Thursday, April 30, 2009

Family Pulling Away and Friends Fading Away

Yes this scenario is the repeated scene for every mentally ill person and their families. I totally understand what this girl is saying. My mother also was discharged from the hospital with no place she would agree to go to and was also very close to becoming another homeless statistic. Amazing how similar all the stories are. Please KTDUP!!!

Daniel Rubin: With Phillies, fightin' to help the mentally ill

By Daniel Rubin

Inquirer Columnist

A perfect day. We're sitting behind home plate at Citizens Bank Park, midafternoon, as the Washington Nationals stretch and shag flies in the sun. Next to me, Melissa Maani talks about mental illness.

"It changes the dynamics of the day - every day, every holiday," she says. "Everything is different."

Maani is the Phillies' graphic artist. Her latest work hangs in left field, the "HK" that honors the late announcer Harry Kalas.

She's hoping to get another message in front of the fans. For 19 years, she lived with a loved one suffering from schizophrenia. She watched as friends grew distant. Relatives pulled away, too.

What if the team helped raise awareness of the subject, which nearly went unmentioned when she was growing up in Glenolden?

The Phillies made this pitch: Sell 500 seats to a game this season and we'll host a Mental Health Awareness Night.

So Maani's asking for a little help. She has until May 8 to sell 300 more tickets to the May 26 game against the Florida Marlins. That's a Tuesday night. For $14, you can sit above the third-base side in Sections 330 to 333 in a seat that normally goes for $24. (If you're interested, go to

I figure we should be able to help her out. We'll be helping a lot more people than Melissa Maani.

Unspoken things

She doesn't want to identify which family member is ill. She puts it this way:

"I'm the only person who has never denied her the reality of what she thinks happened to her."

So let's leave it as a loved one.

"I was taught when I was young not to speak about it outside of the family," says the 36-year-old, a hearty woman with spiky dark hair who grabs my forearm when she laughs, which is often.

In high school, she wrote lots of reports about schizophrenia. "I wanted to make it better. Fix it."

She couldn't, of course. Her relative's fragile mental health reached a crisis point five years ago. She was about to be released from a hospital to Maani's care.

Maani lives in a two-story house. "She couldn't remember how to walk up stairs," said Maani, who didn't know where to turn.

Meanwhile, the nurses at the hospital told her that if she didn't pick her up, the relative would be homeless.

Uncharacteristically, Maani mentioned to a coworker what she was going though. The colleague said her mom had the same illness. Call Edie Mannion, she said - the therapist with the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Better days

Mannion let Maani know her rights, steeled her nerve. She even recommended a nuclear option for changing the hospital's mind: calling Action News.

That wasn't necessary. The hospital let the woman stay a few days until a place was found in a nursing home equipped to care for the woman, whose diagnosis is paranoid schizophrenia. Things are better now.

As we sit there soaking up the sun, watching batting practice, Maani says the mentally ill are the true heroes, just for getting by.

"Life in general is hard enough," she says. "Then, to hear voices and things you are unsure of, and to have such strong fears . . . they just can't handle so much. They're more afraid of you than you are of them."

If Maani sells her 500 tickets, the team will let her show a short film about mental illness. She'll ask Mannion to throw out the first pitch. I called Mannion, to ask what she'd like the public to know.

"Everyone should be aware of their own mental health," she said. "I think we are all recovering from something."

The National Alliance on Mental Illness figures 26 percent of American adults have some amount of mental illness. "With unemployment and the war," Mannion said, "there are going to be more mental-health issues than ever, hitting all different segments of society."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lithium anyone?

A lot of bipolar persons are taking lithium. I understand that it does help with the symptoms of this disorder. This article tell us possibly why.

New Light On Bipolar Treatment Drugs - Potential Mechanism Identified For Lithium Operation In The Brain

Lithium has been established for more than 50 years as one of the most effective treatments for bipolar mood disorder.

However, scientists have never been entirely sure exactly how it operates in the human brain.

Now, new research from Cardiff University scientists suggests a mechanism for how Lithium works, opening the door for potentially more effective treatments.

Laboratory tests on cells have shown that Lithium affects a molecule called PIP3 that is important in controlling brain cell signalling. Lithium suppresses the production of inositol, a simple sugar from which PIP3 is made.

