Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Lunenburg County Chapter's Annual Christmas Party

The Lunenburg County Chapter of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia's Annual Christmas Party was held on December 16th, 2009. A total of 46 members and guests enjoyed a meal FIT for the Lunenburg County Chapter as prepared its members.

The winning ticket from the raffle of an original painting by Richard Balser, held in support of the Lunenburg County Chapter's Education and Community Access Fund, was drawn by Cassidy Eisnor. The holder of the winning ticket was Sandy Conrad, one of the guests at the Annual Christmas Party.

Richard Balser, a member of the Lunenburg County Chapter, presenting his artwork to Sandy Conrad.

Rita and Jennifer, winners the Best Elf Contest.

Kaye Joudrey, Santa's favourite elf, helps Santa (a.k.a. Linda Dagley) hand out some early Christmas gifts.

Jean Covert and Denton Conrad elfing it up!

Please click on any photograph to enlarge it.

All photographs by Jan House.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Self-stigma and the “why try” effect: impact on life goals and evidence-based practices

The abstract of an article published in the June 2009 edition of World Psychiatry:
By Patrick W. Corrigan, Jonathon E. Larson, and Nicolas Rüsch

Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL 60616, USA

Many individuals with mental illnesses are troubled by self-stigma and the subsequent processes that accompany this stigma: low self-esteem and self-efficacy. “Why try” is the overarching phenomenon of interest here, encompassing self-stigma, mediating processes, and their effect on goal-related behavior. In this paper, the literature that explains “why try” is reviewed, with special focus on social psychological models. Self-stigma comprises three steps: awareness of the stereotype, agreement with it, and applying it to one’s self. As a result of these processes, people suffer reduced self-esteem and self-efficacy. People are dissuaded from pursuing the kind of opportunities that are fundamental to achieving life goals because of diminished self-esteem and self-efficacy. People may also avoid accessing and using evidence-based practices that help achieve these goals. The effects of self-stigma and the “why try” effect can be diminished by services that promote consumer empowerment.

Keywords: Self-stigma, mental illness, public stigma, self-esteem, self-efficacy, empowerment

To download the entire article (PDF), please click here.

Posting of this abstract is for the purposes of research into mental illness and self-stigma.

Friday, December 18, 2009

NAMI Applauds New Report on Caregiving

A December 17th news release from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
Arlington, VA — The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) praises a new report, Caregiving in the U.S. 2009, which offers a revealing portrait of the nearly one-in-three American adults who serve as a family caregiver.

The study is based on interviews with 1,480 caregivers chosen at random and offers a national profile of people caring for adults, the elderly and children with special needs. It follows similar studies conducted in 2004 and 1997, but for the first time, caregivers for children, as well as those caring for adults over the age of 18, were surveyed.

The report echoes the findings of NAMI’s own depression survey and schizophrenia survey, which include the perspective of caregivers for people living with these serious mental illnesses. All these reports suggest that caregivers face daily stresses that can impact their own health and other relationships. For example, NAMI’s depression survey, released in November, found that while almost one-half (48 percent) of caregivers for people with depression have been diagnosed with depression themselves, only about 25 percent were engaged in treatment at the time of the survey.

“We know from our own studies that caregivers make significant sacrifices to care for their loved ones living with mental illness,” said Michael Fitzpatrick, NAMI executive director. “The findings of this new report will help us anticipate the needs of caregivers so that we can improve NAMI’s education and support programs.”

NAMI offers a variety of peer education and support programs, including those specifically for caregivers.

Family-to-Family is a free, twelve-week course for family caregivers of individuals with severe mental illnesses. The course is taught by trained family members and more than 115,000 family members have graduated from this national program. The course is also available in Spanish.

NAMI Basics is an education program for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illnesses. The course is taught by trained teachers who are the parent or other caregivers of individuals who developed the symptoms of mental illness prior to the age of 13 years.

About NAMI:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a non-partisan organization with 1100 state and local affiliates, dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. Dedication, steadfast commitment and unceasing belief in NAMI's mission by grassroots advocates have produced profound changes.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Putting the sibling back into the family

A December 8th news story from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine:
By Laurie Wang

The role of brothers and sisters is often overlooked when it comes to family support for those with mental illness.

“When people think of family, they often think of the parents, not the siblings,” said Liz Taylor, professor of occupational therapy at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. “There’s a lifelong impact on the healthy sibling living with the ill sibling—something we often forget.”

The researcher conducted a narrative study on women who had a sibling with schizophrenia. She also spoke on the topic at the University of Alberta Calgary Centre Rehabilitation Seminar Series in mid November.

“The siblings wanted to be involved, but never got to be. Perhaps the parents were trying to protect them, but they told me they felt left out of the medical education the parents received,” Taylor said. “And then when they’re older, their parents are aging so they are the ones being asked to be caregivers, but they don’t have all the information.”

It is also common for the parents to focus on the child with mental illness over the others. Taylor explained that from the people she interviewed, a majority reported that they would feel left out so they’d cope by having achievements outside the home.

“Leisurely activities became a form of escape. The women in the study were highly successful and well-educated. They perceived themselves as helpers—some were health-care professionals themselves,” Taylor said. “But they always felt they had to be even more successful and needed to achieve more.”

An underlying theme was the inability to enjoy time with family.

“They felt they were unable to celebrate and that they had to put on an act that they were happy. One woman said to me, ‘I feel like a fraud with my own children,’” she explained.

All of the women in the study were willing to accept that they would need to be caregivers to their siblings. “It wasn’t a matter of ‘I don’t want to’; it was a matter of ‘I don’t know how to.’ They just felt like they were doing it without any information,” said Taylor.
She stressed the importance of letting the healthy sibling be involved early on, even at a young age.

“Health-care professionals need to know that family is more than just mom and dad. Everyone in the family needs to learn how to give support,” she said. “As an occupational therapist working with families, I need to remind myself to include the siblings when I talk to families too.”

Taylor is teaching her occupational therapy students how to be more inclusive in their future practice and get the whole family involved.

“I’d also like to see the future generation of parents demanding that all their children are involved. Teachers should also encourage healthy siblings to take part in being part of the support and solution,” she continued.

