At Vet Centers across the U.S., part of the federal Veterans Administration, combat veterans and their families can get help through readjustment counseling, talk-therapy and activities. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez travels to Spokane, Washington, where grateful service members say therapist Dave Baird changed their lives.
Category : Mental Illness
A Great NBC Story for Memorial Day–Nationwide Vet Centers Help Combat Veterans Readjust To Everyday Life
Most of us know someone who is in counseling, on medication, or has even taken his or her own life as a result of a mental illness. There are many difficult issues for Christians to talk about, and mental health would certainly be near the top of that list.
Yet, this is a conversation the Church needs to have. Suicide may be one of the most complex and demanding topics of all. Over the past few years, the discussion has felt forced, especially when the event is connected to high-profile suicides of prominent Christian leaders or their family members and close associates.
While the circumstances in these situations are varied, the question of mental health always comes up; and when we talk about mental illness and suicide, it immediately creates a unique challenge for believers. The question is “Why?” Why is it uniquely challenging for us to address issues often associated with mental illness?
ELEANOR J. BADER: Lucia, the younger sister in Everything Here Is Beautiful, suffers from schizoaffective disorder, and the novel tracks her many psychotic breaks with compassion, terrifying realism, and multilayered complexity. Did you know about this disorder from personal experience?
MIRA T. LEE: There is a lot of mental illness in my family, with multiple family members with schizophrenia. I’ve seen breaks from reality, psychotic behavior where people believe the TV is talking to them or that the FBI is bugging their computers. I’ve seen people stop making sense and become unable to string words together to form a sentence.
I’ve dealt with doctors, hospitals, and social workers, and I am very familiar with the frustrations involved in trying to help someone with this kind of illness, so a lot of the emotions I include in the book are emotions I’ve felt. I know what it’s like to walk on eggshells because someone is disoriented and you don’t want to make the situation worse. Manuel, the undocumented Ecuadoran immigrant Lucia lives with after she leaves her first husband, consistently tries to appease Lucia. Through him, I was able to show how scary it is to see the person you love all but disappear.
But I didn’t just rely on my own experiences. I read many memoirs and blogs about mental illness. There are so many! Just Google first-person accounts of schizophrenia and you’ll see tons of stuff written by people who’ve been there. For a while I also researched post-partum psychosis because after Lucia gives birth to daughter Esperanza she is unable to care for either herself or her newborn.
(Guardian) Mark Lukach–A moment that changed me: listening to, rather than trying to fix, my suicidal wife
“Doing something” meant reminding her of all the reasons it was worth staying alive – how good we had it, how much our families loved us, how much there was to look forward to. It almost became a script, a choreographed dance: she told me she felt suicidal; I tried to overwhelm her feelings with why she shouldn’t feel that way. It never convinced her of anything. But on that afternoon, exhaustion had beaten me down into shutting up. I sat quietly and held her hand.
She looked at me in surprise. Cautiously, she ventured with another thought. “I hate myself so much, and I want to die,” she said, and I said nothing.
“I wish I had never been born,” she said.
She continued through her tortured feelings. I listened, and hated what I heard, but I knew that at this moment she was safe. We weren’t actually there on the bridge railing. We were at home, together, and there was no way she could act upon her pain. These were just words.
Read it all (used in the morning sermon by yours truly).
A report released Wednesday calls out Allegheny County law enforcement officials and the court system for putting people in jail when alternatives would better serve the defendants and the taxpayers. Too bad it came out after James Marasco died of undetermined causes in the county jail while serving a 10-day sentence for loitering.
The report, by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, indicated the jail’s population had swelled to 2,200 despite falling crime rates. Many are locked up while awaiting disposition of their cases; 81 percent of inmates in the county jail are not serving sentences, compared with a national average of 62 percent. Only 19 percent of county inmates have been charged with violent crimes; the rest are there for drugs or the kind of lower-level crimes that landed Mr. Marasco behind bars.
