Archive | February, 2013

“Mental Health for All by Involving All” by Vikram Patel (TED Talk)

28 Feb

An exciting talk about innovative ways to deliver mental health services in the developing world by training and empowering regular people to care for members of their communities who have mental illness.


“Mad in America”: Insiders Critique the Mental Health Industry

26 Feb

From the website’s mission statement:

“The site is designed to serve as a resource and a community for those interested in rethinking psychiatric care in the United States and abroad. We want to provide readers with news, stories of recovery, access to source documents, and the informed writings of bloggers that will further this enterprise.”

Their stable of writers includes accomplished psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and social workers–people working within the system who clearly see the need for radical change. Very inspiring, validating stuff.

“Research Explains Why Some Soldiers Don’t Suffer from PTSD” by Affirunisa Kankudti

24 Feb

From the website Counsel & Heal:

“When researchers analyzed the mental health of all soldiers in the study who had witnessed traumatic events during war, they found that just 31 percent developed any PTSD. Even in veterans with extreme exposure to violence, some 30 percent never experienced any PTSD.

Study analysis showed that among people who suffered from PTSD later in life, pre-war risk factors like abuse played a role in stress later in life. Also, people who joined war before age 25 years had higher risk of developing PTSD later, showing that age is also a factor in raising PTSD risk in people. Inflicting harm on civilians or prisoners was also associated with PTSD in war veterans.”

INCIDENTALLY: in 2012, more American soldiers died from suicide than in combat. There were 349 suicides last year, compared to 295 soldiers killed in combat in Afghanistan. That’s a rate of almost one suicide a day. Most of the soldiers who commit suicide are between the ages of 18 and 24. The numbers of suicides and reported cases of PTSD in the military have been steadily climbing over the last five years.

Calling the Angel of Death

22 Feb

When on the precipice of suicide, do we really want to die?

In season two of the television show American Horror Story, the Angel of Death, played by Francis Conroy, appears to characters when they wish for death. The Angel is portrayed as the embodiment of compassionate detachment: benevolent, serene, nonjudgmental. She asks the ones who “called” her if they are finally ready. If they are, her wings unfurl, she gently kisses them, and they die. If they choose to live, she vanishes.


In one poignant scene, the distressed character Sister Jude, played by Jessica Lange, has a conversation with the Angel in which they recount the numerous occasions Jude has summoned her. The Angel says that Jude’s call sounded different this time and asks if she is finally ready to abdicate all of her pain and suffering through death. Jude ruefully responds, “Never trust a drunk” and the two part ways until she dies of natural causes at the end of the season.


Television critic Ron Hogan has pointed out that this is a metaphor for suicidal ideation. When facing the Angel, the majority of the characters decide to live, even though their lives are sheer hell. This is true for many of us who have contemplated the act. We don’t want to die, necessarily; we just don’t want to suffer anymore. When confronted by death, many would-be suicides find themselves flooded with a frantic will to live. If they are on the verge of doing themselves in, they will back away. If they’ve already taken action, they will struggle to hold on to their lives.

I find comfort in that.

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“The Neglect of Mental Illness Exacts a Huge Toll, Human and Economic ”

21 Feb
From the editors at Scientific American:

“The human and economic toll is enormous yet often hidden. Untreated mental illnesses in the U.S. cost more than $100 billion a year in lost productivity, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Local hospitals and clinics must cope with associated chronic physical diseases. Schools have to open more special education classes. Courts and jails handle a large number of individuals who suffer from untreated mental illnesses. Suicide ranks among the top 15 most common killers in the U.S. (in the top three among young people), and 90 percent of cases can be attributed to mental illness.”

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