The Real World: Recognizing Mental Illness in Young Adults

NBC| August 24, 2017

Many young adults can't wait to leave their parents' homes. But once they move out, they find that their independence involves many new responsibilities and stresses, as well as freedoms. And for some young people, this period of transition has a cruel twist as it may coincide with the emergence of a mental illness.

The first episodes of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder tend to appear in the late teens and early 20s. Researchers suspect that people are predisposed to develop these conditions from birth or childhood, but don't exhibit symptoms until they hit a particular phase of development and/or certain stressors.
Below, Dr. Karen Hochman, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, explains how young adults, and their parents, can recognize these mental illnesses early on, so that treatment can get underway.

What mental illnesses tend to develop in the late teens or 20s?


Fate of Mental Health Services in Louisiana:Services Hang in Balance Amid Budget Debate

WAFB| June 21, 2017

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As lawmakers continue to wrestle with the state budget, mental health advocates in Louisiana are hopeful they will not be forgotten.

“These cuts are about people. It's not a budget line item. It's real lives that are impacted in this,” said Janet Pace, president and CEO of Volunteers of America of Greater Baton Rouge. They provide mental health services to people in 19 parishes, stretching from Baton Rouge to Lake Charles.

Under the House’s budget plan, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) says they would take a financial hit that would force them to eliminate some of those mental health programs. Services for about 60,000 people could be eliminated or reduced, depending on how budget negotiations pan out.

“More people will be incarcerated when they should be in treatment. It means more people will flood emergency rooms,” warned Michelle Alletto, deputy secretary for LDH.


Mental Health Awareness Month: How Instagram Is Helping Users With Mental Health Issues

Fortune| May 8, 2017

People tend to look happier on Instagram. The photo-based social media platform allows users to present a curated version of themselves, in which life is a series of vacations, flattering angles, and brunch platters. Dark, complicated, or mundane moments, meanwhile, rarely make the cut.

Louisiana’s score of 56.22 was behind only Alabama which scored 56.91. Mississippi at 55.62 came in third with West Virginia (55.43) and Kentucky (54.39) rounding out the top five.

But with a new campaign aimed at addressing mental health issues, Instagram is trying to (gently) alter this equation. Dubbed #HereForYou, the initiative highlights users and communities on the social network who are raising “awareness about mental health and the importance of finding support,” founder and chief executive Kevin Systrom said in a blog post.

By clicking on selected hashtags (including #HereForYou, along with other, more specific hashtags), the goal is to make it easier for users grappling with mental health-related issues to find resources on the platform.


New Study: Ranks Louisiana As Second Most Stressed State

Houma Today| April 9, 2017

A new study has found Louisiana to be the second most stressed state in the country. Financial advising website WalletHub created the study with states being ranked based on how they performed in four categories. The categories were work-related stress, money related-stress, family-related stress and health and safety-related stress. The analyst rated each state on a scale of 100 with each of the four categories counting for 25 points.

Louisiana’s score of 56.22 was behind only Alabama which scored 56.91. Mississippi at 55.62 came in third with West Virginia (55.43) and Kentucky (54.39) rounding out the top five.

Louisiana fared worst in the job-related stress category, ranking second in the country. The state finished fifth in the health and safety-related stress category, ninth in money-related stress and tenth in family-related stress


We Need To Talk: About Military Mental Health

The State| March 20, 2017

COLUMBIA, SC With Fort Jackson’s upcoming centennial celebration, South Carolina is paying special tribute to the state’s military community for its incredible service to our country. A line-up of events throughout the year will honor our servicemen and women and bring attention to our strong community.

One aspect of military life that deserves attention from both loved ones and the larger community is the mental health of our service members and veterans, more than one in five of whom suffer emotionally.

Often, service members come home diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, which can lead to depression and ultimately substance abuse. Unfortunately, they do not always receive the support they need. Their family and friends do not know how to identify the signs, and even if they do, they may not know what to say. However, to prevent further suffering, loved ones need to acknowledge and address these problems as early as possible.


1 In 5 Employees Has A Mental Health Problem: Here's What Business Leaders Can Do About It

Forbes| February 20, 2017

As a psychotherapist, I often get an inkling into which local businesses promote good mental health and which ones don’t based on who comes into my office.

Companies who glorify a workaholic mentality or those who have abusive leadership, for example, often have multiple employees engaged in treatment for mental health problems.

Of course, due to confidentiality rules, employees have no idea their co-workers—sometimes half of their team—are in treatment as well. But psychotherapists see the patterns and the clear link between employee mental health and the workplace.


