Archive for the ‘Mental Illness’ Category

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides a great fact sheet resource to Domestic Violence  and Children:  Questions and Answers for Domestic Violence Project Advocates, answering such questions as:

How do children react to domestic violence?

What are some typical short-term responses?

What about children’s responses in the long term?

What are the factors that help children recover?

What should parents tell their children about domestic violence?

How much information is enough but not too much?

What should a parent tell a child about the parent who was abusive?

How can advocates protect children from adult information?

How should parents respond to and cope with their children’s feelings about them?

What are some strategies for managing children’s behaviors that may occur in families with domestic violence?

How can advocates determine when a child needs more help?


What is secondary trauma and how does it affect me?



Click on the link below to learn more:




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Domestic violence cases seem to prevail in spite of all the efforts of the advocates across the United States and throughout the world; however, that doesn’t stop the advocates from continuing to try.  One focus has turned its head towards the affects upon childhood trauma.  One such foundation taking this focus in their hands is the Makers of Memories with its public policy initiative:

The Makers of Memories Public Policy Initiative, launched earlier this month in Washington DC, has already begun to develop momentum towards our two key objectives of:

1) raising awareness about the problem of childhood exposure to domestic violence; and

2) developing a set of solutions to address this problem.

Participants from a wide range of national nonprofit organizations have agreed to collaborate on the educational content and distribution of our documentary film project, 43 Million Secrets, and have contacted us to explore ways that we can work together to motivate leaders and policy makers to take action to provide support and assistance to children who experience domestic violence. We also are exploring programmatic initiatives with these organizations. Some of the individuals and organizations we have engaged to collaborate on our work are featured below in the images from our meeting in Washington DC on June 14.

via Makers of Memories.

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(Actually written 1/2/08:)

I saw a bumper sticker the other day and was puzzled slightly by what it said — “Those who abandon their dreams, will discourage others.”  Although I wrote it on my hand, and later on in my datebook journal I received as a Christmas gift, it just didn’t make sense to me until today.  After all, eventhough I haven’t achieved all of my dreams, I am still the cheerleader encouraging and empowering others to be able to move forward with their own dreams.

Today, though, I indeed had a v-8 moment and realized just what the bumper sticker could possibly mean.

For my living, I am an advocate for those who may not necessarily speak up for themselves.  Currently, I have found myself being an advocate for the elderly as part of my vocation and passion and, as a rule, I truly enjoy what I do.  One client though I have been struggling with to keep upbeat about it.

When I first started going to this client a few weeks ago, I was shocked by the care of his room.  While he may have incontinence, his room reaked of urine all over newspapers, bed linens, clothes, and such.  Apparently, he can’t remember to wear his “briefs”, the depends.  That, in itself is one thing, and makes my job enduring as each week I have to spend 3 hours waiting for the loads to wash through and I don’t feel like I can do this client justice fully because I don’t feel like I have as much time to visit with him, but he tends to stick things in the toilet and stops it up as well (ie, apparently he doesn’t like carrots so they end up in the toilet, which is very disgusting.  I end up having to call maintenance of the facility to come fix the toilet.  It shouldn’t get to the point it does.  The client has a phone; he could call for maintenance himself.  He also walks to the dining room each day; he could tell the management office his needs as well, but he chooses not to.  So, each week I return and I encounter much of the same thing.  You would think that someone wouldn’t want to stay in a room that smells like urine, much less sleep in wet sheets and covers each night.  Each week I keep thinking to myself, “Why, then, do I put myself through such turmoil?”

The answer lays in the fact that I continue to hope that I can make a difference in this man’s life, although, it appears that his level of care needs to be much higher.  This man, who used to not even move out of the bed, does now greet me at his door each week so I am doing something right, it would appear.

Too, while waiting for the clothese to be washed and dried, I’ve met other residents that walk (or, ride) by and they either wave or stop to talk to me for a bit.  I think that they are just happy to see someone else available to hear what they have to say about their day.  Some of them are now even introducing themselves to me with their names and inviting me to go visit them in their rooms — so many are just anxious to have company and companionship.  Even in an assisted living facility, so many residents keep to themselves, which is a shame.

Earlier this morning, I checked my Fubar page just as anyone might check their MySpace page or emails, and saw one of my best friends indicate that he was having trouble waking up this morning.  I called him and told him that, while he was having trouble waking up, I was having a great deal of trouble just motivating myself to move forward to go see this client this morning.  We were talking about why I was having trouble in particular today and he set a positive tone for me by saying to me, “At least, you will have lots to blog about today,” and he was right.