Taylor says that the Schizophrenia Society of Canada and other organizations have played a positive role in educating people and providing information, but that teachers, parents, health-care workers and friends need to provide support for the sibling too.

“There needs to be more support groups for the siblings. We need to encourage them to get the information and education they need,” Taylor said. “The more you understand, the more you can give support and be a part of the team.”


About the University of Alberta Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine

As the only free standing faculty of rehabilitation in Canada, the University of Alberta Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine balances its activities among learning, discovery and citizenship (including clinical practice). A research leader in musculoskeletal health, spinal cord injuries and common spinal disorders (back pain), the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine aims to improve the quality of life of citizens in our community. The three departments, Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical Therapy (PT) and Speech Pathology and Audiology (SPA) offer professional entry programs. The Faculty offers thesis-based MSc and PhD programs in Rehabilitation Science, attracting students from a variety of disciplines including OT, PT, SLP, psychology, physical education, medicine and engineering.

Photo credit

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Research shows schizophrenia most stigmatised

A December 10th media release from SANE Australia:
New research by SANE Australia finds that schizophrenia is the most stigmatised mental illness.

An analysis of complaints made by the public to SANE’s StigmaWatch program about media reporting of mental illness has found that nearly 1 in 4 relate to schizophrenia. By comparison, only 1 in 50 complaints are about the irresponsible media reporting of depression.

‘We are beginning to see the positive impact of depression awareness campaigns in the media, which is very encouraging. Unfortunately, schizophrenia continues to be one of the most misrepresented and misunderstood illnesses in the community,’ says SANE Australia Executive Director Barbara Hocking.

The report, SANE Research Bulletin 10: Stigma, the media and mental illness, found that 23 per cent of the complaints made about schizophrenia involved sensationalised media reporting. Many of these complaints related to media reports that perpetuate violent or dangerous stereotypes, or incite community fear about the illness.

The number of media reports about schizophrenia that emphasise violence or threatening behaviour misrepresent the actual statistics: one in one hundred people will experience schizophrenia but the lifetime risk of someone with schizophrenia seriously harming or killing another person is calculated to be just .005%.

‘It is certainly alarming that many media representations of schizophrenia are sensationalised, suggesting the risk is far greater than in reality,’ Ms Hocking said. ‘Such irresponsible media reporting causes unnecessary distress to the majority of people with schizophrenia who lead peaceful lives, having a negative effect on how they feel about themselves and how well they are accepted by others.

‘SANE would like to see more stories about the real, every day experience of living with schizophrenia and less sensationalised reporting positioning those affected as violent or incompetent outcasts.’

Encouragingly, there has been a significant increase in responsible and accurate media reporting of depression, with nearly 1 in 3 nominations for positive media coverage focussing on the illness. According to Ms Hocking, the ‘coming out’ of many high profile figures experiencing depression has had a large role to play in community understanding and acceptance of the illness.

‘The combination of awareness campaigns and responsible media reporting of depression has encouraged people to start talking, seek help and feel less excluded.’ Ms Hocking said.

‘SANE encourages the media to extend responsible reporting to all mental illnesses; the sad reality for people living with schizophrenia is that the stigma they experience can be just as distressing as the symptoms themselves. Media have a major role to play in helping to improve this situation so that any person with a mental illness feels understood and accepted by the community.’

Kylie’s story

‘I was diagnosed with schizophrenia a decade ago and in my search to understand my new illness, the media offered me a skewed vantage point where it appeared schizophrenia was simply a licence for bad behaviour. Now, on the inside looking out, I recognise what an inaccurate portrayal this is, the exception rather than the rule. Like many living with schizophrenia, I was a victim of violence and abuse rather than the perpetrator.

There are so many people like me out there succeeding, living, working, raising families and contributing. Stigma stops these same people from putting their hand up to say they are living meaningful, purposeful lives. This is to the detriment of those newly diagnosed with schizophrenia seeking hope for recovery and society at large. The media’s power to do good becomes evident when we see community attitudes towards depression improve through proper reporting and education.’

Kylie Griffin was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 28. Kylie is a mother of two and works as a client support worker in mental health and lives in West Wodonga.

Cameron’s story

‘Much of the pain that I suffered from schizophrenia resulted not from the illness itself, but from the fear that I felt once I was diagnosed. I was afraid to tell people what I was dealing with because I was scared of being painted with the same brush as those I saw in the media. It was this fear of being outcast, of being labelled, and of being seen as a psychopath, that stopped me from seeking the help that I needed.

The media plays a pivotal role in improving the lives of those suffering from a mental illness, and hold the key to changing community attitudes. If the media will take the initiative and tell the real stories, present the real people, and show the community that people living with mental illness are just like everyone else, then the change we seek is not far away.’

Cameron was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 24. He is a PhD academic at Melbourne University and runs his own website and Foundation for young people affected by mental illness - peoplelikeyou.com.au

Jo’s story

‘As a carer, I get hurt when I see remarks that label people who are mentally ill with names such as 'fruitcake', 'nutter' or 'psycho.' Don't they realise that this is my son they are talking about? There are times when carers feel forced to lie to avoid facing the possibility of demeaning reactions or remarks. This is degrading, especially when as a general rule in life, you make it a point not to lie. As if it's not bad enough for someone to have a mental illness, to be punished for it by being the victim of stigmatising comments is like kicking a man when he's down.

I believe editors and producers have a moral responsibility to avoid cruel discriminatory words. They hold the power to influence children as well as adults. It would be great if the media made conscious decisions to use their power to promote compassion, understanding and education about mental illness. This would help to eliminate fear which, along with ignorance, is one of the primary causes of stigma.’

Jo Buchanan is a published author and mother of three living in Melbourne. Her son Miles has been living with bipolar disorder for 20 years.

SANE’s StigmaWatch program monitors the Australian media to ensure accurate and respectful representation of mental illness. Complaints are submitted by community members concerned about media reports which stigmatise mental illness or promote self-harm and suicide. The program also provides positive feedback to the media about accurate and responsible portrayals of mental illness, based on nominations from the public.

