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NAMI Massachusetts Observes Mental Illness Awareness Week

October 3-9, 2010
Education Changes Attitudes and Lives

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) takes place October 3rd-9th and is an opportunity to learn more about serious mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Mental illnesses are medical illnesses. One in four adults experiences a mental health problem in any given year. One in 17 lives with serious, chronic disorders.

Many people in our community are directly affected by mental illness. The good news is that treatment does work and recovery is possible. The bad news is that in many states around the country including Massachusetts, the budgets of health and human services are being cut, particularly mental health.

On average, people living with serious mental illness live 25 years less than the rest of the population. One reason is that less than one-third of adults and less than one-half of children with a diagnosed illness receive treatment.

The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it. That’s why this week is so important. We want people to understand mental illness and join a dialogue in our community. The more people know, the better they can help themselves or help their loved ones get the help and support they need.

When mental health care is cut, greater costs often result from lost jobs and careers, broken families, more homelessness, higher insurance costs, more welfare and much more expensive costs for hospital emergency rooms, nursing homes, schools, police and courts, jails and prisons.

Please check out what’s happening in Massachusetts by looking at the Events Calendar.

World Mental Health Day Oct. 10th

18th Annual World Mental Health Day on October 10th

Focuses Attention on Mental Health and Chronic Illnesses

The World Federation for Mental Health has selected integrated care for those people with coexisting chronic physical and mental illness as the theme for this year‘s World Mental Health Day. This year the annual event, observed worldwide on  October 10th, targets the close association of depression with chronic physical illnesses.

Four of them – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and respiratory illnesses – are leading causes of disability and account for 60% of deaths around the world. These medical conditions may require careful lifelong management or periods of intensive treatment.

Other conditions often coexist with chronic illness, complicating care and further diminishing quality of life. One, commonly found, is major depression, a disabling illness that seriously impacts overall health. Research shows that depression carries an increased risk for physical illness, while conversely a number of chronic illnesses carry an increased risk for depression.

Physical and mental illness do not always coincide, but do so often enough that medical professionals should give it special consideration. It affects substantial numbers of those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and respiratory illnesses.

Mental illness is treatable. Integrated care can help people with coexisting mental and physical illness to manage both. The World Health Organization recommends incorporating mental health into primary care as a cost-effective and convenient way of providing services and reducing stigma and discrimination. Referrals from primary care to specialized services should be available as needed.

The World Federation for Mental Health encourages organizations to observe World Mental Health Day on October 10th with events and programs that focus on “Mental Health and Chronic Illness: The Need for Continued and Integrated Care.” Special materials prepared by the World Federation are available for download on its website (http://www.wfmh.org/00WorldMentalHealthDay.htm).

There is some good news to report with respect to integrating primary care and mental health in the U.S. this month. According to the Sept. 24th news release from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, $26.2 Million to expand primary care to individuals with behavioral health disorders is awarded to 43 community agencies nationwide (http://bit.ly/aTmygu). “Bringing needed health care services to patients in a coordinated and convenient way can go a long way in helping to improve health status.” Community Healthlink, Inc., of Worcester, MA is awarded $460,690.

NAMI Massachusetts will be joining others on Twitter to tweet about World Mental Health Day using the hashtag #wmhd2010 to educate people about the Mental Health and Chronic Illness: The Need for Continued and Integrated Care .  We hope you’ll join us.

NAMI Mass 28th Annual State Convention


Saturday, October 30, 2010, 8am to 4:00pm

Johnson & Wales Inn http://www.jwinn.com

213 Taunton Avenue, Route 44, Seekonk, MA 02771

The Keynote Speaker Dr Bruce M. Cohen is President and Psychiatrist in Chief Emeritus at McLean Hospital and the Robertson-Steele Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  Currently, he is Director of the Frazier Research Institute at McLean. His research activities focus on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with psychotic and mood disorders, including bipolar disorders.

