Menstuff® has compiled information and books on the issue of mental health.
Kelly Thomas, the 2012 version of Rodney King vs. the Police
- recent mental health news
90% of men who die by suicide have a
diagnosable mental health issue at the time of death.
46.3% had an intimate partner problem
31.6% had a problem with alcohol
24.3% had a physical health problem
27.5% had a financikal problem
29.6% had a job problem
62.9% had a current depressed mood
Real Time Death Toll as of
Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act
Rumination And How It Affects Your Life
Myths and facts about mental health
Its not about mental illness: The big lie that always follows mass shootings by white males
Some people need medication for their mental health. These selfies show that's perfectly OK
Mental Health Timeline
Help Bring Good Samaritan Laws to Your State
Kelly Thomas video a turning point for mental health care?
Is It Time to Confront Your Demons?
Passivity and the Male Psyche Part I
The Eroding (Ok, Eroded) Masculinity of the American Male
Which personality type do you fit into?
Study Links Cat Litter Box to Increased Suicide Risk in Women
Dispelling the Myths
Mental Health Timeline
Re-evaluation Counseling (Co-Counseling)
When the Hospital Fires the Bullet
Reparative (Corrective, Conversion), Ex-Gay
Gay Conversion Therapy Made Me Suicidal: The Powerful True Story Behind the Film Boy Erased
Men's Group Self-Facilitated
- on Emotional Abuse and Trauma
20 Point Head Inspection
Resources for College Students
Related Issues: Online Depression Screening Test , Alzheimer's, Autism, Depression, Suicide, Suicide Teen, Suicide Prevention, Suicide Firearms
Dispelling the Myths
Kids & Adolescents:
Myth: Teenagers don't suffer from "real" mental illnesses;
they are just moody.
Fact: One in ten children and adolescents suffer from mental illness.
Myth: Talk about suicide is an idle threat that need not be
Fact: 90% (or more) of all suicide victims have a mental illness and/or a substance abuse problem. For people ages 15 to 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.
Myth: Childhood mental health problems are really the
result of poor parenting, and lack of discipline in the home.
Fact: Mental illnesses are often inherited from one generation to another, and generally have little or nothing to do with parenting.
"Just snap out of it."
Myth: Mental illness are not real, and cannot be
Fact: According to the U.S. Surgeon General, mental disorders are as easy to diagnose as asthma, diabetes, and cancer. Treatments are effective 60% to 80% of the time!!
Myth: We're good people. Mental illness doesn't happen to
me and my family.
Fact: One in five Americans will suffer at some point from a mental health problem. These Americans are from ALL backgrounds.
Depression -- "It's just the blues."
Myth: Depression is a normal part of life (aka the "blues")
that can be overcome without seeking treatment.
Fact: Depression is a real, treatable illness that effects 19 million adult Americans every year. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States -- over back problems, heart disease and liver failure.
Myth: Depression is a normal and expected part of
Fact: Five million older Americans suffer from clinical depression; whereas seniors comprise 13% of the population, they account for 20% of all suicides.
"I can't afford mental health care"
Myth: Private health insurance routinely does not cover
mental health services.
Fact: Well over 90% of companies with health insurance cover some mental health care, but often in discriminatory ways.
Violence & Mental Illness
Myth: Stay away from people with mental illness because
Fact: Virtually every study shows that persons with mental disorders are no more violent than other Americans, assuming that they don't abuse alcohol or illegal drugs, and are receiving treatment.
Myth: A homeless person suffering from mental illness has
little chance of recovery.
Fact: Homelessness can be significantly decreased when people with untreated mental illnesses are connected to case management, supported housing, and related services.
There Is Hope
Myth: There is no hope for people with mental illness.
Fact: Mental illnesses are successfully treated at a much higher rate than other chronic health conditions.
There are many situations, such as a divorce in the family or strained relationships with friends, that can cause emotional stress. Difficult situations may make you feel sad or "blue" for a while. That's different than having a mental health problem like depression. See www.ndmda.org for more information.
Young people suffering from depression often feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness and hopelessness for long periods. This depression may lead to suicidal feelings.
Certain experiences, thoughts, and feelings signal the presence of mental health problems or the need for help. The following signs are important to recognize:
It's not necessarily easy to spot these signs, or to figure out what they mean. Qualified mental health professionals are skilled in making an accurate diagnosis.
As a general rule: the longer the signs last, the more serious they are, and the more they interfere with daily life, the greater the chance that professional treatment is needed.
When dealing with mental health or emotional problems, it's important not to go at it alone.
First step: reach out to people you trust. Think of all the people you can turn to for support. These are people who are concerned about you and can help comfort you, who will listen to you and encourage you, and who can help arrange for treatment. In other words, find the caring people in your life who can help you. These people might include:
Research shows that males are more reluctant to look for help and receive it than females are. While some people may have difficulty reaching out to others they trust, taking this first step in getting help is important for everyone to do.
Some families have health insurance that helps them get the
services they need from mental health professionals. Insurance may
cover some of the cost of these services. Many insurance companies
provide a list of licensed mental health professionals in your
Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) was passed in 2008 but has yet to be readily implemented and enforced. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) have not provided consistent guidelines on how to enforce this legislation. Download this useful guide (a 103 page PDF) to better understand the legislation, and how you can more successfully appeal your health plan to provide needed coverage.
The lack of enforcement has left too many families with inadequate health coverage for their childs substance abuse treatment. We think this is unacceptable and are calling for the HHS and DOL agencies to sufficiently implement this law.
