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May I call your attention to a helpful post by Glenn Close who writes A Message on Sandy Hook and Mental Health Awareness, to help improve our understanding and empathy of mental health issues which affect 1 in 4 of every Americans.

She tells us as an actress she frequently has to imagine herself:

"walking in the shoes of other human beings ...  seeing what they see, hearing what they hear, feeling what they feel. But when I try to imagine what the Sandy Hook families are experiencing, my mind stops at what feels like a breaking point, and that it is ... so easy to let our thoughts sink to a place of rage, terror and despair, but I choose to take my memories about all that was and is good, beautiful and fearless about my child and to add them to our collective memory -- to everything that connects us.

She also has a nephew with schizoaffective disorder, and has talked about what it is like to struggle with mental illness, and expresses concern about how easy it is, at a time like this, to objectify, and further stigmatize those with mental illnesses in ways that are not accurate, compassionate, or helpful.

A tragedy like Sandy Hook can tend to solidify people's fears and prejudices about mental illness. So it is of vital importance that we, as a community, re-dedicate ourselves to eliminating the stigma that affects 1 in 4 people in our country. We must educate ourselves about mental illnesses, starting with "the big four" -- schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, serious depression and post-traumatic stress -- and talk openly. We must be aware of the dangers that can occur when someone goes undiagnosed as well as the very real possibilities for recovery -- be aware of the fact that the earlier someone seeks treatment, the better their recovery will be. Life, love, fulfillment and dignity are possible.

She advocates improved care for mental illness, which Tom Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), tells us acounts for "30 percent of all medical disabilities!" But, these are often among the first budgets cut in the nation-wide cuts being made to state Medicaid programs.

Glenn Close speaks for Bring Change 2 Mind in asking everyone to join her in these actions steps.

Ask 10 people to take the pledge and commit to our principles.
Share your story -- it will help others to find their voice
Talk openly and listen closely when needed
Practice empathy and save your judgment
Be aware of your language -- words can perpetuate stigma
Support the Change A Mind Campaign by introducing it to your community
With your passion and commitment, person-by-person, family-by-family, community-by-community, we will change minds and lives.

I'm of reminded of the Gandhi quote I've used as my sig line for quite a while, "the means is the ends in the process of becoming."  In this context, I'm thinking we are not likely to achieve a reduction of violence and greater compassion and respect for life, and one another, by striking out with angry reactions or unfounded suspicions against all those with "mental illness," or issues. I am not a doctor or professional health care worker, but I know of no evidence to suggest that those with mental health issues are more likely to be violent than those with none. We should be cautious not to create such unhelpful suspicions, or greater stigmatization, such that we cause people to be less likely to seek help.  

One FBI profiler on CNN reported that they do not yet have a sufficiently accurate profile to predict who may break down and commit massacres. So demanding that all people with mental illness be identified in public databases, so transportation workers "can keep an extra eye on them," as one notorious conservative pundit has done, is not helpful, nor likely to make us safer, but rather spreads ignorance, fear, and stigmatization.

We all need to raise our awareness about the many different kinds of illnesses that exist under the umbrella term, mental illness, or we risk the danger that uninformed pundits, or other people will demand that we brand a red M on the foreheads of the 1 in 4 people with mental illness who are not more apt to be violent than others. Sadly, I remember 40 years ago, one family in our neighborhood had a member that got cancer, and our of fear many of the mothers did not let their children play with children from that family for fear they might "catch it." What a tragic and ignorant shame that unfounded fear like this makes our social morbidity worse, not better, and leads to greater and unnecessary suffering.    

We are more likely to become a less violent and more loving society by finding ways to react with greater compassion, empathy, love, effectiveness, and helping one another move in healthier and more positive directions based on improved knowledge and understanding. I recommend this thought provoking post by Glenn Close as a start.

Originally posted to HoundDog on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 08:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Mental Health Awareness, Shut Down the NRA, and Positive Intention and Lovingkindness.

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Comment Preferences

  •  By coincidence, Wayne LaPierre, of the NRA just (7+ / 0-)

    called for an active, national database of everyone with mental illness, something that makes no discrimination between those with no previous evidence of violence of psychosis, and those with none.