Dr. Cohen is the author of over 400 publications, including over 220 manuscripts of original research in peer-reviewed journals.  He has authored one book and has chapters in numerous textbooks.


8am to 10am Registration

9:30am Welcome

9:50am Keynote Speaker, Dr. Bruce Cohen

11:10am to 12:25pm Workshop Session 1

12:30 to 2:30pm Lunch

2:45 to 4pm Workshop Session 2

Eight Workshops for persons in recovery, their families, treatment providers and friends.

  • Ask the Doctor:  Children/Adolescents
  • Community Based Flexible Supports (CBFS) Revisited:  Learn more about DMH’s adult services
  • Peer Support Resources:  Clubhouses, Recovery Learning Communities, Warmlines, etc.
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing People Speak Out
  • Parents & Teachers United:  Collaboration between Home & School
  • In Our Own Voice:  Powerful presentation by two people living with mental illness
  • Emergency Services Program:  What to do when you or your loved one is in psychiatric crisis
  • PeaceLove Is Possible: Building A Voice On Mental Illness Through Art

The NAMI Mental Health Consumer Art Marketplace and the Mental Health Vendor Displays will be OPEN ALL DAY in the Exhibition Hall.

Detailed workshop descriptions (subject to change)

convention-workshops- titles (Summaries)

2010 NAMI Mass Convention Registration Form

To convert the PDF form to a Word document.

Please stay after the state convention ends for consumer networking from 4:30-6:00pm.  We’ll get to meet each other face to face and learn from each other.  We will talk about increased consumer inclusion in NAMI and the possibilty of forming a consumer council.

Public Transit Options (you will still have to walk 15-20 minutes from the nearest bus stop to the Johnson & Wales Inn).  Public Transportation Options

Directions to Johnson & Wales Inn, 213 Taunton Avenue, Seekonk, MA

FROM Western Mass:

Take I-90 East toward Springfield/Boston

Take Exit 10A toward Rt-146 Worcester/US-20/Providence

Turn Right onto Route 20 Conn.

Merge onto MA-146 toward Millbury/Providence RI (Crossing into Rhode Island)

MA-146 S becomes I-95 S

Merge onto I-195 E/US-44 E/US 6E/RI-1A N via Exit 20 toward East Providence/Cape Cod

Take the Taunton Avenue/US-44 East exit, Exit 4

Turn Slight Right onto US-44 E/Taunton Avenue

Continue to Follow US-44E (Crossing into Massachusetts)

213 Taunton Avenue is on the right

FROM Worcester:

Take I-146 toward Auburn

Merge onto MA-146 S via Exit 12 toward I-90/ Mass Pike/ Millbury/ Providence RI (Crossing  into Rhode Island)

MA-146 S becomes I-95 S

Merge onto I-195 E/ US-44 E/ US-6 E/ RI-1A N via Exit 20 toward East Providence/ Cape Cod

Take the Taunton Avenue / US-44 E exit, Exit 4

Continue to follow US-44 E (Crossing into Massachusetts)

213 Taunton Avenue is on the right

FROM Cape Cod:

Take US-6 W

Exit onto US-6 W/Scenic Hwy towards Buzzards Bay Continue to follow US-6 W

Take the MA-28 S/MA-25 W ramp to Falmouth the Islands/I-495

Keep left at the fork to continue toward MA-25 W and merge onto MA-25 W

Continue onto I-495 N

Take exit 6 for US-44 W toward Taunton/Providence RI

Turn right at US-44 W/Harding Street and continue to follow US-44 W to 213 Taunton Avenue,  Johnson & Wales Inn on the left

FROM Points North:

Take 93 S to Route 24 S towards Brockton

Take exit 13B to merge onto US-44 W toward Taunton

Continue to follow US-44 W to destination, Johnson & Wales Inn, 213 Taunton Avenue, on the  left

