization that has been meeting the needs of the mentally ill and homeless in Harlem since it began its work two decades ago. Its award-winning programs, in particular its housing programs, have been gaining widespread recognition ever since. Read more>>
Thresholds Program Helps Break the Cycle of Incarceration and Hospitalization
Before coming to Chicago’s Thresholds Jail & Prison Program four years ago, William Riley, 53, says he had “given up on life.” Managing schizophrenia for most of his adulthood, Riley lived on the city streets and spent nearly every winter in jail; mostly to get out of the cold, but also to get mental health services. Since becoming part of Thresholds, Riley has not been behind bars at all and has not been in a psychiatric hospital in more than a year. He is stable, has his own apartment, and for the first time, Riley sees a future for himself. Read More>>
Portals Celebrates 50 Years
PORTALS, one of the nation’s leading mental health rehabilitation agencies, celebrated its 50th anniversary on May 18, 2006. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa served as Honorary Chair for the gala celebration, and literary and entertainment icon Sidney Sheldon served as Event Chair. The event honored five recipients of the Golden Bell Awards. Read more>>
Hearing Voices (Speaking in Tongues) by Michael Mack
Few works of art are as forceful a commentary on severe mental illnesses and how they affect individuals and their families than Michael Mack’s one-man play, “Hearing Voices (Speaking in Tongues).” The play’s subject: growing up with a mother who has schizophrenia. Read the review>>
Kristy Worthen: A Beacon of Light
She was the sweet, quiet girl who recoiled when asked to speak in front of class – but somehow her artwork spoke volumes. We all knew someone like her back in elementary school – but today, Kristy Worthen is definitely one-of-a-kind.
Now, Kristy regularly speaks to large groups. She shares with them her life experiences - because this shy little girl grew into a troubled young teen, complete with mood swings and depression; then things got worse, the delusions began. While neither Kristy nor her family knew it, she was battling bipolar disorder. Read more>>
I Don’t Need To Take Medicine
The symptoms of diseases such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective and bipolar disorders are both scary and devastating. The good news is, all of these symptoms can be greatly reduced or eliminated by the recently developed, so-called atypical antipsychotic drugs that have fewer of the problematic side effects. But the bad news is half of all consumers with these serious mental diseases stop taking their drugs, leading to a greater risk of relapse.
So why don’t many consumers take their medications? Many reasons are given by consumers including cost and side effects. But one commonly recurring theme is that many consumers simply don’t believe they are ill. Why would anyone take a medication they don’t need?
Reintegration Without Borders
See how the Intercultural Support Center of southeast Portland, OR provides programs and services to refugees with mental illnesses. Read more >>