Lithium inhibits inositol monophosphatase (IMPase) an enzyme required for making inositol. Importantly, this research shows that increasing the amount of IMPase causes higher levels of PIP3. This can then be reduced by lithium treatment.

High levels of IMPA2, a gene for a variant of IMPase, has previously been linked to bipolar mood disorder. This new result suggests that Lithium could counteract the changes in IMPA2.

Professor Adrian Harwood of Cardiff School of Biosciences, who led the research, said: "We still cannot say definitively how Lithium can help stabilise bipolar disorder. However, our research does suggest a possible pathway for its operation. By better understanding Lithium, we can learn about the genetics of bipolar disorder and develop more potent and selective drugs.

"Further, altered PIP3 signalling is linked to other disorders, including epilepsy and autism, so this well established drug could be used to treat other conditions. Research into Lithium could become very important over the next few years."

Lithium is currently under clinical trial for the treatment of neurogenerative disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, is published in the journal Disease Models and Mechanisms.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Delay onset?

As the daughter of someone who was severely bipolar, I mean if she did not take her medicine she would be in a permanent manic state with delusions; I see the benefit of trying to delay the onset of this hereditary illness. Fortunately my two brothers and I did not "turn out" bipolar like our mother, even though we were at risk. Believe me, we were watched very closely by our father for any signs that we could be bipolar. But if this study will help identify a child who might be at risk due to a family member who is diagnosed bipolar, then this is a good thing. We need all the help we can get.

Pitt Researchers To Study Effects Of Early Intervention For Children Of Parents With Bipolar Disorder

Mood disorders tend to cluster in families and research shows that bipolar disorder is a particularly inheritable form of mood disorder. Since the strongest risk factor for developing bipolar disorder is having one or more family members with the illness, identifying and treating children of bipolar parents has become an important focus for prevention efforts.

A research team led by Ellen Frank, Ph.D., distinguished university professor of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and director of the Depression and Manic Depression Prevention Program at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC, and Tina Goldstein, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is conducting a study to determine whether a specific type of talk therapy called Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT), which was developed by Dr. Frank, will help to delay or even prevent the onset of bipolar disorder in children at risk for developing the illness due to a positive family history.

"We know that the chance that a person with a family history of bipolar disorder will develop the illness themselves increases with the biological closeness of the relationship," noted Dr. Frank. "The children of parents with bipolar disorder are therefore a very high-risk group that requires our attention."

Research has shown that if a child has one parent with bipolar disorder, the likelihood that he or she will develop the illness is between 5 and 10 percent. The risk can increase to about 15 percent if other relatives, such as siblings, aunts or uncles, are also affected. A child whose parents both have bipolar disorder is at a 30 percent higher risk of having the illness.

The IPSRT treatment approach is based on research showing that people with bipolar disorder, and those vulnerable to developing bipolar disorder, have especially sensitive circadian systems - meaning that disruptions in their sleep and social schedules, particularly during periods of stress, are associated with the onset of mood symptoms.

Normal shifts in sleep and social schedules occur during adolescence. Teens tend to want to stay up later at night and sleep in later in the morning. Yet, demanding school and social schedules often do not allow teens to get adequate sleep. The Pitt researchers believe that irregular schedules during adolescence, in combination with other risk factors, may increase the chances that an adolescent with a family history of bipolar disorder could develop mood symptoms. During treatment, a trained IPSRT therapist works together with the youth and family to improve stability in the teen's daily schedules and sleep cycles and to help enhance his or her interpersonal relationships.

"The possibility that we may be able to prevent or delay this serious illness before its full expression is very exciting," said Dr. Goldstein. "By intervening early, we hope to not only prevent the development of illness symptoms, but also decrease risk for other negative outcomes associated with bipolar disorder including academic, social and legal problems."

Individuals with bipolar disorder who are the parents of a child between the ages of 12 and 18 who do not have bipolar disorder, may be eligible to participate in the study. Participation involves an initial assessment interview with parent and child and attendance at 10 to12 free weekly counseling sessions for up to three months. Interviews with parents and children also are conducted to evaluate mood symptoms. Families will be compensated for their participation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Where does it begin?

