Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Members of Mental Health Strategy Advisory Committee Named

A media advisory released today by the Nova Scotia Department of Health:
People struggling with mental health and addiction issues are another step closer to getting the care they need in every region of the province.

Health experts, researchers, mental health clinicians and people living with or affected by mental illness are among the 12 members appointed today, Sept. 29, to Nova Scotia's Mental Health Strategy Advisory Committee.

They will join co-chairs Michael Ungar and Joyce McDonald who were announced in June.

"This diverse group of people bring a wealth of professional, clinical and personal experience to this opportunity to create a mental health strategy for Nova Scotia," said Health Minister Maureen MacDonald. "Their work will help us ensure better health care for you and your family."

The mental health strategy was announced in the March Throne Speech and helps fulfill a commitment by government to revamp mental health and addiction services across the province. The advisory committee will develop a consultation process and recommendations for a Mental Health Strategy.

Ms. MacDonald also announced the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation will work closely with the advisory committee on the development of the strategy. It will gather evidence and support extensive consultation to ensure informed development of the strategy.

"Given its scientific expertise and methodology, the foundation is well-equipped to help the advisory committee ensure the strategy includes the best evidence available," said Ms. MacDonald.

"We are pleased to contribute our knowledge and expertise to the development of the strategy," said Krista Connell, chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation. "The combination of our consultative approach and our expertise in gathering the best knowledge available will help the advisory committee develop a strategy that addresses Nova Scotia's needs."

The foundation will also provide administrative and logistical support, offer project management and help oversee the development of the strategy.

The advisory committee is expected to meet with Ms. MacDonald and the foundation in October to review the terms of reference and to develop a meeting schedule. Ms. MacDonald anticipates receiving the advisory committee's recommendations by the summer.

The members of the advisory committee are:
  • Frank Beazley, Halifax, Chief of Police, Halifax Regional Police
  • Dr. Simon Brooks, Bridgewater, chief of psychiatry, South Shore District Health Authority
  • Andy Cox, Halifax, mental health advocate, IWK Health Centre,
  • Daphne Hutt-MacLeod, Eskasoni, Cape Breton, director of Eskasoni Mental Health Services
  • Jessica Inkpen, a young woman from Halifax who has struggled with anorexia for many years
  • Lana MacLean, Halifax, a social work clinician who works extensively with the African Nova Scotian community
  • Cecilia McRae, Merigomish, Pictou Co., president of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia
  • Patti Melanson, Halifax, co-ordinator of the North End Clinic's Mobile Outreach Street Health Program
  • Dr. Paige Moorhouse, Halifax, principal investigator for several provincial and national grants on geriatric mental health
  • Kathleen Thompson, Halifax, mother of a young woman who is battling an eating disorder, Halifax
  • Catherine Thurston, Tidnish Bridge, Cumberland Co., former director of Mental Health Services for the Cumberland Health Authority.

Additional biographical information on committee members is available at


People struggling with mental health and addiction issues are another step closer to getting the care they need in every region of the province.

Health Minister Maureen MacDonald announced the 12 members of the advisory committee working on recommendations for the province's new mental health strategy today (September 29th).

The strategy will revamp mental health and addiction services in the province.

The committee members include health experts, researchers, mental health clinicians and people affected by mental illness.

The advisory committee is expected to report back to the minister with its recommendations next summer.


Media Contact:

Brett Loney
Department of Health

Also see:

Area resident appointed to province’s Mental Health Strategy Advisory Committee

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Unveiling of the architectural drawings for the new Community Living Initiative

Photographs taken during today's barbeque to unveil the architectural drawings for the new Community Living Initiative.

Please click on any photograph to enlarge it.

Danny Chedrawe (left), Vice-Chair, Board of Trustees, Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, with Mary-Lou Crawley, Executive Director, Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, and Dr. Nick Delva, Head, Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, and Chief of Psychiatry, Capital District Health Authority.

Vince Daigle (far left), a peer support worker with the Healthy Minds Cooperative, stands with staff from William Nycum & Associates Limited and Shauna Blundon-Price (centre), an employee of the Capital District Mental Health Program.

Dr. Ian Slayter, Clinical Director, General Psychiatric Services, Capital Health District Health Authority.

Barbara Hall, Vice-President, Person-Centred Health, Capital District Health Authority, talks with a reporter.

Susan Hare, an employee of the Capital District Mental Health Program, enjoying the beautiful weather.

Peter Croxall (left), director of the Capital District Mental Health Program, cooking hamburgers.

Denyse Sibley, on-air host of the FX101.9 Country Breakfast cooks alongside Robert G. Zed, Chair, Zed Group.

