Psychotic Experiences Are Not Always a Sign of Mental Illness

Hearing Voices UMB-O Dollarphotoclub_73109512According to a July 2015 article by Anna Medaris Miller for U.S. News and World Report, there are “lots of potential reasons someone might hear voices, including anxiety, stress, depression and a history of trauma.”

Of course, all of these are “good reasons to seek mental health help.” But don’t conclude that a mental illness diagnosis is the only outcome.

In the article, Miller quotes Lisa Forestell, the director of community support at Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community who has heard voices her entire life. “They’re playful and silly and they try to cheer me up when I’m sad.” She also quotes Dr. John McGrath, a professor of psychiatry at The University of Queensland in Australia and researcher at the Queensland Brain Institute whose research team found that 2.5% of the population has heard voices and 3.8% has seen something others didn’t see. Psychotic experiences, he says, “are more common than we had been taught. What we really have to do is go back and revise how these symptoms fit into the profile of mental illness.”

This isn’t to say that hallucinations are never a symptom of mental illness. The point really is that hallucinations are a symptom with a variety of possible causes, including mental illness, but possibly also stress or trauma. Dr. Joseph Pierre, co-chief of the Schizophrenia Treatment Unit at VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center, and also discussed in the article, conducted a study that compared 118 people who hear voices at least once a month and have a psychotic diagnosis to 111 people who hear voices at least once a month but don’t have mental illness. He found differences, including the tendency for people with psychosis to hear voices more often, to hear them express negative emotions. The diagnosed psychotic subjects also had little control over their voices. In his study, Pierre compared hearing voices to coughs — “common experiences that are often, but not always, symptoms of pathology associated with a larger illness.”

To read the article see Living With the Voices in Your Head.

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.”

Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails

The Problem

The number of people with mental illness in U.S. jails has reached crisis levels. In counties across the nation, jails now have more people with mental illnesses than in their psychiatric hospitals.

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The People

The situation is hurting real people. But communities, judges, police officers, mental health professionals and others have already started stepping up to combat the problem.

What You Can Do

Stepping Up asks communities to come together to develop an action plan that can be used to achieve measurable impact in local criminal justice systems of all sizes across the country. Learn More

 

Early Bird Special Savings! 2015 Annual State Conference

Register now for big savings! Early Bird registration ends soon!

Friday and Saturday
August 21 – 22, 2015
Newport Beach, CA

Click here to take advantage of the lowest rates for the conference.

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The Workshops will feature:

Transitional Aged Youth (T.A.Y.) Workshops will focus on strategies and best practices for educators, early identification and intervention, and reducing stigma and discrimination for ages 18-24.

Criminal Justice. Workshops will focus on strategies around incorporating and partnering with the law enforcement, the Justice system, and other criminal justice sectors.

Strengthening NAMI. Workshops will focus on best practices in Board development, organizational financial management, and expanding access to NAMI education programs through technology.

Consumer and Family Engagement/Recovery Practices. Workshops will focus on strengthening our voice as a unified organization of lived experiences, increase visibility and impact, and promote mental health wellness and recovery.

Advocacy. Workshops will focus on new and innovative ways to advocate, current policies and their impact on all levels (local, state and nation wide), and training tools to effectively utilize grassroots advocacy efforts.

Diversity. Workshops will be focused on strength-based approaches and best practices to engage diverse communities, increase access to programs and services, and reduce the stigma and discrimination among diverse populations.

Hotel information

The Marriott Hotel and Spa is located directly across from Fashion Island and only 10 minutes from the John Wayne Airport. CLICK HERE for special rates of $169, plus tax per night. To receive this discounted rate you must make your reservation by August 5th or call (877) 622-3056 to speak with reservations.

cfd0c7dd-8a24-48fb-a51d-842544bc1d32Marriott Newport Beach Hotel and Spa
900 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, California 92660

When Mental Illness Enters the Family

By Bob Carolla from NAMI Blog. Ask anyone who has a family member who lives with mental illness, and they’ll tell you it isn’t always what someone would consider smooth sailing.When a family is presented with this category of illness, they may feel like they’ve entered an alien world. With a physical illness, it’s often easy to at least obtain information through a doctor, if not through support groups or other organizations, and there’s less shame in discussing it. Mental health conditions, on the other hand, still have an air of secrecy about them.

Both individuals and family members are given the onerous burden of confronting something that even the medical community doesn’t fully understand. Families are often left with little knowledge of where to go or who to turn to. Fortunately, Dr. Lloyd Sederer is aware of this, and he will tell you: you’re not alone.