Broken Brain and Body Chemistry Part 1

Broken Brain and Body Chemistry by Laura Blockel, NAMI Connection Consultant

Functional medicine (www.functionalmedicine.org) is the science of treating the body as a whole system and not just treating pieces like brain chemistry alone.  Let me begin this series of blog posts by starting with my own story.  In January 2010, I weighed 250 pounds, my blood pressure was on the increase, my LDL cholesterol was off the charts, and I was pre-diabetic.  My psychiatrist was alarmed and transitioned me off one of my medicines that was known to readily cause weight gain.  He counseled me to start exercising and to begin a more disciplined eating routine.  It was then that I discovered the work of Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., a practitioner of functional medicine and his best seller, “The Ultra-Mind Solution”.  In his book, Dr. Hyman offered seven keys of staying in balance including: fixing nutrition, establishing hormone balance, cooling off inflammation, fixing digestion, enhancing detoxification, boosting energy metabolism, and calming the mind.[1] Over the next several blogs I will relate how each of these keys has dramatically enhanced my wellness.  To date, I have lost 55 pounds and I am on half the psychotropic medicines I used to be on in January.  My LDL is dropping and I am no longer in danger of acquiring diabetes.  Each of these things was accomplished under the clear direction and consent of my treating psychiatrist. Together, we agreed on each step of my new routine.  What worked for me is good “functional” medicine, all of which is common sense and advice readily recommended by most doctors, including our NAMI National psychiatrist, Dr. Duckworth, in the program “Hearts and Minds”.  The difference is that Functional Medicine ties all the systems together and explains why a good diet, exercise, and mind-enhancing routine works to calm and soothe the brain.  I hope my continuing story will be of interest and inspiration to you.

[1] Hyman, Mark, M.D.; The UltraMind Solution:  Scribner, New York.  2009.

NAMI Mass 1st to offer IOOV with ASL


CONTACT: Laurie Martinelli

781-938-4048 or lmartinelli@namimass.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts is 1st in the Nation to offer NAMI’s In Our Own Voice program video with American Sign Language (ASL)

WOBURN, Mass – The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI-Mass) announced today that they have added American Sign Language interpretation to the In Our Own Voice (IOOV) program videotape.  NAMI-Mass is the first in the nation to offer IOOV with ASL.

In Our Own Voice:  Living with Mental Illness is a unique public education presentation that offers insight into the hope and recovery possible for people living with mental illness.   Trained individuals living with mental illness lead a brief, yet comprehensive and interactive, presentation about mental illness. In Our Own Voice is accompanied by a video and is meant for lay audiences, mental health professionals, police and schools alike.

The ASL-interpreted video was made possible with the assistance of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  NAMI-Mass would also like to acknowledge the involvement of Advocates, Inc. in this endeavor. “This project took about nine months to complete including research, meeting with providers and deaf and hard of hearing clients, and then the production of the video,” said Laurie Martinelli, Executive Director of NAMI-Mass.  “People who are deaf or hard of hearing are an underserved community.   We want to reach out and provide education programs and now we can.  Our next step in this project is to train people to be presenters who are deaf or hard of hearing and also have lived experience of mental illness.  Then NAMI National will offer the video throughout the country” concluded Martinelli.

“We couldn’t be more pleased and proud of this collaborative endeavor with our sister agency, the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and NAMI, said Commissioner Barbara A. Leadholm of the Department of Mental Health.  “This is a wonderful step for consumer empowerment and demonstrates a commitment to inclusiveness.”

Heidi L. Reed, Commissioner of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission also commented,

“Research reveals the harsh reality that Deaf and hard of hearing people have significant mental health risks for many reasons including barriers to communication, educational barriers, and lack of access to mental health treatment. This video responds to the urgent need for accessible information about mental health and service options and respects the importance of communicating knowledge and support through American Sign Language. We are very pleased to collaborate with NAMI-Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in making it possible for Deaf and hard of hearing people to share the wisdom and hope of In Our Own Voice.

