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Facts on Children’s Mental Health

bazelton_center_for_mental_health_lawThe Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law has an excellent fact sheet on Children's Mental Health. It has some data on prevalence and unmet needs regarding children's mental health issues; it outlines some of the consequences of those needs going unmet, and it mentions effective strategies for dealing with issues. It also is well referenced to source material.

For example one of consequences of failures to meet children's mental health needs is:

Children with mental disorders, particularly depression, are at a higher risk for suicide. An estimated 90% of children who commit suicide have a mental disorder, according to the Surgeon General.

As our nation gets manipulated by politicians who harp on the terrorist threat from external sources, we eat our young from within by ignoring their needs and watch them grow up in poverty, suffer from untreated mental disorders, and in increasing numbers kill themselves. (The suicide rate for teenagers has tripled since the 1950s and is currently the 3rd leading cause of death for teenagers.) When you look at social and health indicators the United States does more poorly by its young than most other first world countries. Perhaps we need to reorder our priorities and reconsider what our values are.

For a view of the whole fact sheet, click the link below.
Facts on Children’s Mental Health

1,300 New Yorkers die by suicide every year

suicideOver 1,300 New Yorkers die by suicide every year, 70 of whom are teenagers. More New Yorkers die from suicide at their own hand than by homicide. More New Yorkers died from suicide in 2000 and 2001 than died in the Word Trade Center disaster.

The national rate of teen suicide has tripled since the 1950s.

Suicide is preventable.

In the past year, I have known three suicides by clients and family of staff. It is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved. So, I take this issue personally. There is something terribly wrong that we have a society so harsh, so uncaring, so lacking in tenderness, that people choose death over the life they are living. Mental illness does terrible things to people's thinking and judgment. Most suicidal thoughts are temporary, ambivalent, and vary in intensity. With a little help from our friends, as the Beatles great song said, we can get through these tough times together.

As the ironic joke goes, "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

The New York State Chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI-NYS) has proclaimed October 3 – 9, 2004 Mental Illness Awareness Week and the focus this year is on suicide prevention.

For more information click on the New York State Office of Mental Health Web site here.

Alcohol - An important women's health issue


While it’s true that men are more likely to drink alcohol and more likely to drink greater amounts, women have a higher risk of developing problems from alcohol consumption. When a woman drinks, the alcohol in her bloodstream typically reaches a higher level than a man’s even if both are drinking the same amount. This is because women’s bodies generally have less water than men’s bodies. Because alcohol mixes with body water, a given amount of alcohol is less diluted in a woman’s body than in a man’s. Women become more impaired by alcohol’s effects and are more susceptible to alcohol–related organ damage. That is, women develop damage at lower levels of consumption over a shorter period of time.

Considering that about one–third of American women report regular alcohol consumption (1) and 2.3 percent, or 2.5 million women, meet the criteria for alcohol dependence (2), it is clear that research to better understand the effects of alcohol in women is critical.

The July 2004 issue of Alcohol Alert published by the National on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has an interesting article on how alcohol affects women't bodies differently than men.

Check it out.

Revenge Really Is Sweet, Study Shows


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Revenge feels sweet, and Swiss researchers said on Thursday they have the brain scans to prove it.

In a study investigators said might help explain how social norms arose and regulate behavior, brain centers linked to enjoyment and satisfaction lit up in young men who punished others for cheating them.

A recent study published in the journal, Science, done at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, found that pleasurable centers of the brain are activated when people get revenge on people they feel unfairly treated by. This pleasurable response probably has survival value in that the victim is motivated to rectify abusive and unjust situations by chasing off a perpetrator.

It seems that the "tit for tat", and eye for eye scenarios are very powerful in human interaction, and yet there also seems to be an altruistic and higher awareness that simple revenge may be, in the long run, self defeating because the current enemy may be needed later as an ally. So while the revenge motive is built into us, we have come to recognize as a species in our later evolution that it may not be a good impulse to act on, but needs to be controlled and disciplined.

As Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye, makes us both blind."

