Crowd Funding Movie Project: Her

Her is about seventeen-year-old Kristen who loves her family, idealizes her best friend, Lexus, and has a secret crush on John. However normal her life sounds, Kristen is not like other kids her age. She feels frustrated, isolated, and confused and knows something is wrong with her. She is unable to please her abrasive mother and is scared to confront her abusive stepfather. Kristen’s imaginary friend, Mr. Sharp encourages her feelings of self-loathing and pushes her to cut herself. Soon, she can’t take much more, and a failed suicide attempt lands her in a mental hospital with a diagnosis of BPD. From there, Kristen begins her journey to survival. She struggles to understand her mental illness and fights to be a survivor against her own worst enemy: self-blame.

The crowd-funding page for this book-to-movie project is at THIS HATCHFUND LINK.

“I know, first-hand, that a diagnosis like this can be a turning point in a young person’s life. One out of every four people struggles with mental illness – stop and think and you’ll discover that you probably know someone who is going through that right NOW.  Yes, mental illness is the dark secret so many live with. Now you can help change this.

The Project’s Goal:

To change the perception of mental illness  To provide hope to those who seek help Help those suffering from mental illness, and their, families cope. We can make a difference by showing teens that they are not alone on this journey and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I want to lend a helping hand out of suffering, so that suicide will never be a viable option again.

Early Intervention Can Reduce Later Psychiatric Problems for At-Risk Children

FROM PSYCHIATRIC NEWS ALERT: Early and sustained intervention of children with conduct problems can lower the chances that those problems will extend into adulthood, reports a new study published in AJP in Advance titled “Impact of Early Intervention on Psychopathology, Crime, and Well-Being at Age 25.”

Known as Fast Track, this project enrolled kindergarteners who displayed aggressive or disruptive behaviors into a multi-component, 10-year, manualized program aimed at instilling social competencies that would extend throughout their lifetimes

“through social skills training, parent behavior-management training with home visiting, peer coaching, reading tutoring, and classroom social-emotional curricula,”

the researchers noted. The program took place in four communities: Durham, N.C., Nashville, Seattle, and rural Pennsylvania. A similar set of at-risk children receiving only the standard interventions in their community were followed as a control group.

There has not been much evidence showing that behavioral improvements in children translate into adulthood, but so far, the Fast Track study seems to suggests that such an intervention can have an impact, finding that while 69% of the adults in the control group displaying at least one psychiatric problem at age 25, only 59% of Fast Track participants displayed a psychiatric problem at the same age. Fast Track participants also displayed decreased rates of substance abuse crimes, violent crimes, and risky sexual behavior compared with controls, as well as higher levels of happiness and well-being.

“This shows that we can go a full eight years after last seeing these children and still see reductions in the rates of problem outcomes for this group as young adults,”

said study author Kenneth Dodge, Ph.D., director of the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University.

The improvements in behavior were consistent among each of the 13 subgroups assessed (including those defined by gender, ethnicity, study site, etc.), demonstrating that this approach has potential for a wide range of children and risk levels.

To read about a promising early-intervention effort with children in Australia, known as Headspace, see the Psychiatric News article “Australian Youth Get a ‘Soft Entry’ Into Mental Health System.”

Less Recidivism Found in Offenders Processed Through Mental Health Court

From Psychiatric News Alert: Offenders who participated in a mental health court program recorded significantly better recidivism outcomes compared to matched control defendants in the traditional criminal court system, according to Joye Anestis, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, and co-author Joyce Carbonell, Ph.D., director of women’s studies at Florida State University in Tallahasee.

The study published online in Psychiatric Services in Advance compared two groups of 198 criminal offenders with mental illnesses. Overall, the mental health group had a lower occurrence of rearrest, a longer time to reoffending, and had fewer rearrests. Severity of the rearrest offense did not differ between the two groups, however.

A within-subject analysis of mental health court offenders found that those charged with misdemeanors had a higher occurrence of rearrest than those charged with felonies, but the two groups did not differ on odds of arrest or time to rearrest. Also, violent and nonviolent offenders showed no difference in recidivism outcomes, said Anestis and Carbonell.

The results may suggest that keeping mentally ill offenders out of jail and in community treatment may have positive effects on recidivism, as may the increased attention and supervision they receive, said the authors.

“Future research would benefit from a focus on the mechanisms of change in [mental health courts] and on identifying characteristics of individuals who respond best to participation in [them],” they concluded.

For more in Psychiatric News about mental health diversion options, see: “Judges, Psychiatrists Confer on Handling Mental Illness inJustice System.”

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Screening for Suicide Risk

From Psychiatric News Alert: While there is no screening tool proven to identify people at risk of suicide, a new study suggests that the commonly used Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) depression-assessment instrument may be a useful screening tool for detecting suicide risk.

In particular, Item 9 of that questionnaire (“Over the last two weeks, how often have you been bothered by thoughts that you would be better off dead, or of hurting yourself in some way” or a question to that effect depending on the version) was a strong predictor of suicide attempt and suicide death over the following year.

