Check out this way cool article published this week in the New York Times about a digital pill that uses Abilify that ends with some pithy quotes by yours truly. Hopefully, this is the first of many appearances in bigtime media for this indie mental health author.
As September and the fall semester begins, I remember the rush I had as a university student caught up in the swirl of energy of my fellow students and myself, more than twenty years ago now. A smile lights up my face as I recall, and then I think of a dark joke that my brother taught me his freshman year of MIT. A professor stands in front of a window after leading a tour around the campus, and he asks the students, “Do you know why MIT’s colors are gray and red?” All the freshmen students shake their heads. Just then, outside of the window, everybody sees a body falling to the cement below. “That’s why.” says the professor.
MIT has a higher suicide rate than the national average, but the joke reflects an underlying truth about campus life all over the United States. According to Collegedegreesearch.net, there are about 1,100 suicides on campuses around the USA each year, and, shockingly, six percent of all undergraduates have seriously considered suicide. Why is contemplating suicide so common among university students these days? A lot of stress, abuse of drugs and alcohol, as well as underlying clinical depression and anxiety are risk factors. Even if you are a learning machine, my advice is to take time to smell those roses because too much stress will take down even an ubermensch gifted student.
One in four Americans suffer from a serious mental illness during their lifetimes, most often depression or anxiety. Serious mental issues can be triggered by the stress of university or years of workaholism. It is no coincidence that depression is soon to become the number one cause of long term death and disability worldwide by 2020, according to the World Health Organization.
Reading and Mental Illness
University students read a lot. Problem? Maybe. Even high-achieving readers are predisposed to bouts of melancholia, according to medical history. Before the 19th century doctors thought that the mere act of reading books could cause mental instability. See: A Text-book on mental diseases By Theodore H. Kellogg. Also, see Wikipedia’s article on the History of Depression: “Since Aristotle, melancholia had been associated with men of learning and intellectual brilliance, a hazard of contemplation and creativity.”
According to the Census of 1890 about one percent of one percent of the population or one in ten thousand people in all of the United States had a hospitalization for depression. Today approximately one in seven people in the US suffers from clinical depression and the rate keeps going up. In 1890 few people had the opportunity to educate themselves beyond a basic level of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Today, one in four people in the US is a college graduate. As rates of college graduation go up year to year, so does the figure of people becoming clinically depressed. The question becomes, what can be done to stay healthy?
Protection: Omega-3 Fish Oil and the Prevention of Clinical Depression
Disclaimer: I worked as a medical library chief at the leading psychiatric hospital in the United States, New York State Psychiatric Institute/ Columbia Psychiatry, so I have a bad habit of quoting MEDLINE to prove points. From the journal Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, Epub 2014 Mar 18.: there is a journal article titled “Omega-3 fatty acids and depression: scientific evidence and biological mechanisms” wherein the abstract states that “..several epidemiological studies reported a significant inverse correlation between intake of oily fish and depression or bipolar disorders.” Free full text of the article is available to anyone who wishes to explore the article in more depth at pubmed.gov .
Back when I was an undergraduate, we did not know as much as we do today about the science behind a healthy brain and body, so we can do much more today than before to keep our minds and bodies healthy. Paradoxically, college students are less fit and more prone to suicide than ever before. According to Collegedegreesearch.net suicide rates for our youth are three times what they were back in the 1950’s, and diabetes rates are going through the roof among the Internet Generation.
If you feel suicidal please Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Editor’s Note: William Jiang, MLS is the Author of 63 books, including the bestselling books Guide to Natural Mental Health , 3rd ed and his critically-acclaimed autobiography A Schizophrenic Will: A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope. You can see a selection of his books about mental and physical health nicely laid out on his blog at www. mentalhealthbooks.net . He also is editor-in-chief of Mental Health Books Review
By Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD
Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Psychiatrist In Chief New York Presbyterian Hospital – Columbia University Medical Center
Past President, American Psychiatric Association
As a psychiatrist who has cared for patients and conducted research for over 30 years, I have published over 600 scientific articles and 10 books for scientists and health professionals, but never anything for the public at large. Then I came to a realization.