Note to editors

SANE media contact

Briony Walker
03 9682 5933
0414 427 291

All photographs courtesy of SANE Australia.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Phase III Study Demonstrates INVEGA® SUSTENNA(TM) Statistically Similar to RISPERDAL® CONSTA® Long-Acting Injection

A December 10th news release from PR Newswire:
TITUSVILLE, N.J., Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Treatment with once-monthly INVEGA® SUSTENNA(TM) is not inferior to treatment with bi-weekly RISPERDAL® CONSTA®, according to new data from a comparative study of both treatments in patients with schizophrenia. Results of the 13-week clinical trial were released this week.

To read the entire news release, please click here

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In From the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness

A December 8th media release from the Senate of Canada:

Ottawa (December 8, 2009) – A major Senate report tabled today is declaring that Canada’s system for lifting people out of poverty is substantially broken and must be overhauled.

“We began this study by focusing on the most vulnerable city-dwellers in the country, those whose lives are marginalized by poverty, housing challenges and homelessness.” stated Senator Art Eggleton, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Cities. “As our research evolved, so too did our frustration and concern as we repeatedly heard accounts of policies and programs only making living in poverty more manageable – which essentially entraps people."

The recommendations in the report, In From the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness, are the summation of a two-year cross-country study. Committee members heard testimony from more than 170 witnesses, including people living in poverty, several of them homeless, as well as universities, think tanks, provincial and local governments and community organizations.

Based on the findings of this extensive study, the Committee’s first and fundamental recommendation is that Canada and all provinces and territories adopt the goal of lifting people out of poverty. Included among the vast range of measures recommended by the Committee to realize this core goal are the coordination of a nationwide federal-provincial initiative on early childhood education; the development of a national housing and homelessness strategy; and the creation of a basic income floor for all Canadians who are severely disabled.

The Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) is an existing government program that the report highlights as bearing real promise because it gives people the pure incentive to get a job. To strengthen the WITB’s capacity to help Canada’s poor, the report recommends that the federal government commit to a schedule of long-term planned increases to bring recipients to the Low Income Cut-off line – as opposed to managing in poverty.

“According to 2007 numbers from Statistics Canada, we spend $150 billion dollars each year in federal and provincial transfer payments to individuals, excluding education and health care costs. So how is it that there are still millions of Canadians weighed down by poverty?” asked Senator Hugh Segal, Deputy Chair of the Subcommittee. “The Committee’s recommendations demonstrate the crucial difference between spending, and spending wisely. By breaking the cycle of poverty once and for all, we will be investing in human empowerment – which will drive the health and prosperity of our cities and yield benefits for all of us.”

The report and more information about the Committee is available at: http://senate-senat.ca/cities-villes-e.asp.

Contact Information

Elizabeth La Forest
Media Relations
Toll-free: 1-800-267-7362

Keli Hogan
Committee Clerk
Toll-free: 1-800-267-7362

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Hidden Business Cost of Mental Illness

An article posted December 3rd on blogs.harvardbusiness.org:

By Stew Friedman (pictured)

It's hard to focus on your work when your child is hallucinating.

One of the least discussed yet quite salient issues for American business in this year of health care reform is an important yet hidden cost associated with mental illness: the drain on productive work endured by family members struggling to support loved ones who suffer from such diseases. The good news for business leaders is that it's not hard to do something to help and thus feel good while improving company culture and morale, as well as your bottom line.

Mental illness comes in a staggering array of forms, and affects a broad swath of our general population. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an "estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year."

Awareness and understanding of mental illness has grown in recent years; still, it's often not taken seriously or treated as a legitimate medical disease either by businesses, by the health care system, or by our society. Indeed, too many people remain reluctant to get the help they need because of the stigma associated with mental illness. The website bringchange2mind.org (with a powerful new public service video by film director Ron Howard) asserts that "for many, the stigma associated with the illness can be as great a challenge as the disease itself."

This stigma extends beyond those directly stricken to family members. Parents of children with mental illness are often viewed as guilty by association, unfairly perceived as the cause of the illness — the source of harmful child-rearing practices — when the origin is mainly biological. Parents and other family members feel shame and a sense of failure. I know because one of my adult children suffers from a toxic combination of schizophrenia (a thought disorder) and bipolar illness (a mood disorder).

There are real costs associated with employees having to carry this heavy weight of worry and responsibility, especially if they feel they must do so without the understanding and support of their organization. There is stress, unwanted social isolation in the workplace, and the feeling that they must find clandestine ways of responding to urgent demands for their attention. All of this undermines productivity by causing burn-out, unplanned absences, distractions from focused effort on tasks, and poor confidence in being able to contribute to the team.

As a leader in your organization, you can reduce these costs and inspire greater performance from valued employees. You can enable them to feel freer to ask for the help they need in supporting their families by changing how you think , how you talk, and how you act. In turn, they are bound to repay you with extraordinary effort and commitment to your goals and to your company.

Mind your attitude. Changing your attitude toward one of greater understanding and acceptance requires education (see, for example, this recent Harris survey on schizophrenia). If an employee with dependent care responsibilities born of a physical abnormality or illness needs to bring a loved one to a doctor's visit, no one judges him harshly. Indeed, this is likely to evoke sympathy. On the other hand, if he has to disrupt his work schedule to care for a family member, who — for reasons difficult to grasp and explain — cannot be left alone for fear of hearing voices or of some other dread psychological symptom, then he might well be reluctant to risk letting others know why he needs the time because they might look askance or even question his own mental stability. Your attitude can make all the difference. By taking mental illness as seriously as any physical illness, you convey emotional support and encourage employees to get the help they need to cope with the strains of caring for their sick loved one.

Watch your words. The words you use, and the way you use them, convey your attitude. Here's a tip from bringchange2mind.org: "Refrain from using terms like 'crazy,' 'nuts,' 'psycho' and 'lunatic.' While there may be times when it is too challenging or simply not possible to politely correct someone else's insensitive use of language, you can always try to watch your own." To combat harmful stereotypes and demonstrate understanding, it's better to say, for example, that someone "has schizophrenia" than to call that person a "schizophrenic" — the illness is not the person.

Model behavior. The kinds of actions that show genuine support are the same ones you'd want to show all your employees in treating them as whole people, with important aspects of life playing out beyond the bounds of work: Initiate and encourage dialogue with an open mind, address the individual needs of each employee, respect confidentiality, and be flexible and willing to engage in joint problem-solving while focusing on results that matter to you and to them.

