Author Archives: Kitt OMalley

So….who are you?

Kitt O'Malley:

As I begin my training as a Hearing Advocate for those involuntarily hospitalized, I found this post timely. Finding My Sunshine is a mother, wife and PhD student living with Bipolar disorder. In this post, she describes her experience with involuntary hospitalization and multiple ECT sessions administered while prescribed Lithium, resulting in severe memory loss. Through rehabilitation much of her memory is returning, but she does not recall everything about her hospitalization.

Originally posted on Finding My Sunshine:

One of the major side effects of ECT is short term memory loss. And, boy, did it affect me.

I underwent ECT thrice weekly for ten sessions in the locked ward. Which, incidentally, reminds me. Recently I was considering my time in hospital and found it remarkable that when you are first involuntarily frog marched to a locked ward it is a major crush to the soul. You’re all “let me out of here! I’m being held against my will!” you pound your fists on the air lock doors and almost inevitably get told that you are going to be given something to “calm down”, which actually sounds quite pleasant until you are stabbed with a hypodermic needle. Then a few weeks later, after you have settled in, you’re all “welcome to my crib. Bitch.” Institutionalization at its finest. Clearly a topic for another time.

Anyway, back to my terrible…

View original 466 more words


Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Hearing Advocate, Involuntary Hospitalization, Medication, Mental Health, Mental Health Advocacy Tagged: ECT, lithium, memory loss

Updated Resources

1-800-662-HELP (4357) www.samhsa.gov/treatment for information on Prevention and Treatment Referral

The SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator can help you locate treatment facilities in the United States or U.S. Territories for substance abuse/addiction and/or mental health problems.

Just updated my Resources pages, adding resources and organizing them into three separate category pages.

RESOURCES IN THE UNITED STATES


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: Behavioral Health Treatment Services, disability resources, health care resources, mental health resources, SAMHSA, The SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services

NIMH · Atonement

In his blog post entitled AtonementThomas Insel, MD, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), calls for humility:

So this year on Mental Illness Awareness Week, my call is for humility. We need to be aware that mental disorders are immensely complex—too complex for scientists, clinicians, patients, or families to solve alone. Prevention, recovery, and cure—the NIMH vision—need a collective effort. Beyond the day—or week—of atonement, we need a massive campaign to transform diagnosis and treatment.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2014/atonement.shtml

Below I directly quote his very moving and thoughtful piece in its entirety.

Thank you, Dr. Insel.


Director’s Blog: NIMH · Atonement
By Thomas Insel on October 8, 2014

One of my first meetings when I arrived at NIMH 12 years ago was with board members of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). I asked them how NIMH could be helpful. One board member’s request was especially memorable. “Declare a day of atonement,” she suggested. When I saw this same board member last month at the annual NAMI meeting, we both recalled that 2002 meeting with a touch of regret. I wished I had had a better response to her request. And, as she said to me last month, “I wished I had asked for a week.”

As it turns out, Mental Illness Awareness Week this year began with Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Which begs the question: what do we (in the mental health community) need to atone for? There are so many answers. For some, it may be the culture of blame and shame perpetuated for years by clinicians who explained all mental illness as being caused by trauma and evil parents. For others, it may be the singular reliance on medication and modifying behavior rather than holistic care and the provision of skills. Others will name the paternalistic structure of mental health care, which can undermine rather than empower individuals and their families. The list goes on. Maybe it would take a week, not just a day, to capture the many complaints.

My own favorite atonement issue for Mental Illness Awareness Week this year is the lack of humility in our field. Mental disorders are among the most complex problems in medicine, with challenges at every level from neurons to neighborhoods. Yet, we know so little about mechanisms at each level. Too often, we have been guided more by religion than science. That is, so much of mental health care is based on faith and intuition, not science and evidence. On the plus side, we put a premium on listening and compassion. We help people to change through understanding. But not enough of our care has been standardized to a high level of quality, as expected in the rest of medicine.

On the research side, it’s easy to lose humility. The pace of discovery in genomics and neuroscience is ever more rapid—this week’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is a good example of how neuroscience is revealing the fundamentals of brain activity—in this case describing the brain’s “GPS” network. Advances in systems neuroscience, from dissecting circuits to human brain imaging, are unequivocally stunning. But, and this is a humbling caveat, we simply have not been able to translate this revolution in neuroscience to diagnostics or therapeutics for people with mental disorders.

