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 shocked and horrified by what I learned.
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:
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.