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Mental Health America Blog - Chiming In

By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO

I was sitting at my desk when the news broke on Friday afternoon that a fifteen year old student at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington had opened fire in the school cafeteria, killing at least one other student before taking his own life as well.

Another fourteen year old died over the weekend, bringing the death toll to three – all young teenagers.

It is hard to know what to make of these kinds of tragedies, because we don’t really understand them. The shooter, Jaylen Fryberg, was said to be popular and well-liked...

By Patrick Hendry, Senior Director, Consumer Advocacy

Age of Advocacy CoverIn my role at Mental Health America (MHA), I have the opportunity to travel around the country and work with a wide variety of advocacy organizations and—particularly—peer run groups.  I find myself frequently dismayed to see how many of our state’...

By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO

Mental Health America hosted its 2014 Annual Conference in Atlanta last week, and it was a terrific and energizing event. Those who attended know what I’m talking about – the drive, the content, the messaging, the enthusiasm in the room – well, pretty much everything – suggested that in Mental Health America and its affiliates we have some of the most innovative, dedicated, and inspiring mental health advocates in the nation.

Here’s just a sampling of what transpired over the two days:

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By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO of Mental Health America

By now, everyone has heard the news from Ferguson, Missouri. An unarmed 18 year old named Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer. Michael Brown was black.

Until recently, Ferguson was a community best known for its proximity to St. Louis and its designation as a Playful City, USA.

But for the last two weeks, media reports have relentlessly referred to Ferguson as a community at unrest, and focused...

By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO

Robin Williams’ tragic and untimely death after a decades-long battle against bipolar disorder reminds us that mental illnesses are all-too-often serious and life-threatening chronic diseases. 

Mental illnesses—especially serious ones—rob us of our health and well-being.  They present daily challenges that can sometimes overwhelm us.  No one is immune to them.  And no matter how many resources they have or how successful they may appear to be, they may not ultimately be able to overcome them.

This does not mean that we shouldn...

By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO

During my first hundred days at Mental Health America, I have frequently made the case that mental health policymakers and practitioners are too often mired in “Stage 4” thinking when they think about serious mental illnesses.

Here’s what I mean – they use an “imminent danger to self or others” as a standard for determining who gets care.  That near-death time typically only comes during the latest stages of a chronic disease process, or Stage 4.

There are several dangers in using such a standard.  The first is that it...

Patrick Hendry, Senior Director for Consumer Advocacy at Mental Health America, was presented the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Reintegration Lifetime Achievement award at its Annual Conference this past week.

The award, which is supported by Eli Lilly and Company, recognizes a mental health leader and champion who has devoted his/her life to helping persons with mental illness recover; achieve their goals; and live full, productive lives in the community.

Hendry is generously donating the $10,000 cash prize that accompanies the award to Mental Health America....

Lars and The Real Girl is a sweet movie that shows the power of true community integration. It’s the story of a young man who needs help and finds it with his family, friends, co-workers and church. It’s the kind of story that needs to be told more often in the face of the cynical stories told today.

Lars and the Real Girl was made in 2007 and stars a pre-stardom Ryan Gosling as Lars. He’s a withdrawn, awkward but sweet young man who lives in the separated garage of his brother and pregnant sister-in-law, who try to get him to be more social. One day, he brings...

William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet around 1600, telling the story of a prince dealing with the death of his father and the quick remarriage of his mother to his uncle. The play uses mental health, both real and faked, as a way to show human behavior. Commonly studied in high schools all over America, this tale has had a profound effect on the way mental health is viewed.

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark tells the story of Hamlet, the young prince. When the play opens, his father has just died, and his mother has just married his father’s younger brother Claudius...

Psychopathy is a loaded term in today’s society, often misused and misunderstood. With all of the recent gun violence, the term is often used to describe the shooter. But its true meaning, and its true effect on a person, their family and their community is often obscured. We Need to Talk About Kevin, the 2011 Lynne Ramsey movie, tries to deal with this issue on a personal level.

We Need To Talk About Kevin was based on a book by Lionel Shriver, and follows Eva Katchadourian, played by Tilda Swinton. Told out of order, we see Eva’s life before and after a serious...

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