Mother Says Son Was Fine Until He Began Taking Generic Drug. Know What You Are Taking.

(5-3-19) FROM MY FILES FRIDAY-  In March 2012, I received an email from a mother about generic drugs. Most are fine, but if you notice mood changes, investigate if what you are taking really is the same medication as prescribed.  

Warning: Not All Pills Are Created Equal

Our son was taking his medicine when, all of the sudden, he started showing signs that he was slipping and becoming ill again.

My first thought was: ‘He’s stopped taking his medication.’ That’s what his psychiatrist thought too.

But it was something else entirely.”

Phillip had been doing well on an anti-psychotic drug. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his early twenties, he’d experienced a half-dozen episodes until his psychiatrist found a medication and dosage that helped him achieve stability without suffering severe side-effects.

I do not endorse any medications. But this post happens to be about Zyprexa, which was developed by Eli Lilly and is based on olanzapine.

Phillip’s mother said when her son began taking it, he became “his old self.”  His mood swings stabilized. His thinking cleared. He was able to get a full-time job and move into his own apartment.

“A miracle,” she wrote.

Phillip was diligent. “He didn’t want to lose everything that he had worked so hard to achieve.”

So when he began showing signs of mania and depression, his doctor and parents became concerned.

“We couldn’t figure out what was happening because we knew he was taking his pills. It was as if they had stopped working and that terrified us.”

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Reality When It Comes To Insurance For Individuals With Mental Illnesses

Edward Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy and President George Bush Signing the Parity Bill

Senator Pete Domenici, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, President George W. Bush, Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, and Representative Jim Ramstad Signing the Parity Act. © White House photo by Eric Draper

(4-29-19) From the Kennedy Forum: “The Parity Act was the signature achievement of Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s 16 years in Congress. Its passage was the culmination of perseverance over many years to overcome institutionalized insurance discrimination against persons with mental illnesses and substance use disorders.”

From: Securian Life Insurance Company, Group Medical Underwriting.

AddendumLife insurance is different from health insurance, as Kathy Day pointed out shortly after I posted this on my facebook page.  The reason why I posted it —  recognizing that  — is because of the parity act’s stated goal to: overcome institutionalized insurance discrimination.

Is this discrimination by a life insurance company? Let me know your thoughts.


NAMI CEO Mary Giliberti Resigns: Everyone Is Playing Nice But Sudden Departure Unexpected

(4-24-19) Mary Giliberti abruptly resigned this morning as Chief Executive Office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

NAMI released a statement at 2 p.m. EST from its Board President Adrienne Kennedy and an official press release.

Mary has been NAMI’s CEO five years.

In an email, Mary wrote, “With NAMI’s growth over the last five years has come long hours and much travel. As I look at my children as they are finishing middle and high school next year, I have decided that the time has come to devote more time to them.”

Everyone involved is playing nice, of course, for the good of NAMI. In full disclosure, I am a lifetime member.

But historically, NAMI has a lousy history of dealing with its CEOs. Of the four prior to Mary, only Michael Fitzpatrick left by his own choice, I was told.

I’ve always admired Mary’s passion and dedication, and will be writing more about her unexpected departure in the future. Meanwhile, here are the official announcements.

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Housing First Critics Need To Understand It’s More Than Offering Shelter: It’s A Commitment To Helping Someone Recover

(4-22-19) Housing First, the practice of offering individuals shelter regardless of whether they are stable or sober, was the subject of a recent Washington Post story headlined: D.C. housed the homeless in upscale apartment. It hasn’t gone as planned.

“The SWAT team, the overdose, the complaints of pot smoke in the air and feces in the stairwell – it would be hard to pinpoint a moment when things took a turn for the worse at Sedgwick Gardens, a stately apartment building in Northwest Washington,” reporter Peter Jamison wrote.

He explained that half of the building’s 140 units had been rented to previously “homeless men and women who came directly from shelters or the streets, some still struggling with severe behavioral problems…a high-stakes social experiment that so far has left few of its subjects happy.”

Last year, there were 121 calls to the police, up from 34, in 2016, although only five of those involved an arrest. The most disturbing incident involved a tenant throwing objects around inside his apartment. When the police showed up, the warned them that he had a shotgun and would shoot if they tried to enter. The standoff ended after several hours without any gun being found. The tenant was released only to be arrest two days later after striking another tenant in the head with a flashlight.

Judging a situation solely from reading a news account always is risky, but from what I read, this was not Housing First as it was intended.

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Churches & Mental Illnesses: What Role Should Faith Based Groups Play?

(4-19-19) From My Files Friday: I will speaking at a one-day mental health event next Tuesday hosted by ZION Church in Clarion, Pennsylvania, as part of its community awareness ministry. This is only the fourth time in 12 years that I have been invited by a faith based group to tell my family’s story. Minister Trent Kirkland has invited local leaders to join me after my speech to discuss what services are available in their community when someone has a mental break. Please attend if you live in the Clarion area.

Six years ago, I posted this blog about faith and mental illness. I’d love to read your thoughts on my Facebook page about how your church or religious leaders have reacted to you or your loved ones mental illness. For those of you who are fellow Christians, Happy Easter!

“I Realized God Wasn’t Punishing Me:” Talking in Churches About Mental Illnesses  

Joanne Kelly was in church one Sunday when her minister announced during his sermon: “If you are diligent enough in your spiritual practice, you don’t need psychotropic medications.”

Kelly, who has an adult son with a mental illness, was happy that her son had skipped church that day. She confronted the minister after the service.

“What you said was extremely irresponsible,” she scolded.

Getting within an inch of her face and clearly angry, he replied, “When I give a sermon, I am channeling God.”

Joanne never returned to that church. She found a new one. She also got involved in the National Alliance on Mental Illness, serving as the president of both her local Boulder chapter and the state NAMI group. Then she went a step further. Joanne  joined the Rev. Alan Johnson in an effort to educate the clergy about mental illnesses.

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NAMI “Big Tent” Approach Cited, 3 Retirements of Mental Health Heroes, & New Peer Face In Fairfax

Watch four minute video by NAMI CEO Mary Giliberti citing accomplishments

(4-15-19) This video message by NAMI CEO Mary Giliberti showed up in my mailbox recently, although it was released weeks ago.

According to this press release, she attributes:

“the increase in brand awareness to the growing number of celebrity ambassadors who have supported the cause and shared their experiences as well as high-profile partnerships including companies like Kenneth Cole, Lord & Taylor, Boeing, Michelin, Showtime and IHeart Radio.

Giliberti also outlines the work NAMI has done to advocate for better mental health coverage through Medicaid, her involvement with the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee, and increased calls for more research in collaboration with universities, pharmaceutical companies and government agencies that guide these efforts.

‘Our message on research is this—if we can have a moon shot to cure cancer, then why not a Mars Shot to find new answers for mental illness!’ Giliberti said. ‘We won’t stop until this vision becomes a reality.”

You might recall that in 2017, after a contentious debate, NAMI members elected a board that supported the executive leadership’s “Big Tent” approach, broadening NAMI’s focus beyond its traditional emphasis on serious mental illnesses.

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