Laura Ankcorn (left) and Amanda Crabtree, two employees of the Captial District Mental Health Program, enjoying the barbeque.

An SSNS office window is located in the upper right of the above photograph (i.e., the window partially hidden by Denyse Sibley).

Also see:

Initiative aims to ease patients’ transition time

Capital Health staff invest in Community Living Initiative

All photographs by Stephen Ayer.

Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health, 2010 Grant Recipients, National Launch

Held on September 21st at the Canada Post Halifax Mail Processing Plant:

Dominique Forest, General Manager, Regional Atlantic Operations, Canada Post.

Dominique Forest (left) and Wayne Stremel, Canada Post employee, unveil the 2010 Mental Health Stamp.

Wayne Stremel speaks about the 2010 Out of the Shadows Tour.

Tana Woodward, Member, Grants Advisory Committee, Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health.

Tana Woodward is also a social worker with the Mood Disorders Program in Halifax. Directly over Ms. Woodward's right shoulder is Donna Methot, President, HRM Chapter of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia.

Myra Donnelly-Gay, Executive Director, Healthy Minds Cooperative.

Stephen Ayer, Executive Director, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia.

Funding provided to the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia will be used for a project entitled Expansion of Community-Based Volunteer Support Network and Strengthening of Mental Health System Advice/Connection Services. This project will include eight rural communities in Nova Scotia, incuding Cape Breton.

Please click on any photograph to enlarge it.

Also see:

Canada Post delivers $1.5 million to mental health organizations across Canada

Mental health care receives boost from Canada Post, Bell Canada

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Schizophrenia: Personal confrontations and a philosophical investigation

Audio from the September 18th broadcast of AllInTheMind (ABC National Radio, Australia):
Listen Now | Download Audio

Philosopher, poet and writer Dr. Paul Fearne [pictured] had his first psychotic episode as a young university student, and continues to take medication. 'To live is to take a leap into a sea of daggers, each one stabbing the fabric of your being,' he wrote in his diary at the time, now published. From Freud to Wittgenstein, his experience inspired a unique PhD investigation into the philosophical questions posed by schizophrenia.

Show Transcript

Also see:

The sea of daggers - A philosophical & personal interrogation of psychosis

The Continuum of Psychotic Symptoms in the General Population: A Cross-National Study

The abstract of an article published online on September 13th by Schizophrenia Bulletin:

By Roberto Nuevo (1,2), Somnath Chatterji* (3), Emese Verdes (3), Nirmala Naidoo (3), Celso Arango1 (4), and José Luis Ayuso-Mateos (1,2)

Author Affiliations
  1. Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, CIBERSAM, Spain
  2. Department of Psychiatry, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Hospital Universitario de la Princesa, Madrid, Spain
  3. Department of Health Statistics and Informatics, World Health Organization, Avebue Appia 20, Geneva 27, CH 1211, Switzerland
  4. Adolescent Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, Spain
* To whom correspondence should be addressed; tel: +41-227913609/3202, fax: +41-227914328, e-mail:



To identify the cross-national prevalence of psychotic symptoms in the general population and to analyze their impact on health status.


The sample was composed of 256,445 subjects (55.9% women), from nationally representative samples of 52 countries worldwide participating in the World Health Organization's World Health Survey. Standardized and weighted prevalence of psychotic symptoms were calculated in addition to the impact on health status as assessed by functioning in multiple domains.


Overall prevalences for specific symptoms ranged from 4.80% (SE = 0.14) for delusions of control to 8.37% (SE = 0.20) for delusions of reference and persecution. Prevalence figures varied greatly across countries. All symptoms of psychosis produced a significant decline in health status after controlling for potential confounders. There was a clear change in health impact between subjects not reporting any symptom and those reporting at least one symptom (effect size of 0.55).


The prevalence of the presence of at least one psychotic symptom has a wide range worldwide varying as much as from 0.8% to 31.4%. Psychotic symptoms signal a problem of potential public health concern, independent of the presence of a full diagnosis of psychosis, as they are common and are related to a significant decrement in health status. The presence of at least one psychotic symptom is related to a significant poorer health status, with a regular linear decrement in health depending on the number of symptoms.

Keywords: World Health Survey, extended phenotype, schizophrenia

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

Friday, September 17, 2010

"A Disease Like Any Other"? A Decade of Change in Public Reactions to Schizophrenia, Depression, and Alcohol Dependence

The abstract of an article published in the September 15th edition of The American Journal of Psychiatry:

By Bernice A. Pescosolido [pictured], Ph.D., Jack K. Martin, Ph.D., J. Scott Long, Ph.D., Tait R. Medina, M.A., Jo C. Phelan, Ph.D., and Bruce G. Link, Ph.D.

