For homeless, coronavirus guidelines can be ‘impossible’ Are your local officials prepared?

(3-7-20) Now is a good time to ask your local officials what they are doing to help the homeless avoid the virus?

With little access to hand-washing stations, shelter and medical care, homeless population may be hit especially hard, public health officials said this week. They’ve launched extra measure this week to help them.

Merle Johnson, a street preacher who lives in his vehicle, uses the portable bathroom on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at the Bradley Avenue and Paxton Street homeless encampment in Pacoima. LA Family Housing added bathrooms and the washing station last year to the camp. To protect against coronavirus LA may add hygiene stations at homeless encampments. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

by Elizabeth Chou | Los Angeles Daily News

With little access to hand-washing stations, shelter, sanitary restrooms and medical care, Los Angeles County’s homeless population may be hit especially hard during a novel coronavirus outbreak, public health officials said this week.

“Many of the strategies that we ask people to take — for people who are unsheltered, are actually impossible,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, told the LA County Board of Supervisors.

On the heels of the county’s declaration of a health emergency, Ferrer said extra measures have been launched to help the nearly 59,000 people experiencing homelessness countywide, with more than 44,000 unsheltered, overcome those obstacles.

Click to continue…

Working Together, Families And Young Advocate With Mental Illness Opened A Clubhouse That Is Rebuilding Lives

(3-6-20) I’m a big fan of Clubhouses, especially Fountain House in New York City, which is the granddaddy of them all. So I am thrilled to be speaking in Miami this weekend at a fundraiser for The Key Clubhouse of South Florida.

It was founded in 2008 by a grassroots group of family members and a young person with lived experience who wanted to provide a warm and safe place for individuals with mental illnesses where they could get help reintegrating into the community. This is what I like best about Clubhouses – nearly all are created by local advocates who are determined to help others and they are run by persons with lived experience!

It took two years to raise enough money to open the doors to its first Clubhouse in downtown Miami for 10 members. Word quickly spread and by 2013, the Clubhouse had moved into a larger building that included a culinary unit and dining room. The goal of Sunday’s event is to raise funds for an even larger facility to serve more members.

The folks at Key Clubhouse have done a fabulous job in designing useful programs. They offer an accredited “recovery through work” program that helps those who are able improve their lives through meaningful employment. They offer pre-employment skills building, a wellness program, social activities, assistance accessing medical services and housing and daily, personal counseling.

If your community doesn’t have a Clubhouse, it should!

Christine Dimattei, a reporter for WLRN radio in Miami, the local NPR affiliate, did a four minute interview with me, during which I quickly described how Miami has transformed itself from the hellhole that I describe in my book, CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, into a model system that is being emulated across the country.

Click to continue…

“Am I a helicopter parent? Or healthy in my fierce efforts to ensure my son’s mental health?” Author asks.


Illustration courtesy of Psychology Today.

(3-2-20) I published an inspiring blog last June about parental guilt written by Faith Tibbetts McDonald, an author and fellow parent of an adult son with a serious mental illness. I met Faith after giving a speech and am thrilled that she has continued to write about her journey in a new book, offering thoughtful advice based on her own experiences.

Am I a helicopter parent? Or healthy in my fierce efforts to ensure my son’s mental health?

By Faith Tibbetts McDonald, author of  On The Loving End Of Crazy.

One gray day last winter, I noticed that my adult son who suffers bouts of major depression and usually stops by our house for coffee on his way to work had not stopped by for two days in a row.

I called his phone. The call went straight to voice mail.

The symptoms of depression ticked through my mind: fatigue, excessive sleeping, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness. Sometimes, thoughts of suicide.

I drove to his apartment. The mile and a half seemed longer than usual.

His car was in the driveway. He hadn’t gone to work.

To calm my anxious thoughts, I inhaled slowly and let myself in to his house.

