College Students with Mental Health Problems Drop Out

Sixty-four percent of students who experience mental health problems in college end up withdrawing from school, according to a survey,College Students Speak, released today by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Click here to read full NAMI study

“The survey reveals an extremely important need to train college faculty and staff as a first line of defense for mental health awareness”

“The numbers are dramatic. They point to a ‘shadow’ mental health crisis that colleges and universities need to address,” said NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick.

Mental Illness can be treated and successfully managed, but too many students are forced to abandon promise and talent when they confront mental health issues in their college careers.

  • Fifty percent of students with mental health conditions who withdrew from school never accessed college mental health services and supports, even though 70 percent of the total group rated campus services and supports as “excellent” or “good.”
  • The number one barrier to lack of engagement with mental health services was fear of stigma (36 percent). Thirty-five percent of those who experienced crises said their college never learned about it.
  • Seventy-nine percent of students identified mental health training for college faculty and staff as “extremely important.”
  • Only 22 percent learned about college services through faculty or staff.
  • Many students considered college Disability Resource Centers (DRCs) to be unhelpful because they primarily focus on physical conditions—or professors do not honor DRC-approved accommodations.


Full Article by Business Wire

6 Ways to Clean House When You’re Depressed

A clean house can help a depressed mind. Learn coping skills that can help you stay on top of your housework.


One of the key signs of depressed is when you suspend taking care of day-to-day chores, like cleaning your house. Depression leaves you feeling so down and tired that you just let things go. Unfortunately, a messy house can add to those feelings of depression — creating a destructive cycle that feeds on itself. Once the mess gets too large and chaotic, people with depression can’t imagine how to begin tackling the household duties. They feel hopeless and helpless against the clutter and dirt, which reinforces depression.

How to Keep It Clean When You’re Depressed

A recent study found that performing at least 20 minutes of daily physical activity, including domestic housework, benefited mental health and lowered risks of psychological problems. Don’t let depression force you to live in a messy house. Here are some ways to cope:

1. Break it up into small steps

2. Clean as you go

3. Don’t procrastinate

4. Store your cleaning supplies wisely

5. Pay attention to busy areas

6. Rope your family in

Keep in mind that things may not be bad as you think. Eighty percent of people with depression improve with the proper treatment, often within a few weeks. You don’t have to resign yourself to a messy house while you deal with depression — by getting your home in order, you will also rid yourself of a source of stress.

Read full article by Dennis Thompson Jr., Everyday Health

Sometimes Mental Illness Research is Depressing

One of the things I do in my work at the Treatment Advocacy Center is follow mental illness research by talking to scientists, reading professional journals and attending selected scientific meetings.

doris fullerSince part of our mission is supporting “the development of innovative treatments for and research into the causes of severe and persistent psychiatric illnesses,” this continuing education comes with the territory. Much of what I come across interesting, enlightening and thought-provoking

But as the parent of a young adult with a severe mental illness, studies like “Characteristics of adults with serious mental Illness in the United States household population in 2007 ” this month’s Psychiatric Services can be discouraging.

This particular paper was based on 23,393 responses to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which was conducted as part of Healthy People 2020. This is a set of federal health goals that include the laudable ones of increasing the percentage of persons with serious mental illness who are employed and who receive mental health treatment.

Here are a few of the findings:

  • More than 2% of the respondents reported a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, mania or psychosis. (Author Laura Ann Pratt, PhD said this statistic likely understates the actual prevalence of such disorders because people too ill to participate, without an official diagnosis or unwilling to admit their diagnosis were not represented.)
  • One-third of these respondents lived in poverty.
  • More than one-third had a history of homelessness or being jailed (another number the author believes is understated because individuals homeless, in jail or in another institution at the time of the survey could not participate).
  • Only one-half of this 2.2% were employed.
  • “Large health disparities” were found between individuals with and without serious mental illness, e.g., those with the disorders named above have higher rates of physical illness.

