With the school system failing them, many children are turning to drugs. Heard this one before, right? Well, how about the part where the pusher is your pediatrician, and the fed is subsidizing?
“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”
A recent NYT article spot lighted increasing psych diagnoses in children for the purpose of acquiring “brain boosting” pharma creations to increase academic performance. The purpose is to make a child more competitive on a college application, and increase funding for a school district as test scores rise. Children are being force-fed drugs instead of given the attention they need or the freedom to be creative and learn discipline on their own as pharmaceutical “solutions” are abused as steroids for the brain. Worse yet, the behavior is sanctioned by those in authority, who are supposed to advocate for their well-being–their parents, doctors and the federal government…
Education is a highly competitive arena, whether it’s a student vying for a scholarship or admission to their college of choice, or a district teaching to standardized test scores and praying for funding. The Obama administration’s lauded “Race to the Top” initiative even goes so far as making funding an actual competition–schools submit innovative proposals for education reform in an effort to win federal money.
An anonymous California superintendent pontificated that “diagnosis rates of A.D.H.D. have risen as sharply as school funding has declined.” Poor children are being prescribed stimulants at increasing rates, and Medicare is paying the bill. If we are not directly funding public education in this country, we are indirectly doing so in efforts to respond to the problem….
- Athletes and Drug Abuse (ajochum23.wordpress.com)
- Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse by Teens Up 33 Percent, According… (prweb.com)
- Prescription Drug Abuse: Top 10 Things CDC Says You Should Know (pbs.org)
Am wondering if murder, planning to murder, and domestic violence are brain disorders…
If so, or even probably so, this is a real wake up call for prison reform…
From the 23 April 2013 item at the National Institute of Mental Health
A rethink is needed in terms of how we view mental illness, stated National Institute of Mental Health Director Thomas Insel, M.D., in a recent TEDx talkat the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena.
Deaths from medical causes such as leukemia and heart disease have decreased over the past 30 years. The same cannot be said of the suicide rate, which has remained the same. A vast majority of suicides—90 percent—are related to mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia.
Insel believes part of the problem is that mental illness is referred to either as a mental or behavioral disorder. “We need to think of these as brain disorders,” he said, adding that for these brain disorders, behavior is the last thing to change.
Insel walked the audience through recent advances in neuroscience, including the Human Connectome, which indicates that mental illness may be more of a neuronal connection or circuit disorder. The earlier these circuits are identified, he said, the earlier preventive treatments could be used to save the lives of people with mental illnesses.
“If we waited for the ‘heart attack,’ we would be sacrificing 1.1 million lives every year in this country,” he said. “That is precisely what we do today when we decide that everyone with one of these brain disorders, brain circuit disorders, has a behavior disorder. We wait until the behavior emerges. That’s not early detection, that’s not early prevention.”
- Toward A New Understanding of Mental Illness (thesecretkeeper.net)
- A Break From Politics: Toward a new understanding of mental illness (freakoutnation.com)
- Once, people suffering from a mental illness were hidden … (jillsmentalhealthresources.wordpress.com)
- What Does It Really Mean for Me to Have a Mental Illness? (thedancingwriterblog.wordpress.com)
- Vaughan Bell: news from the borders of mental illness (guardian.co.uk)
- Mental Health Awareness Month (irishdragon7.wordpress.com)
- Medical Brain Disorders~The Benefits of Exercise (keepchoosingconsistency.com)
The Genes to Cognition website addresses the world of modern neuroscience through lectures, fact sheets, papers, and other materials that cover depression, autism, bipolar disorder, and a range of other disorders. This particular resource is a video of a conversation with Dr. Daniel Pine on the different approaches to understanding disorders. More specifically, Pine speaks about how researchers are looking into how we might understand neurological disorders on the cellular level. Along with this conversation, the site also has links to several other related lectures. At the bottom of the page, visitors can view an interactive 3D model of the brain, complete with 29 structures that can be rotated for detailed viewing. [KMG]
- Autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia share common gene problem (rawstory.com)
- Improving Mood Symptoms In Children And Adolescents At Risk For Bipolar Disorder Through Family Intervention (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Five psychiatric disorders ‘linked’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Identifying The Genes Responsible For Autism Disorders Is Critical For Diagnosis And Treatment (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Five disorders from depression to autism share a genetic link, which could pave way for new treatments (dailymail.co.uk)
..Fairfield Hills Hospital [was] a state run mental health facility located in Newtown, about 3 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School. The hospital closed its doors in 1995.
To tell the tale of Fairfield Hills Hospital is to tell a tale of two nations. The first, a new economic and financial superpower, a country with an increasingly aspirational middle class toiling in a system that rewarded their hard work with a level of wealth and a standard of living never seen before in human history. The second, a country struggling to balance the opposing pressures of a demographic bubble and crushing debt levels the likes of which have also never been seen in human history.