DOJ: Louisiana Too Reliant on Nursing Facilities to Care for People with Mental Illness

NRDC. Org| December 27, 2016

Louisiana residents with mental health disabilities are often forced to live in nursing facilities without a “meaningful choice” as to where they receive state-managed services, a new federal examination finds.

The report, published Wednesday by the Department of Justice, found that the state houses around 4,000 people with serious mental illnesses in nursing homes each year. These residents tended to be younger and stayed in the facilities for long periods of time, despite having low-care nursing needs when compared to “typical” skilled nursing residents, the DOJ said.

These residents could live in their own homes and communities and be served “more effectively and for less money,” but Lousiana often leaves them without the choice to do so, the DOJ said. Many people who rely on state disabilities services are also unaware that they could choose community-based services, the report found.



There's So Much Need: Louisiana's Looming Health Crisis

NRDC. Org| September 9, 2016

It’s one thing to read scientific reports about the mental health impacts of climate and weather disasters and quite another to watch those impacts play out in real time on your Facebook feed.

I used to live in Louisiana—first in Baton Rouge, and then in Lafayette—and my work took me from the sleepiest bayou towns to the restless energy of New Orleans. Since I moved back north, I’ve watched my friends there deal with one crisis after another, including the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history and a summer of violence by and against police.



Mental Health Expert: New Orleans mental health expert discusses effect tragic events have on people across country

WDSU News| July 12, 2016

One New Orleans mental health expert said recent police shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas are having a major impact on the lives of people across the country.

While race is at the center of most conversations about the shootings, Dr. Danna Andrus said the larger issue is people's lack of ability to cope with stress.He said most people are already dealing with personal -- whether it's mental or physical -- issues on a day-to-day basis and coping in society as a whole.



B4Stage4: When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don’t wait years to treat them. We start way before Stage 4.

Mental Health America| April 14, 2016

When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don’t wait years to treat them. We start way before Stage 4. We begin with prevention. And when people are in the first stage of those diseases, and have a persistent cough, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, we try immediately to reverse these symptoms.

This is what we should be doing when people have serious mental illnesses, too. When they first begin to experience symptoms such as loss of sleep, feeling tired for no reason, feeling low, feeling anxious, or hearing voices, we should act.


Mental Health: Baton Rouge Plan Unveiled

The Baton Rouge Business Report| February 22, 2016

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation unveiled a mental health strategy today that community leaders say would save the city-parish money and reduce the population of the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, while also providing a much-needed service for the community in an area that has been lacking for years. The 145-page report, titled “Initiative to Decriminalize Mental Illness: Recommendations for a Treatment Center and Continuum of Care,” was created by BRAF in conjunction with Health Management Associates.

It calls for a multipronged approach to attack inadequate mental health services in the city-parish. The plan includes creating a nonprofit organization to operate a diversion center where law enforcement could bring the mentally ill as opposed to emergency rooms or East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. The plan also calls for using Medicaid expansion dollars, among other funding streams, to help cover many of the center’s services. Families would be able to drop loved ones off at the center. The crisis diversion center would mirror the San Antonio Restoration Center in Bexar County, Texas, and cost about $5.6 million annually to operate. However, the study notes the center is projected to save the city-parish $54.9 million over 10 years, including $3 million in the first year.


Editorial: Mental illnesses are just that -- illnesses

The Hammond Star| October 25, 2015

For some people who suffer with mental illnesses, the reality is it can be easier to buy illegal drugs than it is to pick up a legal prescription. The reason is simple: the lack of transportation. All it takes is getting a phone number — which apparently is not that hard to get — and one can arrange a meeting with a trusted neighborhood illegal “pharmacist” in a public place within walking distance, such as a park, an aisle in the back of a nearby store, a parking lot, a back alley, a neighborhood bench.

Some people with ongoing mental illnesses would rather make that phone call and self-medicate on something that does not really help instead of prevailing yet again on a friend, a relative or a neighbor for a ride to the legitimate pharmacy. No matter how much that friend, neighbor or loved one might insist it’s no imposition, there’s a lingering doubt, a gnawing sense of guilt and a deep longing to be able to take care of oneself.

Among the general population nationwide, there’s still an unfortunate stigma associated with mental illness. Among the population of people who suffer with mental illnesses there is still a sense of shame that stops them from getting the help they need.


Lafayette Theater Shooting Provokes Talk about LA Mental Health Treatment and Oversight

The Advocate| August, 13 2015

Matthew Milam told his parents he would kill himself. He dug a shallow grave in his backyard. He stockpiled rat poison, propane tanks and knives in his closet. He told his folks he'd kill them, too.

