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MHA's Blog: Chiming In

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Posted: July 21, 2015

By Kelly Davis, MHA Policy and Programming Associate After reading this Washington Post article about Alfred Postell, the Harvard Law graduate experiencing homelessness and diagnosed with schizophrenia, I was overwhelmed with frustration. While this man is important and deserves access to services, the story brings up important questions to ask in our mainstream discussion of mental health. The glaring stereotypes and what the article says about how we view certain populations in our society...

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Posted: June 23, 2015

By Paul Gionfriddo, MHA president and CEO It’s a whole new ballgame in Congress this year. People are talking to one another, instead of shouting at one another. And there is a sense that as a result comprehensive mental health reform legislation will finally get serious consideration. Last week, I testified at a Congressional hearing on HR 2646 – the 2015 Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. It’s a brand new bill from the one we saw last year that we were unable to support. It...

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Posted: June 16, 2015

By David L. Shern, Ph.D. and Andrea K. Blanch, Ph.D. At the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Society for Prevention Research recently held in Washington, David Orszag, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office, presented sobering data on the effects of inequality on US life expectancy.  While life expectancy has increased in the US over the last decade, women in the lowest SES classes have actually shown a decrease in life...

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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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