Change the culture. As a business leader you are in a position to have a positive influence on the culture of your organization which, in turn affects all your employees as well as other stakeholders — clients and customers, suppliers, community members, and so on. Your supportive attitude about those who are forced to live with mental illness — with the words and deeds to reinforce it — can shape your company's values and the behavior in it that determine whether or not all your people get the help they need to both contribute fully to your business and lead productive lives.

What else can be done to make it easier for parents and other loved ones of those who live with mental illness to perform well at work? Please comment and share your stories, advice, and resources.

Stewart D. Friedman is Practice Professor of Management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia. He is the founding director of Wharton’s Leadership Program and of its Work/Life Integration Project, and the former head of Ford Motor’s Leadership Development Center. He is the author of numerous books and articles on leadership development, work/life integration, and the dynamics of change, including the bestselling Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life, from Harvard Business Press. For more, please visit www.totalleadership.org.

Photo credit

Also see:

Work, Recovery and Inclusion: Employment support for people in contact with secondary mental health services (U.K.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What would it take to destigmatize schizophrenia?

Posted December 2nd on the blog Shrink Rap:

The current podcast in Radio 4’s great series ‘All in the Mind’ looks at whether a new name would be the solution for destigmatizing schizophrenia.

Listen to podcast (30 minutes)

Source: BBC Radio 4

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Skunk users face greater risk of psychosis, researchers warn

An article published in today's edition of The Guardian:
By Sarah Boseley, health editor

Skunk, the powerful form of cannabis dominating the street drug market, is seven times more likely to cause psychosis than ordinary cannabis, scientists say.

Dr Marta Di Forti and Prof Robin Murray, who are among the authors of today's paper published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, say skunk is now the same price as ordinary cannabis on the streets of south London, where the study was carried out, and is now the one that is easiest for young people to obtain.

The researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry in London analysed the cannabis consumption of 280 people who were admitted with a first episode of psychosis to the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and compared them with 174 healthy people from the area. Those who used skunk were almost seven times more likely than ordinary cannabis users to develop psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia, they found.

"In the last five to six years it has been established that there is a link between heavy cannabis consumption and psychosis, but there is a lot of argument about how important it is," said Murray.

Most cannabis users remain healthy, he said, but he pointed to the growing takeover in the street markets of skunk, which contain 18% THC, the substance thought to trigger psychosis, compared with about 4% in cannabis resin (hash).

Forti said 80% of the cannabis sold on the streets of south-east London was now skunk. People who use skunk do not necessarily appreciate its toxicity, she said.

Those in the study had an average age of 25. Those who had psychotic attacks heard voices and had paranoid illusions, such as a conviction that neighbours or family were conspiring against them.

About 1% of the population suffer psychosis at some time in their life. Studies have shown the risk of psychosis doubles in those who use cannabis a few times.

Photograph: Floris Leeuwenberg/Corbis

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Mental Health Commission of Canada Announces a Framework for a Mental Health Strategy for Canada

An email received today from the Mental Health Commission of Canada:

We are extremely pleased to provide you with a link to the Mental Health Commission of Canada document Toward Recovery and Wellbeing: A Framework for a Mental Health Strategy for Canada.

The framework is truly the product of a remarkable amount of input from all corners of Canada over the past year and half. It draws on the wide diversity of experiences, voices and thinking of thousands of people like you or your organization for what a mental health strategy for Canada must achieve. It has also built on the efforts undertaken by so many over the years to champion the importance of a mental health strategy for Canada.

Seven interconnected goals are presented to point the way to a comprehensive and person-centred mental health system for our country: one that both promotes the recovery of people living with mental health problems and illnesses, and fosters the mental health and well-being of everyone living in Canada.

This document is not yet a strategy - it is the framework to help us create one. The ongoing input from people like you from every part of the country will be essential to the success of the next phase of developing a Mental Health Strategy for Canada. We are confident that working together we will be able to define practical solutions and develop action plans to achieve our shared vision for the long awaited mental health strategy for Canada.

In the coming months we will be communicating more details about how the next phase of our work will be structured.

Also see:

Mental Health Commission releases framework for mental health strategy

Voices of Recovery

From the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation website:

Voices of Recovery consists of two different types of “voices.” The first “voice” is a selection of recovery stories that were published in the Coping With column of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal from the years 2000 through 2008. The second “voice” is a collection of PhotoVoice projects, which includes a photograph and a short narrative explaining the personal meaning behind the picture from the photographer’s point of view. These inspirational contributions remind us that recovery is not only possible--recovery is real!

Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Recovery
  • Chapter 2: Increasing Knowledge and Control
  • Chapter 3: Managing Life's Stresses
  • Chapter 4: Enhancing Personal Meaning
  • Chapter 5: Building Personal Support
  • Chapter 6: Setting Personal Goals

Citation: McNamara, S. (Ed). (2009). Voices of recovery. Boston: Boston University, Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation.

Also see:

The Recovery Workbook

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lunenburg County Chapter - Christmas Bake Sale

Linda Dagley selling wares at the Lunenburg County Chapter's Christmas Bake Sale

The Lunenburg County Chapter of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia held its annual Christmas Bake Sale on November 27th at the Bridgewater Mall. This year a draw was held on a gingerbread house made by a Chapter member. Many thanks to all Chapter members and friends who donated the yummy baked goods and warm, cozy toques and mittens; making this the most successful Christmas bake sale ever!

Photograph by Jan House. Please click on the photograph to enlarge it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Information sharing and mental health

From the NHS Evidence - mental health website:
This Department of Health [U.K.] guidance sets out some of the issues relating to the exchange of information between mental health trusts and outside organisations and individuals. It sets out when, why and how information can safely be exchanged for the benefit of the individual and the public.

To download the entire document, please click here (PDF).

Also see:

Carers and confidentiality in mental health: Issues involved in information-sharing

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Three years old!

This weblog was created three years ago today. Since that time there have been more than 890 postings and over 64,000 visits.

Thank you to everyone who has showed an interest in what is posted here. And thank you to each and every person who has contributed so much to the pages of this weblog.

