Prison Is Wrong Place To Treat Mental Illness

Taken from the  Concord Monitor  which can be found   HERE.

Over the past 70 years, the number of people with mental illness held in hospitals has decreased dramatically, while the number held in jails and prisons has increased exponentially. The promise of de-institutionalization has been replaced for many by the misery of incarceration.

In 1957, New Hampshire’s population was 750,000 and the number of citizens served at New Hampshire Hospital, our state psychiatric facility in Concord, was 2,700 adults. Today, with a population of 1.3 million, the number of child and adults beds at New Hampshire Hospital is a mere 160. During that time, there has also been a significant decrease in the availability of psychiatric beds at local hospitals.

To be sure, many people with mental illness have benefited from advancements in treatment and are living independently, leading full and productive lives. Others are more marginal and depend on a fragmented and, in recent years, chronically underfunded system of mental health services. As a result of this underfunding, individuals end up on the streets, face arrest for nuisance crimes and spend time in jail instead of receiving needed treatment.

Law enforcement has made great strides and benefited from increased funding and training to improve their understanding and response to people with mental illness. We need to provide the same emphasis and opportunities to court personnel and to other players in the corrections system.

Lack of appropriate assessment and understanding of how to manage people who have mental illness and who are accused of crimes, combined with limited treatment options, has resulted in high recidivism rates for individuals who commit low-level offenses and probation violations.

National studies indicate people with mental illness are charged, convicted and sentenced more severely, and spend more time in jail than others accused of similar crimes who do not have a mental illness. These cases clog the court system, increase the stigma and shame that people with mental illness already carry, and cost taxpayers a lot of money.

Better solutions exist. Mental health courts are a key to reducing the likelihood that individuals with mental illness will re-offend. In mental health courts, all court personnel receive training designed to promote positive outcomes for individuals with mental illness.

Through careful assessment and screening, court personnel identify individuals who can safely be held accountable for their actions.

Public safety is ensured because participants must adhere to individualized treatment plans, which are carefully monitored through frequent judicial reviews and court appearances. As a result, the chronic cycle of incarceration is interrupted.

Only 10 of New Hampshire’s 33 district and superior courts have a mental health court. Because counties and local municipalities fund prosecutors as well as special programs, there is a wide discrepancy in regions where mental health courts are located.

Some counties have seen significant savings as mental health courts are successful at reducing use of county correctional facilities.

For this reason, many mental health courts have focused exclusively on misdemeanor crimes. It is important that similar programs be offered for felony convictions as well.

For instance, the New Hampshire Department of Corrections indicates that 77 percent of the women at the Goffstown prison have experienced serious life-threatening trauma from physical or sexual assaults. Trauma often results in post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression, substance use and other debilitating disorders. At the men’s prison in Concord, 45 percent report having a mental health disorder.

A bill currently making its way through the Legislature encourages the establishment of mental health courts statewide. Although it does not provide funding, it establishes guidelines for how mental health courts should operate, including following the best practices established nationally.

To be sure, individuals who commit violent crimes should go to jail. But we need to stop incarcerating those with mental illness simply because treatment options are few.

We need to stop clogging our courts and corrections systems with people who need treatment, not confinement.

Instead we must carefully screen and assess individuals with mental illness who can be safely monitored in the community with treatment and supports.

We must recognize that the community is safer and taxpayer dollars are more wisely spent if we invest in effective community programs that will address the needs of individuals with mental illness and/or substance use disorders.

Only then will we stem the tide of people ending up in the judicial system.

(Kenneth Norton is the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness – New Hampshire. Tina L. Nadeau is the chief justice of the New Hampshire Superior Courts.)

After 48 Years Agoraphobic Woman Leaves Her Home

Taken from   The Daily Mail  which can be found   HERE.

The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine topped the charts, England had just won the World Cup and Harold Wilson was happily puffing his pipe in Downing Street.

As Patricia Cooper walked in the sunshine, pushing her six-month-old daughter, she was suddenly struck by a crippling fear of open spaces.

The effect of that summer’s day in 1966 was so terrifying that it would be the last time the 31-year-old housewife ventured outdoors for nearly half a century.

In all that time, mother-of-two Mrs Cooper never went more than a few yards from her front door, never walked her children to school or took her grandchildren out and could not even go shopping.

Imprisoned by agoraphobia and in dread of what might happen if it struck her again, she kept in touch with her family by telephone – or, in recent years, the internet.