    Now, as I mentioned in the article,  people with symptoms of depression, PTSD, anxiety, or anything else will hesitate to seek help or report symptoms lest they have to register themselves with local police, and on community databases  like sex offenders, where ever they may hope to live, presumably for the rest of their lives.

    How sad.

    LaPierre seems to be spreading ignorance not improving understanding.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 08:42:07 AM PST

    •  I suspect that that's a no go from the get go (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eXtina, Glen The Plumber, HoundDog

      due to HIPAA

      But nice grandstanding!

      And how does that address all the gun deaths that are wrought by "completely sane" people?

      •  I hope the HIPAA will be supported. It's one law (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy, SoCalSal, second gen

        that can be overridden by later laws.

        I presume you are suggesting Wayne LaPierre is grandstanding as not me, as I didn't suggest such a database would address any of the gun deaths, and you kindlly rec'd my post.  But, perhaps, because I've posted some of the most entertaining and thought provoking grandstanding you've seen all afternoon, eh, Roadbed Guy?


        I was just thinking about this again, wondering how many parents are warning their children not to share any thoughts or feelings that might be problematic with teachers, school counselors, therapists, friends, or anyone else that might report them and have notes go into their "permanent" records.

        I guess most kids will be smart enough to figure this out on their own. When we live in a society that is hostile and non-caring about individuals and individual rights, individuals, and even young children learn very quickly not to honestly share their inner world for fear of the consequences.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 11:27:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, I was referring to Wayne (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HoundDog, SoCalSal

          That wasn't very clear. sorry.

          •  That's ok Roadbed Guy. As long as folks rec my (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy

            post, they can say pretty much anything they like about me and I"m still happy.  I think I've told you before I've thought about changing my UID to Mojohound, as getting recs seems to be some kind of a weird primal drive for me that really doesn't make much sense.

            Particular since I'm now in my 50s, and am here anonymous.

            I was going to talk to my psychiatrist about it, but then thought better of the idea for fear that might be put in my permanent record and flagged by some moron working for minimum wage, at our local domestic intelligence center as part of the profile of people they should keep an eye on.

            Thanks for commenting.

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 11:41:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  How much mojo do you need, really? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Heck, if you have two bars, you can read the hidden comments.  Why do you need more?  Is there a second (and third and fourth, I suppose) level of even more deeply hidden comment that you get access to if you have progressively more bars?

              I suppose if you opt not to tell me, I'll never find out because I have a weird primal drive to do the bare minimum needed to get through life . . .

              •  You are right Roadbed Guy, that's why I was (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Roadbed Guy

                confessing that it is a totally irrational compulsion.

                As soon as anyone starts counting anything my pulse quickens and I get competitive.

                But, in the case of total recs under our People menu is a number of accumulated counters such as total recs, number of posts, number of followers, which are silly but, I can't help notice.  

                Yesterday, I pass 30,000 total accumulated recs, which I celebrated. I need about another 4,000 to get on the first page of Most Recommend authors.

                Four days ago, I published my 675 post which moved me from the second page to the first page of Most Prolific Authors.

                And, somehow I ended up at the top of the Most Frequent poster of the month for over a month, even though I took off a week for Thanksgiving, and half of last week for a trip to Boston.  I think it must be broken because kos wrote 75 posts just during the week of Boston.  

                Whatever, ...   Every rec I receive makes me happy, which I realize is a sad reflection of unresolved self-esteem issues, but it's who I am.  

                Thanks, Roadbed Guy.  

                The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                by HoundDog on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 01:17:54 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Egad, I just checked and I have 3 bars (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              How did that happen?  Why am I trying so hard??

              I definitely need a break from this place . .. .

              •  They are like those "gateway drugs" Roadbed. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Roadbed Guy

                It starts out with just checking every now and then, and before you know it you'll be "jonesing" for more recs and checking you stats every couple hours.

                And, if you post something that get ignored, you'll start to get the shacks.  

                But, don't despair, by that time I'll probably have set up a 12 step support group for blogging addicts.

                The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                by HoundDog on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 01:21:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Does the HIPAA provide any protection against the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy

        wide variety of new extra-constitutional domestic and foreign intelligence programs done under the Patriot Act, and under the increasingly used National Security Letters?

        We know to get health care and most kinds of insurance, and even treatment at hospitals we are required to sign certain waivers of these rights for a variety of purpose.

        Most of us have given permission for the insurance companies to store and have access to much of our medical records in that national data base, which is kept in Massachusetts I think.