Although I am discouraged by this man’s seemingly giving up on his dreams of having a great life in spite of his health problems, I am discouraged (just like the bumper sticker says).  However, what relights my enthusiasm for returning each week is the brightened eyees and smiles of others I see each week at this facility.  Today, I was surprised, too, in that this man didn’t stay in his room while I was tending to his laundry down the hall.  He actually got up and took the trash to the laundry room area and later he came down to the sitting area and talked with me for a bit telling me that the maintenance has come while I was down here.  Not only once though, but three times!  Maybe next week, he’ll actually sit down and talk to me?  At any rate, any progress made is certainly making way for encouragement that my advocacy is making a difference.

I’ll certainly have to remind myself that, as I crawl out of bed next Wednesday morning, while advocacy work can indeed be very discouraging, it is encouraging to see when folks be able to crawl out of their hinderances (sometime created by themselves) and start getting a little more excited about life.  That is the reward I get in lieu of great monetary salaries, a richness more fulfilling to living a life than making a huge income and not being able to stop and observe life for what it is.  Humanity is a precious regard on this earth; unfortunately, most people are too focused on making the big bucks that they often forget the joys that would surround them if they would just stop and look!

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So frustrating is the fear of the unknown.   I remember when I was mentoring a after school program in an Community Program in a poorer segment of Austin (not East Austin) and a young boy had drawn a much worse picture than this child who had been suspended.  While I was alarmed that a boy could have drawn such a picture, I was told that these children were allowed to have their creative expressions.

Somehow, the balance between creative expressions and the psychological aspects of whatever hidden meanings behind artwork done by our children must be met.  Without the creative expression, one might not be able to understand what is going on in the minds of our children.  I believe that children’s creative expression should not be suppressed or meant to be punished; after all, how are we going to be understand what is going on in the children’s minds if they feel threatened for punishment if they express themselves.

I am not saying that children’s expressions that seem to have hidden messages of psychological problems should necessarily be promoted and offered on a public display; however, admonishing them because they have expressed themselves through drawing (which may be a mode that that they are more comfortable with than writing or talking) seems wrong.

Perhaps, a better approach would be to have the parents and teachers more attuned with the meanings and offer the child guidance when the child “speaks out” through his artwork.  Of course, caution should also be had to make sure that, also, too much is read into things as well.  🙂

What say you???

Boy suspended for stick-figure drawing – Education – MSNBC.com

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Sad. Very sad.

Just in! This young girl, at Matagorda High School, excused herself from a band class and self-inflicted a wound upon herself. When the girl hadn’t returned to class, the teacher sent another student to check up on her and found her dead.

At the end of the article, they mentioned that they were uncertain how the gun had been brought into the school. Oh, my gosh!

It is reported that she had been recently depressed. It is too bad that she didn’t get the help that she needed in time and felt that she needed to resort to suicide. No reports yet on what set everything in the spiraling motion for her.

If you, or someone you know, is depressed, please know that there is help out there to help you.

High School on Lockdown After Student Suicide

Need Someone to Talk To? Samaritans are available 24hrs/day

Depression Help for You

Depression Help Prevention

Depression through NAMI.org (National Alliance for Mental Illness)

Depression Treatment, Medication, Help, Symptoms: Anxiety Attacks Depression Test, Types, ADHD Causes

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I have received in the mail today at home an invitation to attend a MH event with former Washington Post reporter, Pete Earley, speaking on CRAZY:  A FATHER’S SEARCH THROUGH AMERICA’S MENTAL HEALTH MADNESS, presented by NAMI Austin, in cooperation with The University of Texas School of Social Work.

This former Washington Post reporter, Pete Earley, had written extensively about the criminal justice system.  But it was only when his own son – in the throws of a manic episode – broke into a neighbor’s house and took a bath in her tub that he learned the truth about what is happening to mentally ill people who have the misfortune to break the law.

“I had no idea what it was like to be on the inside looking out…until my son, Mike, was declared mentally ill” said Earley.

Through his research Earley found that 300,000 persons with severe mental disorders are currently being held in jails and prisons, another 500,000 are on probation, and 700,000 go through the court system each year.

Sunday May 6, 2007, at 3pm Thompson
University of Texas at Austin
SW Corner of Dean Keeton &
Red River
(free parking in Lot 40)

To reserve a seat, please call the NAMI office at 512-420-9810.

The announcement card mentions to go to www.namiaustin.org for additional information; however, their link wasn’t working tonight. 