Dr. Joyce Burland, Director, NAMI (National) Education, Training and Peer Support Center, commented,” NAMI congratulates NAMI-Massachusetts for its creative partnership with the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Department of Mental Health to develop this ASL version of the In Our Own Voice program, thereby extending the reach of NAMI’s recovery message to deaf and heard of hearing Americans with mental illness and their families.  It is a great step forward.”

With one in four Americans diagnosed with mental illness during their lifetimes and less than one-third receiving treatment, The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts provides education programs, support groups, a help and referral service, and grassroots advocacy to all those affected by mental illness in the Commonwealth, as well as raising awareness about these brain disorders, eliminating the stigma associated with mental illnesses and improving the mental health delivery system. Established over 25 years ago, NAMI-Mass has 22 affiliates located throughout Massachusetts and over 2500 members.


Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor of The Boston Globe and the Somerville Journal

Carol Lynn Kingsley’s death on July 23 is a tragedy for all of us.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Massachusetts calls for a review of both Cambridge Hospital’s and the Somerville Police Department’s protocols and procedures for handling psychiatric emergencies and to institute any reforms that such reviews might warrant.  More widely, we hope that health and public safety officials throughout the Commonwealth will take this opportunity to assess the readiness of their organizations to respond to emergencies so as to avoid injury or death of persons with mental illnesses and public safety officers.

Ms. Kingsley, who was well known to Cambridge Hospital, was transported to the hospital for a mental health evaluation early in the morning of July 23.  She was released, and within hours three police officers were called to her home to answer a domestic disturbance call.  She allegedly grabbed a knife, barricaded herself in a bathroom, and wounded the officers before being shot dead.

In the aftermath of these events, we call upon the Departments of Public Health and Mental Health to conduct a full investigation into the actions of Cambridge Hospital and to make public the results of its findings, including any internal investigation by the hospital.  We would expect that any findings and recommendations regarding psychiatric evaluation procedures and protocols be shared with all general hospital emergency rooms in the Commonwealth.  We implore all hospitals to take the steps necessary to ensure that their emergency room staff is adequately trained with regard to conducting psychiatric assessments and evaluations.

Local police departments are our valued public safety officers, the first responders to every possible human affliction or conflict.  They must have the tools and resources in order to respond to every situation safely and humanely.  We also call upon the Somerville Police Department to review its protocols and procedures in light of this tragedy and to determine if training of its officers in mental health crises is warranted.

NAMI has endorsed the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program originally developed by the Police Department of Memphis, Tennessee, in partnership with mental health consumers, family members and mental health professionals.  The goal of this nationally recognized program is to set a standard of excellence for the police with respect to treatment of individuals with mental illness, thereby effectively managing crises, decreasing the use of force by officers and increasing mental health consumer access to community services.  The key is collaboration.  Although pilot police and mental health provider collaborations have occurred in a few Massachusetts municipalities (for example in Berkshire County), they are the exception rather than the expectation.  CIT must be expanded across all municipalities.

The CIT model will serve all of us well – as consumers, family members, neighbors, public safety officers, emergency room personnel, and taxpayers.  As Major Sam Cochran of the Memphis Police Department eloquently states, “Crises are about people, about our community, our families, our friends, and our loved ones.”  Among the many benefits realized by the Memphis CIT program are “positive perceptions among police officers; providing very efficient crisis response times; increasing jail diversion among those with mental illness; improving the likelihood of treatment continuity with community based providers; and impacting psychiatric symptomatology for those suffering from a serious mental illness as well as substance abuse disorder.  This was all accomplished while significantly decreasing police officer injury rates.”  Indeed, after the introduction of CIT in Memphis, the injury rate among officers responding to “mental disturbance calls” dropped by 80%.  In Albuquerque, SWAT team involvement in response to crisis intervention calls declined by 58%.

