Saturday, February 27, 2010

What patients think about involuntary treatment

Posted on February 26th by Mental Health Update:
All over the world large numbers of people are admitted to psychiatric hospitals. The laws governing this are controversial and in the U.K. are governed by the 2007 Mental Health Act. Most laws are based on the assumption that people who are compulsorily admitted to hospital do not recognise their need for care at the time so research has tended to concentrate on whether - looking back on things - people think it was a good idea that they received treatment. A team of researchers, led by Stefan Priebe [pictured] from Newham Centre for Mental Health, London led a study of 1,613 people in 11 different countries. They were interviewed within a week of admission and again after a month and three months. The number of people who were happy with the decision to involuntarily treat them varied a lot between the different countries and ranged from 71% in Italy to 39% in Lithuania after a month and from 46% in Sweden to 86% in Italy after three months. (The figures for England were 47% and 54% respectively.) Women, people living alone and people with schizophrenia were more likely to be unhappy with their admissions.

Priebe, Stefan ... [et al] - Patients' views of involuntary hospital admission after 1 and 3 months: prospective study in 11 European countries. British Journal of Psychiatry. March 2010, 196(3), 179-185.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

McGorry urges mental health overhaul

An article published in today's edition of The Sydney Morning Herald:

By Julia Medew

The Australian of the Year, Patrick McGorry [pictured], has called for a massive overhaul of the mental health system to direct funds away from acute hospital services to more community-based care.

Only weeks after accepting his award, Professor McGorry has moved to capitalise on his role by asking the federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, for at least $200 million in new services this year.

On top of his list is a significant expansion of specialised treatment facilities for young people aged 15 to 24 who are experiencing early psychosis and other serious mental health disorders such as schizophrenia.

He said the only such facility in Australia, Orygen Youth Health, should be used as a model for 10 new centres in other cities this year, with a commitment to another 10 in regional hubs over the next five years.

The rollout would cost $100 million this year, he said, with recurrent spending rising to about $250 million a year when all 21 centres are operating.

"This investment will be recouped three times over because early intervention is highly cost-effective and rapidly shrinks the need for care in the medium to long term," he said.

"This will free up resources for the long-term disabled cases and the broader range of mental disorders. The health economics case is unassailable."

Professor McGorry, who directs Orygen Youth Health, said he had also asked for 60 new "headspace" centres, which currently provide mental health, education, employment and drug and alcohol services to young people aged 12 to 25 at 30 sites across the country.

He said this expansion, which would cost $100 million to set up and the same in recurrent spending, would make headspace centres the first port of call for young people showing signs of mental illness, who could then be referred on to the specialised treatment facilities if need be.

"This is a low-risk reform strategy with rapid and dramatic benefits in health gain and cost savings. Failure to invest in early psychosis reform will result in another lost generation of young Australians consigned to unnecessary disability as well as premature death from suicide and cardiovascular disease," he said.

Professor McGorry said he wanted to see the centre of gravity of mental health services shifted away from hospitals to community-based facilities because the sector had suffered enormously from being moved out of "asylums" and into hospitals in the 1990s. He said the transition was like "boarding a sinking ship" for mental health professionals who had struggled to work with scarce funds ever since.

''The acute pressure [on the hospital system] has made mental health budgets very vulnerable,'' he said. ''The mental health system needs to be scaled up significantly now. It needs to double in size and the states can't do it alone.''

Professor McGorry said that after consulting widely in recent weeks, he also hoped federal and state and territory governments would fund more mobile treatment teams for people with delayed recovery and persistent conditions so they were not forced to go to hospital emergency departments during crises.

"We need to disinvest in emergency departments as the place for acute and crisis care. EDs are the wrong places for people with mental health problems to be treated," he said.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

MHCC receives major grant from City of Vancouver

A February 19th news release from the Mental Health Commission of Canada:
CALGARY, Feb. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has received a $500,000 grant from the City of Vancouver. The funds will help operate part of a research demonstration project on mental health and homelessness at a downtown hotel.

The 100-unit Bosman Hotel is being converted into supportive housing for some of the participants in the Vancouver At Home/Chez Soi project. It is part of the MHCC's four-year national research initiative.

The initiative is taking a 'Housing First' approach to finding the best ways to help homeless people who also live with a mental illness. Similar projects are being carried out in Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Moncton. 2285 homeless people living with a mental illness will participate nationally and 1,325 people from within that group will be given a place to live.

"This is terrific news," said Mr. Michael Kirby, Chair of the MHCC. "It is wonderful to see such a strong commitment and we look forward to working with the City of Vancouver and other partners over the course of this initiative."