From the Schuessler Institute for Social Research and the Department of Sociology, Indiana University; and the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York.


Clinicians, advocates, and policy makers have presented mental illnesses as medical diseases in efforts to overcome low service use, poor adherence rates, and stigma. The authors examined the impact of this approach with a 10-year comparison of public endorsement of treatment and prejudice.


The authors analyzed responses to vignettes in the mental health modules of the 1996 and 2006 General Social Survey describing individuals meeting DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia, major depression, and alcohol dependence to explore whether more of the public 1) embraces neurobiological understandings of mental illness; 2) endorses treatment from providers, including psychiatrists; and 3) reports community acceptance or rejection of people with these disorders. Multivariate analyses examined whether acceptance of neurobiological causes increased treatment support and lessened stigma.


In 2006, 67% of the public attributed major depression to neurobiological causes, compared with 54% in 1996. High proportions of respondents endorsed treatment, with general increases in the proportion endorsing treatment from doctors and specific increases in the proportions endorsing psychiatrists for treatment of alcohol dependence (from 61% in 1996 to 79% in 2006) and major depression (from 75% in 1996 to 85% in 2006). Social distance and perceived danger associated with people with these disorders did not decrease significantly. Holding a neurobiological conception of these disorders increased the likelihood of support for treatment but was generally unrelated to stigma. Where associated, the effect was to increase, not decrease, community rejection.


More of the public embraces a neurobiological understanding of mental illness. This view translates into support for services but not into a decrease in stigma. Reconfiguring stigma reduction strategies may require providers and advocates to shift to an emphasis on competence and inclusion.

Posting of this abstract is for the purposes of research into social predudice and stigma.

Also see:

Study: Mental illness stigma entrenched in American culture; new strategies needed

Americans still not tolerant of the mentally ill

Mental Illness Stigma Entrenched in American Culture; New Strategies Needed, Study Finds

Photo credit

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Voices of Schizophrenia

An article posted yesterday by The New York Times:

By Tara Parker-Pope

Few mental illnesses are as complex and confusing as schizophrenia, a mental disorder in which people may experience hallucinations or delusions, hear voices or have confused thinking and behavior.

Although the word “schizophrenia” means “split mind,” the disorder does not cause a split personality, as is commonly believed.

The latest Patient Voices segment by Karen Barrow, a Web producer, offers rare insights into schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, a related condition that combines thinking and mood problems, as seven men and women share their experiences.

“It disrupted my education, my relationships, it disrupted friendships,” explains Alita Van Hee, 32, of Santa Cruz, Calif. “I was so bombarded by voices. They would tell me things like ‘Don’t trust these people,’ ‘Don’t talk to your friends,’ ‘They’re not real friends,’ things like that. It’s kind of like having a TV or radio on blasting inside your head just all the time that you can’t turn off no matter what you do.”

You’ll also meet Michael Runningwolf, 40, of Tempe, Ariz., who wants to change people’s perceptions and fears about schizophrenia.

“I wish I could get a T-shirt that says, ‘We’re more afraid of you than you are of us,’ ” he says. “There are people with schizophrenia every day that are doing things to break down the stigma. They hold down jobs, and they’re out there every day giving it everything they’ve got. Even though schizophrenia is a disabling illness, it’s not the end. There is recovery.”

Susan Weinreich, 54, of Mount Kisco, N.Y., says that although her illness has made life difficult, it also has become part of her art. “I believe my art was a vehicle for me to be able to express some things that were very deep, deep down inside and that were trapped and difficult to get out and communicate,” she says.

Another artist, John Cadigan, 40, who is Ms. Van Hee’s partner, says the challenges of his illness have also played a role in his art. “The difficulty is I’m not always cognizant of what reality is,” he says. “I can’t trust my own brain…. When you have a brain disorder it unlocks parts of the brain I think normal people don’t have any knowledge of. I think I translate that into my woodcuts.”

To hear these and other stories of schizophrenia, click on the Patient Voices audio link. And then please join the discussion below.

Image credit

Monday, September 13, 2010

Third Mental Health Stamp Raises Funds for Community Mental Health Organizations

A September 13th media release from Canada Post:

Nearly $600,000 in funding provided to non-profit, community based programming

OTTAWA, ONTARIO - Canada Post has issued its third annual fundraising stamp {pictured] in support of mental health. Canada Post's two previous Mental Health fundraising stamps have generated nearly $600,000 in funding for non-profit, community based programming that supports individuals and families coping with mental illness. The 2010 stamp features a mental health patient on the path towards recovery. A tree—the universal symbol of growth, healing and renewal—stands at the summit of a mountain.