Immediately following from 5:30-7p, there will be a wine & cheese reception with Pete Earley at Follett’s Intellectual Property on the NW Corner of 24th and Guadalupe Street.  A 20% discount will be given on the purchase of the book during this book signing event.

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Although people often use the terms mental illness and violence in the same sentence, especially when there was such a tragedy as was had at Virginia Tech Institute. People jump to the conclusion that, because, for instance, the violence that affected so many students and staff at the Institute was so maddening, they often presume that mental illness must have been at the core of the issue. While some of the investigation seems to have unveiled that he had been to a mental health facility for assessment, it doesn’t mean that he was actually treated for mental illness or that, if he was undergoing some form of treatment, the proper treatment was being presented or followed through.

The National Alliance for Mental Illness has immediately released a statement to this regard to be passed to others:

For Immediate Release
April 18, 2007

The VTI Tragedy: Distinguishing Mental Illness from Violence

Statement of Ken Duckworth, MD
NAMI Medical Director


The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) extends its sympathy to all the families who have lost loved ones in the terrible tragedy at the Virginia Technology Institute (VTI). We are an organization of individuals and families whose lives have been affected by serious mental illnesses.


Despite media reports, Cho Seung Hui, the shooter in the tragedy may not actually have had a serious mental illness relative to other diagnoses. But the possibility opens the door for reflection on the nature of mental illnesses—what they are and what they are not— with regard to symptoms, treatment and risks of violence.


The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that the likelihood of violence by people with mental illness is low. In fact, “the overall contribution of mental disorders to the total level of violence in society is exceptionally small.” More often, people living with mental illness are the victims of violence.


Severe mental illnesses are medical illnesses. They are different from episodic conditions. They are different from sociopathic disorders.


Acts of violence are exceptional.


Treatment works, but only if a person gets it.


Questions must be answered about whether the mental health care system responded appropriately in this case. We know that Cho Seung Hui was referred to a mental health facility for assessment. Did he receive the right treatment and follow-up? If not, why not?


NAMI offers below the federal government’s authoritative language on perceptions of violence.


Mental Illness and Violence


Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health (1999)


Are people with mental disorders truly more violent? Research supports some public concerns, but the overall likelihood of violence is low.


The greatest risk of violence is from those who have dual diagnoses, i.e., individuals who have a mental disorder as well as a substance abuse disorder. There is a small elevation in risk of violence from individuals with severe mental disorders (e.g., psychosis), especially if they are noncompliant with their medication….Yet to put this all in perspective, the overall contribution of mental disorders to the total level of violence in society is exceptionally small.


National Institute of Mental Health (2006)


A study of adults with schizophrenia showed that symptoms of losing contact with reality, such as delusions and hallucinations, increased the odds of serious violence nearly threefold. The odds were only about one-fourth as high in patients with symptoms of reduced emotions and behaviors, such as flat facial expression, social withdrawal, and infrequent speaking.


Overall, the amount of violence committed by people with schizophrenia is small, and only 1 percent of the U.S. population has schizophrenia…By comparison, about 2 percent of the general population without psychiatric disorder engages in any violent behavior in a one-year period.


The researchers found that the odds of violence also varied with factors other than psychotic symptoms. For example, serious violence was associated with depressive symptoms, conduct problems in childhood, and having been victimized, physically or sexually; minor violence was associated with co-occurring substance abuse.

By issuance of the above statement, NAMI hopes to be able to clarify some questions that many might have with any alleged mental illness(es) that the gunman, Cho Seung Hui, might have had.

I am sure that more information will be divulged as the security and authorities perform their thorough investigations on the matter. Some other theories being tossed around is that he was searching out his ex-girlfriend, and, by some sources, it seems that his ex-girlfriend may have been one of the first presumed to have been shot at in the dormitory. While this may not be the official worst blood bath at a college/university in American history, it will certainly be interesting as more information surfaces to see what actually that they can piece together, although the whole story may never be known, especially since not many people knew him well.

At this time, rumors of new gun laws needing to be made are re-surfacing as well as other legislations. The total ramification of the whole ordeal has affected the Nation’s society, especially the VTI staff and students, beyond comprehension and will probably be something to be dealt with in the future, as we have seen from many of our tragic events. Hopefully, something good will come out of the event; heroes will emerge; and a tragedy turned into a triumph. At this time, the “triumph” is still unknown, but one can always hope and dream — right??

April 20 – Virginia Tech Tragedy: Responses and Resources

Worldly Inquiring Mind “iWIM” 😀 ›

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