At its height, Fairfield Hills Hospital housed more than 4000 patients and had its own residency training program in psychiatry. …
… But most importantly, it had a large inpatient psychiatric facility. Many of the patients were temporary and often involuntary residents. But many others were long term residents. Very often they were mentally handicapped wards of the state, who could not live independently and had no one to take care of them. Others were severely mentally handicapped or individuals who represented a threat to themselves or others. …
What subsequently happened to Fairfield Hills Hospital is largely emblematic of what had befallen mental health care and in another sense, public funding in America. The soaring expenditures of maintaining grand inpatient mental health facilities, and maintaining thousands of employee benefits including generous health care and pensions became increasingly difficult to continue in the face of a decreasing tax base. This coincided with the decreasing emphasis on institutionalization and greater emphasis on community based models of care ….
- Mentally Ill Cycle Through Dysfunctional System (huffingtonpost.com)
- U.S. mentally ill and their families face barriers to care (worldbulletin.net)
- State moves ahead with Middlesex mental health facility (vtdigger.org)
- Alarm over mental health review (smh.com.au)
Yoga on our minds: The 5,000-year-old Indian practice may have positive effects on major psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and sleep complaints
Yoga has positive effects on mild depression and sleep complaints, even in the absence of drug treatments, and improves symptoms associated with schizophrenia and ADHD in patients on medication, according to a systematic review of the exercise on major clinical psychiatric disorders.
Published in the open-access journal, Frontiers in Psychiatry, on January 25th, 2013, the review of more than one hundred studies focusing on 16 high-quality controlled studies looked at the effects of yoga on depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, sleep complaints, eating disorders and cognition problems.
Yoga in popular culture
Yoga is a popular exercise and is practiced by 15.8 million adults in the United States alone, according to a survey by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau, and its holistic goal of promoting psychical and mental health is widely held in popular belief.
“However, yoga has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and patients to differentiate legitimate claims from hype,” wrote the authors in their study. “Our goal was to examine whether the evidence matched the promise.”
Found this while “surfing” the Institute of Medicine Web page (the primary source for an article in one of my RSS feeds).
I think I share a concern with gun violence with many of you dear readers.There has to be a better way to prevent gun violence than simply arming more folks. For example, a school system to the west of my hometown of Toledo, OH believes arming its janitors will curb violence. (Montpelier schools OKs armed janitors***). My gut reaction? If I had children in the school I would pull them out. Homeschool them if there were no other ways to educate them. And if the teachers were armed? Same reaction.
Meanwhile I’m going to be participating in a [local] Community Committee Against Gun Violence (MoveOn.org). For the past several years I’ve been very concerned about gun violence. Time to start to do something…hopefully not too late.
Yes, this webcast might be viewed as just another talking heads exercise. I am hoping some good will come out of it. If nothing else, keep a conversation alive on how to address prevention of violence through nonviolence.
Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World-A Workshop
- When: January 23, 2013 – January 24, 2013 (8:00 AM Eastern)
- Where: Keck Center (Keck 100) • 500 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001 Map
- Topics: Global Health, Children, Youth and Families, Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Public Health
- Activity: Forum on Global Violence Prevention
- Boards: Board on Global Health, Board on Children, Youth, and Families
[My note...registration is now closed for in-person attendance, they've reached seating capacity]
Evidence shows that violence is not inevitable, and that it can be prevented. Successful violence prevention programs exist around the world, but a comprehensive approach is needed to systematically apply such programs to this problem. As the global community recognizes the connection between violence and failure to achieve health and development goals, such an approach could more effectively inform policies and funding priorities locally, nationally, and globally.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) will convene a 2-day workshop to explore the evidentiary basis for violence prevention across the lifespan and around the world. The public workshop will be organized and conducted by an ad hoc committee to examine: 1) What is the need for an evidence-based approach to violence prevention across the world? 2) What are the conceptual and evidentiary bases for establishing what works in violence prevention? 3) What violence prevention interventions have been proven to reduce different types of violence (e.g., child and elder abuse, intimate partner and sexual violence, youth and collective violence, and self-directed violence)? 4) What are common approaches most lacking in evidentiary support? and 5) How can demonstrably effective interventions be adapted, adopted, linked, and scaled up in different cultural contexts around the world?
The committee will develop the workshop agenda, select and invite speakers and discussants, and moderate the discussions. Experts will be drawn from the public and private sectors as well as from academic organizations to allow for multi-lateral discussions. Following the conclusion of the workshop, an individually-authored summary of the event will be prepared by a designated rapporteur.
- Comprehensive public health approach urged to curb gun violence in U.S. (mwoods228.wordpress.com)
- Harvard Researchers: Tackle Gun Violence Like Smoking, Car Deaths (wbur.org)
- Biden: Executive action can be taken on guns (politico.com)
- Vice President Biden Meets with Groups to Discuss Violence Prevention (salem-news.com)
- Analyst: No “Single Solution” to Gun Violence (voicerussia.com)
- Comprehensive Public Health Approach Urged to Curb Gun Violence in U.S. (emberbranch.wordpress.com)
- Violence plays role in shorter US life expectancy (newsobserver.com)
- Giffords launches anti-gun violence site (cnn.com)
- Montpelier OKs armed school janitors (toledoblade.com)
*** I did respond to the newspaper article. The response is online. I am expecting some rather strong responses, perhaps about how naive I am (sigh).
