Jan 29, 2014

My encyclopedia articles hit the streets

For the past year or so I have been writing entries for a reference work. Here's the publisher's blurb.  
Cultural Sociology of Mental Illness: An A to Z Guide looks at recent reports that suggest an astonishing rise in mental illness and considers such questions as: Are there truly more mentally ill people now or are there just more people being diagnosed and treated? What are the roles of economics and the pharmacological industry in this controversy? At the core of what is going on with mental illness in America and around the world, the editors suggest, is cultural sociology: How differing cultures treat mental illness and, in turn, how mental health patients are affected by the culture.
In this illuminating multidisciplinary reference, expert scholars explore the culture of mental illness from the non-clinical perspectives of sociology, history, psychology, epidemiology, economics, public health policy, and finally, the mental health patients themselves.
I wrote the following articles:
  • Board and Care Homes
  • Compulsory Treatment
  • Deinstitutionalization
  • Disability
  • Health Insurance and Mental Health
  • Medicaid and Medicare
  • Patient Activism
  • Prevention
  • Race and Ethnic Groups, American
  • Social Security
The book is now available from Sage Publications. Learn more here.

It's always a treat to see your work in print. My first contribution to a reference work was when I first graduated from law school - it was a chapter on handicap discrimination for an employment law book.

Jan 21, 2014

Ohio can't do primary domestic violence prevention

Ohio has set up a new portal for "evidence-based" prevention here.

When you dig into the documents, it's clear that true primary prevention is impossible, because there is no funding for it. Primary prevention is addressed to the community at large. It involves work that changes people's attitudes, or changes the environment in some way, in order to reduce the impact of a social problem.

Consider violence as an example. Violence in the home is extremely destructive. It begets further violence, and is the origin of much of the trauma that leads to addiction and depression. Family violence reflects general attitudes and customs. It takes culture change to affect what happens in homes. People must commit to thinking about themselves differently, and acting differently, in their homes and in family life.

The authors of Ohio's plan for preventing violence in the home admit that they can't support that.
Given the conditions and resources that currently exist in Ohio, SV/IPV prevention efforts are insufficient to meet the growing need to incorporate a primary prevention model that will change social norms.
If this is true for domestic violence, it must also be true for other big issues.What does it really take to put together an effort to change desrtuctive aspects of our culture?

Jan 4, 2014

Five new rules for mental health

The 2014 update of Defying Mental Illness is built around five new rules for mental health.

1. Simplify the conversation.

Information overload adds to fear, and mental illness is scary enough. People need enough information to understand what is happening and put together a plan.

2. Have everyone do what they can.

It's hard to have hope if you're helpless. Every person with symptoms, and every potential ally, needs a way to pitch in. This builds confidence, promotes safety, and makes hope real.

3. Focus on strengths, not symptoms.

Sickness and stigma steal our attention, blinding us to strengths we retain and to strategies we can use to build capacity.

4. Have recovery mean something.

These days, most people with mental illness regain the capacity to participate in the larger community, and lead a meaningful life. Recovery is social and developmental as well as medical. We deny ourselves a sense of making progress if we overfocus on symptom relief. We deny people progress when we do not help them regain their place in society.

5. Practice nonstigma.

Nonstigma is true inclusion, a belief of the heart that everyone belongs together in the world.  Everyone can work on becoming welcoming, tolerant, accommodating. Nonstigma is more than technique. Nonstigma is a virtue.