Stop Blaming Mental Illnesses For Mass Homicides. Yes, Gov. Glenn Youngkin That’s You!

(12-1-22) I am tired of hearing politicians claim that our broken mental health care system is the cause for mass shootings in America. And yes, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin that includes you.

While individuals with serious mental illnesses have committed atrocities, such as the murders at Virginia Tech, Newtown, and Denver, those mass homicides are not representative of the more than 600 mass shootings so far this year. ( A mass shooting is an event where a minimum of four victims are shot, either injured or killed, not including the shooter.)

NBC’s Meet The Press broadcast a clip of Youngkin on Sunday blaming recent mass murders in Virginia, Colorado and Idaho on our “mental health crisis.” He was one of numerous Republicans who are quick to cite mental illness as the root of mass homicides.

I’m not interested in debating gun control, but I am growing angry about this nonsense. It just isn’t accurate.

Let’s look at the recent shootings that Gov. Youngkin mentioned.

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Treatment Advocacy Center Receives Prestigious Peg’s Award For Advocating On Behalf Of Individuals With Serious Mental Illnesses

Treatment Advocacy Center’s Lisa Dailey accepts award. (Peg’s foundation photo.)

(11-15-22) The Ohio based Peg’s Foundation recently announced recipients of its 2022 Morgan Impact Awards for mental health and chose the Treatment Advocacy Center for its Excellence in Advocacy award. TAC’s Executive Director Lisa Dailey accepted the award on behalf of the non-profit organization.

The Morgan Impact Awards, established in 2010, recognize individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievements in mental health, education and the arts.

Peg’s Foundation is one of the larger mental health foundations. It was endowed by Margaret ‘Peg” Clark Morgan and her husband Burton whose son, Dave, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Despite the family’s wealth, they struggled to find suitable treatment for Dave. “(Peg) was a mom who loved her son and wanted the best for him, and this illness wouldn’t always allow that for him,” recalled Rick Kellar, Peg’s Foundation President. “They couldn’t find the help and support to fulfill his needs to recover.” Peg Morgan died in 2013 at age 95.

The Foundation’s goal is to “promote and help implement promising and evidence-based practices that can create the immediate and urgently-needed opportunities to improve the lives of people with serious mental illness and their families.” It listed assets worth $106 million and annual revenues of $40 million in its most recent public filing. (Click here to read about Peg and Burton “Burt” D. Morgan’s personal life and business acumen.)

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Waiting 76 Days For A Psych Bed: A Dwindling Supply Forces Families To Wait Days In Hallways

Overcrowded hospitals. Patients on gurneys in hallways

(10-24-22) How long must you wait to get a loved one into a psych bed in your community?

The last time that I checked, the average wait time nationally in a hospital emergency room for a NON-LIFE threatening emergency was four hours. The average wait time for a psychiatric problem was FOUR DAYS.

We all know why. It started with the closing of state mental hospitals and got worse with little funding for community services. Hospitals traditionally lose money on psych beds. They make much more of surgical and other beds. So hospitals began shutting down they psychiatric wards. Many ERs are reluctant to accept patients in the midst of a psychiatric crisis. The requirement of immediate danger gives some hospitals an excuse for turning folks away. Those with the most serious illnesses – schizophrenia – are the quickest to be shown the doors.

My former employer, The Washington Post, published an example of what is happening today because of our dwindling supply of psychiatric beds.  Thank you Reporter William Wan for educating the public about this travesty.

Zach Chafos languished for a total of 76 days in a Maryland ER waiting for a psychiatric bed — part of a growing mental health treatment crisis for teens across the country

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In Book Review, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey Chastises Former NIMH Head Dr. Thomas Insel: His Blindspot Is Part Of Our Problem

(10-21-22) Dr. E. Fuller Torrey has been a long-time critic of the National Institute of Mental Health and in this review of former NIMH Director Thomas Insel’s recent book, Dr. Torrey chastises NIMH leaders for not funding clinical research that would evaluate the effectiveness of such programs as community clubhouses. Earlier this year, I posted a favorable review of  Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health . Dr. Torrey’s critical review appeared in Psychiatric Times. 