Why the disconnect? Translation takes time. Translation requires replication, regulation, and ultimately reimbursement. Fundamentally, translation is really difficult. For instance, we have thousands of neuroimaging studies but none that has delivered a clinically useful biomarker. For NIMH this is a humbling realization—we still lack biomarkers to identify who should get which treatment. We still lack effective treatments for many aspects of mental illness.

So this year on Mental Illness Awareness Week, my call is for humility. We need to be aware that mental disorders are immensely complex—too complex for scientists, clinicians, patients, or families to solve alone. Prevention, recovery, and cure—the NIMH vision—need a collective effort. Beyond the day—or week—of atonement, we need a massive campaign to transform diagnosis and treatment.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2014/atonement.shtml


Filed under: Atonement, Mental Health, NAMI, NIMH Tagged: #MIAW, Mental Illness Awareness Week, NIMH

I Loved It! ~ Patients Rights Advocacy

Loved shadowing an MHA Hearing Advocate earlier today. Look forward to learning more. Great opportunity for me to make use of my experience having been psychiatrically hospitalized for bipolar disorder (albeit voluntarily), while dusting off old knowledge and skills from my education and the careers of my early adulthood. After all, I have a BA in Legal Studies and experience as a legal assistant, an MA in Psychology and counseling skills gained as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and advocacy skills. Those careers date back to my twenties. I’m 51 now. In between, I spent a decade working in commercial real estate.

Californians with mental illnesses who are receiving treatment in mental health facilities, including those persons subject to involuntary commitment, are guaranteed numerous rights under State and federal laws, including the right to be free from abuse and neglect, the right to privacy, dignity, and humane care, and the right to basic procedural protections in the commitment process.

~ http://www.dsh.ca.gov/Publications/Patients_Rights/


Filed under: Hearing Advocate, Mental Health, Mental Health Advocacy, MHA Tagged: #MIAW, Involuntary Hospitalizaton, Patients Rights

Full Circle

Mission Hospital Laguna Beach

Mission Hospital Laguna Beach ~ my 2005 “Alma Mater” as South Coast Medical Center

This morning I interviewed with Mental Heath Association of Orange County to be a volunteer Hearing Advocate representing clients placed on mental health holds (involuntary psychiatric hospitalization for 72-hours).

HEARING ADVOCACY – Advocates fill a legally state mandated role to ensure that involuntarily detained persons in a psychiatric hospital have the opportunity to express their views regarding hospitalization, advocates support them through the process.  Advocates review patient’s charts, interview patients, and attend probable cause hearings with the patient.

http://www.mhaoc.org/spv-5.aspx

Tomorrow I start my training by shadowing an MHA advocate at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach Behavioral Health Services, where in February 2005 I spent two weeks voluntarily hospitalized. No doubt being taken to the hospital involuntarily is a quite different experience than going there by choice.

Room View of Pacific Ocean from Mission Hospital Laguna Beach

View of the Pacific from rooms redecorated since my stay in 2005

Yes, the rooms have incredible views of the Pacific, as the hospital sits on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). As a voluntary patient, I appreciated the views but was not permitted to walk to the beach until I left the hospital and entered the partial hospitalization program. After eating lunch, as outpatients we had the freedom to walk down to the beach, which we often did together as a group. Laguna Beach is truly beautiful. Unfortunately, you need quite a bit of money to live there (and traffic is horrible on PCH).

Mental Health America of California offers this excellent summary of California law regarding involuntary mental health hold on its website:

72-Hour Mental Health Hold

If you need to get help for someone who may not want help but needs it immediately, you may need to arrange for involuntary hospitalization. This process is called a “72-hour Mental Health Hold.”

Under California law, only designated personnel can place a person in 72-hour hold, often called a “515O.” They can be police officers, members of a “mobile crisis team,” or other mental health professionals authorized by their county.

One of three conditions must be present for an individual to be placed on a 72-hour hold. The designated personnel believe there is probable cause that because of a mental disorder the individual is:

  • A danger to him or herself;
  • A danger to others; or
  • Gravely disabled (unable to provide for his or her basic personal needs for food, clothing or shelter).

The person placed in a 72-hour hold must be advised of his/her rights. The facility requires an application stating the circumstances under which the persons condition was called to the attention of the officer or professional; what probable cause there is to believe the person is a danger to others, a danger to him or herself, or gravely disabled (due to a mental disorder); and the facts upon which this probable cause is based. Mere conclusions without supporting facts are not sufficient.

