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MHA's Blog: Chiming In

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Posted: January 22, 2015

By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO, Mental Health America The best news sometimes comes when we least expect it. And those of us who have been pushing for years for early identification and intervention in schools for kids with mental health concerns got some unexpectedly good news last month. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a letter that reversed a long-standing “Free Care” rule.  Here’s how the rule used to work. If a school offered health or mental health...

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Posted: December 14, 2014

By Paul Gionfriddo, Mental Health America President/CEO I was sitting at home doing some writing two years ago when I turned on the noontime news. There was only a small news item at first – there had been a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in Newtown, and there were at least a couple of confirmed casualties. It hit home for me, because of my Connecticut roots, and I began to pay close attention. As the next few hours unfolded and the extent of the tragedy became known, I was...

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Posted: December 4, 2014

By Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO, Mental Health America It’s disparity, not parity, that’s the norm for mental health status and services in America. That’s what you’ll discover as you look through the pages of Mental Health America’s ambitious new report, “Parity or Disparity: The State of Mental Health in America.” The disparities are striking across regions, populations, and age groups. We used the most recent available data, and they paint a challenging and discouraging picture of...

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Posted: October 27, 2014

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...

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Posted: October 6, 2014

By Patrick Hendry, Senior Director, Consumer Advocacy In 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’s behavioral health policies and services have pulled back from some of the innovative and effective gains that had been made in moving towards a more recovery oriented system of care. The...

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Posted: September 18, 2014

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...

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Posted: August 24, 2014

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 almost entirely on...

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Posted: August 12, 2014

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...

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Posted: August 5, 2014

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...

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Posted: May 9, 2014

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...

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Posted: January 10, 2014

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...

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Posted: January 2, 2014

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...

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