Tonight: Watch “A Choice to Heal: Mental Health in California” with Mariel Hemingway

Watch “A Choice to Heal: Mental Health in California” hosted by Mariel Hemingway, Saturday, May 30 on the following CBS stations at the following times:

Sacramento-CBS 13      6-6:30 pm

Los Angeles-KCBS        6:30-7 pm

San Francisco-KPIX      7:308 pm

This documentary tells the story of Prevention and Early Intervention–California’s groundbreaking approach in treating mental illness. This half hour documentary highlights programs throughout the state and how they’re making a difference.

NAMI California Action Alert

AB 1300 (Ridley-Thomas) would harm individuals and families impacted by serious mental illness because it:

  • Reduces the amount of time an individual may be held under WIC Sec. 5150 by starting the 72 hour time period when law enforcement or another first responder initiates a hold in the field, rather than when individual is assessed by a medical professional.
  • Allows hospitals to discharge an individual on a 5150 hold with no assessment or treatment, simply because the application for a hold was not completed and presented to the hospital by the law enforcement officer.
  • Establishes a standard of “gross negligence” in order to hold a hospital or doctor liable for the consequences of a decision to provide or not provide treatment, or the type of treatment provided, making it nearly impossible for a family or individual to have any recourse for harm that may occur.

AB 1300 does not establish any additional services, beds, or funds for crisis stabilization or inpatient psychiatric care. At a time when hospitals have chosen to decrease inpatient psychiatric

Family in Palm

capacity significantly, NAMI California is opposed to this legislation that would leave many of our loved ones with no place to turn in an emergency.

Please call your Assemblymember today and urge a “no” vote on AB 1300. Find your Assemblymember here:

Let him/her know that you are a NAMI California member and you are opposed to AB 1300.

After you call, please send an email to and let us know who you called and how your call went. Every call makes a difference!

Tell Congress to Help New Veterans Keep the Mental Health Medications They Need!

vlad_g - DPCWhen someone is in treatment for a mental illness, it is common to go through several different trials of medication until they find the one that helps them feel better. It can take time to find a medicine that works for you. The slightest change could set someone back or even cause further illness. Now imagine if you are a service member who has found that right combination. You are feeling better and your medication is working. The way things stand now, if you decide to transition out of service and into veteran status, your medication might not transfer with you.

This is unacceptable. 

With an alarmingly high suicide rate of 22 veterans dying each day and countless others struggling, we simply cannot allow for delays in treatment, endless appeals or the risk of being switched away from a proven effective medication for serious conditions such as depression, anxiety or psychosis. Our veterans deserve better.

Write a letter to your congressman, ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 2123 the Enhancing Veterans Access to Treatment Act. Tell them it is not ok to take away a medication that works for a service member simply because they transitioned out of service.

Take Action

Thank you for advocating for passage of this important bill!

Psychosis Does Not Foreshadow Violence

FROM Psychiatric News Alert: Contrary to the common belief that mental illness is associated with violence, hallucinations and delusions associated with psychiatric disorders seldom foreshadow acts of aggression, according to findings published in Clinical Psychological Science.

The study examined data from the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study (a project that tracked the prevalence of community violence in a sample of more than 1,100 men and women during the year following their discharge from acute psychiatric facilities) to identify former inpatients with two or more violent incidents, and included interviews with the former inpatients, family members and friends to assess the factors that preceded violent acts. The authors concluded that psychosis immediately preceded 12% of violent incidents following the release from psychiatric facilities. Said study author Jennifer Skeem, a clinical psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, in a press release:

“High-profile mass shootings capture public attention and increase vigilance of people with mental illness. These findings suggest that psychosis sometimes foreshadows violence for a fraction of high-risk individuals, but violence prevention efforts should also target factors like anger and social deviance.”

For more on violence and mental illness, see the Psychiatric Newsarticle “Capitol Hill Gets Straight Story on Gun Violence, Mental Illness.” Also, see a related article in Psychiatric Services, Applicability of the Risk-Need-Responsivity Model to Persons With Mental Illness Involved in the Criminal Justice System.”

Free Webinar: Giving Regional Center Clients More Choice Over Services

Self-Determination: A Way to Give Regional Center Clients More Choice Over the Services They Receive
Thursday May 28, 2015
10am PST
Presented by Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities
In this webinar Bruce Harrell, Community Program Specialist with the Los Angeles Regional Office of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, will discuss:
  • What Self-Determination is
  • How it works
  • Whether it’s right for you
  • How to enroll
  • When it will start
This FREE webinar is designed for people with developmental disabilities, family members, and advocates.  It will include a presentation and Question & Answer session.  Professionals are welcome to attend.  However, questions from consumers and family members will be given priority.
Can’t attend the webinar?  See slides and video recordings of past webinars on the Event Archive page.

NIDA Director Calls for Humane Response to Addiction as a Brain Disorder

FROM Psychiatric News Alert: “If we as psychiatrists can embrace addiction as a disease of the brain that disrupts the systems that allow people to exert self-control, we can reduce the stigma that surrounds this disorder—for insurance companies and the wider public—and help to eliminate the shame and suffering that accompany the addict who experiences relapse after relapse after relapse.”

That was the message that Nora Volkow, M.D., (left) director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, brought to APA members at the 59th Convocation of Distinguished Fellows at APA’s 2015 annual meeting in Toronto Monday evening.

Volkow opened her speech with a moving and emotional story of how she learned of her grandfather’s lifetime of chronic alcoholism and suicide; he had died when she was a girl of 6 in Mexico, but Volkow’s mother did not reveal the truth of her grandfather’s addiction and death until many years later, when her mother was dying and after Volkow had already achieved distinction as an addiction expert.

It was a dramatic illustration of the despair experienced by people who have an addiction and continue to engage in a behavior that they may know is destroying them—a phenomenon that Volkow has devoted her career to understanding. She gave a brief overview of her own research and the evolution of addiction science, describing how it was once believed that addiction was a disorder of hyperactive reward centers in the brain—that addicts sought out drugs or alcohol because they were especially sensitive to the pleasure-inducing effects of dopamine.

But Volkow explained that in recent years research has revealed just the opposite: that addicts are actually less sensitive to the effects of dopamine. They seek out drugs because of the very potency with which they can increase dopamine in the brain, often at the expense of other pleasurable natural stimulants that do not increase dopamine so dramatically. And it is the neurobiological reflection of the phenomenon of “diminishing effects” that addicts typically report clinically: they require more and more of the drug to get a similar effect.

“This was completely counterintuitive,” Volkow said.

Moreover, she emphasized that addiction to drugs disrupts multiple systems in the brain—not simply reward centers—that govern the ability to plan, anticipate, and change behavior in response to changing circumstances. Volkow said it is this phenomenon that accounts for the “craving” experienced by addicts and alcoholics in response to environmental triggers—often leading to what she characterized in the account of her grandfather’s death as that “one last moment of self-hatred.”

Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) to Meet May 28

The next MHSOAC will meet on Thursday, May 28 in Sacramento. There will be an Advocacy Webinar on May 22 to go over the agenda and help affiliate members understand the issues of the day.

We encourage all who can attend to make the trip to Sacramento and lend their voice to the effort for better outcomes for ourselves and those we love. We can also bring your voice to the conversation when you submit comments in advance! For more information on the meeting or the Advocacy Webinar, contact