Death Of Advocate Raises Questions About How We Respond To Relapses

Glenn Koons and Marlee Matlin

 (9-20-19) FROM MY FILES FRIDAY. Eight years ago, I posted this blog about the death of well-known advocate Glenn Koons. I am reprinting it to honor his memory and also remind all of us that serious mental illnesses do not simply disappear after an individual “recovers.” Although controlled, they remain. I also believe we unknowingly put pressure on those who we elevate and cheer as peers making it difficult for them to seek help if they need it. Lessons we can learn from Glenn’s legacy.

Glenn Koons Passes: Inspiring Spokesman For Those With Serious Mental Illnesses

First posted Sept. 9, 2011

I first met Glenn Koons when I was invited to speak at a luncheon in Montgomery County, Pa., being hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It was one of the first speeches that I delivered after publication of my book and before my talk, NAMI Board Member Carol Caruso introduced me to Glenn. I was immediately struck by his easy-going manner. Carol bragged that Glenn was one of the first NAMI trained  Peer-to-Peer mentors in the entire nation. Glenn and I spoke for several minutes and I was impressed by his thoughtfulness and enthusiasm.

Our paths continued to cross during the coming years at various NAMI meetings and conventions. I was always happy to see Glenn and was thrilled when I learned that he had been one of only four NAMI peers who had been invited to the White House by President Obama to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.   A few weeks ago, I was asked by NAMI’s Darcy Taylor to write an article for NAMI’s VOICES publication. In my article, I mentioned three “consumers” who have inspired me. They are  Dr. Fred Frese, Diana Kern, and Glenn Koons.

The day after I submitted my article, an email arrived telling me that Glenn was dead.

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News Roundup: Chief Combats Police Suicides; Death of Singer; Mary Giliberti Joins MHA; Clubhouse For D.C.

(9-16-19) Lots happening in mental health.


Fairfax County (Virginia) Police Chief Ed Roessler has become a national spokesman in speaking out about troubling suicide rates in law enforcement. For the past three years, more officers have taken their own lives than have died in the line of duty. The much respected chief has spoken publicly about his own struggles with mental health issues caused by decades of policing. Thank you Chief Roessler for your continued courage and advocacy! Please read the full story at the end of my blog today.


My son, Kevin, introduced me to Johnson years ago, prompting me to write about his poignant songs. He has died at age 58 reportedly from a heart attack. His jarring voice might take you a while to get used to, but it’s his haunting words and personal story that will linger.


Mary Giliberti, who resigned in April as CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has joined Mental Health America as its executive vice president for policy.  MHA is the second largest grass roots mental health organization after NAMI. While NAMI was founded by parents, MHA’s traces its roots further back (1909) to Clifford Beers, who called for reforms after spending three years in a mental hospital. Although both organizations have expanded their missions recently, traditionally MHA presented a consumer or persons with lived experience’ perspective while NAMI offered a more parental view.


I’m so excited that the nation’s capital is opening a clubhouse patterned after the gold standard Fountain House model in New York. Maria Nunez and her team at Capital Clubhouse have worked tirelessly to raise funds and will be hosting a benefit Oct. 23rd with Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III  (D. Mass.) speaking. Clubhouses are the absolutely best way for individuals with mental illnesses to participate in their own recoveries. Most importantly, they provide social connectivity. The District has badly needed this important resource!

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“You, me, and my son with schizophrenia.” A Guest Blogger Questions What Happens After Stability


“If taking a sick person and just medicating them to the point where they are not a problem to society is the marker for success, then we should all be ashamed of ourselves.”

By Miriam Feldman, a fellow parent, advocate and blogger.

I am the mother of an adult son with schizophrenia.

The dozen years since his diagnosis have been filled with more pain, and also beauty, then I once thought could coexist in a single life. I am his primary caregiver, I am his advocate, and I am the self-appointed conservator of his legacy.

My son Nick was once a prodigious artist with a bright and certain future. These days he sits alone in his apartment most of the time. He watches television; sometimes he colors in coloring books. I have a website where I display his old artwork. I write about our lives. I keep a record of his progress. I refuse to let the truth of who he is disappear without a trace. This disease may have him in its grip, but I will not let it eclipse him altogether.

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Working In Mental Health Care Is Making Me Sick: A Therapist Laments

(9-6-19)  From My Files Friday – a letter from 2010.

Hi Mr. Earley.

I’m a family therapist in [deleted for privacy] having recently graduated from [a prestigious school]  I interned at a federal correctional facility in its mental health unit and I currently work in a psychiatric residential treatment facility for children ages 6-12 who’ve been through complex trauma.

I’m beyond disgusted with our system.

I’ll be honest — the mental health treatment was better in the federal prison where I have worked than what I’ve witnessed in our community mental health system.

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Fountain House Leader Kenneth Dudek Retiring: A Quiet & Tireless Advocate For Persons With Serious Mental Illnesses

Please watch this seven minute video about Fountain House, a Clubhouse Model

(9-3-19) Kenneth J. Dudek, a tireless advocate for persons with serious mental illnesses, is retiring as president of Fountain House. He has worked there nearly 28 years.

Fountain House is perhaps the best recovery program in our nation and much of its success can be credited to Dudek.

I have telephoned him several times during the past decade seeking help for someone in New York who was in the midst of a psychotic break. He always responded. He never said that he couldn’t help in some meaningful way.

As a fellow New York City mental health advocate D.J. Jaffe wrote recently in a blog tribute to Dudek, Fountain House is “the single program all the parents of seriously mentally ill wanted to get their kids into. It’s even more so today.”

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Local Minister Organizes Cross Country Motorcycle Trip To Raise Awareness, Staying In Homeless Shelters. Plus Virginia’s Medicaid Dollars Going To Mental Illnesses

(8-30-19) A minister who is the director of a rescue mission in Winchester, Virginia is leading a Rescue Ride across America on motorcycles to call attention to homelessness, mental illnesses, addictions and shelter life.

Pastor Brandon Thomas recently explained his plans to Dr. David Drew Pinsky and Leann Tweeden during the first fifteen minutes of their nationally syndicated radio show:  Dr. Drew Midday Live. 

During that interview, Dr. Drew lamented how America has allowed sick people to die on its streets and offered strong opinions about anosognosia and how the definition of gravely disabled needs to be expanded, explaining that homeless, psychotic individuals often are infuriated after they get help and become stable because no one intervened earlier to help them.

Thomas, whose father had a serious mental illness, said he hopes the 12 day ride will shine a spotlight on the plight of homeless Americans, especially those in shelters. He and a half dozen other riders will spend their nights sleeping in homeless shelters and will live stream and upload videos of their conversations with shelter residents who they meet during the trip. Scheduled to depart from Winchester on September 27th, the Rescue Riders will travel to Knoxville, Nashville, Little Rock, Wichita, Denver, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

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