Stigmatizing Language Removed from California Law

The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), the Stigma and Discrimination Reduction (SDR) Consortium, and Disability Rights California are proud to announce that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed AB 1847 (Chesbro). AB 1847 removes from California law hundreds of outdated and inaccurate terms used to describe people with mental health challenges.

Updating California laws to replace outdated and inaccurate terms with person-centered language is an important victory for Each Mind Matters: California’s Mental Health Movement.

Just a few examples of the stigmatizing language removed from California law include:

  • California law governing access to educational programs for school age children described some children in state hospitals as “mentally disordered.”
  • “Incurable insanity” was described as a criterion for divorce.
  • Laws concerning the custody of children use the terms “the mentally ill, mentally defective or epileptic” to describe appropriate placements.

Thank you for your support as our organizations worked to remove these outdated references that perpetuated stigma and false assumptions about people with mental health challenges, and to reduce discrimination faced by people with mental health challenges.

For more information on Each Mind Matters’ campaign to reduce Stigma and Discrimination, visit


The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) is an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Prevention and Early Intervention Programs implemented by CalMHSA are funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63). For more information visit

Anderson Cooper’s Empathy Exercise for Schizophrenia

In case you haven’t seen it yet, below is Anderson Cooper’s segment in June 2014 in which he dons earphones and attempts ordinary activities while experiencing voices in an exercise designed by clinical psychologist, Pat Deegan.

Visit Anderson Cooper’s blog by CLICKING HERE to see what he has to say about the experience and to see his interview of Dr. Deegan.

Patricia E. Deegan, Ph.D., is an independent consultant who specializes in researching and lecturing on the topic of recovery and the empowerment of people diagnosed with mental illness. She is an activist in the disability rights movement and has lived her own journey of recovery after being diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager. She is the creator of the CommonGround Approach, which includes CommonGround – a web application to support shared decision making in the psychopharmacology consultation, and RECOVERYlibrary – a collection of recovery oriented resources aimed at providing the tools, the hope, and the inspiration to recovery after a diagnosis of mental illness.

You can learn more about Pat Deegan at HER WEBSITE.

General Meeting Topic: “Hearing Voices”

Brad Stevens, LCSW, Psychiatric Social Worker at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, will present on a movement called “Hearing Voices” at our monthly meeting Monday, March 17, 2014. The movement addresses the symptom of hearing voices that medication may not eliminate and how addressing the voices may assist in recovery. For everyone’s consideration, we will discuss developments in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands of techniques to address the voices to avoid the anxiety and stigma of hearing voices that helps the individual and families address them in their own explanatory framework.

The meeting will begin at the usual time, 7:30 p.m., in the Fellowship Hall at First Lutheran Church, 2900 Carson Street, Torrance, California. A Caring & Sharing Support Group for family members and caregivers only will meet at 6:00 p.m. in the Fireside Room at the First Lutheran Church. If the group becomes too large a second group will meet in Fellowship Hall.

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

NAMI California Conference Topic Deadline Extended

For those interested in proposing a workshop for the 2014 NAMI California Conference, the deadline has been extended to February 6, 2014. Requirements and conditions are explained at the NAMI California website. The Conference will be held August 1st and 2nd at the Newport Beach Mariott Hotel & Spa, 900 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, California 92660. The theme for this year’s conference is “Growing Minds in Changing Times.” For questions, please contact the NAMI California office at 916-567-0163Download Workshop Form Here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Psychiatric Diagnoses Appear to be Underreported

On the Threshold of Eternity

On the Threshold of Eternity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new study in JAMA Psychiatry concludes that mental disorders are still being underreported by patients, including those who are in midlife to late life.

Researchers in the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined the answers of 1,071 adults asked to report previous psychiatric diagnoses (major depression, substance use disorder, serious mental illnesses), as well as other general medical disorders (e.g., diabetes and cancer). Self-reports were compared to actual records, showing that 81% of those with a psychiatric diagnosis underreported their condition, compared with 13% underreporting general medical conditions.

The researchers posit that stigma may be a cause. “Stigma associated with mental disorders, as well as the fluctuating course of mental illnesses, might partly explain the discrepancies as well as differences in ages of onset of mental and physical disorders,” said Ramin Mojtabai, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., an associate professor and senior author of the study. Moreover, Mojtabai concluded that because symptoms associated with general medical illnesses may be more prevalent in late life, patients may feel the need to report current ones over past mental illnesses.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Directing Change Student Video Contest

FROM NAMI California: Students throughout California are invited to Direct Change by submitting 60-second videos in two categories: “Suicide Prevention” and “Ending the Silence about Mental Illness”. The winning teams and their associated schools will win cash prizes, qualify to win mental health or suicide prevention programs for their schools, and will be recognized at an award ceremony at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

Visit the campaign website for contest rules and information:

Submission Deadline: February 1, 2014

Please help spread the word:  Print and post this flier.