The Obama Administration Increases Access to Mental Health Services

Institute of Mental Health 3, Nov 06

Institute of Mental Health 3, Nov 06 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Less than half of the children and adults with a diagnosis of a mental health problem receive the treatment they need. The Obama administration has made it a priority to do everything possible to make it easier to access mental health services. Over the past several years, the administration has taken steps to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help for mental illness, and to ensure that millions of American’s have access to health insurance that covers mental health and substance abuse disorder services at parity with medical and surgical benefits.

Also, the President has proposed an additional $130 million in his FY 2014 Budget for efforts such as helping to ensure teachers and other adults who work with youth can recognize signs of mental illness and connect children and their families to the treatment they need.

The Administration hosted the National Conference on Mental Health to discuss ways to reduce stigma.

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Understanding Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

A diagnosis of rapid cycling bipolar disorder is made when a person experiences four separate episodes of bipolar signs and symptoms, such as major depression mania, hypomania, or mixed symptoms within one year.

For one in every five people with bipolar disorder, they must deal with these even more complicated aspects of their condition. This subtype of the condition in which the patient cycles through ups and downs at a much faster pace.

Rapid cycling disorder complicates the strategy for treating bipolar, but with the right diagnosis and ongoing treatment, most people are able to manage their illness. Patient’s report that it’s really hard to gain self-awareness with this illness, but once you are at that point, you can feel it coming and you try to do something about it. This type of bipolar disorder is more common in women and in those whose first episodes were in childhood or adolescence.

Signs of rapid cycling bipolar disorder are:

  • Rapid talking: Even if the patient doesn’t notice it herself, people will tell the patient to slow down.
  • Catastrophic thinking: When simple frustrations during the day such as bad traffic or a flat tire, cause the patient to believe nothing will ever go right.
  • Apathy: The patient is generally energetic and engaged in their life. Now she lacks the motivation to get going, knowing she is at risk of an episode.
  • Distrusting medication: Patient begins to think her medication isn’t working and considers not taking it. The family needs to suggest that she call her doctor or therapist instead.

Because rapid cycling disorder can also include periods of depression, people have their own individual bipolar signs that could signal an episode. Some will experience classic signs of mania, others will have classic signs of depression, and yet another group goes through the dangerous mixed state of being depressed yet full of manic energy.

What to do if your relative has Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder:

  • Stay in treatment: Treating bipolar disorder is complicated for everyone involved. The patient may need to try several medications under doctor’s supervision.
  • Try cognitive behavioral behavior: Cognitive behavioral therapy assists the patient to learn how to identify and alter their thought patterns that signal or trigger their moods.
  • Keep a routine: Commitment to a healthy routine provides a sound foundation for most days. A therapist can assist in developing structure.

REF: Everyday Health

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General Meeting, February 24, with Dr. Mary Read

Dr. Mary Read, M.D., Director of the Adult Outpatient Program, Harbor UCLA Medical Center, will speak at our monthly meeting on Monday, February 24, 2014, at 7:30 p.m., in the Fellowship Hall at First Lutheran Church, 2900 Carson Street, Torrance, California. Dr. Read’s topic will be  “What A  Psychiatrist  Would Like Families To Know.” This presentation will be very helpful to family members and caregivers as they interact with psychiatrist. Family members, caregivers and persons with a mental illness will be able to ask questions of Dr. Read at the meeting.

Before the meeting, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Fireside Room at First Lutheran Church, will be the Caring & Sharing Support Group for family members and caregivers only. If the group becomes too large, a second group will meet in Fellowship Hall. If you wish to participate, please be on time.


A Powerful Perspective on Mental Illness in the Workforce

On January 27, 2014, Rob Lachenauer published an article in the Harvard Business Review titled “Why I Hired an Executive with a Mental Illness.” In it, he speaks of his experience, his harvard business reviewfirst encounter with a potential employee that disclosed a mental illness, his initial reaction (essentially a mixture of surprise, confusions and admiration), and his observations regarding corporate America in general on the issue.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prevents employers from discriminating against people who have a mental illness. But my experience as a consultant at a very large strategy firm whose clients are giant corporations had been that if someone admitted that he or she struggled with depression or mental illness, that would often be career suicide.”