Moreover, as many as 75 percent of inmates have mental illness, substance abuse problems or both. Mr. Marasco had mental illness and used drugs. Mental illness may be the underlying factor in a person’s crimes and should be taken into account before incarceration. The primary purpose of jail is correction, not treatment. It’s unlikely that a person’s mental illness will improve in jail. The illness is likely to worsen, and that is why mentally ill inmates often incur more disciplinary infractions and serve longer sentences than healthy peers.
The discerning citizen needs to be able to make an ethically informed choice as to what they spend their time and money on. If a game encourages players to collaborate and practice making empathetic choices, and connects people in mutually beneficial ways that may result in flourishing and a sense of community, then that’s positive.
Adorno’s point is that our mass culture reflects the society in which we live and its values. If we are looking to transform the banality of the everyday into something playful and imaginary, this may be a healthy form of catharsis. But if we’re not happy and instead feel stressed and in desperate need of constant escape, then we need to look more deeply at what values our society is perpetuating.
Although Adorno’s criticisms of mass produced cultural objects has been dismissed as reactionary, he makes a point worth noting. Adorno hopes that we will be critical as opposed to passive citizens and this goal is vitally important in today’s media-infused society. In our fast-paced world of multi-media information sources, we require an updated mode of interaction whereby we can critically engage with these technologies. Transferable thinking skills, such as those honed by the study of philosophy, may be one good place to start.
When the suffering doesn’t go away through reading the Bible or prayer, the person affected may despair of his or her spiritual ability or maturity. The very thing that should provide unshakable confidence, that should strengthen our faith in Christ, becomes a source of shame if our faith isn’t “strong enough” to beat the illness.
Most of the time when a physician treats a chemical imbalance and there are some manifestations of those challenges, that imbalance doesn’t go away by prayer or by reading your Bible alone. Sometimes medication is needed and there should be not shame in that.
The more Christians struggle with how to deal with mental illness, the more we fail to create a safe and healthy environment in which to discuss and deal with these issues. As a result, many of our Christian churches, homes, and institutions promulgate an aura of mistrust, guilt, and shame.
As more of us are coming forward with our own stories of struggle and pain, I’m encouraged that it’s okay to talk about these things. We have to defeat the shame because the reality is that many Christians struggle with mental illness.
“I’d thought about the families that were bombed. There was one in which the package arrived to the man’s home and his little 2-year-old daughter was there. She was almost in the room when he opened the package. Luckily she left, and his wife left. And then he died,” Patrik told ABC News’ Byron Pitts. “And there were others. And so I spent those days thinking about those people.”
Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski placed or mailed 16 bombs that killed three people and injured 23 others, according to authorities.
In 1995, before he was identified as the Unabomber, he demanded newspapers to publish a long manuscript he had written, saying the killings would continue otherwise. Both the New York Times and Washington Post published the 35,000-word manifesto later that year at the recommendation of the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI.
A professor of philosophy, Patrik recognized familiar sounding ideas in the manuscript from letters her husband David Kaczynski had received from his older brother Ted, including a 23-page essay in which he raged against the modern world. In the essay, Ted wrote phrases such as, “Technology has already made it impossible for us to live as physically independent beings.”
We tried everything to help Matthew, from acceptance and enabling to tough love, but the trajectory was not a good one and its ending has scarred and devastated our lives forever. I cannot say with certainty that if we had been able to force treatment on Matthew, including anti-psychotic medications, that he would have survived. In addition to suffering from anosognosia, Matthew became very religious after his break, embracing his Judaism, keeping kosher, and he was convinced that taking medication was dishonorable and would offend God.
But I do know that for many, treatment saves lives. The true insanity is that our laws leave those who suffer to fend for themselves. But Congress is now ready to grapple with the issue in a bipartisan bill introduced by Tim Murphy, a Republican from Pennsylvania and the only clinical psychologist in the House, and Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Democrat from Texas who is a psychiatric nurse.
The bill is not perfect. But it does many things to improve the financing, treatment and delivery of services across the range of mental illnesses, and in particular it has provisions aimed directly at helping those like my son.