Over the course of human history until the latter part of the 20th century, untold millions of people suffered from mental illness and substance use disorders because there were no treatments and little that could be done to help them. However, now that is not the case. We have an array of evidence-based treatments that work, for most mental and substance use disorders. However, because of lack of awareness, shame and embarrassment or lack of access to competent care or insurance coverage, people just aren’t getting them. Imagine if the population of our country was afflicted with infectious diseases like pneumonia, tuberculosis, smallpox and HIV and they did not seek or could not get antibiotics, vaccines or protease inhibitors.
This is the reality for millions of people in the U.S. and around the world and it is a reality that is no longer tolerable. It is simply unacceptable that the greatest barrier to symptomatic relief and recovery for mentally ill persons is not a lack of scientific knowledge or effective treatments, but stigma.
It is for this reason that I wrote Shrinks, The Untold Story of Psychiatry; to tell the fascinating and scandalous story of mental illness, and psychiatry’s efforts to understand and treat them. Shrinks describes the origins of our understanding brain disorders that affect mental functions and behavior and the evolution of the field of medicine responsible for their understanding and care. It describes psychiatry’s development from a mystical pseudoscience to a bona fide scientifically guided medical discipline that helps people and saves lives, while revealing exemplary case studies of patients. The book also makes an urgent call-to-arms for the public and media to start treating mental illness as a disease rather than a state of mind. As a member of this profession, I think you will find this story incredibly illuminating and inspiring.
But don’t just take my word for it, here is what some other distinguished authors said.
“Jeffrey Lieberman has produced a masterful behind-the-scenes examination of psychiatry—and, by extension, the human condition. His epic narrative charts the unlikely ascent of the ‘stepchild of medicine,’ paralleling Lieberman’s own professional transformation from eager psychoanalytic student of Freud to neuroscience-minded president of a reformed American Psychiatric Association. A wise and gripping book that tackles one of the most important questions of our time: what is mental illness?”
—Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon
“This is an astonishing book: honest, sober, exciting, and humane. Dr. Lieberman writes with the authority of an expert, but with the humility of a doctor who has learned to treat the most profound and mysterious forms of mental illnesses. This book brings you to the very forefront of one of the most amazing medical journeys of our time.”—Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies
“Shrinks is a must-read. . . A smart, important, accessible book.” (Patrick J. Kennedy, former congressman, founder of The Kennedy Forum, and co-founder of One Mind).
Weekend Edition with Scott Simon NPR 3/14/15
Charlie Rose PBS Interview 4/8/15
For additional information visit:
Money makes the world go round; yet, the love of money is the root of all evil.
‘Tis better to be feared than loved; yet, love conquers all.
The Romans loved their games. When the Senate wanted to mollify the masses, the floor of the Colosseum was soaked by more gladiator blood than usual, to distract the mob from their troubles. By the way, how about those Yankees?
Life explained in a nutshell: Kim Kardashian. An important person. Republicans. Good, down to earth folk anybody would be lucky enough to drink a beer with. Democrats. Fucking liberal faggot loving scum. Fox News. It’s the news.
Murder. Rape. Murder. Rape. Cat up a tree. Murder. Rape. Murder. The weather. Sports. Think about it. This is your local media news all day everyday in the good old USA. The local news is important. Now. Did I miss something?
Remember, blowhard, use your indoor voice indoors.
Shut up. Notice your thoughts as they cross the screen of your mind’s eye. Do not judge. Be impartial. Let them come and go, from nothingness to nothingness. Notice the miracle of your own breath. Know that with breath there is hope. Let go of the future. Let go of the past. Be at peace. Live now, because this moment is all we really have. Carpe diem. Seize the day.
Love. A life without love is empty. It is better to be a poor happy man who is loved and cherishes his life than to be the lone miser who counts his piles of pennies. Cash is cold comfort. You cannot take it with you when you go.
Think for yourself. If you can think for yourself my words are probably merely a reminder of your way of being. If you cannot, you probably don’t realize it anyway.