Image by Morburre. This image is used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Blood tests may reveal psychosis

An article posted today by the Los Angeles Times:
By Shari Roan

Scientists are moving closer to developing blood tests that can diagnose serious mental disorders, according to a study published this week in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

A consortium of researchers showed they could identify blood biomarkers for two key psychotic symptoms: hallucinations and delusions. They relied on a technique termed convergent functional genomics that integrates several independent lines of evidence from human and animal models to identify and prioritize findings. The same approach has been used to look for genes and gene pathways linked to bipolar disorder, alcoholism and schizophrenia. Last year, the researchers published blood biomarkers for mood disorders.

Much more work will be required in order for such blood tests to be used for diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. However, the technology would be a milestone because psychiatric disorders now are diagnosed -- often with a great deal of uncertainty -- by evaluating symptoms. And there are few good ways to measure, biologically, how a medication is working. The study was conducted at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Roudebush VA Medical Center; Scripps Research Institute at UC San Diego; and State University of New York, Syracuse.

"Objective blood biomarkers for illness state and treatment responses would make a significant difference in our ability to assess and treat patients with psychiatric disorders, eliminating subjectivity and reliance on patient's self-report of symptoms," the authors wrote in the paper.

Perhaps such tests would even prevent health insurance companies from refusing to pay for treatments for mental illness.

Photo credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Also see:

Blood Tests For Hallucinations, Delusions May Be Available In Future, Indiana University Researchers Predict

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dr Crippen: Why we have to watch our language

An article published in today's edition of The Guardian:
Human beings should not be defined by their illness

My wife and I helped our children learn to read with the help of Biff, Chip, Kipper and friends who starred in the Oxford Reading Tree books. We could not help but smile at how racially correct the books were, with people of all colours and creeds. And quite right too. The children, of course, took the ethnic origins of the characters for granted. Again, quite right too.

We smiled because we thought back to the books we were brought up with. Little Black Sambo; Noddy always being chased by golliwogs and so on. We also took it all for granted but it was not quite right. It was not right at all; engrained stereotypes, the thoughtless use of words and pictures with their subtle, insidious undertones.

It still happens, particularly in medicine, where the thoughtless use of words may indicate an underlying iceberg of prejudice and misunderstanding. I was taken to task a few days ago by a psychiatrist colleague for using the word "schizophrenic" as a noun.

"It is not a noun, and schizophrenics are people," he said. Technically the psychiatrist is wrong. Like "diabetic" and "asthmatic", schizophrenic was always meant to be an adjective, but common usage has made it a noun.

Technical point scored, perhaps, but the issue is more profound than grammatical pedantry. The psychiatrist meant that a fellow human being should not be defined by an illness. It's not right to talk about "diabetics" and "asthmatics" either but doing so does not seem to cause as much offence. And as a doctor I can't keep writing "patients with diabetes" all the time. I need one word.

But mental illness carries a stigma and schizophrenia is the saddest of illnesses, bringing with it separation from society, social and intellectual decay and, worst of all, loneliness. Human beings with schizophrenia are human beings with schizophrenia. They should not be defined by their illness.

It would never happen in Biff and Chip's world. And quite right too.

Dr Crippen is a pseudonym for a long-serving GP.

Image credit

Monday, November 23, 2009

MHCC Launches National Research Project to Find Sustainable Solutions for People With Mental Health Issues Who Are Homeless

A news release distributed today by the Mental Health Commission of Canada:
Study will investigate 'Housing First' approach

TORONTO, Nov. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has implemented a ground-breaking national research project in five cities to find the best way to provide housing and services to people who are living with mental illness and homelessness. Using a 'Housing First' approach, the research project focuses on first providing people who are homeless with a place to live, and then the other assistance and services they require. The goal is to see if this approach is better than traditional 'care as usual.'

A total of 2,285 people who are homeless and living with a mental illness will participate in the study. Of these, 1,325 participants in the research project will be given a place to live and offered a range of housing, health and social support services over the course of the research initiative. These supports include help with maintaining a home, undertaking routine tasks like shopping or getting to a doctor's appointment or securing opportunities for education, volunteering and employment. The rest of the participants will receive the services that are currently available in the five test sites. Both groups will be compared to see which approach works best.

"The study will produce evidence on whether providing a place, plus services, will better support reintegration into functional, meaningful living," said Dr. Jayne Barker, Director, At Home/Chez Soi Project. "Another research question is cost. Will it cost less to house and provide services than it would if these marginalized individuals were in hospitals, prisons and shelters?" said Dr. Paula Goering, Research Lead, At Home/Chez Soi Project.

The At Home/Chez Soi project is the largest of its kind in Canada. The research will help make Canada a world leader in providing better services to people living with homelessness and mental illness. Each test site will focus on a specific target population within the overall study group.

Toronto's project will provide specialized services for people from diverse ethno-cultural backgrounds. Moncton will examine the shortages of services for Anglophones and Francophones, and Montreal will focus on the outcomes related to social housing, as well as helping people to return to the workplace. In Winnipeg, the needs of urban Aboriginal people will be highlighted, while Vancouver's project is aimed at people with addictions and substance abuse problems.

The MHCC is working closely with many partners on this project, including provincial and municipal levels of government, researchers, many local service providers and individuals who have experienced homelessness and mental illness. "This research initiative is meant to represent a significant step forward in understanding and reducing the incidence of homelessness in Canada," said the Honourable Michael Kirby, Chair of the MHCC.

In Toronto, services will be provided in eight different languages and approximately 57 per cent of the participants will come from immigrant and ethno-racial groups. 300 participants in the Toronto research group will get housing units within a number of different locations across the city, including apartments, where they can stay for the duration of the project.

Participants in the Housing First model will have to pay a portion of their rent, will meet with program staff once a week, and will be encouraged to make use of the support services. 260 participants in the non-Housing First group will meet with an interviewer every three months.

A unique focus of the Toronto project will be the development and evaluation of a Housing First ethno-racial intensive case management model for people who are homeless from different ethno-racial groups. One hundred participants will be served by this innovative program, and will have access to holistic, culturally appropriate and linguistically competent services and supports.