But his doctors determined he wasn't sick enough to require long-term hospitalization, his father said.

To those who examined the 24-year-old Harahan man -- whose behavior was consistent with bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia -- he was OK to be released, even against his father's pleas for more treatment and a short stack of notarized affidavits he provided as proof of the dangerous behavior.

"I said that if you let him out, he's going to kill himself," Pat Milam recalled telling doctors. "They told me that they believed he would take his medicine."

Just days after he was discharged from the hospital in 2011, Matthew Milam committed suicide with a homemade device using propane tanks and shotgun shells.

Milam is just one person in a small pool of violent and mentally ill patients who somehow never managed to be flagged by Louisiana’s mental health care system as dangerous until they hurt themselves or others.


May is Mental Health Month

National Alliance on Mental Health| May, 5 2015

Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. During the month of May, NAMI and the rest of the country are bringing awareness to mental illness. Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. Each year, the movement grows stronger. In 2013, President Obama proclaimed May as National Mental Health Awareness Month and brought the issue of mental health to the forefront of our nation’s thoughts.

We believe that these issues are important to address year round, but highlighting these issues during May provides a time for people to come together and display the passion and strength of those working to improve the lives of the tens of millions of Americans affected by mental illness.


Good Mental Health Away From Home Starts Before College

Wall Street Journal| April 24, 2015

When Eliza Lanzillo went off to college, she was excited to leave behind her old school, her old routines—and her old mental health challenges.

“I thought of it as a clean slate. Nobody knows my history. I could be a new person,” says the now 21-year-old junior at Brown University. “I didn’t want people to see me as the girl with anorexia.”

Ms. Lanzillo started struggling with the eating disorder and anxiety in high school. She had been doing so well the summer before college that she stopped therapy when she arrived for college in Providence, R.I. But a few months into her first semester, she relapsed.

With high-school seniors deciding where they’ll be attending college in the fall, now is the time, psychologists and psychiatrists say, for teens and their parents to focus on how to maintain good mental health away from home.


The Power of Experience: How Barbara Van Dahlen Reimagined Her Career

Time| April 18, 2015

A little more than a decade ago, Barbara Van Dahlen's life looked nothing like it does now. As a clinical psychologist in the Washington area, she had a private practice focusing on children's mental health needs, and she was raising two young daughters as her marriage came to an end.

Today she's one of the most influential mental health experts in the country. Van Dahlen created the organization Give An Hour in 2005 to provide a network of volunteers who could counsel returning veterans with mental health needs. "I was really going through a hard time in my own life," she says. "But this passion had started, the idea to do something for service members and families. My dad was a veteran of World War II, and it came very naturally to me to see the need and want to respond to it."

Since then, more than 7,000 professionals have given more than 155,000 hours of their time, and Give An Hour's scope has grown to encompass a range of veteran services.


How Depression Warps Your Sense Of Time

Huffington Post| March 26, 2015

Time may fly when you're having fun, but it can feel as though it's screeching to a halt when you're depressed.

People with depression actually perceive time as going by more slowly than people who are not depressed, according to a review of studies published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in January.

To investigate the link between depression and time perception, German researchers analyzed data from 16 previous studies on more than 800 depressed and non-depressed people. Most of the studies assessed time perception by asking participants to gauge the length of time that they had engaged in different activities, such as watching a short film or pressing a button.

The analysis revealed that people with depression reported a slower subjective experience of time -- they often felt as though time was slowly dragging by.


Baton Rouge panel discusses lack of treatment options for mentally ill in Capital City

The Advocate| March 20, 2015

Many people probably wouldn’t feel too uncomfortable telling their friends about a recently diagnosed heart condition.

Substitute the heart condition — or a host of other physical ailments — for a mental illness, though, and most people probably would be much more hesitant to talk openly about their diagnosis, said the Rev. Raymond A. Jetson, a former state representative committed to raising awareness about the need to boost treatment for mentally ill people in the Baton Rouge area.

Jetson’s comments about the social stigma associated with many mental illnesses came Thursday during a discussion about how best to improve treatment for mentally ill people in the Baton Rouge area. The discussion was held at the Drusilla Seafood Restaurant by a group called Leaders With Vision, which regularly hosts panel discussions about issues facing the Baton Rouge community.

“People think it’s their fault they have a mental illness,” said Steve Aguillard, director of clinical services for the Capital Area Human Services District, a mostly state-funded organization that operates a network of community mental health and substance abuse treatment centers in a seven-parish region surrounding the state’s capital.


