“I’ll Do It” Spirit Cited At Advocate’s Memorial, Challenging Others To Serve Their Communities


(11-22-19) A close friend of long-time mental health advocate Betsy Greer urged those attending her memorial service yesterday to adopt Betsy’s “I’ll Do It” mantra.

I noted Betsy’s death and tireless efforts to improve the lives of those with mental illnesses, primarily through the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in an earlier blog. Acting NAMI CEO Angela Kimball and long-time NAMI advocate Bob Carolla spoke eloquently about their memories of Betsy. In addition to being honored by NAMI, a sign of her importance in her home state of Virginia was that Mira Signer, chief deputy commissioner of the state behavioral health department, was in attendance.

Betsy’s good friend, Rayna Aylward delivered a eulogy that should inspire all of us.


Rayna Aylward 11/21/19

     Betsy was an exceptionally smart and articulate person, and an accomplished writer and public speaker.   But the words I most remember from her are just three simple ones:     I’LL DO IT

    If there were something that needed to be done, or someone who needed to be helped, Betsy would say:  I’LL DO IT

    Betsy and I were longtime members of the Kol Ami congregation, but I didn’t really get to know her well until about two years ago, when I joined the Kol Ami Care & Concern Committee, which focuses on supporting members in times of need.  

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A Hoax? Questions Raised About Famous 1970s Study That Found Doctors Eager To Hospitalize Sane Patients Faking Schizophrenia

(11-18-19) In 1973,  Dr. David L. Rosenhan, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, announced that he and seven others had pretended to have a serious mental illnesses and were subsequently hospitalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia even though they were faking.

His report, On Being Sane In Insane Places,  published in Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, shocked the country and deeply weakened the public’s faith in psychiatrists, state mental hospitals, and psychiatry itself.

The article has been embraced for decades by the anti-psychiatry movement as proof mental illnesses are a “social construct” and do not exist. His study  “plunged the field into a crisis from which it has still not fully recovered,” the New York Times recently noted. “It made Rosenhan an academic celebrity. Nearly 50 years later, it remains one of the most cited papers in social science.”

Dr. Rosenhan, who died in 2012, claimed that three psychologists, a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, a painter and a housewife, joined him in posing as patients. None of the other pseudo-patients was identified in his article, which he intended to publish as a book, nor were the doctors and hospitals that were bamboozled named.

It now appears his study might have been a hoax.

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Advocate Encourages Doubters To Use Jail Form To Meet With Sheriff’s : “Get Involved! Organize!”

Doctor Filling Syringe in Prison

(11-15-19) Earlier this month, I posted a blog entitled: Advocate Creates Medical Form & Handbook Telling You What To Do If Someone You Love Is Arrested.  It offered readers a sample form that could be used to inform jail officials about the medical needs of someone who has been arrested. Mark Gale, who created the form, also prepared a handbook that described what needed to be done in the Los Angeles area if someone was jailed.

Dear Pete,

I want to follow up on your blog. I agree with several readers who commented on your Facebook page that there are far too many jails across our nation that either do not deliver medications and treatment, or simply ignore their constitutional obligation to provide at least a minimal adequate level of health care to all who are detained.

Their cynicism and frustrations are well-founded, but they don’t solve the problem.

My message to them is “Get Involved! Organize!”

The Inmate Medication Information Form is not just a well-intentioned informational form to assist clinicians with continuity of care, it is a well-defined simple advocacy tool that can be used to begin a dialogue with the Sheriffs and Custody Commanders who run your local jail.  You are being handed a reason to call for a meeting.  Don’t pass up the opportunity.

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NAMI Activist Betsy Greer Remembered As Fierce Advocate For Individuals With Serious Mental Illnesses

Betsy Greer, second from left in brown pants and vest, celebrating with Northern Va. NAMI friends before her illness.

(11-8-19) Activist Betsy Greer is being remembered as a dogged advocate. She died Sunday after battling cancer for more than a year.

When we first met in 2006 after my book was published, she described herself as a ‘troublemaker.” That was how she viewed her role. She was relentless in pushing elected leaders, government agencies, mental health providers and advocacy groups to do more to help persons with mental illnesses. When others said, “It can’t be done,” Betsy demanded to know why before setting out to prove them wrong.

Much of her ‘troublemaking” was done through the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Along with her late husband, Richard, she co-founded the NAMI chapter in Arlington. Together, they worked tirelessly to help put NAMI on a strong footing in the Washington D.C. area.

Richard and Betsy were journalists, and she often used a her investigative reporter’s skills to cut through fluff and tackle problems locally and nationally.

Fellow Arlington advocate and friend, Naomi Verdugo, in an email described how Betsy helped her.

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Advocate Creates Medical Form & Handbook Telling You What To Do If Someone You Love Is Arrested


(11-4-19) Mark Gale became alarmed when his son was arrested and jailed in Los Angeles’ Twin Towers.  He wanted the correctional officers to know that his son had a serious mental illness and what medications helped him.

But there was no obvious way for him to communicate his son’s diagnosis or his background to those who were guarding him.

Although Mark was on vacation, he began calling the jail. For five straight days he called. He either was put on hold or was passed from one person to the next for five hours each of those days. Finally, he  reached someone.

Mark wondered if other families would have the determination to do what he had done or know how, so he decided to create a family friendly form that could be faxed to the jail staff and also write a handbook that contained helpful information that families needed to know whenever someone they loved was arrested.

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Ohio Trip Reminds Me Of Mental Health Hero Fred Frese Whose Humor And Compassion Remains Unforgettable

Fred and I often appeared together on national broadcasts

(11-1-19) FROM MY FILES FRIDAY: My final speech of this year took me to Akron, Ohio, where I spoke at an Akron Roundtable luncheon on Thursday (Halloween.)  The Peg’s Foundation and Community Support Services of Akron sponsored my appearance. My thanks to Michael Gaffney, Victoria Romanda, Thom Craig, Jocelyn Dougherty, Bill McGraw and Rick Kellar for making my appearance possible. I was especially happy to see Penny Frese, a Pegs’s Foundation board member. Her husband, Fred, was a tireless mental health champion and good friend, and it was gratifying to see her still being a strong voice for our cause.  He is missed.

Mental Health Advocate Fred Frese Passes: Major Loss For Those Fighting For Reforms

(7-18-18) Mental health advocate Frederick J. Frese III has died. 

He was a mentor, a tireless activist, and a good personal friend. He also had schizophrenia.

Fred and I appeared side-by-side on national television programs several times, but we were together the most, along with his loving wife, Penny, when giving speeches at mental health events. He was an incredibly engaging speaker. I remember having to follow him in California after he had spoken extemporaneously for two hours! No one in the audience had wanted him to stop. He received a standing ovation.

He talked openly and bravely about his illness early on when others were reluctant to even say the word schizophrenia, quietly demonstrating by his actions that individuals with arguably the most debilitating psychiatric disorder can live extraordinary lives.

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