Diet and Mental Health: The Evidence To Date

Medscape | January 16, 2020

Although diet can influence mental health and cognitive function, evidence of benefit for many specific diets is actually quite weak, a new review suggests.

In the "most up-to-date overview of the new field of nutritional psychiatry," investigators with the Nutrition Network of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) found strong evidence that following a ketogenic diet of high fat and low carbohydrates may reduce seizures in children with epilepsy. They also confirmed that the Mediterranean diet guards against depression and anxiety.
In addition, there is a strong link between vitamin B12 deficiency and an increased risk of fatigue, depression, and memory problems.However, evidence of any efficacy of vitamin D supplements or any nutrient in mitigating symptoms of autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is "inconclusive," the researchers note.

Workplace: Mental Health in the Office: Difficult Conversations

Harvard Business Review | December 16, 2019

How should you approach difficult conversations about mental health with your colleagues and boss?

In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele speaks with Amy Gallo, author of “HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict,” about when and how to disclose a mental health issue to your company.
Plus, Dr. Rebecca Harley, a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, discusses the connection between mental health and recognizing boundaries at work. Learn more by listening to the podcast. HBR Presents is a network of podcasts curated by HBR editors, bringing you the best business ideas from the leading minds in management. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Harvard Business Review or its affiliates.

Tech: Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?

Science Daily | November 15, 2019

Young people who are hooked on their smartphones may be at an increased risk for depression and loneliness, according to a new study from the University of Arizona.

A growing body of research has identified a link between smartphone dependency and symptoms of depression and loneliness. However, it's been unclear whether reliance on smartphones precedes those symptoms, or whether the reverse is true: that depressed or lonely people are more likely to become dependent on their phones.
In a study of 346 older adolescents, ages 18-20, researcher Matthew Lapierre and his collaborators found that smartphone dependency predicts higher reports of depressive symptoms and loneliness, rather than the other way around."The main takeaway is that smartphone dependency directly predicts later depressive symptoms," said Lapierre, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. "There's an issue where people are entirely too reliant on the device, in terms of feeling anxious if they don't have it accessible, and they're using it to the detriment of their day-to-day life."

Travel: 9 Super-Helpful Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health While Traveling

Self | October 28,2019

When Meredith R., 28, prepared to go on her meticulously planned vacation to Paris, she wasn’t thinking too much about her mental health. In fact, she kind of hoped her depression and anxiety would take a vacation of their own while she was living out a lifelong dream.

How could I be anything but happy in Paris? she thought. “I didn’t realize it until after the fact, but as I was planning, I was working around a very specific fantasy of what my vacation would look like,” she tells SELF. “That fantasy didn’t involve me being depressed or anxious.”
But Meredith’s mental illnesses didn’t take a break just so she could enjoy her vacation. She had her first panic attack after navigating crowds to climb the stairs to a lookout point at Sacré-Cœur. “I was so thrown for the rest of the trip,” she says. “I was even more anxious because I thought another panic attack could strike at any time, and I got caught in a hell of a negative thought spiral about how my trip was ruined, which was basically a flytrap for my depression. It was awful.”

Nutrition: What Is The Best Diet For Mental Health?

Greater Good Magazine | September 22, 2019

Should you eat an apple—or a bag of Oreos? Go to McDonald’s—or the vegetarian restaurant on the corner? When we make these everyday food choices, many of us think first of our physical health and appearance. But there’s another factor we may want to consider in picking foods: their impact on our mental health.

A growing body of research is discovering that food doesn’t just affect our waistline but also our moods, emotions, and even longer-term conditions like depression. Which makes sense, after all.
Our brains are physical entities, running on the energy that we put into our bodies, affected by shifts in our hormones, blood sugar levels, and many other biological processes.Although there are many unanswered questions, the research to date can give us some guidance when we’re hunting for an afternoon snack.

Education: College can be hard on your mental health. Here are 7 ways to cope.

Mashable| August 10, 2019

In our Back to School series, Mashable tackles the big issues students face, from mental health to representation to respectful communication. Because returning to the classroom is about more than buying school supplies.

People may joke about the carefree lives of college students, but the unique stress of succeeding in higher education is real. Between managing course work, finding a circle of supportive friends, figuring out your identity as a young adult, and paying for the privilege of a diploma, college can be the equivalent of a pressure cooker.
Indeed, research shows that a growing number of college students say they've experienced a mental health condition, including panic attacks and anxiety.