He also describes the very different and accepting approach to greater or lesser mental health in successful family businesses.

“Family businesses can’t escape these difficult emotional realities because they can’t just fire the guy suffering from depression when he is the majority owner. The successful families do find ways to work together. But even then, things are messy in family businesses, and it is out of this very messiness that the human side of capitalism emerges.”

The problem in the impersonal corporate setting is a type of ignorance. Unlike physical ailments, for which we have a rich vocabulary and sufficient experience to know what to expect, “mental illness is thought of as all or nothing.”

“You’re either depressed, or you’re not; mentally ill, or not. Yet the reality is that the mental illnesses, too, are nuanced. We all have more or less mental health at different times in our lives. But the lack of a working language, together with the terrible secrecy that festers around mental illness, makes understanding one another, and collaborating effectively, extremely difficult.”

Rob LachenauerRob Lachenauer’s experiences and perspective contain a powerful message of understanding, acceptance and resistance against the ignorance and stigma that leads to the exclusion of talented persons with mental health issues from positions in which they could shine.  At present, Mr. Lachenauer is the CEO and co-founder of Banyan Family Busness Advisors, and he is co-author (with Goearge Stalk) of Hardball: Are You Playing to Play or Playing to Win? A complete copy of his Harvard Business Review article can be found by clicking HERE, and is worth reading in its entirety.

Study Finds No Link Between SSRI Use in Pregnancy and Autism Spectrum Disorder

A study of more than 626,000 births did not uncover an association between use of selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) by pregnant women and development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their offspring. Using Danish national registry data of all live births from 1996 through 2005, Anders Hviid, Dr.Med.Sci, and colleagues linked information on maternal SSRI use before and during pregnancy, ASD in their offspring, and several potential confounding factors. They reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that 3,892 ASD cases were identified in the cohort of which 52 involved mothers who took SSRIs while pregnant. “As compared with no use of SSRIs both before and during pregnancy, use during pregnancy was not associated with a significantly increased risk of autism spectrum disorder.”

The researchers acknowledged that while they found no significant risk of ASD associated with SSRI use, their study could not rule out a relative risk and urged further study of the topic.

To read about research on antidepressant use during pregnancy that came to a different conclusion than the one in the Danish study, see the Psychiatric News article “Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy Linked to Autism Risk.” For more on this topic also see the article “Caution Urged Before Stopping Antidepressants in Pregnancy.”

Open Mind Lecture March 4: Clean with David Sheff

The next installment of the Open Mind Lecture series hosted by the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior will be a presentation by author David Sheff and Dr. Timothy Fong.

David Sheff, author of the critically acclaimed book, Clean, and the New York Times best-selling memoir, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction, will discuss new approaches to treating and preventing addiction and addressing the mental illnesses that commonly accompany addiction.

Dr. Fong, Director of the UCLA Addiction Medicine Clinic, will provide information about the latest scientifically-proven treatment strategies for addiction, as well as insight into how addictive disorders affect patients, family and society.

The Semel Institute is a world-renowned multidisciplinary research institute dedicated to the study of mind, brain and behavior. Since its founding, the Institute has assembled more than 370 physicians, clinical researchers and scientists to work collaboratively in studying psychiatric and neurological disorders and to develop new, effective treatments that improve lives.

The Open Mind Lectures are free to attend, but registration is required. For questions call Patty Evans at 424-214-3851 or Parking for this event available in Sunset Village.

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The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church



From: Saddleback Church, Orange County: Studies show that one out of every four adults in America will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. The first place many go for help is to their priest or to their pastor because the heart of Jesus and the Church has always been for those who suffer.

You are invited to The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church, a one-day event designed to encourage individuals living with mental illness, educate family members, and equip church leaders to provide effective and compassionate care to any faced with the challenges of mental illness. Please join Pastor Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church, Bishop Kevin Vann of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, and NAMI-OC (National Alliance on Mental Illness-Orange County) and other faith and community leaders on Friday, March 28 for a hope-filled and inspiring gathering, as together we call the Church to action on behalf of those living with mental illness, equip lay and pastoral leadership, and stand side by side with those who suffer.

Click here to learn more and register.


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