Even after accounting for treatment history and demographic factors, “item 9 remained a strong predictor of any suicide attempt,” the researchers said. In their report “Does Response on the PHQ-9 Questionnaire Predict Subsequent Suicide Attempt or Suicide Death?” in the December Psychiatric Services, Gregory Simon, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues explained that the immediate risk of suicide attempt was low but increased over several days and continued to grow for several months, indicating a need for follow-up care to address ongoing risk. “Suicidal ideation should be viewed as an enduring vulnerability rather than simply a short-term crisis,” they said.

To read more about recent research on suicide risk, see the Psychiatric News article “Psychotic Symptoms Found to Be Strong Suicide Risk Factor in Teens.”

NAMI Offers Toolkit to College Students, Faculty, Coaches for Mental Health Education on Campus

From NAMI California: NAMI is offering college students and others free tools to increase mental health education on college campuses. The special toolkit also supports the National Dialogue launched by the recent White House Conference on Mental Health.

The toolkit is based on NAMI’s College Students Speak, a survey report published last year in which college students who experienced mental health problems called for greater education about mental health issues and access to mental health care on campuses. The survey report indicated that stigma surrounding mental illness is the greatest barrier to college students seeking help.

The toolkit includes:

  • PowerPoint presentation titled Raising Mental Health Awareness.
  • A step-by-step guide for a successful lay presentation.
  • Four fact sheets to complement the presentation. Promotional flyers for campus distribution.
  • A template to list local campus mental health resources.
  • Sample social media posts.
  • Video clips of students talking about mental health issues.

Says NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick:

“The toolkit has everything college students, professors, counselors, coaches and administrators need for lay presentations about mental health issues. It is a resource for anyone who shares campus mental health concerns.”

Earlier this year, NAMI developed resources for the North-American Interfraternity Conference and National Pan Hellenic Council, representing fraternities and sororities across the country.

A recent study released by Georgetown University Medical Center found that current college athletes have higher rates of depression than athletes who have graduated, pointing to a particular need for mental health awareness among college athletic faculty. In the NAMI survey, 80 percent of students identified mental health training for college faculty and staff as “extremely important.”

The toolkit is available online at www.nami.org/namioncampus. Free preloaded flash drives are available upon request for students and faculty while supplies last. Contact: namioncampus@nami.org.

As part of the National Dialogue, NAMI also is supporting the National Association of Broadcasters public service campaign,www.ok2talk.org, encouraging young adults to talk about mental health concerns.

Research Funding Cuts Described as “Devastating” by APA President

From Psychiatric News Alert: In Monday’s edition of his video series addressing key issues in mental health and its treatment, APA President Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., discusses important scientific advances in understanding mental illness over the last several decades and how cuts in research funding are likely to stall future advances. At a time when talented researchers are devoting their careers to uncovering more of the brain’s mysteries and should be attracting increased funding, “Federal investment in research through the National Institutes of Health is currently $4 billion lower than the peak year of 2003 and at the lowest level since 2001. These deep cuts have forced hard choices,” Lieberman emphasized, “destructive choices amounting to wide-scale de-emphasis of clinically oriented, disease-relevant research.”

He called described th funding cuts as “devastating” since their effect could be to delay crucial discoveries and erode the cadre of researchers working in this field.

“It’s time that our government aligns its policies with our national interests and scientific opportunities. We need to prioritize the health of the nation to protect and to support biomedical research.”

View the video or others in the series below or by clicking here. For previous Psychiatric News Alerts, click here.

Early Violent Behavior Increases Chance of Post-Diagnosis Violence

From Psychiatric News Alert: Individuals who engage in antisocial behavior before showing symptoms of schizophrenia are more likely to be violent when a first schizophrenia episode occurs, according to a new prospective study reported in JAMA Psychiatry. The study was conducted by Catherine Winsper, Ph.D., and psychiatrist Swaran Singh, M.D., of the University of Warwick in England and colleagues.

The study included 670 young adults being treated for a first episode of psychosis. The subjects were divided into four groups depending on whether they had engaged in antisocial behavior before their first psychotic episode or not, and if so, to what degree. The researchers then followed up to see which subjects committed violence and  compared the four groups regarding their antisocial behavior histories. Subjects who had engaged in moderate or high levels of antisocial behavior on a regular basis before their first psychotic episode were four times as likely to engage in violence as were subjects who had engaged in little or no antisocial behavior before experiencing their first psychotic episode.

Said Paul Appelbaum, M.D., former APA president, the Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Law at Columbia University, and chair of the APA Committee on Judicial Action, to Psychiatric News:

“These data have implications for violence prediction and treatment in patients with schizophrenia [and] suggest that treatment targeting psychotic symptoms in higher-risk patients may not be enough to prevent violent behavior—interventions aimed specifically at propensities for violence may be needed as well.”

According to Thomas McGlashan, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Yale University and an expert on the prodromal phase of schuzophrenia:

“Simply put, these data point out that youth with a history of delinquent behaviors and a vulnerability for psychosis are clearly at risk for behaving violently once that vulnerability becomes expressed as a first episode of schizophrenia. For this sub-sample of young people, early detection and intervention at the pre-onset of prodromal phase of the disorder may be doubly protective by preventing not only the onset of psychosis, but also the perpetration of any associated…antisocial behaviors.”

More information about the link between antisocial behavior, violence, and psychosis can be found in the Psychiatric News articles “High Rates of Mental Illness Associated With Gang Membership” and “Threat Delusions Linked to Violence in First Episode Psychosis.”