You are not alone. If you feel lonely, realize that no one is truly alone, we are all connected to each other by an invisible web of energy and we give each other’s lives meaning as we interact. Ubuntu, baby.
The essence of Brahma is creation, of Shiva, destruction. They are inseparable. One cannot exist without the other.
Good cannot be good without the existence of evil. There must be a choice we have to make, or we would be as sentient as plants, growing towards the sun, without rhyme nor reason.
Each of our lives can be likened to a kind of music. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end to each of our pieces. Some people live a rock song. Others Jazz. Yet others, symphonies. Some play badly. Others are virtuosos. Because our lives run the length of years, oftentimes we hit a sour note and hope we can cover it up quickly and hope nobody notices. Some people diligently study, practice, and conform to their sheet music. Others loosely improvise their melodic structures. There are many popular songs on the radio, yet in one hundred years from now, they will mostly be listening to the songs of the age. Much of our music, although timeless, will have been buried by time, waiting for the curious to listen and enjoy the zeitgeist of our age, once again.
There is a reason that when you take an “O” away from good, you have God. There is a reason son and sun are tied in our theology. Amen.
Most of what is important in life is simple. Only a little bit is simply complicated. Don’t waste your time sweating the small stuff. Be wise, prioritize.
Use the brute’s mind against him by telling him you hate what he hates. He will confuse you for his friend.
I hate the word politics because it is derived from the Latin poly meaning many and tics meaning bloodsuckers. The word was coined in the Roman Senate and yet it holds as much truth now as it did then.
William Jiang, MLS is the Author of 63 books, including the bestselling books Guide to Natural Mental Health , 3rd ed and his critically-acclaimed autobiography A Schizophrenic Will: A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope. You can see a selection of his books about mental and physical health nicely laid out on his blog at http://www.mentalhealthbooks.net or check out his Facebook at Mental Health Books.NET
Alan Doyle: Will, thank you very much for inviting me to speak with you today about Fountain House. I am the Director of Education at Fountain House. It’s an opportune moment for me because of where Fountain House is in its history — for almost seventy years Fountain House has been at the center of defining a model of community mental health, not only in New York City, but especially now as the recipient the Hilton Humanitarian Prize globally. Fountain House is considered a model for community mental health world-wide and as policy on how we should proceed over the next decades in terms of the structure and care for those with severe mental illness.
William Jiang: it is really interesting that you brought up the Hilton Humanitarian Award. I wanted to ask you about that because I heard the Fountain House won it recently. Can you say more about the importance of this award?
Alan Doyle: Yes. Every year the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Identifies a charitable, non-governmental organization that has made extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering. In 2014, when it considered the suffering caused by mental illness, it decided that Fountain House and those clubhouses throughout the world that follow its practice offer a real solution for families, for governments, for mental health professionals, and for people living with severe mental illness. We did not come to this award easily. We were nominated for the prize for more than ten years. It was only at the point where the Hilton Foundation learned that the crisis in mental health care had reached such global proportions that mental illness was a topic that needed to be addressed. It chose to shine its light on Fountain House to meet this great humanitarian need and the suffering it causes. Fountain House is now also working with the World Health Organization for the same purpose.
William Jiang: Can you speak about Fountain House’s work with the World Health Organization?
Alan Doyle: Yes. The pervasive impact of mental illness cannot be understated. It should not only be considered in terms of individual human suffering alone but the impact it has on a nation’s economy, especially in those areas of the world at the lower end of the scale of wealth. So that the seriousness of this illness not only pertains to individual people, but also at the national and international levels. Fountain House has teamed up with the WHO by jointly publishing a clinical study on the premature death faced by people with mental illness. It is currently writing source materials for government officials and public health practitioners addressing the impact of this condition in terms of solutions.
William Jiang: That is very interesting. As a reminder, this is http://www.mentalhealthbooks.net. I understand Fountain House has two books out. Can you please talk about them as well as where Fountain House is going in the future?
