Friday, November 28, 2014

The Holiday Challenge begins: Extended Family Gatherings

Want to know what the BIGGEST holiday challenge is for caregivers and parents of adult children with brain disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism?
Extended family gatherings.
You’re getting together with people who you don't see a lot and who may not understand your family member's unique challenges, behaviors and needs.
One thing you can do is better prepare these folks to be unconditionally accepting of any unusual ideas, behaviors or statements that your loved one might make. Coach your family. Let them know it would mean the world to your child to have a one-on-one meaningful conversation & that he wants nothing more than to be accepted by his family. It may not be your normal holiday conversation, but he's just trying to connect. And that's a good thing.
Here are a few links that might help you smooth the way:

The Linus Project: Blanket Donations for Lost Sheep men

This is to all my wonderful friends out in Facebook Twitter and Blog lands. I have a special request on this Thanksgiving Day. Last night Under the Bridge, my friend Rod told me Lost Sheep is collecting warm full size blankets for the men's Christmas presents this year. They can be used or they can be new.  But they need them before December 7.  We can do this!

So please FB me, text me, email to, or just get in touch with me somehow if you have a blanket to donate. Or take your blanket donation directly to Rod at the Lost Sheep warehouse, 1444 Breda Drive.  I can assure you, it will be used and appreciated. #TheLinusProject

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

News and Commentary from the Treatment Advocacy Center November 10 - November 14, 2014

To get news as soon as we post it, follow us on Facebook or Twitter

"Where Hell Is Other Patients"
Writing for the New York Times, Dr. Stephen Seager describes rampant patient-initiated violence in psychiatric hospitals across the United States. READ IT ALL...

"My Nephew Was Not a Bad Person, Just a Sick Person"
Just two days before a psychiatry appointment for medication, Derek Ward beheaded his mother, Professor Pat Ward, before jumping in front of an oncoming train in Long Island and ending his own life. READ IT ALL...

"Two Toddlers Missing in 'Worst' State for Treatment"
Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Catherine Hoggle had been showing increasing signs of paranoia in the year leading up to the children’s disappearance, even going so far as to file a restraining order against her sister-in-law for following her. Throughout Hoggle’s struggle with severe mental illness, Troy Turner, the children’s father, “encouraged Catherine to go to therapy and take her medication but he couldn’t be sure she was doing either.” READ IT ALL...

"Mental Health Calls Stretch Police Resources "
Police have received a twenty-five percent increase in calls from people in a psychiatric crisis in the last two years reports KTVU News in Berkeley, California. Responding to these mental health emergencies are “part of a growing portfolio of duties that are required in today’s world by today’s cops,” said Officer Chris Scott, part of the Berkley Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). READ IT ALL....

If you have a letter or commentary published, please email a link or a copy so we can save it, acknowledge your reform efforts and share it with others.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Melissa Brown knew her son was ill, dangerous and needed treatment, but she nearly had to lose her house to get it.

Read her story here:

Oklahoma couple finally gets answers in son’s disappearance

As for why Troy wandered away from his car in the first place; his parents say he suffered from mental illness. He was diagnosed as bipolar his senior year in high school.

Treatment Before

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Parenting a Child with Mental Illness

This working mom says parenting her mentally ill son is tougher than being a pilot and parenting a son with a mental illness can lead to unfair criticism.
"I get a lot of backlash from parents who do not have kids with mental illness. I call this perfect-parent-backlash. I receive backlash because I am not raising my child with mental illness the way the perfect parents with perfect kids are raising theirs."

Read more here:  Parenting a Child with Mental Illness

Friday, November 7, 2014

TAC's Fall Catalyst Online Now!

Our latest Catalyst newsletter is in the mail and online now.

In this issue, we share the results of our most recent study, “The Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Prisons and Jails: A State Survey.” Our finding that there are now 10 times more people with severe mental illness in jails and prisons than receiving treatment in hospitals has been making headlines since publication.