KPOVÃ‰, Togo–The church grounds here sprawled through a strange, dreamlike forest. More than 150 men and women were chained by the ankle to a tree or concrete block, a short walk from the central place of worship. Most were experiencing the fearsome delusions of schizophrenia. On a recent visit, some glared, while others slept or muttered to themselves. A few pushed to their feet and gestured wildly, their cries piercing the stillness.
Stories from Our Advertisers
Until this year, Koffi Gbedjeha, 45, a carpenter and father of four, was one of them ”” a resident of the Jesus Is the Solution prayer camp here, shackled like the others, his family and camp staff members said. For more than two years, his youngest sister, Akossiwa, 27, tended to him. Rising early each morning, she walked along a cool red-earth path to the human forest; each day, amid the stirring bodies and clinking chains, she emptied her brother’s chamber pot, swept the ground and cooked his meals over a charcoal fire.
“Don’t you pray for me,” Mr. Gbedjeha (pronounced guh-BED-zhe-ha) sometimes shouted at camp workers who asked God to cast out the dark spirits they believed were making him sick. “I should be praying for you.”
For the many who are already engaged in ministry – whether ordained or not – opportunities for ongoing professional development certainly need to be provided, and in a format that is accessible. With many theological institutions utilising online learning platforms, there is a potential opportunity for them to further serve denominations by developing short courses on holistic mental health ministry that could be made available, regardless of location or time availability. This also ensures that courses are contextually appropriate for different denominational settings.
However, because training is not as much of a priority within many settings, denominations also need to ensure appropriate incentives are provided for those who engage in training. In many cases, theological institutions across Australia provide vocational training in basic chaplaincy skills that may complement a more rigorous theological training – and the incentive of adding a Certificate IV or Diploma to one’s resume may be attractive. But when such courses are not logistically possible due to time restraints or location, shorter programs like Mental Health First Aid can also be beneficial, as they can work with the schedule of pastors, while still providing some recognition for training undertaken.
Still, there is a long way to go. While mental health training is readily available, much needs to be done to address the unbalanced theological underpinnings within congregations that may shape unhelpful attitudes and responses to those with mental illness. What is needed is a well-rounded understanding that God works through both the spiritual and the medical and psychological.
Read it all from Greta Wells at ABC Australia.
The pastor’s phone rang in the midnight darkness. A man’s voice rasped: “My wife left me and I’ve got a shotgun in my mouth. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t pull the trigger.”
The Rev. Matt Brogli, a Southern Baptist pastor scarcely six months into his first job, was unnerved. Gamely, he prayed with the anonymous caller, trying out “every platitude I could possibly think of.”
Eventually the stranger assured Mr. Brogli that he would be all right. But the young pastor was shaken.
“I was in over my head,” he recalled. “I thought being a pastor meant giving sermons, loving my congregation, doing marriages and funerals, and some marital counseling.”
Inmates in suicide-proof gowns scream and bang on their cell doors one floor below Terri McDonald’s office in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. The bedlam is a reminder, if she needs one, that the mentally ill population in the largest U.S. jail system is out of control.
It’s a “shameful social and public-safety issue,” said McDonald, the assistant sheriff who runs Los Angeles County’s jails. “I believe we can do better. I believe at some point in the future we’ll look back and wonder, ”˜What took so long?’”
That’s been a question for years. Conditions for mentally ill inmates in the county have been a focus of federal probes since 1997, and the number with psychiatric disorders was an issue in a recent debate over a new jail. Keeping a mentally ill person behind bars can cost more than $50,000 annually, while treatment could run two-thirds less. Criminal justice systems from Seattle to Miami with aggressive jail-diversion efforts have cut inmate headcounts — and lowered recidivism rates.