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: How To Keep People Engaged In Mental Health Treatment

NAMI| July 19, 2019

Mental illness affects every age group, gender, socio-economic status and culture, yet not all Americans have the same access to proper care. For example, only 20% of Asian Americans with mental illness receive treatment compared to 48% of white adults. And only 56% of African Americans and Latinx adults with serious mental illness receive treatment compared to 71% of white adults.

That’s why National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 2008: to help increase awareness of the barriers to mental health care for minority populations.
The issue is not only the ability to access care but also the ability to obtain effective care. Far too often, people don’t remain in treatment once they begin.

Health: The Words My Doctor Said That Changed How I Saw Mental Health Recovery

Yahoo| July 19, 2019

When I first reached out for help with my mental health, I had a “quickly and quietly get help and get better” mentality. I expected the medication to start working in a few weeks and I agreed to visit my college’s counseling center.

In therapy, I expected to learn some helpful tricks to help with my anxiety and depression. I thought I would struggle for a while and “get better.” I anticipated that it would be like any struggle I had in life.
I was extremely misled in my expectations and mentality. My quick “fix” turned out to be the opposite. My body rejected medication after medication.

Mental Health Recovery: How much does poor body image affect mental health?

The Guardian| June 27, 2019

Like it or not, most of us are aware of how we look. We have all had a bad hair day, or worried whether we are wearing the right clothes for a particular event. The traditional stereotype is that young women are more concerned about their appearance than young men.

Societal pressures, media images, and doting relatives saying how pretty a female child looks all have an impact. But how serious an impact can it have on our wellbeing and our mental health? And just how much does our body image trouble us as we get older?
Statistics by the charity the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), show that poor body self-image can affect all ages, not just younger people, and the reactions it can trigger range from anxiety and self-disgust to suicidal thoughts.

Mental Health Month: May Is Mental Health Month! #4Mind4Body

Mental Health America | May 5, 2019

This year marks MHA's 70th year celebrating Mental Health Month!Since 1949, Mental Health America and our affiliates across the country have led the observance of May is Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings.

We welcome other organizations to join us in spreading the word that mental health is something everyone should care about by using the May is Mental Health Month toolkit materials and conducting awareness activities.

Health: This is how sleep loss alters emotional perception

Medical News Today| April 11, 2019

What does sleep deprivation do to the way in which we perceive various emotional stimuli? A researcher from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has written a thesis aiming to answer this question.

Ever felt grumpy after a sleepless night? When we do not manage to satisfy our need for rest, our brains tend to rebel in various ways. Sleep deprivation, studies have shown, can be just as bad as being drunk, as it alters your perception of space and your reaction time.

Local News: Miss Louisiana United States Lauren “Tula” Poindexter using platform for Mental Health Awareness

KLFY| March 5, 2019

Miss Louisiana United States 2018 Lauren ‘Tula’ Poindexter stopped by the Passe Partout studio this morning to talk about her reign and how she’s using her new platform to shine a spotlight on Mental Health awareness.

And, of course, with it being Mardi Gras, she’s also spending some time celebrating. For more on her work, follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @TulaOnTv or email her at

In The Workplace: 5 Ways Bosses Can Reduce the Stigma of Mental Health at Work

Harvard Business Law| February 22, 2019

Experts tell us that one in four adults will struggle with a mental health issue during his or her lifetime. At work, those suffering — from clinical conditions or more minor ones — often hide it for fear that they may face discrimination from peers or even bosses. These stigmas can and must be overcome. But it takes more than policies set at the top. It also requires empathetic action from managers on the ground.

We count ourselves among those who have wrestled with mental health challenges. One morning a few years ago, in the midst of a successful year, Jen couldn’t get out of bed.
As a driven professional, she had ignored all the warning signs that she was experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But her mentor, Diana, could see something was wrong, and when Jen couldn’t come to work, the gravity of the situation became even clearer. In the ensuing weeks, we worked together to get Jen the help she needed.

New Year, Better You: How To Keep People Engaged In Mental Health Treatment

Bustle| January 3, 2019

MAs we officially bid adieu to 2018 and ring in 2019, you might be thinking about ways to improve your health in the new year. If fitness goals are on your radar that’s great, but caring for your mental health is also important. The intersection between physical and mental health can be significant, and stress can compromise both of these if you’re not taking regular steps to manage its effects.

These mental health boosts to try in 2019 are simpler (and more effective) than they might seem.
"The symptoms associated with stress can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior," Lisa Brateman, LCSW, an NYC-based psychotherapist and relationship specialist tells Bustle via email. "Prolonged stress can contribute to feeling overwhelmed, depression, irritability, and anger. It impairs one’s judgement and often interferes with interpersonal relationships."