It does help to have early detection and prevention. Prevention is a strange word as most mental illness is not going to be prevented, but it can be maintained and sometimes controlled. I am glad this mother found her son, that he is currently on medicine and being seen by a mental health professional; but you can ask how long will he "agree" to take the medicine and see that professional? That is why I am not sure "early" prevention is the total answer. Continued maintenance for life is what will work. That I think is the hardest part of the mental ill process if you want to call it that. If you could chart one person's life of being bipolar, all the things they say, believe and experience are just like the next one. The bottom line I always say is that you go to bed with bipolar and you wake up in the morning with bipolar every day of your life. You have to "consciously maintain" this disorder, that is the real challenge.

Advocates rally for mental health treatment

Monday, April 20, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kim Pointer's 25-year-old son had been missing for about a month when she received a strange e-mail from him that included paranoid ramblings about the government and other organizations conspiring against him.

Pointer's son previously had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but now she feared his mental illness had progressed.

“It was a frightening to a degree, especially when I knew he was missing,” Pointer said. “But it was more heartbreaking than anything because ... I realized that my son had something terribly wrong with him.”

Pointer shared her story Monday with dozens of advocates for improving the mental health care delivery system in Oklahoma who gathered for Mental Health Day at the state Capitol.

Pointer said she eventually found her son and got him the treatment he needed, but not before she and her family had to wind their way through a complicated and expensive system of mental health treatment in Oklahoma.

With proper medication and health insurance through a new state program dubbed “Insure Oklahoma,” Pointer said her son is receiving the treatment and medication he needs and is employed as a valet for an Oklahoma City hospital.

But according to Terri White, the new director of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, only 30 percent of the people in Oklahoma who suffer from mental illness receive the treatment they need. She said many of those people, who could be productive citizens with the help of early intervention and medication, end up instead in prisons and jails.

“If we don't have early intervention, there are serious consequences,” said White, who estimated 26 percent of Oklahomans suffer from some form of mental illness. “We do not put people in prison for having cancer. We should not put people in prison for diseases of the brain.”

Justin Jones, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, confirmed that an estimated 72 percent of the more than 25,000 offenders in prison in Oklahoma have a history of mental illness.

Over the last decade, he said, the use of psychotropic medication by inmates has grown more than 300 percent.

Jones said when the state closed several of its mental health facilities in the 1990s, many of those receiving treatment never were bridged into community-based mental health programs and instead ended up incarcerated.

“I could tell you about anecdotal cases all day,” Jones said.

Jones also urged lawmakers to consider lifting a ban on access to mental health court for offenders convicted of a violent crime. He said mentally ill offenders often have previous convictions for assault or other crimes that make them ineligible for mental health court, which is designed to route mentally ill defendants into treatment instead of prison.

“It really limits a lot of people from getting the services they need through mental health court,” Jones said.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I would like to see this one.

Mental illness shatters family in Broadway musical 'Next to Normal'

NEW YORK — There are no easy answers to be found in "Next to Normal," a startling, emotion-drenched musical about one family's attempt to cope with mental illness. The show is an impressive achievement, a heartfelt entertainment that has found its way back to New York after an invaluable out-of-town retooling.

It's startling because the production, which opened Wednesday at Broadway's Booth Theatre, tackles the uncomfortable subject of manic depression with a straightforwardness that is commendable.

And it's emotional, too, in that Brian Yorkey, who wrote the book and lyrics, and Tom Kitt, who composed the music, have crafted an affecting contemporary tale that doesn't shortchange character or plot in their attempt to tell a difficult story.

"Next to Normal" traces the anguished, downward spiral of a bipolar wife and mother, played by Alice Ripley. The actress is giving one of those fearless performances that is astonishing in its theatrical intensity and vocal commitment. Watching her unravel is a harrowing experience, as are the woman's attempts to combat her problems with pills, shrinks and electroshock therapy.

As she flounders, her family suffers, too. There is her husband (superbly played by J. Robert Spencer), a pent-up helpmate who is dutiful in his devotion and devoid of passion as he bottles up his own feelings.

And an overachieving daughter with anxieties of her own, problems that mirror her mother's own troubles. Jennifer Damiano plays her with a sweet insecurity, combative with her parents and resisting the affections of her stoner boyfriend, portrayed with ingratiating loyalty by Adam Chanler-Berat.