Meanwhile, outside her Darlington home, the world was transformed by the rise in the number of cars, the ease of foreign travel and the decline of the high street.

That passed Mrs Cooper by, until  her 26-year-old grandson Kevin Nicholson was awarded the British Empire Medal. Mrs Cooper was so proud that she summoned the courage to be outdoors for the first time since that August day 48 years ago.

In an almost clandestine operation to get to the presentation ceremony last week, she was ushered into a car that drew up at her door, driven for a few minutes to the venue and introduced to the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham and the town mayor after they presented the medal to Mr Nicholson for his services to a local community centre. Then she sat in a garden for a time with him – and went back indoors again.Yesterday she told the Mail: ‘It was really scary but I’m glad I did it. Kevin didn’t have any idea I’d be there and he was thrilled. I’m glad I stayed to watch the ceremony but the only thing I really wanted to do was get back home.’

Mrs Cooper, now a 78-year-old great-grandmother, told how her self-imposed confinement began as she walked to her local post office.

She was swept by an unexplained feeling of panic. Voices around her suddenly became distant and everything went hazy.

‘I was rooted to the spot,’ she said. ‘I actually thought I was going to die. The only thing I knew I needed to do was get home as soon as I could. I shut the door… and I didn’t answer it again for the next three years. I can’t explain it, but I just couldn’t face going out again.’

Mrs Cooper, already divorced from husband Brendon, was told electric shock treatment would cure her but she refused. Instead she became a recluse. Neighbours did her shopping and her mother helped her to raise daughter Sandra, now 48, and son John, 50. She has lived every day in terror of injuring herself and needing treatment. ‘If I had to be rushed to hospital the experience would probably kill me,’ she said. ‘I just wouldn’t go. It’s a terrible feeling. You just can’t control it.’

Although she has been smuggled to her children’s homes for the occasional Christmas or Mother’s Day, she had not spent time outside for five decades until last week, when she was collected from the care home where she has spent the last seven years.

Of the short drive to the ceremony, she said: ‘There are cars and motorbikes everywhere and everyone seems to drive like Evel Knievel.’

Yet indoors she has easily embraced new technology – she uses an iPad, has a Facebook page and shops online.

Her biggest regret is that agoraphobia robbed her of the chance to spend more time with her family.

What would she do now if she could lead a normal life outside? ‘Go to the tulip gardens in Amsterdam… visit Disneyland… go to where my grandmother was born in County Cork… spend lots more time seeing my family… it’s the simple things you miss out on,’  she said.

There is one thing she hasn’t missed since 1966, however: England winning the World Cup again.



Researchers Identify Bipolar Disorder Gene

Taken from  Mental Wellness Today   which can be found   HERE.

Researchers at Sweden’s Sahlgrenska Academy, by way of studying more than 50,000 people, have managed to identify a gene that is believed to have a strong link with bipolar disorder.

Previous studies have shown that the risk of developing bipolar disorder is largely due to genetics, but scientists have been unable to pin down exactly which genes are involved.

Sahlgrenska Academy’s study has now identified one gene in particular that is linked to a calcium channel in the brain and is thought to play a key role in the development of bipolar disorder. The findings were published in the journal Nature Genetics.

In recent years, scientists have shifted their focus from studying individual gene variations and instead have been looking at entire genome analysis. One of the leading collaborations for this kind of genome study in the field of bipolar disorder is the Psychiatric GWAS Consortium (PGC), which involves researchers from Sweden, Europe and the USA. This consortium, in its most recent study, analyzed 11,974 people with bipolar disorder and compared them with 42,422 controls. The results back up previous studies which show that bipolar disorder is caused by an interaction between many genes, each of which has only a minor effect on its own. The researchers have also identified a specific gene—CACNA1C—that is believed to have a particularly strong link to the disorder. The gene codes for a calcium channel in the brain which is interesting, says Mikael Landén, the international project’s lead researcher, “because some drugs for bipolar disorder act on this very channel. It will also encourage further research into how the calcium channel affects the disorder.”

TV Needs To Stop Treating Mental Illness As A Superpower

The different programs mentioned in this article does not constitute my recommending them for viewing.  The content of the article makes valid points I believe you will identify with.  Allan

Taken from  the  New Republic  which can be found   HERE.