Massachusetts would do well to adopt the Memphis CIT model.  Indeed, we have the opportunity to join those few states which are implementing CIT training on a statewide basis.

We do not know much of what happened on the morning of July 23rd.  We do know that Carol Lynn Kingsley is dead; that the many unanswered questions deserve a full and transparent investigation; and that all of us will benefit when our police officers throughout the Commonwealth have the best possible training to respond to mental illness emergencies.

Guy Beales is President of NAMI Massachusetts.

Articles in the Somerville Journal covering the events:


Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal Thoughts by Melissa Mashburn, guest blogger.

Her blog is at http://www.sugarfilledemotions.com/

September 5, 2010 through September 11, 2010 is National Suicide Prevention Week.  World Suicide Day is September 10th.
I thought about providing information about the warning signs of suicide, but I decided that there would be plenty of blog posts about that this week.  I thought about providing links to informational websites, again there are probably going to be loads of posts with that information.  I even contemplated creating a list of things you can do to provide awareness about suicide, once again, I figured there would be loads of that out there.  What I decided to do is just talk, and explain why it is so important to intervene when someone is exhibiting signs or expresses out loud that they are suicidal. Interestingly enough, I was interrupted while writing this post due to a suicide death in my extended family.  It has given me a lot to think about, and has changed some of what I was going to write.

Any time someone is on the verge of suicide, one thing you need to keep in mind is that they are sick.  Some of the symptoms of their illness are suicidal thoughts.  When a person gets to a point where they are so sick that they are having suicidal thoughts, you should think of it as if they are dying, because they are. They need immediate and intensive care.  In other words you must do whatever it takes to get them the care that they need, NO MATTER WHAT THE SUICIDAL PERSON SAYS.

If someone you love was having a heart attack or a stroke, life  threatening events, you would not hesitate to get them help.  You also  know that they would receive intensive care to give them every chance of  surviving what has happened to them.  You should think about someone  having suicidal thoughts in the same manner. The mental illness/mental  health issue that is causing the suicidal thoughts is as real and life  threatening as a heart attack or stroke.

The problem is that many times a suicidal person can talk their family and friends into believing that everything is okay.  Sometimes they do this because they do not want to take the chance of a psychiatric hospitalization, other times it is because they want to carry out their suicide plan without interference. Because it is difficult for family and friends to accept that their  loved one wants to cause themselves harm, they are often more than  willing to allow themselves to be talked into taking no action.

The best thing you can do for someone having suicidal thoughts is to show them Tough Love.  With someone who is having suicidal thoughts, Tough Love means that you are willing to risk them hating you in order to save their life.  You need to be tough.  You need to be strong.  You need to be loving.  Interfering with their suicide plans will make them angry.  They might say horrible things to you.  You must remember that no matter what they say, you are getting help for someone who is dying.

A dire situation calls for drastic action.  Someone being suicidal is a dire situation.  To save their life you may have to call 911 (or the emergency number where you live), call a local suicide crisis line and see if they can send a crisis team to where you are, you may even have to trick them into going to a local hospital emergency department to be evaluated by a mental health professional.

I know how hard what I have written sounds.  I know that it sounds like a harsh view point to take, however, I speak from experience.  I have been in that place where my mind was filled with thoughts of suicide.  I have been that sick, and it truly felt as if I was dying.  I had one suicide attempt under my belt and I still had thoughts of suicide.  It took a crisis intervention team coming to my house and being committed into a psychiatric hospital and extremely intense therapy to save my life.

I was mad at everyone.  I hated everyone, especially the people who stuck me in that hospital, but it was where I needed to be.  Once my mind became clear, and I no longer felt sick, I began to understand that the things the crisis intervention team had done, as harsh as I thought they were, kept me alive.

If you have ever attempted suicide and would like to be part of a community that was created to support those who survived their suicide attempt, please join me and many others at http://suicideattemptsurvivors.ning.com/