The Uphill Path to Mental Health: A Book Review By E. Fuller Torrey, MD.

In this review of Thomas Insel’s book, one doctor analyzes the uphill path from mental illness to mental health.

Violence & Mental Illness: An Unlikely Pair Tell Their Stories To Help Others

Vince with his mother, Dr. Claudia Granata, before her murder.

(10-18-22) Individuals with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of crimes, rather than perpetrators. But a small percentage commit violent crimes and, what too often goes unnoticed, is that much of this violence is aimed at their own family members and caregivers.

A study published in the Clinical Social Work Journal noted that family violence has increased during the Covid crisis.

“Although most persons living with serious mental illness (SMI) do not act violently, this population is at a modestly increased risk of engaging in violence, with family members being the most common victims. Consequently, evidence suggests that a sizable minority of family members—many of whom are caregivers—have experienced violence by their relative with SMI. The risk of conflict and violence in families of persons with SMI is likely currently heightened due to a range of challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., interruption in treatment services and the occurrence of arguments while sheltering in place together).”

Two men whose lives were dramatically changed by family violence recently contacted me. Though their friendship may seem unlikely (because they come from different vantage points), they are now speaking out to help others and to push for treatment before tragedy.

Mother Is Murdered

“My family’s story is a tragic one,” Vince Granata told me in an email. “My little brother, Tim, began struggling with schizophrenia. At nineteen, away from home at college, his world transformed. He became convinced that his landlord was poisoning his food, that one of his classmates wore a necklace that was a demonic amulet, that shadows chased him across campus. Over the next three years, Tim struggled to find support and received only intermittent help from his college’s counseling services. Eventually, he returned home to our mother’s care.”

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Why Aren’t More Fathers Involved In Advocacy? I’m Asked In Podcast With 3 Mothers In The Trenches

(10-7-22) Three moms with sons who have schizophrenia question me during this podcast about such subjects as the new 988 number, being a dad in the trenches as opposed to being a mom, and NAMI’s “Big Tent” approach to mental illnesses. They remind me that not everyone with a serious mental illness gets better – rather there are good days with good memories and bad ones.

We must savor the good memories.

Three Moms in the Trenches is a thoughtful podcast created by Randye Kaye, author of Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey From the Chaos of Schizophrenia To Hope, along with Miriam Feldman, author of He Came With It: A Portrait of Motherhood and Madness, and Mindy Greiling, author of Fix What You Can: Schizophrenia and a Lawmakers Fight for Her Son.  

All three of these accomplished authors are veteran mental health advocates. Check out their joint podcast and their individual books which describe their journeys with an adult child with a serious mental illness.

Show Information Posted on Podcast.

Pete Earley is a storyteller whose books include four New York Times bestsellers, likeThe Hot House and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.His years as an investigative journalist include six years at The Washington Post. Pete is a tireless advocate for mental health system reform.

Many listeners ask: What about the Dads? Pete Earley knows. He was most recently seen on the PBS documentary “Hiding in Plain Sight” with his son Kevin Mike Earley.

In today’s episode we hear their family story, and many thoughts on what we’d like to change about the system – including NAMI. 

Additional information/links from Three Moms In Trenches

The Lifeline and 988 –

NPR 988 story:

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Facebook page @Schizophrenia3Moms   @SZ3MomsTrenches –  twitter

Randye Kaye -Broadcaster, Actress, Voice Talent, Speaker, and Author (“Ben Behind his Voices”, “Happier Made Simple”)

Miriam Feldman – Artist, Mom, Author “He Came in With It”

Mindy Greiling – member of the Minnesota House of Representatives for twenty years. Activist, Legislator, Author (“Fix What You Can“)