First Lady: Mental Illness Should Carry No Stigma

U.S. Department of Defense| March 4, 2015

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2015 – The military reaches out to assist troubled service members, and helping people with mental health issues “is what we’ve got to do for every single person in our own lives,” First Lady Michelle Obama told attendees at a conference here today.

As part of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, the first lady addressed mental-health professionals at the “Give An Hour” conference at the Newseum.

Give an Hour is a nonprofit organization that develops networks of volunteers to provide free counseling to troops, veterans and their families affected by the nation’s wars and works toward eliminating the stigma attached to seeking help for mental-health issues..

Just as the military community has, Obama said, all Americans should learn to recognize the distress indicators in family and friends.

People who need help should not afraid to seek it because of how it will look to those around them, the first lady said. Mental health conditions often are perceived differently from diseases such as cancer, diabetes or asthma, she added.


’She's OCD!' 'He's Schizo!' How Misused Health Lingo Can Harm

NBC News| March 2, 2015

This year, Americans expanded their medical jargon with a smattering of once-exotic words, including the illnesses MERS and enterovirus — plus "contact tracing," the footwork done to curb Ebola outbreaks.

But our daily health speak remains far more liberally laced with a slew of misapplied psychiatric terms, such as "OCD," "bipolar," "sociopath" and "schizo."

The problem is, experts say, erroneously spewing such behavioral buzzwords creates real damage.

"We misuse (psychiatric terms) all the time and it could be harmful," said Emanuel Maidenberg, clinical professor of psychiatry and director of the cognitive behavioral therapy clinic at Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Improperly dropping those sorts of words into conversations only perpetuates an existing stigma surrounding mental illnesses and vilifies certain forms of conduct that many people dislike or just find disconcerting, he added.


Robin Williams' Daughter, Zelda, Addresses 'Misconceptions' About Mental Health

ABC News| October 13, 2014

Zelda Williams has taken to Twitter to talk about mental health. Williams, who is the daughter of comedian Robin Williams, lost her father in August to an apparent suicide after bouts with depression.

She wrote on Friday about the subject on social media to urge others suffering from the disease to get the help they need, not just for themselves but for their families, as well.

"Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay. Mental illness is often misunderstood & misrepresented, but that's starting to change. Let's end the stigma," she tweeted. "Mental health IS as important as physical health, & whether there are visible signs or not, the suffering is real. It can affect EVERYONE."

She continued, "So please, let's help stop the misconceptions & support those who need our help. Healing the whole starts with healing minds."

Finally, Zelda, 23, addressed how mental illness affected her famous father.

"No matter what the misinformed say, you can't simply CHOOSE to make mental illness go away. It is NOT cowardly to suffer or seek help," she added. "Lastly, my dad openly fought depression his whole life, both in general and his own. No matter what anyone says, it is a FIGHT. Fight on."


How Colleges Flunk Mental Health

Newsweek| September 5, 2014

One night in 2012, alone in his dorm room at Princeton University, Dan downed 20 Trazodone, his prescribed antidepressant. He had recently switched medication and was experiencing rapid mood swings; a fight with his girlfriend and a tense email exchange with a friend led him to overdose, which Dan says he knew was "ridiculous" even as he swallowed the pills.

Dan tried to make himself throw up the Trazodone but couldn't, so he went to Princeton's health center. They sent him to a nearby hospital, where doctors determined he didn't pose an imminent risk of harm to himself or others but kept him for three days to monitor his health. As Dan prepared to leave the hospital to attend a class, the director of student life left a voicemail message on his mother's cell phone: Dan had been evicted from his dorm room, banned from attending classes, and was prohibited from setting foot on campus. [For reasons of confidentiality, the names of all students have been changed, unless a first and last name is given.]

According to the complaint Dan later filed with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) alleging prejudice on the basis of a protected disability, mental depression - he believes Princeton treated him differently than a student with, say, mononucleosis or a broken leg - Princeton told Dan that if he didn't voluntarily withdraw, he would be forced to as soon as he had missed enough...


A Tale of Mental Illness - From the Inside

Ted Talks| July 9, 2014

"Is it okay if I totally trash your office?" It's a question Elyn Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn't a joke.

A legal scholar, in 2007 Saks came forward with her own story of schizophrenia, controlled by drugs and therapy but ever-present. In this powerful talk, she asks us to see people with mental illness clearly, honestly and compassionately.

"So I'm a woman with chronic schizophrenia. I've spent hundreds of days in psychiatric hospitals. I might have ended up spending most of my life on the back ward of a hospital, but that isn't how my life turned out. In fact, I've managed to stay clear of hospitals for almost three decades, perhaps my proudest accomplishment. That's not to say that I've remained clear of all psychiatric struggles.