In January, Dr. Seder gave a TEDx Talk in Albany, NY titled “When Mental Illness Enters a Family”, which included a shout-out to the NAMI Family-to-Family program. He provides listeners with four main steps to cope with the effects of mental illness:

  • Don’t go it alone
  • Don’t get into fights
  • Learn how the system works, learn the rules—and bend them
  • Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint
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Dr. Sederer is no mere psychiatrist moonlighting as a tourist guide. He is the medical director of the New York State Office of Mental Health—i.e., chief psychiatrist for the nation’s largest state mental health organization and former medical director and executive vice president of Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital in Massachusetts. He is also the mental health editor and columnist for The Huffington Post.

In 2014, Sederer spoke at the NAMI National Convention and is the author of The Family Guide to Mental Health Care, a terrific resource for families trying to understand what their loved one is going through. He uses humor and plain language and doesn’t pull punches. Families who navigate the world of mental illness will need to “set aside their confusion, sadness and anger—suspending any feeling of despair—about what’s happening in order to get on with what needs to be done.”

– See more at: http://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2015/When-Mental-Illness-Enters-the-Family#sthash.KSRuHzCs.dpuf

Conference Presenters: Deadline for Proposals Extended to February 13th

0cb9926c-3944-4165-a01f-ea4e881410c0NAMI California’s 2015 Annual Conference will be returning to Newport Beach on August 21st through the 22nd.

NAMI California is seeking proposals for presentations for our upcoming conference. NAMI California highly encourages workshop applications that incorporate and address diverse communities through dynamic strategies and programs including:

  • Multimedia
  • Education/Training
  • Personal Stories
  • Advocacy
  • Diversity.

Below you will find a brief description of each of the categories. Applications can be found HERE.

You can send your completed proposal to conference@namica.org.

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This year NAMI California is excited to announce that its program will include 6 tracks for its attendees to choose from.

Transitional Aged Youth (T.A.Y.)

Workshops will focus on strategies and best practices for educators, early identification and intervention, and reducing stigma and discrimination for ages 18-24.

Criminal Justice

Workshops will focus on strategies around incorporating and partnering with the law enforcement, the Justice system, and other criminal justice sectors.

Strengthening NAMI

Workshops will focus on best practices in Board development, organizational financial management, and expanding access to NAMI education programs through technology.

Consumer and Family Engagement/Recovery practices

Workshops will focus on strengthening our voice as a unified organization of lived experiences, increase visibility and impact, and promote mental health wellness and recovery.

Advocacy

Workshops will focus on new and innovative ways to advocate, current policies and their impact on all levels (local, state and nation wide), and training tools to effectively utilize grassroots advocacy efforts.

Diversity

Workshops will be focused on strength-based approaches and best practices to engage diverse communities, increase access to programs and services, and reduce the stigma and discrimination among diverse populations.

Higher Rehospitalization Rates for Patients With Mental Disorders According to Study

Psychiatric illness may contribute to higher 30-day hospital readmission rates for patients with heart failure (HF), acute myocardial infarction (AMI), and pneumonia, according to a study of 160,169 patients served by 11 U.S. health systems.

From 2009 to 2011, about 21.7% of patients with psychiatric comorbidity went back to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, compared with 15.5% of those without such diagnoses, said Brian Ahmedany, Ph.D., L.M.S.W., of the Center for Health Policy and Health Services Research at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and colleagues in Psychiatric Services in Advance yesterday.

“Individuals with comorbid anxiety, dementia, and depression had higher rates of readmission than persons with no psychiatric comorbidity regardless of whether the index hospitalization was for HF, AMI, or pneumonia,” the researchers found. “[H]ealth systems should consider adding elements of mental health assessment, diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment to interventions to prevent 30-day all-cause hospital readmissions.”

Those elements might include psychiatric screening and evaluation, discharge planning that includes a mental health component, and follow-up for psychiatric conditions that includes outpatient treatment.

Ahmedany and colleagues noted that the gap in readmission rates between patients with and without psychiatric comorbidities shrank from 6.0% in 2009 to 4.1% in 2011. That was an encouraging trend but might be narrowed still further by adoption of interventions specifically designed for these conditions.

For more on the interface between psychiatric and general medical conditions, see the American Psychiatric Publishing book, Integrated Care: Working at the Interface of Primary Care and Behavioral Health, edited by Lori Raney, M.D.