Let’s Make Burger King Accountable

On its website, Burger King shows a video about social responsibility with Pete Smith, one of its top managers, talking about the importance of diversity and treating people respectfully. 

Apparently Mr. Smith has not watched the newest television commercials that his company is broadcasting on prime time.

The Burger King — which is, I guess, what you call the company’s mascot — is shown being chased by two men in white coats. A woman watching the chase helps the fleeing King by tossing water in one of the men’s faces while the other man screams that the King is CRAZY. Meanwhile, the King runs away.

Get it? Little men in white coats chasing someone who is crazy. Ha, ha, ha.

The ad, of course, turns people with serious mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and major depression into a  punch line. Oh, those CRAZY people need to be locked up.  The ad is demeaning and it  marginalizes people with serious disorders while increasing stigma and harmful stereotypes.

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My Mom’s Eyesight and Best-sellers

Life threw me a curve ball a few days ago when my mother stepped into my office and said she could no longer read the dial on her over-sized watch.

I immediately suspected the worst.

About twenty years ago, my mom went in for what was supposed to be the routine removal of a cataract from her left eye. Instead, an incompetent doctor in Rapid City, South Dakota, damaged her optical nerve and blinded that eye.

My mother, being who she is, simply went on with her life.

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What I’d do differently!

Since the publication of my book, CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, I have been fortunate enough to speak in 45 states (Yes, I still am waiting for invitations from groups in Oklahoma, Nevada, Mississippi, Alaska and Hawaii, hint, hint) and I have toured dozens of successful treatment programs. Sometimes readers ask me what I would do differently if I were given a chance to rewrite my book. It is an interesting question because I have learned so much and met so many fascinating people during the past several years.

The first thing I would do is change the title.

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When do you go public?

What I like most about writing a blog is that it provides all of us another venue for exchanging ideas.  So I am going to ask for your help and advice.
One of the many questions that Mike and I wrestle with is: When should a person with a mental illness reveal his disorder? 
Should he disclose it on a job application when he is seeking employment?
Should he bring it up during an interview for a job?
On a personal level, when Mike is dating, when should he — if ever — mention it?

Spring, Family, and an Interview

Spring always has been my favorite season and this weekend was beautiful in the Washington D.C. area. It is difficult to imagine that only a few weeks ago, Patti and I were debating whether or not we needed to buy a snow blower because of the three feet of white powder  in our front yard.
Not only was the warm weather a welcome relief but my only brother, George, flew  in from Florida to visit and spend time with our parents, Elmer and Jean, who are 89 and 90 respectively. We persuaded my folks seven months ago to sell their home in Spearfish, South Dakota, and resettle near Patti and me. Having them here has been a blessing, especially since I only used to see them sporadically when they lived so far away. If you are wondering about my mother’s health, she fixed a full turkey dinner with all of the trimmings to celebrate my brother’s visit.Click to continue…

Helping Others Through Personal Tragedy

In 1995, a talented and much-loved 23 year old Californian named Jon Nadherny committed suicide. Jon was part of a blended family that included eight other siblings. His family contacted the Dominican Hospital Foundation in Santa Cruz and established a unique memorial to honor Jon. With help from the hospital, each year the family holds a one-day symposium at the Santa Cruz boardwalk that focuses on problems that young people face.

Obviously, suicide is an ongoing issue. In Santa Cruz, 190 young people ended their lives during a recent five year period. Nationally, two million young people between the ages of 15 to 24 attempt suicide.

Jon E. Nadherny

TWO MILLION! Of those, 700,000 require medical attention. More than 4,0000 succeed. Suicide is of special concern to those of us who love someone with a mental disorder because 90 percent of young suicide victims have at least one major psychiatric disorder.

This year’s Jon E. Nadherny symposium in Santa Cruz focused on mental illness and I was invited to speak along with three other advocates. One of my friends and mentors, Frederick J. Frese, PhD., began  the morning symposium and kept the sold-out crowd of 450 persons spell-bound for two hours. That’s right, he spoke for two solid hours and was so enthralling that no one left the room and everyone leaped to their feet in a rousing standing ovation when he ended.

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