In the past ten years, the number of teenagers with depression has doubled, according to the mental health charity YoungMinds. If you listen to parents of teenagers, they all seem to have a story of someone they know ”“ a family at a loss about how to deal with their child’s depression. The figures seem to back up the anecdotal evidence. One in ten children and young people aged between five and sixteen suffers from a diagnosable mental-health disorder ”“ the easiest way to imagine this is around three children in every class in Britain. Around 7 per cent of British teenagers have tried to kill or harm themselves, yet only 6 per cent of the mental health budget is spent on under- eighteens. One of the most alarming statistics is the number of admissions to A&E departments for self-harm: over the past ten years, it has increased by 68 per cent. One expert tells me there is an “epidemic” of cutting.
Without help, the majority of children with mental-health problems go on to become mentally ill as adults. This is, Marjorie Wallace, the chief executive of the charity SANE, tells me, “the age of desperation”.
“If you really listen to what some of these young people are saying, there is a huge element of despair,” says Wallace. “Growing up has always been difficult, but the sense of desperation? That is new. There is a degree of alienation in this generation. There is no sense of belonging. They are much more isolated, partly due to social media. They are not connected to community, to families, to siblings, and that brings more disillusionment.” For Wallace, the dramatic rise in reports of self-harm is indicative of the amount of distress. “It is not a cry for help. It’s to stop themselves from doing something much worse.”
Three months after a state judge issued a scathing report on the treatment of mentally ill prisoners, a national report is reaching a similar conclusion.
A report by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriff’s Association issued Thursday ranks South Carolina “near the bottom” in the treatment of mentally ill inmates.
The report found the state ranked near the bottom in the availability of public psychiatric beds, efforts to divert mentally ill from imprisonment, per capita spending on mental health “and almost every other measure of treatment for mentally ill individuals.”
The shooting was the third major gun attack at a U.S. military installation in five years, leaving the nation grappling with the prospect of yet more flag-draped funerals for troops killed on the homefront. A government contractor went on a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard in September, leaving 12 people dead. In 2009, Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan opened fire on a group of soldiers at Fort Hood preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30.
Doctors at the Scott & White hospital in Temple, Tex., said Wednesday that they have treated eight of the wounded and that one more was on the way. Three of the patients were in critical condition in the ICU, and five were in serious condition. Seven of them were male, and one was female. Their injuries ranged from mild to life-threatening, a majority of them caused by single-gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen.
President Obama said he was “heartbroken that something like this might have happened again.” Speaking during a fundraising trip to Chicago, he pledged “to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”
The response to your Facebook post has been staggering. Was it written on the fly or what?
In the last month, there were four instances where I was subtly or not subtly moved along. I was having lunch with a mother younger than I am who was recently bereaved. Her loss was 14 months ago. I said, “Before the one-year mark was up, did you have people telling you, hinting or saying to you that you should move on?” I asked other people who had lost children. I was hearing the same story. It just made me mad. I jotted off that Facebook post and have been completely astounded by the response””3,780,000 views and more than 10,000 comments.
Aren’t most of the comments supportive?
Somebody wrote, “I want to print words around my neck that say, ‘Please just read Kay Warren’s Facebook post.'”
…the church has been caring for the sick, both physically and mentally for 2,000 years longer than any government or agency. Most people are unaware that it was the Church that invented the idea of hospitals. For centuries the Church has been a refuge for the outcast, those on the margins, and anyone enduring societal stigma and shame.
Finally, studies have shown that when families or individuals experience the chaos caused by mental illness, the first place they typically call in a crisis is not a doctor, a law office, the school, or the police, but rather they call or go see their priest or pastor. Anyone who’s served as a receptionist for a church knows that they often are required to do triage in mental illness cases. Why is that? Because people instinctively know that churches are called by God to be places of refuge, comfort, guidance, and practical help for those who suffer.
It’s time to stand with those who are suffering.Read it all.
On the first anniversary of the Newtown shootings, Rep. Tim Murphy, a Republican from Upper St. Clair, rose in the House to propose a bill in response to this tragedy and others like it. As the only clinical psychologist in Congress, and in a party that has resisted gun control efforts, his suggestion may seem to some beside the point. That would be a mistake.
The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, the result of a yearlong investigation by a House subcommittee led by Mr. Murphy, is a serious attempt to reduce gun violence by another means.