Catherine Black, a celebrated neurologist and the main character of ABC’s risible “Black Box” is known as “the Marco Polo of the brain.” That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a television procedural’s protagonist must always be the very best at what she does. Dr. Gregory House, despite being an a**hole and a Vicodin addict, is a genius at diagnosing obscure illnesses; Adrian Monk’s OCD helps him solve cases no one else can; Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan’s Asperger’s-like detachment make her the FBI’s go-to for unsolved deaths. That’s another thing Catherine Black (Kelly Reilly) has in common with all these other TV doctors/detectives/investigators. She’s so good at understanding the intricacies of the brain because—irony!—there’s something wrong with her own brain. She has a secret: she’s bipolar. In an age of high-school teachers cooking meth and suburban parents doubling as Soviet spies, this secret may seem somewhat ho-hum. But “Black Box,” debuting Thursday night, offers a glaring example of one of pop culture’s most noxious tropes: mental illness as superpower.

Catherine, the medical director of a fancy neurological center known as the Cube, is apparently amazing at her job, and “Black Box” doesn’t hesitate to draw a connection between her genius and her illness: “Catherine has an insight into her patients that no one else has, allowing her to communicate with them on a different level,” according to ABC’s press notes. She’s fabulously empathetic and intuitive, somehow able to see what all the other doctors miss (though her cases should be familiar to anyone who reads Oliver Sacks’s essays). That’s because, the show keeps reminding us, mental illness goes along with greatness. “Hemingway. Sylvia Plath. Billie Holiday. Dickens. Melville. These are just a few of the great minds that suffered from a fine madness. Should they be medicated into mediocrity?” Catherine asks after skipping her meds. She’s particularly taken with Van Gogh; in the middle of a manic episode, we see the sky transform into “Starry Night,” as it does in her hallucinations.

If all this sounds ludicrous, that’s because it is. Catherine explains to her psychiatrist (played by the always luminous Vanessa Redgrave) that her manic episodes are “a freaking rocket ride”— but they mostly just involve dancing in the moonlight to smooth jazz. She does bad things, which basically means sex with strangers and spinning in circles on a balcony in her silk nightgown. Still, the show exults in the character’s self-destructive tendencies; she goes off her medication at least once an episode, providing lots of opportunities for surprise twists and wild sex. “Do you want to be exceptional and dead?” her psychiatrist asks her, as though that’s the only alternative to a life of mediocrity.

The show’s particular absurdities are all its own, but “Black Box” is part of a long line of fictions that treat psychological disorders as a professional asset. On TNT’s “Perception,” which will soon air a third season, Eric McCormack plays a schizophrenic neuroscience professor who moonlights as an FBI consultant, solving murders with the help of witnesses he hallucinates. “Mind Games,” which lasted five episodes this spring before getting the axe, starred Steve Zahn as a bipolar genius who used to teach psychology and now runs a “problem-solving” business. Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes coolly calls himself a “high-functioning sociopath,” but Sherlock fans have been offering competing psychological profiles for Arthur Conan Doyle’s character for decades. “Homeland,” at its best, complicated this dynamic, but Claire Danes’s Carrie Mathison was still gifted with a perception that her saner C.I.A. colleagues lacked. She was a superhero, until she was a lovesick lackey. Because it’s so painfully clumsy and thoughtlessly constructed, “Black Box” distills what’s unsettling in the rest of these shows into something wholly unpleasant.

Many of these series do display greater realism than prior portrayals and have been duly praised for that. Better to fill our screens with magical madwomen, perhaps, than to push mentally ill characters to the narrative margins or portray them as only criminal or dangerous. Determined to play-act a kind of verisimilitude, “Black Box” is filled with lists of medications and symptoms, as though its cribbing its clunky dialogue from the Wikipedia page for bipolar disorder. But some of the best portrayals of mental illness on TV ignore questions of accuracy and take a more roundabout route to emotional truth. Take Showtime’s “United States of Tara,” which made no effort to be a diagnostically accurate portrait of dissociative identity disorder, but managed to offer a devastating portrayal of what it’s like to love someone who is very sick. In “Wilfred,” an absurdist comedy on FX, a young man moves on from a suicide attempt by hanging out with a talking dog.