Support During The Holidays: Free Mental Health Resources

Mental Health America| December 14, 2018

MThe holiday season can be a time of joy, community, and connection, but many people experience an increased sense of loneliness and isolation during this time of year. Whether it is in a crowded room or at home by yourself, loneliness is painful.

Warmlines are phone numbers people can call when they need someone to talk to or to just be there, whether they are experiencing a crisis or not. Staffed by people with lived experience, callers can receive support when they need it without traveling, being enrolled in a specific program, or attending a support group.
They can feel confident that the person on the other end of the line is a person with shared experience who understands the relationship-building, compassion, and hope that peers offer. Check out the link above to find the hours of operation of any warmlines near you.

Louisiana Mental Health: Building A Better System

Reuters| November 5, 2018

Mental health experts from across the country spent the day in Baton Rouge Tuesday trying to figure out how to build a network of mental health services that works. The Louisiana Mental Health Summit was hosted by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, who represents Louisiana.

“We are trying to build a network and create awareness of opportunity,” Cassidy said. He said getting people help when they are in a mental health crisis reduces the burden on the criminal justice system.
“Forty percent of those who are mentally ill interact with the criminal justice system, and I’d never thought about the cost associated with that – the booking fee, the time that the officer is not on the streets arresting bad folks but rather sitting as someone who’s mentally ill is there,” Cassidy said.

Psychiatric Boarding: Mental Health Patients Overcrowding Emergency Rooms

Reuters| October 18, 2018

When I walk through my hospital’s emergency department, I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the number of people languishing there as they wait for help with a mental health issue, like the woman clutching her chest as if she’s having a heart attack but is really suffering from a panic attack. It’s her third time here in a week.

She is just one of the hundreds of patients who will be admitted this year to my emergency department experiencing psychiatric emergencies.
Many stay in the emergency department for hours; some even stay there for a few days. The practice, called psychiatric boarding, occurs when an individual with a mental health condition is kept in an emergency department because no appropriate mental health care is available.

Mental Health In The Workplace: When should you take a mental health day?

Reuters| September 6, 2018

Even for people who are not suffering from clinical levels of depression and anxiety, the occasional “mental health day” might still be valuable.

Is it a good idea to take mental health days? As with so many questions related to human psychology, the answer is, “It depends.”
First, it is important to separate out two kinds of mental health days. One involves diagnosed mental illness.

Special Report: In Louisiana jail, deaths mount as mental health pleas unheeded.

Reuters| June 20, 2018

EAST BATON ROUGE, La. (Reuters) - The East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, a squat brick building with low-slung ceilings and walls sometimes smeared with feces, is the face of a paradigm shift: penitentiaries as mental health care providers. Across the United States thousands of jails are sheltering a wave of inmates accused of crimes and serving time while suffering from illnesses ranging from depression to schizophrenia.

The shift is a byproduct of the plunging numbers housed in psychiatric inpatient treatment centers, a total that fell from 471,000 in 1970 to 170,000 by 2014.
In Louisiana, the fallout exacerbated after a former governor shuttered or privatized a network of public hospitals that provided medical and psychiatric care to the accused.

Mental Health Month 2018: Join Options Foundation In Celebrating Mental Health Month!

Mental Health America| May 4, 2018

Since 1949, Mental Health America and our affiliates across the country have led the observance of May is Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings. We welcome other organizations to join us in spreading the word that mental health is something everyone should care about by using the May is Mental Health Month toolkit materials and conducting awareness activities.

When we talk about health, we can’t just focus on heart health, or liver health, or brain health, and not whole health. You have to see the whole person, and make use of the tools and resources that benefit minds and bodies together. That's why this year, our May is Mental Health Month theme is Fitness #4Mind4Body.
We’ll focus on what we as individuals can do to be fit for our own futures – no matter where we happen to be on our own personal journeys to health and wellness – and, most especially, before Stage 4.

Fortune: Why Mariah Carey's Bipolar Diagnosis Matters

Next Avenue| April 11, 2018

Mega-star Mariah Carey has done the world, and herself, a great service by sharing the story of her struggles to regain her health and sense of self after receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in 2001.

“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she told People, in this week’s cover story. “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music.”
Carey’s story is not unusual.

Work and Business: Why You Need To Take Off For Mental Health Reasons

Next Avenue| March 29, 2018

Personal health should be a private matter. But when you need to take time off work due to a mental health condition, often it isn’t possible to maintain that privacy.

As a board member at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and a former managing director at two global banks (UBS and Deutsche Bank), I’ve been approached by hundreds of colleagues and clients over the past 30 years seeking advice for themselves or a colleague, friend, or family member on how best to manage professional life while dealing with a mental health condition themselves or caring for a loved one who is.
Here is what I usually tell them.

