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Families who care for people with schizophrenia once had an organization that gave them a national voice. They no longer do. This lack of national representation impacts not just our own situations; it also hurts the people we support, because they are often unable to advocate on their own behalf.
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I want my daughter's best interests to be represented by the numerous disability rights organizations that have appeared in recent years. Sadly, these organizations, like the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, too often promote policies that pose real dangers to her. It's important to understand why a group like this would decide to hold these positions.
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There is no single cause for schizophrenia. THC alone is not responsible, but there is an abundance of evidence that THC can provoke an earlier onset of schizophrenia by up to six years. There is also solid evidence to suggest a causal link between THC and schizophrenia.
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When a friend says postpartum depression is normal, I get disappointed. When a psychologist says postpartum depression is normal, I get worried. When a New York Times best selling author and former U.S. congressional candidate with hundreds of thousands of followers says that postpartum depression is normal, I get livid.
Families in Canada fighting for evidence-based care for relatives living with psychotic disorders should see the tenacity of the American families. And Democratic Americans abroad, like me, can let our representatives know that we want the mental health system to begin to meet the needs of people with the most severe illnesses.
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During the new session of the U.S. Congress, legislators will be considering the proposed "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act." The decisions they make can have a big impact on mental health care in Canada.
You might have seen the recent headlines: "Cannabis as addictive as heroin, major new study finds", "Study finally demolishes claims that smoking pot is harmless," and "20 years of marijuana research shows ill effects of chronic use." I'm here to tell you: don't believe the hype.
Despite the good intentions of Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 5 - 11), it's pretty hard to learn some of the most basic information we need to know about mental illnesses. Many organizations, including the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) encourage us to take this week to discuss mental illness, but there seems to be a puzzling assumption that we don't actually have to know much about mental illnesses in order to have meaningful discussions. I'm still looking at the website for links to the early signs of psychosis or any information about schizophrenia.
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As part of a multinational, collaborative effort, researchers from the University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have helped identify more than 100 locations in the human genome associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia.
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Ask any avid drug user the difference between 'molly' and 'ecstasy' and they will most likely tell you that 'molly is pure MDMA' and ecstasy was more known to be cut with other substances. In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth. And herein lies the problem. Unless you are an accomplished chemist, 'pure' MDMA is a myth.
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This might come as quite a shock to the many American families I know who can't get treatment for their very ill sons and daughters whose psychotic states aren't 'passing.' These are families whose children have joined the millions of Americans living with untreated severe mental illnesses. They are homeless, victimized, and cycling in and out of jails and prisons.
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People trying to help their family members struggling with severe mental illnesses don't have access to researchers. It's no surprise, then, that researchers ignore topics that reflect their perspectives on how to improve the mental health system. I hope they will consider the five areas discussed below.
Planning for the future presents serious problems for parents of people with significant disabilities; when those families are dealing with psychotic illnesses, the future is especially frightening. While it is impossible to deny that progress is being made, the simple fact is that our world, as it stands, has little desire to label people with mental illness as anything but crazy and dangerous.
There are no other evaluations of the program that I can find searching the medical literature and the number of participants they evaluated was very small. My suggestion to the psychiatric contrarians is to can the hype on Open Dialogue until independent studies do confirm your views that it is vastly better than what currently exists.
When people suffering from mental illness receive intensive treatment in programs specifically designed for them, most of them do much better. Anti-psychotic medications are understood to provide the foundation upon which any other treatments can be added. These messages are in direct conflict with the message from journalist Robert Whitaker. Robert Whitaker does excellent work describing the egregious practices of the pharmaceutical industries. However, his extreme stance against the value of psychotropic medications is scary. Any parents of a psychotic son or daughter who heard his recent presentation in Vancouver would want to keep their child far away from the early psychosis intervention programs that offer the best hope for recovery.
Advertisements and billboards around Canada are encouraging us to discuss mental health problems as part of Bell's "Let's Talk" campaign on Feb. 12. However, those of us who wish Canadians could finally receive much needed public education about psychotic disorders are disappointed. Canada is fortunate to have quite a few early psychosis intervention programs. But given the poor state of knowledge about both the early signs and the existence of programs, too many families aren't getting the knowledge they need. These are major public health problems. Let's talk about them.
Since my daughter experienced her first psychotic break while still a young teenager, she missed the kinds of gradual steps others get to take in developing work skills. Fortunately for her, Vancouver has an agency focused on helping people living with mental illnesses. But its funding might be cut back.
What's it like to be psychotic and unable to distinguish what's real from what's not real? How do people try to restore a family member to their sanity? Or cope with a severely ill person when there seems to be no way out?
Current anti-stigma campaigns emphasize that most people with mental illnesses aren't violent. This is very true. They also point out that people with mental illnesses are much more likely to be the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators. Also true.
But the research is clear that people with untreated psychosis are a greater danger to themselves and others than people who aren't psychotic. People with untreated psychotic disorders have a higher rate of violence than do the general population.
Despite the slow pace that summer brings, there is still a lot of news, entertainment and interesting tidbits to read about. From illegal chocolate eggs to water bottle wallets and internet addictions, here are the things that caught my attention this week.
The annual convention of the U.S.-based National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) just finished educating its 1700 participants on the latest research relevant for people living with severe mental illnesses.And what's the situation in Canada? Families here certainly aren't being led to advocate for the most helpful education programs for people living with psychotic disorders.
A mentally ill young woman, who thrived on medication and crumbled without, lobbied to be removed from mandatory treatment -- she didn't like being medicated. Her parents were very surprised when they learned that, after a year of stability, her community mental health team had decided, without consulting them, to release their daughter from mandatory treatment.
Unfortunately, the beliefs of the "psychiatric survivor" movement are having increasing influence on peer support workers. Last month my daughter participated in a program offered and was told by the peer leader that they were all there because of the trauma and abuse they had experienced as children.
On June 24, I reported that a group of families in B.C. caring for relatives with serious mental illness had not had any response to suggestions and concerns sent to the Mental Health Commission of Ca...