I don’t know about you, but none of this is part of the future I dreamed of for my daughter. In my darker hours (which is to say – in her darker hours), news like this quite frankly gets me down.

All the same, I want to know it.

For one thing, studies typically come in a glass I can turn upside down to get the half-full portion. In this case, that means that roughly two-thirds of those with disorders including my daughter’s are not impoverished and have never lived on the streets or been behind bars. Half are working. Much of the poor health is related to behaviors over which she has control, like smoking and exercising.

What’s more, treatment plays a significant role in poor outcomes. Fewer than two-thirds of the adults in the survey had seen a mental health professional in the previous year. One-quarter of them weren’t getting prescribed medications because of the cost.

My daughter has beaten those odds already. She sees a mental health professional regularly and has affordable access to prescribed meds. Because of this, she has a better chance of avoiding the hardships so many of the respondents to this survey suffer.

Personally, this gives me hope. Professionally, it leaves a lot of work to be done. Everyone with a psychotic disorder is more likely to be employed, to stay off the streets and out of jail and to be healthy when they are in treatment. They benefit, and so do their loved ones and communities. That’s one of the reasons the Treatment Advocacy Center remains dedicated to eliminating legal and other barriers to treatment. It’s good for all of us.

Doris A. Fuller
Executive Director of The Treatment Advocacy Center

NAMI: Special Needs Estate Planning

Mr. and Mrs. Paul have considered the need to plan for the future of their two children. Jane, their oldest child, is an associate professor at a small private college and has had some success with investments she made soon after graduating from college.  John, a year younger than Jane, never completed college, is disabled with severe paranoid schizophrenia and is living in a group home funded by public benefits. He also receives SSI and Medicaid.

The Paul’s current estate plans include a simple will leaving two-thirds of their modest estate of $400,000 to John since he is obviously more in need of their assistance.  Fortunately, while attending a local NAMI seminar on the subject of Special Needs Estate Planning, the Pauls learn that leaving an inheritance to their son in this way would create more problems for John than it would solve. If John receives this direct inheritance, he would have more than $2,000 in assets and be disqualified from receiving needed benefits from certain government programs, such as SSI and, possibly, Medicaid.

Many NAMI families face the challenge of planning for a loved one disabled with a severe mental illness.  Families need to have a comprehensive financial and legal plan.  It takes commitment to do the specialized planning necessary to ensure the continuation of the quality of their loved one’s care when they are no longer around to provide for it directly.

This site contains information to assist families in understanding the process and working with qualified attorneys, as well as state specific information, resources, and protocols.

NAMI Special Needs Estate Planning Guidance System

Laura’s Law in California: Court-Ordered Outpatient Treatment Works

With the recent extension of California’s assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) law (“Laura’s Law”), county efforts to implement this life-saving measure continue to move forward. And thanks to advocates like Fawn Kennedy in Kern County, more people are learning about the need for court-ordered outpatient treatment in their own communities.

california imageLaura’s Law is a means of bridging the gap that we have in treatment for the seriously mentally ill,” Kennedy said recently in BakersfieldNow (“Effort underway to implement ‘Laura’s Law’ for Kern County’s mentally ill,” Oct. 22).

Currently, any one of California’s 58 counties may implement AOT, but each county must pass a resolution adopting the legislation. Only two have done so to date.

Nevada County, the only county to fully implement Laura’s Law, reports that hospital days among participants who had previously been unable to access voluntary community services because of their illness were reduced 61% and incarceration days were reduced 97%. The county estimates it has saved $1.81 for every $1 it has spent on its program, which has won state and national awards. According to Judge Tom Anderson, who runs the Laura’s Law hearings in Nevada County, “There is no good reason to not implement Laura’s Law.”

In Los Angeles County, a small pilot program has reintegrated participants into their communities. Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said “the reductions cut county costs for participants by almost 40%.”