The Stigma of Mental Illness in Small Towns: Many older adults in rural areas forgo treatment

Next Avenue| March 7, 2018

Mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are common among older adults in rural areas, affecting 10 to 25 percent of that population. But many of those people with them suffer in silence rather than seeking treatment.

Researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine wanted to know why, so they questioned 478 adults aged 60 and older in rural North Carolina. The most common barrier to treatment, according to their study? The belief that “I should not need help.” Other commonly cited barriers: not knowing where to go, distance, mistrust of counselors or therapists, “not wanting to talk with a stranger about private matters” and stigma.
In reality, the state would end up losing about $2.4 billion of health care funding if Edwards' health proposal was adopted. Stigma — the sense that something is shameful — may be felt more acutely in small rural towns because of the relative lack of anonymity there.

Louisiana Health Care: Proposed Budget Cuts Eliminate Mental Health, Substance Abuse, Adult Day Care| February 7, 2018

Very few vulnerable adult populations in Louisiana -- including those who are elderly, developmentally disabled, mentally ill or drug addicts -- wouldn't be affected by the health care cuts Gov. John Bel Edwards included in his state spending proposal Monday (Jan. 22). Thousands of people would lose the support services that keep them living at home and not in an institutional setting under the budget plan introduced by the governor.

The governor has said he doesn't want to make such cuts and would prefer to raise or renew taxes to avoid these types of reductions to government services. Edwards was forced to design a budget with $994 million worth of state funding cuts for the fiscal year that starts July 1 because over a billion dollars in temporary taxes will expire next summer. He has proposed that two-thirds of those state cuts -- about $657 million worth of them -- come from health care services.
In reality, the state would end up losing about $2.4 billion of health care funding if Edwards' health proposal was adopted.

Metro News: 8 Mental Health Red Flags We Should All Be Aware Of

Metro News| January 20, 2018

Every one of us goes through ups and downs as a normal part of life. Sometimes there’s a reason for the lows: a parking fine, a disagreement with a loved one, a rubbish day at work. Sometimes, they come out of the blue with no warning whatsoever. If you live with a mental illness, it’s vital to be watchful for the signs that your emotional wellbeing is taking a turn for the worse.

At least 50% of people with depression will have at least one relapse, but knowing what these red flags are and acting on them promptly could help to prevent a temporary low turning into a serious downward spiral.‘Often, a close friend or family member notices new signs and differences quicker than the individual experiencing them,’ says Dr Antonis Kousoulis, assistant director of the Mental Health Foundation.
If you experience these warning signs, you should seek help as soon as possible: early intervention is critical in preventing major problems. So what signs can we be aware of, in ourselves and others?

International Classification of Diseases: Gaming Disorder to be named as mental health condition for the first time.

MSN| December 26, 2017

Gaming disorder is soon to be classified as a mental health condition for the very first time, the New Scientist reports.The International Classification of Diseases is a diagnostic manual that’s published by the World Health Organisation. It was last updated 27 years ago, in 1990.The eleventh edition of the manual is due to be published in 2018 and will include gaming disorder as a serious health condition to be monitored.The wording of the gaming disorder hasn’t been revealed yet. However, the draft outlines the criteria needed to determine whether someone can be classed as having a gaming disorder.

Vladimir Poznyak, a member of the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, spoke about the importance of recognising gaming disorder as an important issue. “Health professionals need to recognise that gaming disorder may have serious health consequences,” he said.
“Most people who play video games don’t have a disorder, just like most people who drink alcohol don’t have a disorder either. However, in certain circumstances overuse can lead to adverse effects.”

The Five Most Taboo Topics In Retirement:#5 Mental Health

NBC| November 29,2017

I still remember that day I was talking to a doctor friend of mine and I casually asked him if he was seeing any trends with baby boomer and senior patients. Without much thought, he said, “we are seeing higher incidences of addiction, depression, and even suicide. I was blown away. I thought he was going to say something like more knee and hip replacements, sex-based drug requests, or increasing rates of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. As a result, I have famously become the source for what I call the Dark Side of Retirement.

After hearing that I dug into the research and was astonished by what I found: The National Institutes of Health report that, of the 35 million Americans age 65 or older, about 2 million suffer from full-blown depression. Another 5 million suffer from less severe forms of the illness.
Depression is the single most significant risk factor for suicide among the elderly. Sadly, many of those who commit suicide did, in fact, reach out for help – 20% see a doctor on the day they die, 40% the same week and 70% the same month.

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, with an aggregate rate of 11 suicide deaths per 100,000 Americans.

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…