Key partners in the Toronto demonstration project include: the Government of Canada, COTA Health, Across Boundaries, the Centre for Research on Inner City Health - St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto North Support Services, the City of Toronto, and Housing Connections.

"A recent survey found more than 5,000 people are homeless each night in the City of Toronto. Our hope is that this project will help us find best practices and long-term solutions for all people in this city with homelessness and mental health issues, as well as Canadians in similar circumstances in communities right across the country," said Faye More, Toronto Site Coordinator.

Previous related research suggests that the provision of housing and support services may be effective. For example, a joint report by Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Calgary found each person who is homeless in B.C. costs taxpayers $55,000 a year in health, corrections and social services. The report concluded that if housing and support were offered to these people, it would cost the system much less -- $37,000 a year -- a savings of $18,000, or 33 per cent per person per year. According to Corrections Canada, the cost of incarceration in a federal prison averages $90,000 per year, per inmate.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a non-profit organization created to focus national attention on mental health issues and to work to improve the health and social outcomes of people living with mental illness. In February 2008, the federal government allocated $110 million to the MHCC to find ways to help the growing number of people who are homeless and have a mental illness. Updates on the study will be posted on the MHCC website at www.mentalhealthcommission.ca.

For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Micheal Pietrus, Director of Communications, MHCC, (O) (403) 255-5808, (O) (403) 385-4037, mpietrus@mentalhealthcommisson.ca;

Nujma Bond, At Home/Chez Soi Communications, MHCC, (O) (403) 385-4033, (C) (403) 826-3942, nbond@mentalhealthcommission.ca;

Charmain Emerson, Strategic Communications Inc. for MHCC, (O) (416) 588-8514, (C) (416) 857-9401, charmain@building-blocks.ca;

Susan King, Strategic Communications Inc. for MHCC, (O) (613) 744-8282, (C) (613) 725-5901, susanking@sympatico.ca

Also see:

Housing first for mentally ill homeless

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanks -- by Ashley at Overcoming Schizophrenia

Posted today on Overcoming Schizophrenia:
I ended one of my groups the other day by going around the room and letting people share what they are thankful for. (I lead closed groups, not open to the public, at various facilities.)

I am thankful that I am able to function well, organize, research, and to lead groups. As you probably already know, if you follow this blog regularly, I have come a long way to get to where I am now. In the past, schizophrenia tried to hinder me, take away my speech, make it hard for me to recognize family, and almost kill me by my excessive paranoia and determination not to eat or drink. But now, I have hold on my brain disorder; I take my medication regularly, I continue to learn more about different mental illnesses, and I have support of family, friends, and health professionals.

What are you thankful for?

If you have a mental health concern such as schizophrenia, you are not alone, I can understand you. If you are a caregiver, family member, or friend of someone living with a mental illness believe that recovery is possible and that your special someone can get better. I am living proof that people living with a mental illness do come back and live productive, independent lives!

For those of you learning what schizophrenia is for the first time, it is a thought disorder that is difficult to treat but is treatable. There is no cure for it, yet, however with a combination of medication and support people living with schizophrenia can lead fulfilling lives. I am one of them.

If you want to learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

Thanks for writing this post, Ashley!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Media Advisory - Canada's Mental Health Commission at Forefront of Research on Mental Health and Homelessness

A media advisory issued today by the Mental Health Commission of Canada:
OTTAWA, Nov. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - A series of news conferences will be held on Monday, November 23rd, to officially launch "At Home/Chez Soi", a ground breaking national research demonstration project that will help us understand and reduce the incidence of homelessness in Canada. The purpose is to find the best mix of housing and support for homeless people who have a mental illness. Research tells us homelessness and mental illness is closely linked.

Participating in the news conferences will be experts in the field of mental health, social housing and research, as well as individuals who have experienced mental illness and homelessness.

The news conferences will occur, (all times are local) in:
  • Moncton, New Brunswick, First United Baptist Church, 157 Queen Street, 11:00 am;
  • Montréal, Quebec, Le Chaînon, 4373 ave de l'Esplanade, 10:00 am;
  • Toronto, Ontario, Enoch Turner School House, 106 Trinity St., 10:00 am;
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba, Thunderbird House, 715 Main St., 10:00 am; and
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Coast Clubhouse, 295 East 11th Ave., 10:00 am.

For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Susan King, Strategic Communications Inc. for MHCC, (O) (613) 744-8282, (C) (613) 725-5901, susanking@sympatico.ca;

Nujma Bond, At Home/Chez Soi Communications, MHCC; (O) (403) 385-4033, (C) (403) 826-3942, nbond@mentalhealthcommission.ca;

Charmain Emerson, Strategic Communications Inc. for MHCC, (O) (416) 588-8514, (C) (416) 857-9401, charmain@building-blocks.ca

Also see:

Major homelessness initiative will be launched next week

Searching the stage for a solution

‘Simple’ film tackles complex condition

An article posted November 18th on Triblocal.com:
By Jonathan Bullington

Her uncle’s charge was clear: create a film that would make sense of the disease – not just for him, but for those like him who watch helplessly as a loved one suffers.

That film will be put to the test at the Skokie Theatre Sunday, Nov. 22 when local filmmaker Kamelya Alexan [pictured] premiers her short film, “One Simple Life.”

The 21-minute film tells the story of Mark, a young man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia who wrestles with the illness while trying to function in society.

The movie is largely based on the real-life story of Marcel, Alexan’s 25-year-old cousin currently undergoing treatment for schizophrenia at a clinic in California. She said her family struggled to understand what was happening to Marcel as he increasingly displayed common schizophrenic symptoms—paranoia, delusions and hallucinations—in the years before his diagnosis.

“Coming from a very small Middle Eastern culture, we don’t really understand mental illness and mental health,” Alexan said. “So people just assumed there was something either behaviorally wrong with him, or something else.”

Alexan and her partner Brian Soszynski, who plays the role of Mark and wrote the film's screenplay, spent close to a year making the movie. They were assisted by a 50-person cast and crew—mostly volunteers—and a paltry budget of $3,000—mostly from Alexan’s work as a production assistant for director Christopher Nolan’s 2008 Batman sequel, “The Dark Knight.” The film is one of 25 projects she’s worked on while studying film at Chicago’s Columbia College.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” she said of watching Nolan direct. “He knew exactly what style and what look he wanted. He knew exactly how to control the environment.”