Kennedy and other advocates are determined that Kern County follow suit and see Laura’s Law implemented to the fullest extent.

–Treatment Advocacy Center

Resiliency: Are You Flexible Enough to Bounce Back?

Be clear about your goal but be flexible about the process of achieving it. – Brian Tracy

The more I study the research about resilience, the more I see the topic of flexibility arise.

In a literal sense, you can see how flexibility is important to bouncing back: a stiff board will not resume its shape once it is warped or stretched in some way, but a piece of rubber will.

In the same way, flexibility is essential to your ability to bounce back in life.


Here are a few reasons:

1. Flexibility enhances problem-solving skills.

The more flexible you are, the more ideas you will come up with regarding solving a particular predicament.

A rigid approach results in one solution and it’s usually the same one you always use whether it works or not.

2. Flexibility allows you to change your behavior to meet the challenge of each unique stressor.

Each adversity in your life brings a unique set of circumstances with it. Utilizing a “one size fits all” approach by employing only one coping method may not work for each stressor.

It’s best to be open to new and/or different ways to approach a situation.

Researcher George Bonanno calls this “adaptive flexibility” and notes that people who are resilient in the healthiest ways utilize this skill well.

3. Flexibility allows you to roll with the waves instead of getting crunched by them.

Have you ever stood in the ocean among large, crashing waves? What you quickly learn is that if you just stand there stiffly, a big wave can completely wipe you out – knocking you off your feet and tumbling you over and over.

Pretty soon you learn to pick up your feet when the wave comes in, allowing it to carry you safely to shore.

This is how it is with challenges in our lives, too. If we cling to one way of dealing with them, we inevitably will get knocked flat.

But if we do something different – perhaps even counter-intuitive – we still get pushed by the challenge, but we’ll end up on our feet.

Full Article by Bobbi Emel, MFT at PsychCentral

Tragedies Bring Violence and Mental Illness into Perspective

Last week in Louisiana, young mother Chelsea Thornton allegedly shot her three-year old son and drowned her four-year old daughter. Thornton is reported to have suffered from bipolar schizophrenia, and had a long history of mental illness. She had stopped taking her medication.

chelsea thornton

As unimaginable as the Louisiana tragedy is, it was in the news on the same day as stories about a young Colorado man accused of killing and dismembering his mother; a Texas man, 30, sentenced to 160 years for killing his mother and setting her house on fire, and Washington stories about a mother sentenced to prison for killing her baby and a son, 25, sentenced to 30-years for stabbing his father to death. Untreated mental illness was reported to be a factor in all four cases.

Sadly, approximately 1,600 homicides are committed each year by people with untreated schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. While most individuals with serious mental illness are not dangerous, when left untreated, they are at a higher risk of committing violent acts than people with mental illness who are receiving treatment.

Treatment saves lives and reduces violence. As long as this reality is ignored and the need for treatment unaddressed, people will continue to die, and the stigma that results from these tragedies will extend beyond the small subset of people who commit them to anyone with a mental illness.

Learn more from our backgrounder, “Violent behavior: One of the consequences of failing to treat individuals with severe mental illness.”

Watch on video as city officials complain about mental health cuts after Gert Town killings in Louisiana on Fox8 in New Orleans (Oct. 19).

–Treatment Advocacy Center

Sandy Pulls New Yorkers Together, Once Again

I couldn’t help but notice the faces of my fellow New Yorkers as I passed them on the street. We shared quick glances and half-smiles, then shrugged at each other as if to say, “Who knows?” I was reminded of that awful day in September 2001, when Manhattan was under siege. We shared glances back then, too, as we ran to collect our children from school or check on loved ones. But on that day, there were no half-smiles on our faces. Just worry.

Much is written about the peculiarity of New York City: our bluer-than-blue politics, our white-collar professionals, our red-blooded crackpots. But since moving here in 1978, I’ve grown to appreciate the camaraderie we share, especially when we’re coping with common angst.