Monitoring this family destructiveness is her mysterious brother - a charismatic Aaron Tveit - and an eerily supportive doctor played by Louis Hobson.

What these performers all have in common are powerhouse voices, able to negotiate a pulsating pop-rock score. Actually, pop-rock doesn't do justice to Kitt's often haunting melodies and Yorkey's intelligent lyrics. Both are infused with a theatricality that helps define who these people are.

Under Michael Greif's sharp direction and the kinetic musical staging of Sergio Trujillo, the actors move with ease - and sometimes gymnastically - around designer Mark Wendland's multitiered set. It quickly transforms itself from suburban home to doctor's office and serves as the nesting area for the musical's small band.

The stage has been blindingly lighted by Kevin Adams, whose array of powerful, coloured lights give off an unnerving sense of dislocation that suggests the fragile state of the lead character's mind.

"Next to Normal" was seen early last year at off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre with much the same cast. An engagement in late 2008 at Washington's Arena Stage allowed the authors to clarify what had been a more diffuse, less focused musical.

That newfound clarity has ratcheted up the show's effectiveness, making "Next to Normal" one of the most adventurous and satisfying musicals of the season.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I saw the previews of this movie and want to see it. I know a lot of homeless are mentally ill.

Capitol Hill Briefing Scheduled for April 15th About Homelessness and Mental Illness
Approximately 123,000 People on Any Given Night Are Chronically Homeless Throughout America

Capitol Hill Briefing Scheduled for April 15th About Homelessness and Mental Illness

WASHINGTON, April 13 /PRNewswire/ -- On April 15th, there will be a Capitol Hill briefing called "Honoring The Soloist - A Congressional Briefing on Homelessness and Mental Illness." Author and award winning journalist Steve Lopez, Participant Media, Corporation for Supportive Housing, HELP USA, Lamp Community, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Alliance to End Homelessness and Project H.O.M.E. have join forces to host this important briefing. The briefing is part of the social action campaign that Participant Media has created on behalf of the upcoming film The Soloist -- a national effort to raise awareness about and to help end chronic homelessness in the United States. The Soloist, a DreamWorks/Universal presentation in association with StudioCanal and Participant Media, will open in theaters April 24th.

The briefing and luncheon will take place Wednesday, April 15th from 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm (ET) at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in the South Congressional Meeting Room, Washington, DC.

The program will focus on the issues of mental health and homelessness and the fight to end chronic homelessness. The number of chronically homeless adults dropped by 28 percent between 2005 and 2007 largely due to the increase in permanent supportive housing. This proves that with proper resources we can end chronic homelessness. However, federal programs can and need to do more. It is not acceptable, regardless of a person's mental health, for anyone to experience homelessness and with proper support and treatment, housing stability can be achieved. The Soloist tells the story of Nathaniel Ayers, a gifted musician living with schizophrenia while homeless in Los Angeles, and his friendship with Steve Lopez, a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and author of the book on which the movie is based. Their story illustrates how essential it is for people living with mental illness or who are homeless to have strong personal relations or connections. The person living on the corner is still a person and needs friendship and people who care about them.

Speakers at the April 15th afternoon briefing include:
-- Steve Lopez, LA Times journalist and best-selling author of 'The
Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship and the Redemptive Power
of Music'
-- Steve Berg, Vice President of Policy and Programs, National Alliance to
End Homelessness, Washington, DC
-- Tom Hameline, Senior Vice President of Programs, HELP USA, New York, NY
-- Casey Horan, Executive Director, Lamp Community, Los Angeles, CA
-- Hyacinth King, formerly homeless resident and board member, Project
-- Bob Carolla, Director of Media Relations, National Alliance on Mental
Illness, Arlington, VA
-- Deborah DeSantis, President and CEO, Corporation for Supportive
Housing, New York, NY
-- Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director, Project H.O.M.E.,
Philadelphia, PA

Media Outlets interested in attending the briefing or requiring more information should contact Amanda Krusemark;; (202) 942- 8281.