But turning a diagnosis into a magic tool for crime-solving is simpler than writing a complicated, fully realized character. It’s a sign of how reliant TV is on easy formula, and it’s an idea that, in its way, might be as harmful as more overtly stigmatizing stereotypes of the mentally ill. “The brain is the ultimate mystery. That’s why scientists call it the black box,” Catherine explains to patients. Even more of a mystery: how jazz music has come to signify mental illness—or why the idea that psychiatric disorders confer special powers simply won’t die, even as the percentage of Americans who seek treatment for mental health continues to increase.

The Cost Of Burning: Streams In The Desert, April 26th, 2014

More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung! – that I may gain Christ   Philippians 3:8
Shining is always costly. Light comes only at the cost of that which produces it. An unlit candle does no shining. Burning must come before shining. We cannot be of great use to others without cost to ourselves. Burning suggests suffering. We shrink from pain.
We are apt to feel that we are doing the greatest good in the world when we are strong, and able for active duty, and when the heart and hands are full of kindly service.
When we are called aside and can only suffer; when we are sick; when we are consumed with pain; when all our activities have been dropped, we feel that we are no longer of use, that we are not doing anything.
But, if we are patient and submissive, it is almost certain that we are a greater blessing to the world in our time of suffering and pain than we were in the days when we thought we were doing the most of our work. We are burning now, and shining because we are burning.
—Evening Thoughts
“The glory of tomorrow is rooted in the drudgery of today.”
Many want the glory without the cross, the shining without the burning, but crucifixion comes before coronation.
Have you heard the tale of the aloe plant,
Away in the sunny clime?
By humble growth of a hundred years
It reaches its blooming time;
And then a wondrous bud at its crown
Breaks into a thousand flowers;
This floral queen, in its blooming seen,
Is the pride of the tropical bowers,
But the plant to the flower is sacrifice,
For it blooms but once, and it dies.
Have you further heard of the aloe plant,
That grows in the sunny clime;
How every one of its thousand flowers,
As they drop in the blooming time,
Is an infant plant that fastens its roots
In the place where it falls on the ground,
And as fast as they drop from the dying stem,
Grow lively and lovely around?
By dying, it liveth a thousand-fold
In the young that spring from the death of the old.
Have you heard the tale of the pelican,
The Arabs’ Gimel el Bahr,
That lives in the African solitudes,
Where the birds that live lonely are?
Have you heard how it loves its tender young,
And cares and toils for their good,
It brings them water from mountain far,
And fishes the seas for their food.
In famine it feeds them—what love can devise!
The blood of its bosom—and, feeding them, dies.
Have you heard this tale—the best of them all—
The tale of the Holy and True,
He dies, but His life, in untold souls
Lives on in the world anew;
His seed prevails, and is filling the earth,
As the stars fill the sky above.
He taught us to yield up the love of life,
For the sake of the life of love.
His death is our life, His loss is our gain;
The joy for the tear, the peace for the pain.

God Finished His Work: Morning & Evening, April 25th, 2014

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me. Psalm 138:8

Charles Spurgeon

He who has begun will carry on the work which is being wrought within my soul. The Lord is concerned about everything that concerns me. All that is now good, but not perfect, the Lord will watch over, preserve, and carry out to completion. This is a great comfort. I could not perfect the work of grace myself. Of that I am quite sure, for I fail every day and have only held on so long as I have because the Lord has helped me. If the Lord were to leave me, all my past experience would go for nothing, and I should perish from the way. But the Lord will continue to bless me. He will perfect my faith, my love, my character, my lifework. He will do this because He has begun a work in me. He gave me the concern I feel, and, in a measure, He has fulfilled my gracious aspirations, He never leaves a work unfinished; this would not be for His glory, nor would it be like Him. He knows how to accomplish His gracious design, and though my own evil nature and the world and the devil all conspire to hinder Him, I do not doubt His promise. He will perfect that which concerneth me, and I will praise Him forever. Lord, let Thy gracious work make some advance this day!

Praise & Worship: April 25th, 2014

Song List

1.  Hallelujah-  Three Talented Girls

2.  Shout To The North –  Robin Mark

3.  Long Road To Forgiveness-  Melissa Greene

4.  All You’ll Ever Need-  Andrew Peterson

5.  Grace Flows Down-  Christy Nockels

6.  We Shall See The King-  Glenn Kaiser

7.  Hallelujah-  Krystal Meyers

8.  Who Am I-  Casting Crowns

9.  When I Look At The Blood-  Godfrey Birtill

10.  Praise The Lord-  Kristene Mueller

11.  Above All-  Michael W. Smith