Alan Doyle: The idea for a book on Fountain House (Fountain House: Creating Community in Mental Health Practice) came to me about 7 or 8 years ago. It became apparent to us that practitioners and policy makers were not clearly understanding our methodology. We call Fountain House a working community. We are located on 47th Street in New York City in the old Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of the City. People come each day to Fountain House: both staff and the members — “members” is how we refer to those individuals within our community who suffer from severe mental illness. And we do what everybody else does. From Monday to Friday from 9 to 5, we have a work day here where we address together the issues faced by people living with mental illness in the community. That is the project we work on. That’s why we are here today. And for some reason the idea that the normality of the way that we approach treatment for people with serious mental illness is considered not important or not intellectual enough for many academics or mental health practitioners was the reason for wiring the book. this perception is changing with the recognition of the WHO and The Hilton Foundation. We believe that many in the academic community have overlooked the importance of the opportunity for meaningful work that has always played a part in recovery for serious mental illness–for centuries back to the 19th century Paris, France and the method morale of Philippe Pinel. Fountain House taps into these rich social traditions and practices them as a way of helping our members live outside the hospital and in society. So, what the book did then was tap into these rich academic traditions coming out of Psychiatry with Freud and group theory and integrated with Social Work and the Settlement House movement. Fountain House is a settlement house for those living with serious mental illness.
William Jiang: Like Hull House?
Alan Doyle: Like Hull house, exactly! But we practice our services for those with severe mental illness in contrast to Hull House which worked with immigrant populations.
William Jiang: Exciting!
Allan Doyle: We follow the evolution of this thought as to how we tapped into these traditions taking it out of a medical environment into an everyday work environment like our clubhouse here at 47th Street.
William Jiang: Did you want to say anything else?
Alan Doyle: I think there is a serious issue on the horizon that I would like to personally work on and bring to your attention. As we look upon our traditions and the recognition by the World Health Organization and the Hilton Foundation, what started to emerge that supports the effectiveness of the intervention of the clubhouse model. That of the original dream in our origins. Fountain House was never just a program here at 47th Street: Fountain House was an idea in community mental health care with worldwide ramifications. What we’re looking at and challenged by now is how we scale our idea from where we started with one clubhouse in 1948 and then in the nineteen-eighties started the training program which resulted in over 300 clubhouses over score of years later.
William Jiang: Under Mr. Beard?
Alan Doyle: it started with John Beard and then was furthered by his protege Rudyard Propst into a worldwide movement involving hundreds of clubhouses practicing the approach that the was founded here at Fountain House. But for the last 15 years we’ve been stuck at 315 or so clubhouses worldwide. So it is an issue of scale that we are now faced with. I personally have been looking at how we can use education as an intervention to break through this barrier and reopen the gates of expansion that occurred between 1980 and 2000 when we grew to over 300 clubhouses. We need to look at a whole new approach to how we think about replication — in a way that is fiscally responsible for a solitary place in New York City. We want to keep in mind our global mission and how we can in a very practical dollars-and-cents way, think about how to expand community mental health around the world using the clubhouse model of Fountain House,
William Jiang: That sounds exciting.
Alan Doyle: And yet we can reach out to a larger community. We are looking forward to coordinating with training for others and share our methodologies. We now have video conferencing–it allows us to give our traditional training in a way that we can do it without walls and recreate that early group who brought the message of Fountain House to other parts of the world and use it to support and re-energize groups to go into areas like South America.
William Jiang: South America?
Alan Doyle: South America only has one or two clubhouses: two in Argentina and also one in Mexico. Think about it- all of South America is going through deinstitutionalization right now, like we did here in the states in the 1960’s and 70’s. They will have an increasing number of people in the jails who are there not for any criminal activities but because of their mental illness. Also, there will be increased rates of drug addiction and homelessness on the streets. These are all the impacts that the World Health Organization is looking to Fountain House to mitigate. And that’s why we need to find a way of thinking about how we can bring this issue of mental health to the fore for countries at a reasonable cost.
William Jiang: This was an exciting and very interesting overview of what Fountain House has one and will do in the very near future, hopefully. Thank you so much for talking to me today, Alan.
Alan Doyle: Thank you, Will.