What Happens During an Involuntary Hold?
When a person is detained for up to 72 hours, the hospital is required to do an evaluation of that person, taking into account his/her medical, psychological, educational, social, financial and legal situation. The hospital does not have to hold the patient for the complete 72 hours if the professional person in charge believes that the patient no longer requires evaluation or treatment.

By the end of the 72 hours, one of the following things must happen:

  • The person may be released;
  • The person may sign in as a voluntary patient;
  • The person may be put on a 14-day involuntary hold (a “certification for intensive treatment”).

Does the Person Being Held Involuntarily Have Any Rights?
Yes. A mental health patient being held involuntarily must be informed of the following rights in a language or manner he/she can understand:

  • To keep and use his/her own personal possessions including toilet articles and clothing;
  • To keep and be allowed to spend a reasonable sum of his/her own money (a conservator shall be appointed as required);
  • To have access to individual storage space for private use;
  • To see visitors each day;
  • To have reasonable access to telephones;
  • To have ready access to letter writing materials, including stamps & mail;
  • To receive unopened mail;
  • To refuse convulsive treatment;
  • To refuse psychosurgery;
  • To see a patients’ rights advocate;
  • To be assisted by an attorney at the certification review hearing.

In addition, the patient has the right to be informed fully of the risks and benefits of the proposed treatment and give his/her informed consent. A patient has the right to refuse medication unless there is an emergency condition or the patient is found to lack capacity to make an informed decision after a judicial hearing. If, at that hearing, the patient is found to lack capacity to consent to medication, the patient may appeal the decision to the Superior Court.

Within four days after the patient is placed on a 14-day involuntary hold, there must be a certification review hearing (a “probable-cause hearing”). The hospital must present evidence as to why the patient needs further treatment. The patient, assisted by a patients’ rights advocate, can explain why he/she believes there is no need for further hospital stay. A hearing officer, court-appointed commissioner or referee will decide whether or not there is probable cause to keep the patient in the hospital against his/her will for a period not to exceed 14 days.

If the hearing officer decides there is not probable cause to hold the patient, the patient may request to remain in the hospital on a voluntary basis. If the hearing officer decides there is probable cause and the patient disagrees with the decision, he/she has the right to request a Writ of Habeas Corpus and have a hearing in the Superior Court of the county where the patient is being held.

http://www.mhac.org/help/hotlines.cfm


Filed under: Acceptance, Bipolar Disorder, Disability, Hearing Advocate, Mental Health, Mental Health Advocacy, MHA, Volunteering

Submit to STIGMAMA

STIGMAMA_submissions_stereotypesWalker Karraa, PhD has done an incredible job growing STIGMAMA | Motherhood. Mental Illness. Out Loud. at stigmama.comSTIGMAMA is currently calling for submissions of essays, poetry, personal stories, fiction, professional perspectives, photo essays, and art about STEREOTYPES. Submit to [email protected]

Help STIGMAMA widen its reach. If you are a woman of color, mature mother, grandmother or great-grandmother, young woman, childless (whether or not by choice), or LGBT, please add your voice. The more voices, the greater diversity of voices, the better.

Thank you, Walker Karraa, PhD for creating STIGMAMA, a safe, mutually supportive place in which we can share our stories and overcome the stigma(s) attached to mental illness, or mental difference, and motherhood. STIGMAMA has made a positive difference in my life. Let it do so for you, too. Join us.


Filed under: Mental Health, Sexism, Stigma, Writing Tagged: diversity, mental illness, Motherhood, photo essays, professional perspectives, stereotypes, stigmama.com, Walker Karraa

Mental Illnesses #MIAW

Quoting NAMI’s webpage Mental Illnesses
http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness

What is mental illness?

A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

Learn more about treatment and services that assist individuals in recovery.

Find out more about a specific mental illness:

Find out more about conditions sometimes related to mental illness:

What does recovery look like?

As people become familiar with their illness, they recognize their own unique patterns of behavior. If individuals recognize these signs and seek effective and timely care, they can often prevent relapses. However, because mental illnesses have no cure, treatment must be continuous.

Individuals who live with a mental illness also benefit tremendously from taking responsibility for their own recovery. Once the illness is adequately managed, one must monitor potential side effects.

The notion of recovery involves a variety of perspectives. Recovery is a holistic process that includes traditional elements of mental health and aspects that extend beyond medication. Recovery from serious mental illness also includes attaining, and maintaining, physical health as another cornerstone of wellness.

The recovery journey is unique for each individual. There are several definitions of recovery; some grounded in medical and clinical values, some grounded in context of community and some in successful living. One of the most important principles is this: recovery is a process, not an event. The uniqueness and individual nature of recovery must be honored. While serious mental illness impacts individuals in many ways, the concept that all individuals can move towards wellness is paramount.