Although Mr. Murphy’s HR 3717 may not fix every defect in the mental health system, it is a bold, sweeping attempt at reform. It comes at a time when governments have cut their mental-health budgets for community care, leaving the nation’s prison system the last hope for many with mental illness (up to an estimated 50 percent of inmates have a mental illness).
…worries that keep you awake are usually really difficult to deal with. Fears that seem small at breakfast are really bad at three in the morning. Most of us can just about deal with it most of the time, but for many, perhaps one in five, something in your mind and brain and soul becomes a real problem, and depression or other mental illness attacks you. Then everything becomes overwhelming, and you need really good help.
Mental illness is just illness, no more or less bad. The problem is that it often does not involve physical signs and people with mental illness gets stigmatised, isolated, ignored and that makes them worse.
– See more at: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5259/archbishop-justin-gives-pause-for-thought-on-the-chris-evans-breakfast-show#sthash.98MRxrtT.dpuf
Warren, founder of Saddleback Church and a best-selling author, will team with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to host a daylong event next month focused on helping church leaders reach parishioners who are struggling with mental illness.
The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church grew out of private conversations Warren had with the local Catholic bishop, Bishop Kevin Vann, after his son’s death and his own writings in his journal as he processed his grief. Matthew Warren, 27, committed suicide last April after struggling with severe depression and suicidal thoughts for years.
“I’m certainly not going to waste this pain. One of the things I believe is that God never wastes a hurt and that oftentimes your greatest ministry comes out of your deepest pain,” Warren said Monday as he met with Vann to discuss the March 28 event. “I remember writing in my journal that in God’s garden of grace even broken trees bear fruit.”
Two months ago, an escaped mentally ill inmate was walking down the street, blocking traffic. I stopped, and the next thing I knew he started accusing me of killing his mother. Then he attacked me. Fortunately, I was able to subdue him, and we returned him to prison.
Mental illness is not a crime, and the vast majority of people with mental illness are not dangerous. People whose mental illness goes untreated, however, may become dangerous. Tragic headlines around the country too often provide evidence of that fact.
It is against this background that S.C. Circuit Judge Michael Baxley recently found that mentally ill inmates in S.C. prisons receive grossly inadequate treatment. His 45-page order sets forth in shocking detail the deficiencies in the Department of Corrections’ mental health system.
“I think there is a perception that human trafficking is something that happens in large, urban centers or on the coast,” said Elizabeth Miller, chief of adolescent medicine at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
But she often sees girls and women with mental health issues, like post-traumatic stress disorder, along with those who need treatment for physical issues like sexually transmitted diseases, malnutrition and other health consequences of trafficking. “This is really uncomfortable stuff, to think that there are young people in our community where adults who should be taking care of them are exploiting them — using them sexually.”
Dr. Miller and other local experts will be discussing the issue in depth tomorrow at an open house, sponsored by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Coalition at the Andy Warhol Museum. The event comes just weeks after a federal grand jury indicted a man and a woman for sex trafficking of a 16-year-old, and a month after Moon police plucked the 17-year-old girl from the multistate group of four adults who now face charges of promoting prostitution.
I have signed the Time to Change pledge to end the stigma attached to mental illness. I encourage you to join this campaign in the UK, or similar campaigns where you live. Like many of you, I have been close to a number of people who have struggled with poor mental health. I became my late father’s carer in the last years of his life. It was only then that I recognised how we had colluded as a family in not knowing about his mental state for years. He was relatively well supported; but this did not prevent his early death as a result of the physical consequences of his struggle with life.
Research reveals that nine out of ten people in Britain who live with some form of mental illness are stigmatised. As if the illness were not enough to cope with, they are penalised in the workplace and over welfare benefits. They are shunned and laughed at. Worse still, moral blame is still applied to those living with persistent mental illness. We are frightened of it because it is so close to us and any one of us call fall prone to it in some form. It is also scary that, while there can be periods of recovery in any illness, the condition itself may well be chronic and incurable.