Read about grassroots advocates who have been champions for change at the state level. Their achievements in California and elsewhere appear to be propelling treatment law reform to a tipping point in the U.S. 

In addition, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson writes about how federal law hurts people with severe mental illness, particularly minorities. 

Read our fall Catalyst.

If we have your mailing address, your print edition is in the mail. If we do not have your mailing address and you would like to receive a print copy of Catalyst, contact us to provide your address. 

The Treatment Advocacy Center is happy to mail up to 50 bulk copies to NAMI affiliates and other organizations who wish to share our newsletter with their members.

WHY is this man not receiving court ordered treatment via Knoxville's AOT pilot program?

KNOXVILLE — Authorities on Thursday stopped a Rural/Metro ambulance stolen from an Alabama hospital as it pulled into a North Knoxville driveway.
Behind the wheel of the ambulance was 55-year-old Kurt Vogler, who had been arrested last month outside Grace Baptist Church after he was talking about shooting a hospital security guard.

Read the entire story here:

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Races to Watch in 2014 Mid-Year Election

 Mrs. Burns goes to Washington and rocks the House.
Treatment Before Tragedy founding member G.G. Burns went to Washington to educate policymakers and rocked the House.
As too many families know, serious mental illness knows no prejudice.  Treatment Before Tragedy is committed to a bipartisan position for a bipartisan problem.
We appreciate the work of organizations like Treatment Advocacy Center in trying to promote solutions that cross party lines.
Here is a nonpartisan guide to races to watch during today’s mid-year election:
1. Pennsylvania, 18th District
Earlier this year, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa), introduced a bill, House Resolution 3717, “The Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,” that would implement sweeping reforms to America’s broken mental health care system. He is expected to win his seat and retain his position as chairman of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. The Democratic minority pulled out of support of HR 3717; the subcommittee’s Republican majority is cosponsoring the bill.
With Republican leadership, he will decide whether to put HR 3717 to a vote in the subcommittee. The House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee is the home base for HR 3717. This subcommittee’s makeup will determine the future of HR 3717, which so far hasn’t been moved out of subcommittee, a necessary first step to seeing it get a vote in the House.
2. Arizona, 2nd District
Rep. Ron Barber, an Arizona Democrat, was injured in the tragic shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by a young man later diagnosed with schizophrenia. After Murphy introduced HR 3717, Barber introduced HR 4574, “Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014,” with some Democratic HR 3717 co-sponsors pulling their support of HR 3717 and co-sponsoring Barber’s legislation instead. He is expected to have a tough race.
If he loses, his co-sponsors may return to HR 3717. If he wins, there is still some doubt that his bill would be reintroduced in the next Congress. It is perceived as a bill that was introduced to mostly counter HR 3717 as a Democratic alternative.
3. Michigan, 6th District
Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will watch the House numbers to decide whether to let HR 3717 get voted out of committee. Upton is viewed as someone who doesn’t want his committee perceived as a partisan battleground.
If there is a sweeping House victory, Upton may allow HR 3717 to be voted upon in the subcommittee and then House, where it would most likely be passed by a House Republican majority. The bill wouldn’t have enough time to pass the Senate, but the Republicans could choose to go into the next Congress with a House passage of the bill.
4. Colorado, 1st District
Rep. Dianna DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, holds a key position as “chief deputy whip” and ranking member of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee ranking member. She represents downtown Denver, and her district includes Columbine High School and sits just west of Aurora, Co., both places that saw tragedy from mental illness untreated. She has led key discussions on Medicaid and mental illness treatment. She has been an advocate of positions promoted by “consumer rights” groups.
5. Texas, 30th District
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Texas Democrat, is a key co-sponsor of HR 3717. She is a former psychiatric nurse who understands clearly the issues of families dealing with mental health crisis. She is expected to win. She is key to bipartisan passage of HR 3717.
6. The Law Enforcement Caucus
This is a key caucus that could help passage of HR 3717. It includes dozens of members, such as Republican Rep. Dave Reichart of the 8th congressional district of Washington state,  Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of the 9th congressional district of New Jersey and Republican Rep. Richard Nugent of the 11th congressional district of Florida. All three are expected to win. Nugent is a former sheriff and key sponsor of mental health courts legislation.
7. The House
CNN reports that Republicans are expected to win more seats in the House. According to, an important one-stop shop for legislative data, HR 3717 has108 co-sponsors, of which 72 co-sponsors are Republican and 36 co-sponsors are Democratic. If the Republicans win more seats in the House, that may push HR 3717 out of the House and to the Senate.
8. Senate
The question of the day is: Will the Republicans win the Senate? If the Republicans win the Senate, HR 3717 is expected to have more chances of passing the Senate, because of the nature of partisan politics. Looking down the road, the question will be whether bills pass Congress but get vetoed by President Obama.
What we hope is that the very bipartisan issue of mental illness will win a bipartisan solution.