Her admiration for Nolan’s assertiveness should come as no surprise given her upbringing. Born in Tehran, Iran, Alexan’s parents fled the violence of their home for America when she was 5 years old. Entranced by movies from an early age, by the time she was 15, the Niles North sophomore wrote her first script, which she pitched to a Hollywood producer while attending an Assyrian cultural convention in Los Angeles.

“My passion started out of boredom, and wanting to prove I could do something that was impossible,” she said. “I come from a culture that’s pretty much extinct, so to have a filmmaker come out and to be a woman—it’s very different. My culture doesn’t really know how to handle it.”

At Columbia, Alexan’s determination drew the attention of her peers, including Soszynski. Although the pair knew each other before Columbia, their relationship didn’t turn professional until Soszynski’s first acting role, a part in a silent film directed by Alexan for a class project.

Born and raised in Chicago, Soszynski spent his youth pursuing various creative outlets—poetry, art, music; he studied acting and directing at Columbia, but he said he prefers to act.

“I like the creative aspects of an actor,” he said.

Soszynski committed himself to learning all he could about schizophrenia before stepping into the role of Mark. He joined Alexan on a trip to visit Marcel’s clinic, where he spoke with physicians and with Marcel about the day-to-day effects of the illness.

“The more I talked with Marcel, the more I wanted to play the part and for people to see what this disease does to people,” Soszynski said.

With the film’s premier already sold out, the Skokie Theatre, 7924 N. Lincoln Ave., will host another screening of “One Simple Life” at 7 p.m. Feb. 28. Tickets can be purchased online at www.skokietheatre.org or at www.onesimplelifemovie.com.

Report backs development of peer support worker role

A news release issued today by the Scottish Recovery Network:
An independent evaluation of peer support worker pilot schemes in five Health Board areas has recommended further roll out of the role at the same time as making recommendations for future implementation.

The research report, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government and carried out by the Scottish Development Centre for Mental Health in partnership with the Universities of Edinburgh and Stirling, includes a number of key findings:
  • The peer worker role was successfully piloted in a number of settings but worked best where services were open to recovery focused working.
  • Peer workers were welcomed by service users who reported high levels of satisfaction.
  • There were challenges for peer workers in adapting to their new roles.
  • Peer workers were able to bridge the ‘them and us’ divide between service users and professionals.
  • Peer workers roles complement mental health teams with new skills and knowledge.
Recommendations include:
  • Peer support workers should be treated the same as any other employee in relation to terms and conditions.
  • Standardisation of a core peer support worker job description.
  • Peer support workers should be formally trained.
  • Workers should only be placed in supportive environments as a way to enhance, but not introduce, recovery.
  • Room should be left for peer support workers and their colleagues to develop the role gradually but systematically.
  • Providing guidance that can be used by local employers to raise awareness of the role.
The pilot schemes were developed as a result of a commitment in Delivering for Mental Health. The Scottish Recovery Network has been supporting the development of the peer support role and will continue to play a role in its promotion and implementation.

As part of our commitment we are working with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to develop accredited awards and learning materials to further support the training of future peer support workers. We will also be working to develop guidelines to support the implementation of peer worker roles.

Summary of Evaluation of the Delivering for Mental Health Peer Support Worker Pilot Scheme (94.84 kB)

Evaluation of the Delivering for Mental Health Peer Support Worker Pilot Scheme (666.04 kB)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Psychosocial Treatments to Promote Functional Recovery in Schizophrenia

The abstract of an article published in the March 2009 edition of Schizophrenia Bulletin:

By Robert S. Kern (1–3), Shirley M. Glynn (2,3), William P. Horan (2,3), and Stephen R. Marder (2,3)

(1) To whom correspondence should be addressed; Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (MIRECC 210 A), Building 210, Room 116, 11301 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90073; tel: 310-478-3711 ext. 49229, fax: 310-268-4056, e-mail:

(2) Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Geffen
School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles, Los
Angeles, CA

(3) Department of Veterans Affairs VISN 22 Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Los Angeles, CA

A number of psychosocial treatments are available for persons with schizophrenia that include social skills training, cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive remediation, and social cognition training. These treatments are reviewed and discussed in terms of how they address key components of functional recovery such as symptom stability, independent living, work functioning, and social functioning. We also review findings on the interaction between pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and discuss future directions in pharmacological treatment of schizophrenia.

Overall, these treatments provide a range of promising approaches to helping patients achieve better outcomes far beyond symptom stabilization.

Key words: recovery / social skills training / cognitive behavioral therapy / cognitive remediation / social cognition / schizophrenia

To download the entire article, please click here (PDF).

Posting of this abstract is for the purposes of research into schizophrenia and recovery.

Also see:

New Possibilities in Cognition Enhancement for Schizophrenia

Friday, November 13, 2009

Schizophrenia is overcome by Saltaire woman

An article published in today's edition of The Telegraph & Argus:
By Tanya O'Rourke

A young Bradford woman who used her experience of paranoid schizophrenia to help others and achieved a first-class degree last night won a Yorkshire Young Achievers award.

Eleanor Longden [pictured], 27, of Saltaire, was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 18. She was bullied by other students and began to harm herself.

She overcame her problems and graduated with the highest first-class degree in psychology to be awarded by the University of Leeds.

For the past four years she has worked for Bradford’s Early Intervention in Psychosis team and in 2006 she helped to establish the Bradford Self-Injury Service which provides treatment, support and advice to people who self-harm.

Miss Longden, who grew up in Bradford and attended Salt Grammar School, has contributed to several mental health textbooks and spoken at national and international conferences.

She is now studying for an MSc and plans to start a PhD next year.

She was named joint winner of the Achievement in Education Award for overcoming her problems to achieve academic success and making a huge contribution to the understanding of mental illness.

The awards, sponsored by McCormicks Solicitors of Harrogate, were announced at a ceremony at the Leeds United Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Peter McCormick, senior partner at McCormicks Solicitors, said: “Even after 17 years’ experience, the judging just goes on getting tougher and tougher.

“The nominations are always both inspiring and heart-rending and the stories of the winners are incredible.”