Understandably, we all dread that prospect for ourselves or for our loved ones; but it does not follow that we should blame sufferers for reminding us of their need. The media do not help. Of course, it is a tragedy if a psychotic person becomes dangerous and does serious harm to another person. The way that this is often reported suggests that people with mental health needs are likely to be dangerous. The sad truth is that most of those who suffer psychosis, or clinical depression or severe bi-polar illness are only likely to be a danger to themselves as they feel they can no longer endure the isolation and pain.
Among the people of Geel, the term ”˜mentally ill’ is never heard: even words such as ”˜psychiatric’ and ”˜patient’ are carefully hedged with finger-waggling and scare quotes. The family care system, as it’s known, is resolutely non-medical. When boarders meet their new families, they do so, as they always have, without a backstory or clinical diagnosis. If a word is needed to describe them, it’s often a positive one such as ”˜special’, or at worst, ”˜different’. This might in fact be more accurate than ”˜mentally ill’, since the boarders have always included some who would today be diagnosed with learning difficulties or special needs. But the most common collective term is simply ”˜boarders’, which defines them at the most pragmatic level by their social, not mental, condition. These are people who, whatever their diagnosis, have come here because they’re unable to cope on their own, and because they have no family or friends who can look after them.
The origins of the Geel story lie in the 13th century, in the martyrdom of Saint Dymphna, a legendary seventh-century Irish princess whose pagan father went mad with grief after the death of his Christian wife and demanded that Dymphna marry him. To escape the king’s incestuous passion, Dymphna fled to Europe and holed up in the marshy flatlands of Flanders. Her father finally tracked her down in Geel, and when she refused him once more, he beheaded her. Over time, she became revered as a saint with powers of intercession for the mentally afflicted, and her shrine attracted pilgrims and tales of miraculous cures.
At the cemetery of a former Minnesota mental hospital, hundreds of patients were buried in nameless graves marked only with numbers. But disability rights groups and family members are working to identify the graves and give these forgotten dead a respect and dignity they did not receive in life.
But if they campaign for a reform that frees them, and “first-class minds” like them, to take drugs, they are also campaigning for a reform that frees everyone else. That means it frees – or withdraws protection from – the beaten and rejected child of a shattered home on the squalid estate, the school failure, the unemployable young man in the post-industrial desert, the young mother living on benefits and, eventually, her children. And they are campaigning, in effect, for more people to use drugs which can, quite capriciously and unpredictably, destroy their users’ mental health. So for their own convenience and peace of mind, they are willing to condemn unknown numbers of others to possible disaster. This can hardly be called a selfless action.
Finally, we are not islands. If we risk destroying ourselves (as I believe we do if we use drugs) then we risk gravely wounding those who love us and care for us. For me this is a profound individual contract. It is one that will be understood most readily by the parents of adolescent children, children who have a sort of independence but often lack the experience to use it aright. If the law makes light of those parents’ concerns, and refuses to support them, what argument can they use to dissuade their young from taking a path that might well lead to permanent self-destruction?
My case will I think be readily understood by the parents of children who are already destroying themselves with drugs of any kind.
A stable home might be the single most critical piece of the mental illness recovery puzzle ”” and often the hardest to come by, especially the affordable kind.
Yet [David] Rosier is one of a growing number of chronically homeless disabled residents finding help through a program called Lease on Life. It was created in 2008 by Family Services Inc., a North-Charleston-based nonprofit that operates several programs to help disabled people become self-sufficient.
The program helps find permanent housing for the chronically homeless who have disabilities such as mental illness or substance abuse ”” or both, as often is the case.
Today, the program is at capacity assisting 46 households. Since its birth, Lease on Life has served 117 people, Executive Director David Geer said.
In his first interview since his son’s suicide in April, famed pastor Rick Warren told CNN that he knew his son, Matthew, had bought a gun, dismissed rumors that Matthew was gay and said he doesn’t blame God for the tragedy.
“I have cried every single day since Matthew died,” Warren said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with CNN.
“But that – that’s actually a good thing. Grief is a good thing. It’s the way we get through the transitions of life.”