This latest grant is in addition to a 1.1 million dollar contribution to the project previously made by Vancouver's "Streetohome Foundation" ( That donation included a $275,000 grant from the "Vancouver Foundation" ( Both organizations are helping tackle homelessness in Vancouver.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a non-profit organization created to focus national attention on mental health issues. The MHCC does not provide services, but rather acts as a catalyst for action.

For further information:

Nujma Bond, Mental Health Commission of Canada, (403) 385-4033

Catharine Hume, Vancouver At Home/Chez Soi project, (604) 688-2204

Also see:

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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gratitude as an Action Plan

A February 17th webinar, conducted by Carol Bailey Floyd (pictured), which was sponsored by the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery and Essential Learning:
Gratitude can serve to heal and help us move forward in positive ways. A daily acknowledgment of what is right in our lives can create the groundwork for mindfulness, confidence, self-esteem, and empowerment. Active recognition of the optimistic force of gratitude is a powerful approach to living. This presentation includes remarkable research findings about the benefits of using this simple, safe and uplifting wellness tool.

Carol Bailey Floyd, Director of Programs for Mental Health Recovery & WRAP, is a certified WRAP facilitator and trainer of facilitators. Well-known in the mental health field, she was the Project Coordinator for the University of Illinois at Chicago's WRAP Research Project in Ohio.

Downloads Available

PowerPoint Slides for Gratitude as an Action Plan

Recording of Gratitude as an Action Plan

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Much more must be done

A letter to the editor published in yesterday's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
The Feb. 9 story "Family tried to get teen murder suspect psychiatric help" reports that the family of the young man charged tried to obtain psychiatric care prior to the tragic event. It is often the shocking that draws attention to the commonplace. We need to do more, much more.

Parents, youth and health providers have known for a long time now that rapid, efficent access to effective, high-quality mental health care is a problem. We need to do much better to ensure that those who need care immediately receive high-quality care immediately. That may mean redesigning our health system. That may mean addressing mental health literacy in schools and in the community. That may mean better training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders for all health providers.

One in five young people has a mental disorder requiring professional treatment. If the prevalence of heart disease in youth was that high, would there not be a heart clinic on every corner? Yet those in most need of mental health care do not receive it. What is wrong with this picture? Enough is enough. It is time to fix the problem!

Dr. Stan Kutcher [pictured]
Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health
Dalhousie University

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Family had been trying for months to get teen murder suspect psychiatric help

An article published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By Steve Bruce, Court Reporter

The family of a 17-year-old Middle Sackville boy charged with murdering a woman last Friday had been trying to get him psychiatric help for months, The Chronicle Herald has learned.

They had finally managed to get him an appointment for a psychiatric assessment at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax [pictured] on Monday, sources close to the family said.

But something allegedly went horribly wrong before the boy could be assessed.

Last Friday at about 12:15 p.m., RCMP found the body of Joyann Wright, 49, in her home on Hewer Crescent in Middle Sackville.

Police haven’t released the cause of death, but sources say Wright was stabbed and that the boy tried to kill himself after he fled the scene in her vehicle.

The teenager, whose identity is protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was naked when he was arrested on a Lower Sackville street.

Police believe he was involved in a string of motor vehicle collisions after the killing.

A Saturn Astra owned by the victim crashed into a postal van on Rossing Drive, about 50 metres from Hewer Crescent. The vehicle also crashed into the back of a dump truck that was parked on Millwood Drive.

Then the boy was involved in a minor car-pedestrian accident on Sackville Drive after apparently throwing himself in front of a vehicle.

He received treatment for his physical injuries at the Cobequid Community Health Centre in Lower Sackville before he was transferred to the mental health unit at the IWK.

The boy wasn’t able to make it to Halifax youth court Monday morning from the hospital.

Defence lawyer Stan MacDonald appeared in court on the boy’s behalf.

Judge Pam Williams granted MacDonald’s request to have the matter adjourned until Friday.

The teenager will remain in custody at the IWK.

A Crown attorney will be brought in from Sydney to prosecute the case, court was told.

MacDonald refused to comment on his client’s mental health history when contacted by this newspaper Monday afternoon.

Outside court earlier in the day, the boy’s lawyer said the IWK unit "is the appropriate place for him right now."

"At this point, what I would like to say is to convey that his family is very appreciative of how the police dealt with the matter and very appreciative of the treatment that he received at the Cobequid centre and at the IWK," MacDonald told reporters.

The boy has one conviction for theft. He pleaded guilty in January and is due to be sentenced in April.


Also see:

System is in chaos, mental health advocates say

Three cheers for outspoken health bureaucrat

Mental Health Advocate (IWK Health Centre)

Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team (PDF)

Photograph of the IWK Health Centre courtesy of the Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University.