MedlinePlus: Revenge Really Is Sweet, Study Shows

Tribute to Robert F. Kennedy

robert_f. KennedyAs the Republican Convention meets this week in New York City, I am reminded of another time and place, in 1968, when the nation also was at a crossroads with growing protest against the Viet Nam war, and still licking its wounds from the civil rights protests, and the war on poverty. A senator from New York, whose brother had already been killed, stepped forward with a vision for our country and also was brutally murdered.

I wish he had lived and were alive today. Our country would be in quite a different place for the better. Robert Kennedy was a man of principal, and a smart politician who could have brought out the best in America.

My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

"Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not."

Edward M. Kennedy in his eulogy to his brother, Robert F. Kennedy
June 8, 1968, St. Patrick's Cathedral

American Rhetoric: Edward Kennedy - Eulogy for Robert F. Kennedy

South Africa's truth and reconciliation commission

mandela-armsraised-300After horrible injustice and abuse has been perpetrated, is there any strategy for justice other than vengeance and retribution? Should the killers be killed? This is the myth of what Walter Wink calls "the myth of redemptive violence."

Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye makes us both blind."

What would be an alternative belief system? Ubuntu is an African term which basically means "I am who I am through you, and you are who you are through me." There is an awareness that our humanity and destinies as human beings are inextricably linked. It probably is similar to what Christians mean when they say that we are all part of the Body of Christ. Post modern thinkers are very aware that truth is contextually described and defined, and language, a social invention, makes our consciousness possible.

With the end of Apartheid, many people predicted a blood bath as the black majority took out vengaence and retribution for the brutal oppression and injustice they suffered under white rule. However, this didn't happen. Instead South African went a different way and used the strategy of a truth and reconciliation commission which now is becoming a model for the world.

Speaking Of Faith, a weekly NPR radio show hosted by Krista Tippett, did a show on August 26, 2004 on the South African Truth and Reconciliation commission process. I highly recommend it to you. You can access the Speaking of Faith web site by clicking on the link below. You can listen to the show free of charge and read the supplementary materials.

Speaking of Faith - public radio's national conversation about belief, meaning, ethics, and ideas

Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project

lynch_425 years ago in Greensboro, NC, the Klu Klux Klan, and American Nazi Party killed 5 marchers for workers' rights in broad daylight filmed by 4 TV stations. All white juries acquited the men who did the killing, and justice and truth has never been served.

Finally, a group of people have organized the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Commission to heal the traumatized silence. In June, 2004, the six commissioners were officially seated. This is the first such Truth and Reconcilation Commission in the United States and it is modeled on similar commissions in South Africa and Peru where other atrocities have occured.

When we study mental health at a societal level it seems that healing cannot occur until the truth is told and reconciled. Wasn't is the philosopher, Santyana, who said that a society that does not learn from it's past is doomed to repeat it?

This seems no more true than when we look at the divisiveness over the war in Iraq which is so reminiscent of the war in Viet Nam. Perhaps we would not have had the war in Iraq if there had been a truth and reconciliation commission which looked at America's involvement in Viet Nam, and healed the national trauma to its patriotic self esteem over its first immoral war.

If you would like to learn more about the pioneering effort, click the link below.

Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project -

Mentally ill kids in detention centers - What the administrators say

"Although statistics paint a dismal picture of the number of incarcerated youth awaiting mental health services in the United States, it is perhaps the words of administrators running juvenile detention facilities that best portray the scope of the problem. The following are quotes from administrators that appear in the report "Incarceration of Youth Who Are Waiting for Community Mental Health Services in the United States."

Click on the link below to read some of the comments made by administrators running juvenile detention centers in States such as Washington, Louisiana, California, and Tennesee which are quoted in the report mentioned above.

America, as compared to other first world countries, does a lousy job on just about any social and health indicator you want to pick in taking care of its young. We pride ourselves on being the richest and most poweful nation on earth, and yet this is no source of pride when one reflects a bit further on what we do with our riches and how we use our power.

Conservative right wing so called Christian values are destroying this country. Perhaps it is time to bring this to the attention of the electorate and provide a different prospective. Sojourners magazine is trying to challenge the Right Wing demigods. Perhaps you would like to help? If so, go to their web site and sign their petition.

`Last Place These Kids Need to Be' -- 39 (16): 39 -- Psychiatric News