After I graduated from the Yale Law School and got my first law job, my New Haven analyst, Dr. White, announced to me that he was going to close his practice in three months, several years before I had planned to leave New Haven. White had been enormously helpful to me, and the thought of his leaving shattered me.

My best friend Steve, sensing that something was terribly wrong, flew out to New Haven to be with me. Now I'm going to quote from some of…"


Mentally Ill Ending Up in Jail Instead of Hospitals

The Advocate| April 13, 2014

About a year ago, Earl K. Long Medical Center and its specialized unit for treating mentally ill patients shut down.

Since then, the number of mentally ill people locked up in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison has doubled, said Linda Ottesen, director of Prison Medical Services, which runs health care operations there.

“We’re actually becoming a mental health facility,” Ottesen said.

On any given day, about a third of the 2,100 inmates in Parish Prison are mentally ill, she said.

That trend is nationwide and can be traced to the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, draconian reductions in community mental health funding and shuttering public mental health facilities, says a 2013 National Institute of Corrections report. About 64 percent of the inmates in the 300,000-plus local jails in the U.S. have some form of mental illness, the report says.

“We’re criminalizing people for an illness,” said David Precise, executive director of the Louisiana office for the National Alliance on Mental Illness...


For the Mentally Ill, It's Worse

The New York Times| January 24, 2014

Last week, one of the landmark nonfiction books of the last 50 years was reissued by Vintage Books. “Is There No Place on Earth for Me?” by Susan Sheehan began in 1981 as a four-part series in The New Yorker; in 1982, it came out as a book, winning the Pulitzer Prize.

“Is There No Place on Earth for Me?” is about a woman who suffers from severe schizophrenia. In the book, Sheehan calls her “Sylvia Frumkin,” a pseudonym meant to protect her privacy; her real name was Maxine Mason, which Sheehan divulged after Mason died, at the age of 46, in 1994. She was overweight and overbearing, a difficult person even in the best of times, but also, Sheehan told me recently, “bright and articulate” — when she wasn’t delusional. The book’s title was a question Mason “had first asked her mother in an ambulance transporting her from one hospital to another in 1964,” as Sheehan wrote in an essay published after Mason’s death. (It is included as a postscript to the new edition.) Mason was 16 at the time.

I have no idea what moved Vintage Books to republish “Is There No Place on Earth for Me?” but I’m glad it did. The story Sheehan tells is a terribly sad one, and not just because of the flashes Mason shows of what she might have become if she had not suffered from mental illness. It is also...



Ending Long Battle, Cuomo Agrees to Plan to House Mentally Ill

The New York Times| July 23, 2013

The administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo agreed on Tuesday to give 4,000 mentally ill people who have been kept in institutional homes in New York City the opportunity to move into their own subsidized apartments, settling a contentious legal battle over the care for such patients that dragged on for a decade. Connect With NYTMetro Metro Twitter Logo.

Under the consent decree, which would fundamentally reshape the way long-term mental health care is delivered in the city, the state is required to present all but the most severely mentally ill residents with plans for moving into their own apartments, where they would continue to receive specialized treatment and services under an arrangement known as supported housing.

The decision to move out of the institutional settings known as adult homes and into the new housing would be left to the residents, but the agreement assumes that many will want to move. The state must set up a minimum of 2,000 supported housing units and establish more if there is additional demand.

Three years ago, a judge ruled that the state was illegally warehousing the residents and ordered officials to move them to supported housing. But an appellate court struck down that decision, ruling on procedural grounds that Disability Advocates, the nonprofit organization that brought the...


False Economies are Leaving the Mentally Ill Vulnerable

The Gardian| March 1, 2014

Mental health services are facing serious financial pressures. From hospitals to community care, from children's services to those for adults, budgets for mental health support are being cut across the country. And this is having an effect on a range of services, especially those that help people to stay well and to recover their lives.

In 2010-11, the last year for which we have reliable spending data, funding for adult mental health services fell in real terms for the first time in a decade. Freedom of information requests since then have unearthed evidence of further cuts in many places both for adults' and children's mental health services. In some areas, this means specialist community teams are being "merged" into generic services. In others, support is limited to those with the most urgent needs while cost-effective early interventions like school and parenting programmes are scaled back. In such cases, short-term savings to balance the books could end up costing the public purse much more as people's needs escalate and become more complex.

The NHS is now committed through its mandate from the government to work towards putting mental health on a par with physical health. At present we are a long way from achieving this. Mental ill health accounts for a quarter of all illness in the UK yet it gets just 13% of NHS funding. And…