The awards scheme has so far raised more than £750,000 for Action for Children for projects in Yorkshire.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dual diagnosis: Why treat one and not the other?

An article published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By Christine Stapleton [pictured]

I HOPE we can put an end to the pesky debate about alcoholism.

Alcoholism is an illness — a real illness. The American Medical Association accepted alcoholism as an illness in 1957 and for about as long the American Psychiatric Association has included alcoholism in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual — the Bible for diagnosing mental disorders.

Alcoholism and drug addiction are more than just a lack of self-restraint and discipline. Just ask anyone who knows me. I have run marathons and countless triathlons. I have held the same job for 23 years, and I contribute to my company pension plan. I have resisted doughnut-day-Friday and the lure of expensive high-heeled, pointy-toed shoes, which certainly would have improved my love life.

I am not an aberration. In fact, many, many alcoholics are like me. We are high-functioning alcoholics who managed to hang on to our careers, cars and homes. We did not live under bridges and we did not panhandle.

Why is this important? Because I believe that dual-diagnosis is the biggest mental health problem today, yet most people do not even know what it is. Dual diagnosis is the coupling of substance abuse with another mental illness. I am talking about people like me who have alcoholism and depression or are addicted to crack and have bipolar disorder.

As I see it, the problem is that we — including the medical community and criminal justice system — do not accept and treat alcoholism as a real illness. Nor do they understand and appreciate how futile it is to treat one illness but not the other. Everyday addicts and alcoholics seek treatment for substance abuse but no one bothers to screen them for a companion mental illness. Likewise, doctors prescribe antidepressants to their patients without screening them for substance abuse.

The addict/alcoholic whose depression is not treated will continue to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol or fail at the attempt to get clean and sober. Those with depression whose substance abuse is not detected will get sicker because alcohol is a depressant and with every sip they are throwing gasoline on their simmering depression or bipolar.

No one knows how many dual-diagnosed alcoholics/addicts are out there but experts believe at least one of every three alcoholics/addicts has another mental illness. They are the most tragic and costliest of the mentally ill. Very often they commit crimes or suicide. They abuse their wives/husbands and children. Police answer their 911 calls and foster parents take in their kids. The dual diagnosed often become homeless and clog our emergency rooms.

So if you want to go on believing that addicts and alcoholics are weak-willed and you have no compassion for them, please have mercy on your wallet. Your ignorance is costing all of us.

Christine Stapleton writes for The Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach, Fla.

I have changed the headline of this story to the one that appeared in the The Palm Beach Post.

Also see:

Schizophrenia and Substance Use

Concurrent Disorder

Sunday, November 8, 2009

‘I've gone through a metamorphosis'

An article published in yesterday's edition of The Globe and Mail:
Stability is the key to managing mental illness, experts suggest. André Picard looks at a Montreal project that puts housing first, providing troubled homeless people a stable home of their own

By André Picard

Ricardo Maddalena has lived in many places over the past four decades: fleabag apartments, a psychiatric hospital, prison, rooming houses and on the streets.

Four years ago, he finally found a home.

The 58-year-old, who suffers from severe schizophrenia and has struggled with alcoholism since his teens, moved into an innovative housing project in downtown Montreal that is operated by Chambreclerc, a non-profit group in the city that offers housing to long-time homeless men and women with severe psychiatric disabilities.

“Since I moved here, I've gone through a metamorphosis,” Mr. Maddalena says.

To read the entire article, please click here.

Also see:

Homelessness: By the numbers

Harm reduction: Contentious, but experts say it works

Photo Credit: John Morstad for The Globe and Mail

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Schizophrenia Society of Canada Supports Appropriate Treatment of Inmates Living with a Mental Illness

A November 5th news release from the Schizophrenia Society of Canada:
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - Nov. 5, 2009) - The Schizophrenia Society of Canada ("SSC") welcomes the 2008/09 Annual Report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator ("OCI") tabled November 2, 2009 in Parliament. Commenting on the Report, SSC President Jim Adamson says: "It is commendable and most appropriate that four of the 19 key recommendations address the treatment and support of inmates who live with a mental illness within Canada's federal prison system."

According to the OCI Annual Report, mental health services in federal penitentiaries are woefully deficient. Across the country, prisoners are denied treatment because of a shortage of clinical staff and inadequate mental health facilities for the prison population. The Schizophrenia Society of Canada along with its provincial schizophrenia societies has maintained that the treatment and support of inmates who are mentally ill in Canadian prisons is sub-standard, and sometimes almost non-existent.

Howard Sapers, Correctional Investigator of Canada says in his annual report: "Federal correctional mental health care services are under extreme duress - there are deficiencies in terms of capacity, quality, standards and responsiveness of care. Criminalizing and then warehousing the mentally ill burdens our justice system and does nothing to improve public safety. The demands in this area of corrections are increasing dramatically; the unmet needs are immediate and troubling. The overall situation of offenders with mental health disorders has not significantly improved since my Office first reported on this troubling situation back in 2004."

The prevalence of offenders with significant mental health issues upon admission has doubled in the past five years. Eleven percent of federal offenders have a significant mental health diagnosis and over 20% are taking a prescribed medication for a psychiatric condition; just over 6% were receiving outpatient services prior to admission. (1)

The Correctional Investigator's report highlights the seriousness of the conclusion that our prisons have become warehouses for the mentally ill. Over the past three decades Canada has moved toward a community and outpatient system of "de-institutionalizing" the mentally ill from provincial facilities, to "re-institutionalizing" them as prisoners.

"Criminalization of those with mental illness is unethical. If these inmates do not receive hospital-standard psychiatric care, their chances of rehabilitation are extremely low and their risk of re-offending remains high. Allowing inmates to go without comprehensive treatment services for their mental illness is a failure of the Correctional Service to address mental health needs of offenders on many levels," says Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada.

(1) Public Safety Canada, Corrections and Conditional Release Statistical Overview: Annual Report 2008, December 2008.

For more information, please contact:

Schizophrenia Society of Canada
Chris Summerville
Chief Executive Officer
Office: (204) 786-1616 or Mobile: (204) 223-9158

Also see:

Report: Prisoners lack mental health support

Mental Health Commission of Canada responds on Correctional Investigator's Report