Click to continue…

History Channel Podcast About CIA Spy Aldrich Ames Features My Work; New Spy Book By Friends Worth Reading

Push play to hear this 21 minute podcast. You don’t need to subscribe. It is free. 


Before I wrote, CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, I authored three books about spies. The History channel recently released a podcast about the CIA traitor Aldrich Ames based, in part, on a long interview with me.

My account about Ames is unique because I was able to interview him without any government censors being present – thanks to a misstep by federal prosecutors.

Early on, prosecutors declared that no journalists would be allowed to speak to Ames without prior FBI and CIA clearance. They informed the judge hearing his case, the FBI, the CIA, and defense attorneys for Ames. But they failed to tell the jailers where he was being held. When I showed up, I was allowed inside and spent 11 days interviewing him before prosecutors discovered it.

From the jail, I traveled to Moscow where I spoke to his KGB “handlers” and then back to the states where the CIA mole hunting team, that had captured him, spoke with me. The result: Confessions of a Spy: The Real Story of Aldrich Ames, published in 1997, is considered the definitive account of the case.

A funny story about the History channel podcast.Click to continue…

Fairfax Va. Families Worried About Fate Of Small But Important Recovery Program

My Reasons I want CRSP to remain open:

It helps me regulate my emotions.

It’s structural and continuance.

Its grouping and socialization structure

improves my mental health.

Its classes help my physical health.

— written appeal from client to Fairfax Officials

Dear Pete,

For the third time in less than four years,  an excellent service here in Fairfax County called the CRSP, Community Readiness and Support Program, is being threatened with “REALIGNMENT” from public health provider, the CSB, to an outside mental health contractor.

CRSP is a day support program that offers psycho-educational, pre-vocational and group treatment methods for adults with serious mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders. The program “focuses upon assisting the consumer to improve living skills needed for successful community living.”

The Fairfax County Falls Church Community Services Board  (CSB) is considering transferring the services that CRSP provides clients to an outside mental health service provider – PRS (Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services.) 

In the past CRSP clients and their families succeeded in stopping such a move. In 2015, CRSP Clients and parents convinced the CSB to maintain CRSP, but two years later, CSB executives tried again.

CSB would not answer any questions asked by clients and family members, but stated it was a budget issue.  Upon research, the advocates for CRSP, which included the Northern Va Chapter of  NAMI, found that the program would cost more with less services at PRS.

Click to continue…

Seriously Ill Mother Declared “Not Restorable” By State Psychiatrist In Horrific Murder Trial. Is That Possible?

(2-20-20)  This story from the Washington Post raises questions about criminal justice and serious mental illness. Is it possible, as a state psychiatrist argues, that someone is so ill that he/she can never meet the court’s standards for restoration?  
Catherine Hoggle, Jacob Hoggle and Sarah Hoggle, before the children went missing in September 2014. (Montgomery County Police)
Catherine Hoggle, Jacob Hoggle and Sarah Hoggle, before the children went missing in September 2014. (Montgomery County Police)

For five years, as a criminal case against his former girlfriend Catherine Hoggle has held fairly steady, Troy Turner’s emotions have swung up and down.

They started with hope: He’d find the couple’s two children, Jacob, 2, and Sarah, 3, who’d gone missing after being under Hoggle’s care. That gave way to deep frustration: Hoggle wouldn’t say what happened to them, even as she was locked in a Maryland jail and then transferred to a state mental hospital. Then Turner came to a terrible conclusion: Hoggle had killed the children and wouldn’t tell anyone where their bodies were.

On Tuesday — while appearing before a judge who over the next few weeks will weigh whether to dismiss murder charges against Hoggle in the case — Turner got a chance to speak in court.

Hoggle sat just 15 feet away.

“I’ve heard people refer to it as a mystery. There is no mystery. Catherine planned, carried out a plan, and killed my children,” Turner said, his voice choking. “Right now, the person who murdered them, I’m looking at her.”

Click to continue…