Monday, November 3, 2014

FREE SEMINARS: Wills & Estate Planning and Legal Protection for Elderly & Disabled November 7 & 8 in Knoxville

By the year 2025, it is projected that people over the age of 60 will constitute more than 25 percent of the population. Many in this group have not planned sufficiently due to the mistaken assumption that if they are not wealthy there is no reason to bother with a will. Others simply don't know how or where to begin.

On Friday, November 7th at the O’Connor Senior Center, Wills & Estate Planning will be offered from 9-10:45am and Legal Protection for Elderly and Disabled and their Caregivers from 11 to 12:45pm. 

Then on Saturday, November 8 at Fellowship Church on Middlebrook, Wills & Estate Planning will again be offered from 9-10:45am and Legal Protection for Elderly and Disabled at 11 to 12:45pm. 

To register for these free seminars call the Knoxville Bar Association at 522.6522 or register online at

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mental illness makes mothers cry. It makes siblings fight. It makes fathers afraid in their own homes ...

From the Treatment Advocacy Center blog (Oct. 27, 2014)

Before my brother got sick, really sick, I had started taking masters level psychology classes and what I learned has come in handy over the past few years. Even when he hasn’t wanted it, I’ve been able to help my sick brother. I’ve been able to help my sick family navigate the confusing, frightening, and very tumultuous seas that are mental illness.  
brotherandsisterThat’s something I’ve realized, just now in this moment: serious mental illness doesn’t just impact the person who is sick, but it effects and infects those closest to that sick person, making them sick too, in a very real way.  
Mental illness makes mothers cry. It makes siblings fight. It makes fathers afraid in their own homes, afraid of loved ones who refuse to keep psychiatrist appointments and who refuse to take meds.
Mental illness leaves pits in the stomachs of those who aren’t ill – those who listen to the delusions; who watch the abnormal behavior; those who care; those who want to heal every part of the broken brain that turns water into poison that twists memories into horrible misrepresentations of the truth.  
Mental illness sucks.  
It sucks the color and order from this beautiful intricate life of ours and replaces it with a black and white jigsaw puzzle missing dozens of very important pieces.  In other words, mental illness is no fun at all.  Did I mention that it sucks?  
My brother is very sick right now.  My parents are with him in his college town 10-hours away, taking turns in the ER while they wait for a bed in the psych unit.
We are lucky this is happening in Nevada, where the laws are more balanced and allow family members and concerned doctors provide treatment to people like my brother.  
This is not the case in our county in California, where you have to commit a crime before they’ll take your severe mental illness seriously.  
My poor parents are exhausted. My poor brother is chasing his tale around a cage of paranoia and anger and fear. And all I can do from here, hundreds of miles away is research treatment centers and blog and pray.
You know how we all want to cure cancer? Parkinsons? Lou Gehrig disease?  Clearly there are lots of things we all want to cure.  Well, I’d like to add one more to the list: can we please find a cure for mental illness too?  Please.


To comment, visit our Facebook page.
Visit our blog archive to read all our recent posts.