By Yvonne Smith – Why Mental Illness Labeling is Harmful

Editors note: This is an essay written by Yvette McShan taken with her permission from a Facebook discussion group. For a comprehensive treatment of this topic, along with many personal stories, check out http://www.psychdiagnosis.net/

Labeling is Harmful because It Costs People Rights: Parental rights Right to bear arms Right for employment in certain fields. Social stigma.

Introduce yourself to a prospective mother-in-law with a mental illness label. Tell the police that you are X disease, and you want them to know. It’s dangerous being known as a club members of the DSM.

I do not hide that I am in recovery.

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UnDiagnosing Unplanned UnConference schedule

Next week we are hosting a conference in Cincinnati in partnership with Paul Komarek of Defying Mental Illness. He’s helped me come up with conference planning details. This has been an exercise in delegation for me, because he has more of a mental health provider point of view and I have more of a psych survivor point of view. But I also am not in the city and I’m still processing the last of my spiritual emergency so I have to guard my energy levels.

Paul Komarek’s description of the conference:

Doing, Thinking, Feeling: To move beyond emotional distress we

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Psychiatric survivor stories saved our lives

Psychiatric survivors are people who have survived mental health treatment. We did not survive our illness, we survived psychiatry. The difference between people with “consumer” stories and psychiatric survivor stories are just how you self-identify. If you feel comfortable saying that you survived the treatment instead of the “illness”, then you are in the group that has psychiatric survivor stories. That is all the more complex the distinction is. Some people identify in multiple different ways, according to a survey I did of 54 mental health advocates:

Who has their own psychiatric survivor stories?

Psychiatric survivor stories often include

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Christian Tools for Handling Spiritual Emergency

Recently I went through a Chrisitan spiritual crisis and was helped in a big way by my church. I was also helped by a non-denonimational perspective through my Christian spiritual crisis, and that blog is coming next. I wanted to post both points of view because I don’t think that they are in conflict.  This both / and is one of the most valuable things I figured out.  Both views can be true at the same, exact time, and not necessarily contradictory. This blog is reproductions with permission of emails from my church Intercessory team who helped me through it.

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Psych med weight gain and women’s self-image

Like every woman in this culture, I’m surrounded by images telling me what is beautiful and healthy.  From supermarket  magazine covers, to Hollywood starlets, even to the women anchors who deliver serious news and analysis, the unanimous  Message is that you will only be successful, attractive, popular and in charge of your life if you’re thin or fit the typical women’s self-image.

While being overweight and obese do put you at greater risk for lifestyle illnesses (though there is still debate about whether being slightly overweight really does carry danger), the types of images we see

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Meg Park: Humanity, Love, and Mental Health Reform

by Margaret J. Park, M.Div., C.P.S., Recovery Specialist, Allegheny County (PA) Office of Behavioral Healh

Margaret J. Park

It seems to me the people who work to change the public mental health system have reached a general consensus that helping people recover from trauma and extreme emotional difficulties takes humanity, love, and reform, and less coercion and manipulation to be succeed.

We are struggling with how to articulate this well enough to change the overall environment in which individuals and families come to professionals for healing, and a way out of the pain and despair.

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Edward Duff – I Can’t Separate Pollution and Recovery

I do not know if I have ever experienced “wellness,” but it does sound like a very good concept or status. I suspect that it was relatively short-term if I did.

Forget Recovery; I Could Not Breathe

What Is Recovery When You Can't Breathe?

I remember fighting for breath and clean air to breathe in a haze of cigarette smoke in cars, homes, businesses, and public spaces indoors and out. Smoking was ubiquitous throughout my entire childhood, adolescence, and only relatively recently have I been able to stay clear of those 125 chemicals and drugs for any extended length of time.

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Anonymous – My epiphany on DBT, Trauma, and Undiagnosing Emotional Distress

Undiagnosing Emotional Distress as an alternative approach for mental illness seems to be the issue.

I attended a presention by the DBT guru at my local community mental health center. DBT stands for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, a type of mental health talk therapy treatment that focuses on mindfulness or being in the moment, tolerating distress, and developing people skills. The founder of DBT, Marsha Linehan, is a person who is herself in recovery from mental health diagnoses. She recently shared her story for the first time in the New York Times.

The pillowcase project from Fulton State Hospital in Missouri where

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Gwen Broz – How to really feel emotions like anger

My mom with her husband, Tim. My mom is in her marakame or shaman outfit. part of her training was learning how to feel emotions like anger.

How to feel emotions like anger that can build up in our bodies and minds.

My mom is a shaman, specifically a Marakame according to the Huichol Indigenous  tradition from Mexico. She is also a medical doctor, a family practitioner. Both programs involved about 12 years of training and about the same amount of time commitment.  When I was in the depths of the mental health system, and on six psychiatric medications,

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Paul Cumming – Building mental health solutions is our best approach

I suggest stop wasting valuable time and energy talking about meds.  We’ve known since the meds came out that they had problems. The side effects are listed, although maybe not shared complete honestly. The lower efficacy was well known from the release of each medication, although maybe not shared completely honestly. Rather positive energy can be used to create, and/or promote mental health solutions. We need programs and treatments that consumers can choose to utilize. With no choices there is nothing to choose!

Look at Mary Ellen Copeland, she created a program, packaged it for sustained growth and in due

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Susan Kingsley Smith – Focus on mental health solutions

The mental health solutions matter, not who’s wrong or right: I’ve been noticing more in more in mental health advocacy that things aren’t always black and white.  I’m noticing lately that in the work of many advocates is that in order to be “right” someone has to be “wrong”.

Susan Kingsley-Smith talking about mental health solutions at dinner at Alternatives 2011 with Andy Grant, Peter Lehman, Amy Smith, herself, and Rita Brooks.

And this I believe is a source for much unnecessary contention and conflict. There is a difference, perhaps subtle, between advocating change and creating change. Both are necessary

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Jennifer Wilding: Consensus Decision Making might fix fear based mental health funding

 Wellness Wordworks has been working with two different organizations lately using Consensus Decision Making.

Corinna West with Thomas Hernandez, one of our partners for Consensus Decision Making. He says, "Medications really helped me recover." This difference helps balance our personal experience.

Consensus Decision Making is a powerful process that theoretically allows for minority opinion areas to be heard in a group. One group doing this that Wellness Wordworks collaborates with  is the Kansas Mental Health Provider Coalition and one is Consensus KC. We’ve learned that most public consensus decision making is unconscious. It’s not based on data, it’s based

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Exercise makes me human

My mental health recovery really took off when I realized how much exercise makes me human

I was on the Olympic Judo Team and trained four hours a day from the age of about 13 until age 22. If I wasn’t at Judo practice, I was working out at home. When I was in high school, there was the night I did 1000 pushups in one night. I liked to read, so I used to make up workouts I could read to, like wall sits, where you sit with your thighs parallel to the floor in an imaginary chair.  I’d

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Kevin Haggerty: How to improve police mental health interactions in Kansas City

Kevin Haggerty explains how to improve the interactions for police mental health contacts

Kevin Haggerty has been involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses (NAMI)  Crisis Intervention Training for over ten years.  This is a program that basically says that police officers will be safer by treating people with mental health crisis differently than people who are criminals. Criminals respond to authority, decisiveness, and the display of

Kevin Haggerty, a police mental health interaction specialist, with Helen Minth, founder of the Heartland Consumer Network

power. However, many people that are in emotional crisis react with intense fear to

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