As with the previous mental health stamps, a dollar from every booklet sold supports the Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health. Over the last two years the Foundation has distributed $2.5 million in grants to community groups in every region of Canada that provide front-line help to people living with mental illness.

"Mental illness can be far-reaching, but there is hope of recovery," says Jim Phillips, Canada Post's director of stamp services. "We're incredibly proud of what this stamp is accomplishing. The goal of this year's campaign is to raise $2 million and we're sure this new stamp will contribute a good portion to the cause."

Canada Post made mental health its cause of choice in 2007. Since then, customers, employees, suppliers and the public have raised more than $2.5 million for the Foundation. Nearly $600,000 of that was from sales of the 2008 and 2009 mental health stamps.

Lowe-Martin is printing 4 million of the 2010 stamps, which will be sold in booklets of 10 stamps. Measuring 24.75 mm x 35.25 mm (vertical), the stamps will be printed using seven-colour lithography on Tullis Russell paper and tagged on all sides. The Official First Day Cover will bear an Ottawa, Ontario cancel to note the location of the Foundation's headquarters.

For more information, please contact:

Canada Post
Media Relations

Please click on the image to magnify it.

Also visit:

Mental Health - Booklet of 10

The SSNS's 2010 Annual General Meeting

Photographs taken during the SSNS's 2010 Annual General Meeting held on September 11th at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Please click on any photograph to magnify it.

All photographs by Stephen Ayer.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Early warning signs of schizophrenia

An article published today by the Boston Globe:
By Emily Anthes

These symptoms, alone or in combination, do not necessarily mean that a child has psychosis or psychosis risk syndrome. But they may indicate a need for evaluation.
  • Mild hallucinations or delusions, often accompanied by the awareness that the experience is not real. Teens may feel as though they are being followed, for instance, even though they know that’s probably not true.
  • Strange bodily sensations, such as the feeling that one’s brain is bouncing back and forth inside the skull.
  • Difficulty focusing mentally, especially if this is a new problem. A sudden diagnosis of attention deficit disorder in an older teen or young adult can be a red flag.
  • Other cognitive difficulties, such as trouble remembering. People with psychosis risk syndrome often complain that their minds aren’t “working right.’’
  • Social withdrawal and isolation.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Blunted facial expressions or a blank gaze.
  • Any other sudden changes in interest, activity, or functioning.
Screening children for mental illness

In 2008, Massachusetts began requiring doctors to offer mental health screening to all children on MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, during checkups. The number of children screened has been steadily increasing, reaching more than 60 percent of those who had checkups in the first quarter of this year. Of those screened, 8 percent to 10 percent might need further attention, says Emily Sherwood, director of the state Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative.

Please click on the image to magnify it.

Also see:

Getting ahead of trouble

Image credit

Friday, September 3, 2010

A special issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science devoted entirely to schizophrenia

Due to the widespread attention it is getting, the August 2010 issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, devoted entirely to schizophrenia, has been made freely accessible online. The articles (all available by clicking here) are:
  • Editors’ Introduction: Special Issue on Schizophrenia
  • Neurodevelopment and Schizophrenia: Broadening the Focus by Elaine Walker, Dan Shapiro, Michelle Esterberg, and Hanan Trotman
  • Prenatal Factors in Schizophrenia by Suzanne King, Annie St-Hilaire, and David Heidkamp
  • Current Research on the Genetic Contributors to Schizophrenia by Michael F. Pogue-Geile, and Jessica L.Yokley
  • Schizophrenia Course, Long-Term Outcome, Recovery, and Prognosis by Thomas H. Jobe and Martin Harrow
  • Structural and Functional Brain Abnormalities in Schizophrenia by Katherine H. Karlsgodt, Daqiang Sun, and Tyrone D. Cannon
  • Ventral Hippocampus, Interneurons, and Schizophrenia: A New Understanding of the Pathophysiology of Schizophrenia and Its Implications for Treatment and Prevention by Anthony A. Grace
  • Social Factors in Schizophrenia by Jill M. Hooley
  • Social Cognition in Schizophrenia by Michael F. Green and William P. Horan
  • Cognitive Functioning and Disability in Schizophrenia by Philip D. Harvey
  • Emotion in Schizophrenia: Where Feeling Meets Thinking by Ann M. Kring and Janelle M. Caponigro
  • Psychosocial Treatments for Schizophrenia by Jean Addington, Danijela Piskulic, and Catherine Marshall
  • New Opportunities in the Treatment of Cognitive Impairments Associated with Schizophrenia by Mark A. Geyer

Also view:

The Cost of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in Canada

From the Institute of Health Economics, Edmonton, Alberta:

Please click on the image to magnify it.

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