        Last month when I went to the emergency room, I signed a two page fine print legal document on admissions giving the hospital permission to do various things with my medical records for billing Medicare and I honestly, do not know what else as I was in too much pain to read all the fine print.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 11:36:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I worked in a building that was owned by (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          a hospital, so I had to take HIPAA training.

          Which was weird because the building was leased to a separate entity and subsequently used for an entirely different purpose than patient care, but you know regulations are regulations, so there was no getting around taking the training course.

          But quite frankly, I did the minimum to pass and I can't remember many details anymore, but I'm pretty sure that the compilation of the proposed national data would DEFINITELY go against the spirit of the law.   But there's probably some loophole that would allow it to go through if enough lawyers set their minds to making it happen . ..

          •  My impression is that a combination of the Patriot (0+ / 0-)

            Act, the FISA regulations, and public and secret Executive Findings by the President now enable our intelligence agencies to waive just about any law, or Constitutional concern they feel might interfere with their national security efforts.

            I've read a few articles on the FBI's us of the newly authorized National Security Letters which they can issue to  compel individuals including librarians, utility workers, blog and other website owners, your friends and relatives to tell and release any information they request about you that might be relevant to any national investigation.  

            They do not need to get a warrant from a judge, the targets are forbidden from every mentioning the request to you or anyone else, never, they never expire and are never reviewed by later courts, which I think is totally wrong.

            I have many other right of privacy issues with these letters, but just one, is that I see no reason where there should not be a reasonable time limit where the target individual is informed that such a secret investigation has been performed on him, and also expiration dates on the secrecy.  

            At the least, we should have a court judge review annually to see if any were inappropriate.  

            I understand why in an emergency, we might not want targets to know they are being investigated.  But, after some reasonable time limit, say 1, 3, or  even 5 years, unless the FBI asks for an extension.

            This would, at least, add a feedback process of accountibilitity, which is now lacking.

            One thing our founding fathers understood is that power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.  It has nothing to do with goodness, or morality - but is like a law of physics.  Unlimited power, creates damage.


            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 12:35:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  HIPAA has been so badly distorted that it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          second gen

          does more harm than good. Initially when Clinton signed it, it was designed to reinforce privacy protections, but as soon as the BushCheney crowd came in, they blew a hole in it big enough for the insurance companies to drive their trucks right through.
          I had the extremely unpleasant experience of having a private conversation with my doctor read back to me from my chart, by an insurance company executive that was rejecting my application! I wasn't even a client, they had a full detailed copy of my chart already! (That's why I haven't had health insurance for several years now.)
          Meanwhile, a friend of mine is a med tech at a nursing home, she tells me that the doctors and nurses are not allowed to tell her if the person, who's bodily fluids she's cleaning up, has AIDS or Ebola or anything else! Their chart is locked away so she can't look and the nurse would be fired for telling her.
          HIPAA is a major obstacle to effective treatment, putting a barrier between doctors, nurses, techs and the patient, it causes medical mistakes, while allowing the Insurance companies full access.
          Something wrong with that.

          If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

          by CwV on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 12:43:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  shame on all of us (5+ / 0-)

    for letting a nasty group like the NRA and in particular someone as odious as LaPierre take control of the national politcal dialogue.

    One thing mentioned in his speech, and rather lost in the crush of other stories about Newtown, is that the shooter's mother was a "prepper," one of the very sad people who spend their lives in terror over various, unnamed potential disasters, but who seem to have cellars full of canned goods and guns. TPM has a good story on it here.  

    In looking at pictures of LaPierre, I find him rather pathetic. And it looks as if his dentures don't fit.

    The truth is rarely pure and never simple. -- Oscar Wilde

    by Mnemosyne on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 08:54:17 AM PST

    •  I was concerned (6+ / 0-)

      That he might have appeared "conciliatory", and offered to support some modest new regs. that looked good but achieved little.

      I need to worry less!

      What he did is push the NRA even further to the frothing-at-the-mouth right, and may indeed have hastened the end of the NRA as a political force.

      There is a tidal wave coming, and the NRA is sitting on the beach enjoying a picnic of hate and violence.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 09:05:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  not only that, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, HoundDog, SoCalSal

        but the still pictures I saw looked as if his dentures don't fit. Which I'm sure is a legitimate problem for some, but in this case made him even more ridiculous.