Mental illness by the numbers

Check out NAMI’s fact sheet, Mental Illness: Facts and Numbers, to find out more about mental illness.

Related Files: Mental Illness brochure (PDF) (PDF File)

http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness


Filed under: Mental Health, NAMI Tagged: #MIAW, Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week #MIAW #B4Stage4

MHA Infographic

Facts listed on this infographic from MHAScreening.org:

Get Screened, America!

  • 125,000 screenings since the launch of MHAScreening.org in May 2014
  • 66% screened positive for moderate to severe anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD…
  • and 64% of them had never been diagnosed.
  • 44% said they would discuss results with someone.
  • Stay healthy. Take a screen, and talk to a doctor, family member, or friend about your results.
  • After taking a screen, this is what people want most. HELP (most heavily weighted word in word cluster)
  • Take a screen MHAScreening.org
  • MHA Mental Health America#B4Stage4

Why B4Stage4?

When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don’t wait years to treat them.  We start way before Stage 4.  We begin with prevention…

This is what we should be doing when people have serious mental illnesses, too.  When they first begin to experience symptoms such as loss of sleep, feeling tired for no reason, feeling low, feeling anxious, or hearing voices, we should act…

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/b4stage4

 


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: #B4Stage4, #MIAW, Mental Health Screening, MHA, MHAScreening.org

This Upcoming Week

SICK

Under the weather with a bug that has me achy, fatigued, nauseated, and dizzy. Hope that my physical health improves soon, for I have a big week ahead of me.

SKYPE CALL WEDNESDAY

Annual Emerging Considerations in Maternal Mental Health Forum

Wednesday I have a Skype call scheduled with my friends and colleagues, Dyane Harwood of Birth of a New Brain and Walker Karraa, PhD of Stigmama.com. In February we will be representing Stigmama.com at the Annual Emerging Considerations in Maternal Mental Health Forum. I look forward to seeing my friends’ faces via Skype on Wednesday and in person in February.

MHA VOLUNTEER INTERVIEW THURSDAY

Thursday I am being interviewed by MHA of Orange County to volunteer as a Hearing Advocate:

HEARING ADVOCACY – Advocates fill a legally state mandated role to ensure that involuntarily detained persons in a psychiatric hospital have the opportunity to express their views regarding hospitalization, advocates support them through the process.  Advocates review patient’s charts, interview patients, and attend probable cause hearings with the patient.  Knowledge of mental illness is preferred.  2-4 hours per week, a 6 month commitment is needed.  Training is provided.

~http://www.mhaoc.org/spv-5.aspx

Since I am a mental health consumer and in my young adulthood worked as both a mental health provider and a legal assistant, this volunteer position may be a good fit. If the interview goes well, I will be shadowing a hearing advocate for a while to learn the ropes.

WRITING

As I ask myself what purpose guides me as I pull content from my blog into Scrivener, I’m not so sure that I want to take on writing a book. Perhaps it is to create something else, not a memoir or rehashed blog, but an organized and cohesive call to action for mental health. This call to action need not be a book, perhaps blogging better suits me. Scrivener enables me to quickly and easily organize my blog writing, and possibly rewrite and repurpose old posts that still have merit.


Filed under: Mental Health, Volunteering, Writing Tagged: #MMHForum2015, Annual Emerging Considerations in Maternal Mental Health Forum, MHA

Why I Dread October

Kitt O'Malley:

Next week (Oct 5-11, 2014) is Mental Illness Awareness Week.
Spread the word on social media here: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/MIAW2014.

Originally posted on Embracing life: 4/29/10:

Disclaimer: This is not a bashing on those whom have experienced breast cancer or lost a loved one to breast cancer. My prayers and thoughts go out to those impacted. Breast cancer is real and touches a number of lives. However, if you will read this post, you will see it does not touch near as many lives as mental illness yet gets so much more attention.

soapbox-259x194

Well, it’s started…the onslaught of pink. Pink ribbon work gloves for men. A number of pink ribbon items for sale at my workplace. Pink ribbon items in EVERY mainline store you enter. Profile pictures gone pink left and right. Pink is on the football fields of all levels. The only way to NOT see pink ribbons all month (and all year) is to crawl under the blankets and never come out. All of this is done in the name of Breast Cancer Awareness…

View original 862 more words


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: Mental Illness Awareness Week, MIAW2014