“Now I know, more than ever, that I have to get more involved in addressing violence through nonviolent means. For starters, am going to get better prepared for a nonviolent workshop our Pax Christi USA section is sponsoring next month. Also am going to do my best to follow through with a local Community Committee Against Gun Violence (http://civic.moveon.org/event/events/index.html?rc=homepage&action_id=302). Guess it’s time to be part of the solution…these two events are steps that are challenging, don’t solve things overnight, but in my heart of hearts…I feel called to participate in actions like these….(am thanking teachers here, esp those at St. Catherine’s(1960-1969) and Central Catholic (1969-1973).”
BOSTON, MA—Achieving mindfulness through meditation has helped people maintain a healthy mind by quelling negative emotions and thoughts, such as desire, anger and anxiety, and encouraging more positive dispositions such as compassion, empathy and forgiveness. Those who have reaped the benefits of mindfulness know that it works. But how exactly does it work?
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have proposed a new model that shifts how we think about mindfulness. Rather than describing mindfulness as a single dimension of cognition, the researchers demonstrate that mindfulness actually involves a broad framework of complex mechanisms in the brain.
In essence, they have laid out the science behind mindfulness.
This new model of mindfulness is published in the October 25, 2012 issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The model was recently presented to His Holiness The Dalai Lama in a private meeting, entitled “Mind and Life XXIV: Latest Findings in Contemplative Neuroscience.”
The researchers identified several cognitive functions that are active in the brain during mindfulness practice. These cognitive functions help a person develop self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART) which make up the transformative framework for the mindfulness process.
The S-ART framework explains the underlying neurobiological mechanisms by which mindfulness can facilitate self-awareness; reduce biases and negative thoughts; enhance the ability to regulate one’s behavior; and increase positive, pro-social relationships with oneself and others-all-in-all creating a sustainable healthy mind.
The researchers highlight six neuropsychological processes that are active mechanisms in the brain during mindfulness and which support S-ART. These processes include 1) intention and motivation, 2) attention regulation, 3) emotion regulation, 4) extinction and reconsolidation, 5) pro-social behavior, and 6) non-attachment and de-centering.
In other words, these processes begin with an intention and motivation to want to attain mindfulness, followed by an awareness of one’s bad habits. Once these are set, a person can begin taming him or herself to be less emotionally reactive and to recover faster from upsetting emotions.
“Through continued practice, the person can develop a psychological distance from any negative thoughts and can inhibit natural impulses that constantly fuel bad habits,” said David Vago, PhD, BWH Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, and lead study author.
Vago also states that continued practice can also increase empathy and eliminate our attachments to things we like and aversions to things we don’t like.
“The result of practice is a new You with a new multidimensional skill set for reducing biases in one’s internal and external experience and sustaining a healthy mind,” said Vago.
The S-ART framework and neurobiological model proposed by the researchers differs from current popular descriptions of mindfulness as a way of paying attention, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. With the help of functional MRI, Vago and his team are currently testing the model in humans.
This research was supported by the Mind and Life Institute, Impact Foundation, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (5-R21AT002209-02).
- The Science Behind Good Vibes: How Mindfulness Actually Works (wakingtimes.com)
- 6 benefits of mindfulness which can support the resolution of conflict (westallen.typepad.com)
Central to that program is ensuring that participants leave custody already signed up for Social Security Disability and Medicaid, which immediately provides them with some income and health care and – crucial for them – psychiatric medication and counseling.
By comparison, unless they are disabled in some way, typical inmates leaving prison in Oklahoma do not qualify for either Social Security or Medicaid benefits. Usually, they are given a lift to the bus station, a ticket to anywhere they want to go in the state, $50, and sometimes a handshake.
If the measure of success is keeping mentally ill ex-offenders out of prison, the Oklahoma Collaborative Mental Health Re-Entry Program has been a success. The recidivism rate over a three-year span for those participating in the program is 25.2 percent, compared to the 42.3 percent rate for a comparable prison population before the program started in 2007. On the basis of those results, the program earned an innovation award this year from the Council of State Governments.
Law enforcement is positive about the program as well. “Anything that keeps them on their medication and in treatment is a positive step,” says Phil Cotten, acting director of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police.
Not the least of those extolling the program are its beneficiaries, some of whom have no doubt about the boomerang route their post-prison life would have followed without the re-entry experiment…
Criminalizing Mental Illness
Like every other state, Oklahoma has seen a correlation between the emptying of its psychiatric hospitals in the sixties and seventies and its ever-increasing prison population. According to Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections, half of its prisoners have a history of or currently exhibit some form of mental illness (resulting in a threefold increase in the number of prisoners receiving psychotropic drugs between 1998 and 2006). Some call it the criminalization of mental illness. In a different time, many of the symptomatic mentally ill ended up in psychiatric wards; today they go to prison, a situation that Robert Powitsky, the chief mental officer of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, calls a “travesty.”
“The new front-line mental health workers are law enforcement officers and the new psychiatric hospitals are the prisons and the jails,” says Powitzky, who has spent most of his four-decade long career as a psychologist in prison systems. “It’s wrong, it’s just plain wrong.”…