        These people do not rise to the level of anything to be taken seriously. They are ridiculous. They should be laughed off the public stage of this nation.

        The truth is rarely pure and never simple. -- Oscar Wilde

        by Mnemosyne on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 09:38:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I love Glenn Close. We need to ban automatic (3+ / 0-)

    weapons, no matter what.  We need to provide better mental healthcare, too, and spend more money doing research for better therapies and understand how it happens, just like we did for AIDs and cancer.  

    We also need to encourage everyone to not purchase violent video games, movies, comic books, etc. for their children.  Put the violence market out of business.

    Thank you, Hound Dog, for posting this compassionate and informative diary.

    Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by CIndyCasella on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 10:08:59 AM PST

    •  You are most welcome Cindy. Thanks for (2+ / 0-)


      Sadly, my concern is that many children and others with mental health symptoms that trouble them will realize that they take a substantial risk that anything they report "can and will" be used against them in a permanent record that could end up in the hands of local fusion intelligence centers, insurance companies, and who knows who else.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 11:31:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes, exactly those things, and in exactly that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      order, imo.  that is to say, the very very first thing, the very top priority, is to get the assault weapons off the street, in the future,, as dianne feinstein says, but also retrospectively by either making the ammunition unavailable, or a buy back program, or?

      we can't take our eyes off this single goal.

      and in addition to all you say, i would like to know what big pharma knows about their own ssri drugs like paxil and zoloft and prozac.  i would like to see some major federal report on the effects of these drugs, a report that has never been done.  

      for instance, the makers of zoloft know that their drug makes it 10x more likely that a user will commit suicide, than other ssri.  one of the columbine shooters was on zoloft.

      November 6, 2012: United citizens = 1, Citizens United = 0 (-9.75 / -9.05)

      by doesnotworkorplaywellwithothers on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 11:46:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    "the big four" -- schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, serious depression and post-traumatic stress
    No mention of psychopathology/sociopathology? They have to be nearly as prevalent as schizophrenia and are actively anti-social, by definition.
    Certainly, mental health issues need to be discussed and better treatment supported, And there's no question that some form of mental illness differentiates a mass murderer from other people. But that's so not predictable in so many people. You always hear it: "Who could have ever guessed that this nice boy would do a thing like that?"
    But the problem weighs more on the supply side: easy availability of major firepower turns a temper tantrum or a bout of depression into a major tragedy in a hurry.
    If a tragedy like Newtown causes us to do better by the mentally ill, that's a good thing, but if that's where it stops, it's a disservice to everyone and double for people with mental health issues.
    This has to ALSO be about gun availability.
    And it has to address gun culture ("your man card"?).
    And it has to, at least, examine our entertainment culture.
    As an artist and free speaker, anything that externally limits artistic expression is out of bounds, but there is a responsibility that artists (and that includes performers and game creators et cetera) should understand that they have. A popular actor has a following of hundreds of thousands, millions of fans, what she says is listened to by a lot of people and can be very influential. That goes for on and off stage. People creating art should keep in their minds that some of their fans might take their output wrong, misinterpret and act out. The higher up the food chain you go, the greater that responsibility is.
    I'm not calling for censorship or review boards or rating systems (they all fail and end up stifling creativity), but I am councilling artists to think about what you are doing, think about the ways your work can be misinterpreted, think about how that can effect individuals and society as a whole.
    We have a culture that is perfectly fine with incredibly brutal images and stories, sees nothing wrong with the fact that by the time an average kid has reached 18, watching an average diet of Tv, they've witnessed 16000 murders. "Bang, you're dead" is the end of the story. It's the solution to the problem. In all too many cases, the story leading up to it has loaded it up such that that end is justified and applauded.
    We have extremely well designed computer games that are so good at desensitizing people to violence that the military uses them as training tools. That has to be dangerous to a mind that is already bending that direction.
    Why is that OK?
    How do the people that created these games justify their product?
    I know, they have to claim that it's not the game, it's the player, just to prevent their employment from evaporating, but to completely divorce any thought that there might be a level of responsibility is just wrong.
    Just as the Gun lobby makes that same kind of claim, it's not the guns, it's the people....
    End's up, nobody is responsible....

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 01:22:57 PM PST

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