A New Podcast With Kevin & Me Explores Our Different Perspectives About Mental Illness From An Adult Son And Parent POV

Veteran Podcaster Gabe Howard Interviews My Son and Me

(8-23-21) I’ve been hunkered down this summer – even skipped a beach vacation – because of a fast approaching deadline for my new nonfiction book. But I wish to share a newly released podcast that features my son, Kevin, and me being interviewed about our different perspectives as a parent and adult son with a serious mental illness. Unfortunately, you will need to click on a link below to listen since I have no way of embedding it here.

This is one of a handful of interviews that we have done since release of my book, CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, and, as always, I learn something interesting from Kevin each time we speak in public together. This proved especially true in this podcast because we were interviewed by Gabe Howard, author of Mental Illness Is An Asshole, and one of my favorite advocates with lived experience. He is a popular speaker and veteran at conducting podcasts.  The podcast is available:

The podcast was done by NEXUS, which stands for Neuroscience Experts Cross-Sector Unconventional Stakeholders. The group is being funded by Otsuka Pharmacy, a major manufacturer of mental health drugs, and is being implemented by Real Chemistry: A Global Health Innovation Company.

We were not paid to be interviewed, nor do either of us ever endorse drugs or pharmaceutical companies. We are always happy, however, to share our stories of resilience and hope.

Members of NEXUS’s steering committee include representatives from the Scattergood Foundation, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, NAMI, Active Minds and Mental Health America.

Will Hargreaves at Otsuka explained why it launched NEXUS.

Through in-depth research, stakeholder interviews, and expert insights, Otsuka established a focus for NEXUS on three key areas of unmet need in mental health where Otsuka’s innovative approach could have the greatest impact: womenyouth, and the justice system. While the needs of these groups are different, they share many similarities, such as the need for greater awareness, early intervention, a timely diagnosis, continuity of care, and support throughout life transitions.

One of the goals of NEXUS is to work collaboratively to resolve the mental health challenges facing these groups at critical junctures, such as women becoming primary caregivers, youth moving schools, and individuals transitioning out of pre-incarceration community mental health services into the justice system.

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Hiking 900 Miles To Remember Son Shot By Deputy & Call Attention To Mental Illness: Mother’s Incredible Journey

Photo courtesy Wikipedia Idaho Centennial Trail

“That’s part of why I wanted to do this trail,” she explained. “I wanted to know what it was like to find a place to sleep every night, not knowing where your next meal is coming from, as close as I can be to what he had to deal with every day.”

(8-16-21) How do you call attention to the need for better police training and community mental health services after a sheriff’s deputy fatally shoots your son who had a serious mental illness?

How about hiking the Idaho Centennial Trail – all 900 miles of it?

That’s what Justine Murray and her partner, Matt Connery, are currently doing, stopping along their journey to talk to local reporters.

Two years ago, I posted a powerful video that Justine released shortly after her 25 year-old son, Ethan, who had schizophrenia, died in 2019. Ethan was shot by a Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy responding to calls about a young man running around without a shirt on and ‘acting strange.’ The officer chased Ethan into a homeless camp where he was shot multiple times even though he was not armed.

In an email, Justine told me that she and Matt are currently hiking along the Selway River, which will take them 8 to 14 days – “a huge wild stretch for us.” Hiking the entire trail through Idaho is no easy trek. It winds its way through various ecosystems from high desert canyon lands in southern Idaho to wet mountain forests in Northern Idaho – not to mention the bears. The couple will cross many mountains, streams and rivers. Claire Graham, with KHQ-TV based in Spokane, Washington, recently broadcast a wonderful story  about Justine’s and Matt’s crusade. You can watch the news clip here. 

I am certain Ethan’s spirit will be with them the entire journey.  You can track their trip and efforts by following the Ethan Murray Fund on Instagram and Facebook.

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VA Says He’s 100% Disabled Because of PTSD, Yet Expects Him To Manage His Life Without Supports

Husband’s pill box : without monitoring impossible to tell what medication is being taken and when.

(8-9-21)

Dear Pete,

I am the spouse of a person with an untreated SMI who is eligible to receive treatment and who wants to get well but can’t because of his illness and roadblocks in his way because of our medical and legal system. He remains untreated, paranoid and delusional, vulnerable to the suggestions of voices real and imagined, and on a path that I fear will end up with him entangled in the criminal system or dead. I am helpless to save him.