A month after I arrived, all three of New York’s daily newspapers went on strike, leaving a town of news junkies, sports fans and coupon-clippers bereft. While I can’t recall how we managed this burden, I vividly remember walking to work the day after the strike ended and seeing a sidewalk vendor selling T-shirts bearing the slogan, “I Survived the Great Newspaper Strike of 1978.” That’s New York.

Why must it always take something like a hurricane — or a news blackout, or a terrorist strike — to remind us that we’re all in this together? The tide will eventually recede, it always does, and take with it the memory of Sandy’s wrath. I just wish this sense of unity could linger a little longer. It is the one thing the storm brought that’s worth saving.

Full Article by Bruce Kluger, USA Today

Veterans: Researching All Levels of Behavioral Health Care Providers

Posted by George Lamb, DCoE Strategic Communications, Outreach and Collaboration acting division chief and social work consultant on October 9, 2012

George Lamb is a Marine veteran and began his social work career with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northport, NY, where he assisted with care coordination of returning combat veterans. At DCoE, he supervises and manages the division’s dissemination activities and coordinates outreach.

During our outreach efforts for the inTransition program, a coaching initiative for service members transitioning between behavioral health care providers, we are often asked how the program can be incorporated into treatment plans for wounded warriors. This question took on additional resonance when asked by service leads at the Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical Command (JTF CapMed) Wounded Warrior Meeting recently held at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). JTF CapMed has regional authority over effective and efficient delivery of military health care.

InTransition, managed by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), bridges the gap for service members with psychological health concerns who are transitioning between behavioral health care systems or providers. The program is voluntary and encourages service members to be an active part of their treatment planning process by guiding and educating them on healthy decision-making. The inTransition program assigns a personal coach to support you along the way. Your coach will:

  • Coach you one-on-one and guide you through your transition
  • Connect you with your new provider
  • Empower you with tools and resources to continue making healthy life choices

InTransition coaches are licensed behavioral health care providers who un­derstand today’s military culture and maintain service members’ privacy and confidentiality while being available 24/7. Cost is often a primary question regarding the inTransition program, but you will be happy to know that there are no costs associated with the program because it is Tricare funded.

InTransition’s outreach efforts at the meeting were particularly valuable because it enabled us to reach high levels of authority and influence regarding behavioral health care for service members. At the close of our presentation, the JTF acting commander suggested we meet periodically to discuss new ideas and information regarding DCoE programs and resources. Attending service leads also suggested that we outreach to additional wounded warrior behavioral health providers at WRNMMC to ensure that all appropriate providers are aware of, and understand the programs and resources DCoE has to offer.

The DCoE inTransition team engages behavioral health care providers worldwide to inform them of benefits associated with the program. For more details, read this DCoE blog post and check out ourinformation sheet. To schedule a video teleconferencing presentation or onsite briefing on the inTransition program, please contact


Resiliency: 18 Tips to Bounce Back from Just About Anything

You can bounce back from the tough times in life by using any number of skills that help improve your resiliency. Here’s a quick list of some of the most useful tips with some helpful links included.

Remember that most of these are a practice. You’re not expected to master them overnight. But go ahead and pick out one or two – or fourteen! – to try.

1. Accept what is

2. Firmly grasp the reality that change is a part of life

3. Learn to be an optimist

4. Learn to be self-compassionate

5. Learn to let things go

6. Gather your family and friends

7. Look for the lessons and gifts in adversity

8. Believe in post-traumatic growth

9. Find a mentor

10. Remember that there is always more than one way to see a situation

11. Think about kaleidoscopes (when it’s jumbled, it’s actually forming a new, beautiful image)

12. Give yourself a break (physically and mentally)

13. Remember that you already are resilient

14. Remember that you are human, and not alone

15. You don’t have to like it

16. Look up

17. Simply notice

18. Commit random acts of kindness

Full Article by Bobbi Emel, MFT at PsychCentral