About The Soloist

The Soloist, starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr., directed by Joe Wright, will be released by Paramount Pictures to theaters nationwide on April 24th. A DreamWorks Pictures/Universal Pictures presentation in association with Studio Canal and Participant Media, the film is based on the true story of the relationship between Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a gifted Juilliard-trained string player whose mental illness landed him among the homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. Featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Soloist is a testament to the redemptive power of music and a reminder of our connections to the most vulnerable among us., or

About Participant Media

Participant Media is a Los Angeles-based entertainment company that focuses on socially relevant, commercially viable feature films, documentaries and television, as well as publishing and digital media. Participant Media is headed by CEO Jim Berk and was founded in 2004 by philanthropist Jeff Skoll, who serves as Chairman. Ricky Strauss is President. Participant exists to tell compelling, entertaining stories that bring to the forefront real issues that shape our lives. For each of its projects, Participant creates extensive social action and advocacy programs that provide ideas and tools to transform the impact of the media experience into individual and community action. Participant's films include The Kite Runner, Charlie Wilson's War, Darfur Now, An Inconvenient Truth, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana, Standard Operating Procedure and The Visitor. For more information, visit

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fun details about the brain

The Daily Graphic on Monday, March 23, carried the headline: “Mental Health in crisis”. It gave the impression that we now have a crisis in mental health. As a matter of fact, mental health has always been in crisis in Ghana.

We have refused and even today refuse to accept the fact that mental ill health is as a normal affliction as backache or cancer. We talk freely about prostrate cancer but would not acknowledge mental ill health.

Today, many consult the doctor about mental cases but the majority still consider mental illness an affliction which requires “spiritual” intervention by the native doctor.

We should disabuse our minds of the idea that mental illness is a strange ill health. The Daily Graphic was right to highlight the observation of the Chief Psychiatrist that "at any time between 30 and 40 per cent of the population suffer from one mental health problem or another".

This means that many of our health problems are more of a matter of our mental state than we think. It is this realisation which will lead to adequate mental hospitals and more than four doctors in the public service.

The mental health hospital was known not long ago as the “Lunatic Asylum”. It was outside Accra, between the “native” quarters and the European Ridge. It gave the name to the area known as ‘Asylum Down’ and it was not a place you admitted that your relations and friends were.

We have come a long way from those days.

But the progress made is far from sufficient. We do not readily accept the fact that mental health is a normal affliction and that the mentally ill can be assisted to work just as those with duodenal ulcer can.

Many years ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who had won a difficult case in court. Another friend asked me where the brilliant lawyer had his practice since he would like to consult him. When I said that he lived at the Asylum, he could not believe it.

This brilliant occasionally mentally ill lawyer came from a distinguished family of learning. The family did not feel embarrassed that one of their kind was in the mental hospital. He practised his law as part of the necessary therapy. Today, many of us would not readily admit that we have a relation in the mental hospital.

Many of the mentally ill need not be admitted in mental hospitals. Their treatment requires long hours of interaction with doctors and great understanding and assistance from relations and friends.

The power of the mind over the physical state is enormous. Many illnesses cannot be treated without dealing with the mental state. A gynaecologist friend of mine was telling me the other day how some women who wanted babies badly developed big bellies as if they were pregnant. The mind is more creative than we are prepared to believe.

The public attitude is crucial to the treatment of the mentally ill. “Lack of enough mental healthcare doctors” is not the only impediment to the treatment of patients with mental health problems.

Public understanding is most important. We have more schizophrenics among us than we realise. This should be of public concern. Treatment or management of such people requires public recognition, acceptance of the condition, knowledge and understanding.

We should rid ourselves of prejudices and do something about the crisis in mental health. As economic conditions deteriorate, the mental health of people will come under pressure. Mentally-related illnesses will increase. Doctors and hospital facilities alone cannot deal with the problem. We need public awareness and involvement.

The stresses of life in the modern world are great. Our leaders are often under severe pressure. Are they fit to take the decisions they take? These decisions affect us. We should ensure that our leaders enjoy good mental health.

We should abandon the taboo about mental illness. Public awareness of mental health should be spread. We should understand the problems and issues so that we maintain good mental health in society at large and within the national leadership.

Our present unsatisfactory national mindset may be related to the general mental health of the nation arising from the economic, social and political stresses of life. I welcome a symposium which took place at the Press Centre on April 2, 2009, which dealt with this and other matters.