My husband is a veteran, who served over 40 years in the military and three wars, and yet he is MIA from his own life because PTSD keeps his mind reliving a war that the rest of us can only imagine.  The experts in PTSD at the Miami Veterans Administration agreed to treat his PTSD for the rest of his life. They promised to help him. Yet, they let him walk out the front door after 90 days with a treatment plan that they knew he could not keep because he still was sick.

Ironically, they gave him a party before he left.

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COVID Can’t Stop Me From Speaking: Video With Live Q & A Now Available

Short Six Minute Sample of New Video Presentation

(8-4-21) COVID has kept me from sharing my family’s story about resilience and recovery so I am now offering a professionally made 25 minute video for viewing by organizations. After the video, I am available for 30 minutes of questions and answers via ZOOM.

My son, Kevin, joined me in May for one of the initial presentations of the video at NAMI Vermont’s Pathways to Wellness Conference. After it was shown, I spoke on ZOOM from the parent perspective. Kevin spoke as a son and peer-to-peer specialist. The reaction:

  • “Boy, this is NAMI in a nutshell – family angst and advocacy vs. the power of a loved one’s illness. Kudos to these two for not giving up.”

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Will $ Billions Be Spent On Solutions Or Mental Health/Addiction Programs That Continue Failing? Two National Experts Say We’re At Tipping Point

(Carol Porter/Washington Post)

True reform should begin by treating mental illnesses and substance use disorders as illnesses and not crimes.

(7-28-21) Two powerful advocates believe we are at a tipping point. The Biden Administration is directing $2.5 billion in funding for mental health and addiction programs. Calls for reducing reliance on police to handle mental health crisis calls are gaining traction. Will we seize the moment or simply pump more funds into a failed system so that it can continue to fail?

Judge Steven Leifman and frequent television commentator, Norman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, explain today’s problems and solutions in this guest blog.

A UNIQUE TIME: LET’S NOT BLOW IT

At long last, we are seeing changes in how we deal with the interaction of mental illness, substance abuse, police reform and criminal justice reform. Federal bills to provide incentives to local communities to replace police with mental health professionals in crisis calls, sponsored by top lawmakers like Senator Chris Van Hollen (D. Md.) and Representative Katie Porter (D. Ca.), (her bill) are moving in Congress. President Biden’s critical new funding for mental health and substance use treatment as part of the Covid Relief Plan is an extremely welcome, long overdue recognition of the woefully inadequate, antiquated and, in many places, virtually non-existent system for providing care for those struggling with addiction and/or serious mental illnesses.

But money alone will not solve a shameful situation that, for many decades, has festered rather than be faced, at a cost of incalculable human suffering and a massive misallocation of resources.  Without a near-total overhaul of the way things are currently done, we run the risk not only of wasting critical tax dollars, but of wasting a once in a generation opportunity finally to fix our broken behavioral health system.

The good news is we know how to fix it. Even better—by focusing on the interactions between mental illness and substance use, the criminal justice system and policing, we can ameliorate three national crises at once, saving lives and saving money.

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Washington Post Prints My Column Condemning Patient Dumping By Virginia Hospitals Helping Overload State System

(7-23-21) Thank you Washington Post for posting my opinion piece yesterday that explains how patient dumping is playing a role in overcrowding Virginia’s state mental hospitals.

OPINION: Virginia’s mental health hospitals are burdened by patient dumping: Admissions at state hospitals have ballooned and are now overloading the system.

The Washington Post, posted 7-22 online
By Pete Earley
Virginia officials announced this month they could no longer admit patients at five of Virginia’s eight adult mental hospitals because there were no available beds or sufficient staff. But there is an unconscionable underlying reason for this latest crisis: patient dumping by private hospitals.

Most Virginians experiencing a mental health crisis are taken to hospitals under a temporary detention order (TDO), which permits the hospital to hold them for up to 72 hours for their own protection if they meet certain criteria, such as being dangerous or exhibiting self-harm. In 2017, there were 25,852 Virginians hospitalized under TDOs. Most were treated at private hospitals and released within days. Only the most ill were sent to state mental hospitals for extended care. The number of TDOs dropped last year to 24,125 patients. Yet admissions at state hospitals have ballooned and are now overloading the system.

The reason: Private hospitals are using a 2014 law to rid themselves of troublesome patients, including those with dementia or patients with intellectual disabilities, many with no mental illnesses. Under the “bed of last resort” law, state mental hospitals must accept any psychiatric patient that a private hospital turns away. The law was enacted after state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) rushed his 24-year-old son, Gus, to a crisis center only to be told workers couldn’t find a local available psychiatric bed within the 72-hour TDO period. Sent home, Gus slashed his father’s face with a knife before ending his own life.

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