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Posted: May 19, 2015

By Andrea Blanch, Ph.D. and David Shern, Ph.D. Two weeks ago, Liberia was officially declared “Ebola free.”  Liberia was ground zero of the Ebola epidemic, with confirmed cases in all 15 counties and almost 5,000 Ebola-related deaths.  Chronic poverty and years of civil war had devastated the country’s health care system. At the height of the epidemic, containing the disease seemed almost impossible.  But the last reported case was in March. What led to this turnaround?  ...

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Posted: May 5, 2015

By David L. Shern, Ph.D. and Andrea K. Blanch, Ph.D. Nothing garners more public and policy attention to mental illness than mass shootings involving a shooter diagnosed with a mental illness.  Unfortunately, the end result of this attention is almost always negative.  With each response, the stereotyped image of “the violent mentally ill” is reinforced in the public mind.  Anti-stigma campaigns can’t possibly undo the damage, and millions of hard-working American...

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Posted: April 28, 2015

By Andrea Blanch, Ph.D. and David Shern, Ph.D. In Kansas City, local leaders have created an innovative vision for a healthier community.  Healthy KC is a partnership of the local Chamber of Commerce, KC Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and a number of regional health and wellness leaders.  The group’s recommendations are consistent with our recent review of research on the impact of toxic stress and trauma on the nation’s health and well-being.  They are also consistent with the premise...

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Posted: April 7, 2015

By David Shern, Ph.D. and Andrea Blanch, Ph.D. In a recent New York Times Op-ed, T.M. Luhrmann expands on a recent paper by the British Psychological Association on redefining mental illness.  She makes several important points about mental health symptoms and our strategies for addressing them. First, rather than thinking of symptoms like anxiety, sadness, and paranoia as simply reflecting defective brain functioning, we can understand symptoms as reactions to life...

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Posted: March 24, 2015

By David Shern, Ph.D. and Andrea Blanch, Ph.D. Whenever doing the right thing and doing the smart thing coincide, it increases the chances that something will happen. Elsewhere, we have presented data demonstrating that investments in prevention, especially in early childhood, have lifelong positive impact. They also save money. Econometric models by the Washington State Institute of Public Policy estimate that these prevention programs save many more dollars than they cost....

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Posted: March 17, 2015

By Paul Gionfriddo There are half a million homeless people with serious mental illnesses in desperate need of help yet underserved or ignored by our health and social-service systems. That number can seem overwhelming, but for me, it’s all about one person: my son Tim. Tomorrow is Tim’s 30th birthday, and I wish I could spend it with him. But I don’t know where he is, so this year I’ll have to settle for the memories of his childhood birthdays. Tim was diagnosed with schizophrenia over two...

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Posted: March 10, 2015

By Andrea Blanch, Ph.D. and David Shern, Ph.D. It is becoming increasingly clear that toxic stress and trauma play an important role in the development of mental health and addictive disorders.  We have recently explored some of the implications of this emerging picture for improving individual treatment. In this blog, we suggest that using effective trauma-informed treatments and family supports for adults will also help to prevent problems in their children’s development. We know...

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Posted: February 24, 2015

By David Shern, Ph.D. and Andrea Blanch, Ph.D. The outbreak of measles in Disneyland highlighted the importance of vaccinating children against contagious diseases.  Vaccinations prevent children from getting ill and from spreading disease to others. The fact that a few hundred cases of measles was front page news is a tribute to the progress we’ve made.  Measles, smallpox and polio, among others, have largely been eliminated People are very familiar with the concept...

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Posted: February 12, 2015

By Debbie Plotnick, MSS MLSP Dear E. Fuller Torrey and Doris Fuller: Early Saturday morning, I saw the op-ed that you both authored which ran in the Wall Street Journal.  It pretty much was all I could think of over the weekend. At first I was very, very angry. This was because it hurt me personally, as a family member, as a mental health advocate, and as a social worker. The subtitle and implications about those who are “high functioning” demeans people like my daughter and...

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Posted: February 10, 2015

By Andrea Blanch, Ph.D. and David Shern, Ph.D. As Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health wrote in a recent blog, precision medicine is a hot new topic in the research world. The basic idea is simple: Get the “right treatment at the right time to the right person” by addressing the underlying cause of the disorder, not the symptoms. In practice, accomplishing this goal may be a bit more complicated.  Dr. Insel points out that in many areas of health – including...

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Posted: February 5, 2015

By Paul Gionfriddo The JAMA headline is pretty sensational: Improving Long-term Psychiatric Care: Bring Back the Asylum.  And the article itself is generating a lot of discussion and debate. But headlines can be misleading.  As the authors write: “A return to asylum-based long-term psychiatric care will not remedy the complex problems of the US mental health system, especially for patients with milder forms of mental illness who can thrive with high-quality outpatient care.” They...

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Posted: January 29, 2015

By Patrick Hendry, Vice President of Consumer Advocacy, Mental Health America Download the Paper (PDF) For many years I have thought that it would be interesting to take an in-depth look at the intersection of compassion, safety, and rights and how they apply in mental health advocacy, practice, and law.  They are certainly reoccurring themes in the advocacy work I have done for twenty-four years.  I knew that they frequently overlap and often seem to be in conflict with each...

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