Please write your Congressman and urge them to sign on to the below letter demanding action to enforce MHPAEA.
From: The Honorable Paul Tonko
Sent By: email@example.com
We all know the statistics that are staggering. Over 41,000 Americans died from suicide in 2013 and suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds. 120 Americans a day are dying from drug overdoses, and overdose now exceeds vehicular accidents as a leading cause of death. Sadly, only 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with a substance use disorder receive any help for their illness and only 20 percent of children with a mental illness diagnosis receive care. Our system is broken.
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) was passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate and signed into law in 2008 by President George W. Bush. Seven years have elapsed and final regulations are still not fully implemented. Unfortunately, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Labor have provided only limited guidance on how states must comply with MHPAEA and enforcement has been inconsistent.
Not fully using MHPAEA to combat the twin public health crises of untreated mental illness and substance use disorders has led to a lack of access to care and the nearly 50,000 Americans annually who lose their lives because of untreated mental illness and addiction. These are needless tragedies that are creating devastating effects on individuals, families and communities.
In April 2015, a National Alliance on Mental Illness report showed that consumers are unable to access provider lists before buying a health plan and are unable to access information they need to make informed decisions about which plan best serves their needs.
As a result, we are circulating a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez asking them to take immediate action to implement and enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.
Specifically, our letter urges HHS and DOL to report back to Congress on the following:
1. How many audits has your Department conducted to determine compliance with MHPAEA? What were the results of those audits? Will de-identified results of the audits be made available on your website? If audits have not been conducted, will your agencies be conducting them in the future?
2. Does your Department plan to issue additional parity guidance to health plans and issuers on what documents and analyses they must conduct and disclose in order to demonstrate compliance with MHPAEA? If so, by what date?
3. When will Medicaid parity final regulations be released? When will enforcement for parity under Medicaid and the Childrens Health Insurance Program begin?
For more information or to sign on, contact Scott Dziengelski with Rep. Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jeff Morgan with Rep. Tonko at email@example.com. Please have your staff contact our staff with any questions.|
Thank you for your attention to this important issue.
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
facts about mental health
There are myths about mental health conditions that simply arent true. Unfortunately, these negative stereotypes prevent many people from reaching out and getting the help they need. By understanding the truth about mental health, you can spread the word to help raise awareness and fight stigma.
Myth: People with mental health conditions never get better
Fact: Treatment works for more than 8 in 10 people who get help for depression, and as many as 9 in 10 people who get help for panic attacks.
Source: Mental Health America
Myth: People with mental health conditions are just weak
Fact: Many factors can impact mental health including biology, environment, and challenging life events. Anyone can develop a mental health condition theres no single cause, and it isnt anyones fault.
Myth: If I get treatment, my employer will find out
Fact: You decide who you want to tell and not tell about your care. Your medical record is confidential, and you cant lose your job or your health insurance for getting treatment for a mental health or addiction issue.
Myth: If I get treatment, Ill have to take medication
Fact: There are many types of treatment. Medication is just one of
them and its typically combined with therapy, self-care
resources, and other types of support. We dont automatically
recommend medication to everyone its a personal decision
members and providers make together.
Some people need medication for their mental
health. These selfies show that's perfectly OK.
What do you do when you're not feeling well? Like really, really unwell to the point where you don't want to (or can't) get out of bed.
You probably think "It's time to go to the doctor." And once you get that sweet, sweet pain- and fever-reducing prescription, you can barely contain yourself from skipping to the pharmacy (or maybe that's just me?).
Many of us wouldn't think twice about sharing the fact that we got a prescription to help us feel like our old selves again.
But when it comes to taking medication for mental illness, there's more social stigma involved. That's why blogger Erin Jones decided to post a selfie with her prescriptions for anxiety and antidepressant medication on Facebook: to show that there's no shame in getting the help we need.
The post spread like wildfire, and she teamed up with The Mighty to spark the hashtag #MedicatedAndMighty. Folks posted tweets and Instagram selfies (often with their medication or prescriptions) to fight the stigma around mental health meds.
Here's why this is so important: A look at 22 studies shows that one of the biggest obstacles to getting treatment and staying on medication is embarrassment and stigma.
If we remove unfair preconceptions about mental health treatment, more people will be able to live happier and healthier lives.
The popularity of #MedicatedAndMighty shows that people who take medication for mental health are far from alone.
In fact, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans take at least one mental health medication. That's more than 63 million people.
A quick look at the selfies brings home the reality that there is no "typical" person who takes mental health medication.
You can't tell whether someone takes medication for their anxiety just by looking at them. That's why this hashtag and this movement is so powerful. The decision to publicly share their status combats stereotypes on two levels: It shows there is no shame in having mental illness ... or taking medication for it.
Breaking the silence around mental health and medication is a win. By fighting stigma, we're encouraging people who struggle with mental illness to find the best way to get help.
The hashtag isn't about pushing everyone with a mental health issue to take medication. It is about fighting stigma and empowering people who take medication to be unapologetic and unashamed.
Because why should we be ashamed of doing what we need to be
Rumination And How It Affects Your
Have you ever been stressed all day because you cant stop thinking of something unfair that happened that morning? Or the previous week? This human tendency to obsess, trying to work things out in one's mind, is common. When these thoughts turn more negative and brooding, that's known as rumination.
Rumination is rather common--according to a poll on this site, roughly 95% of my readers find themselves in rumination mode either sometimes or often--but it can be harmful to physical and emotional wellbeing.
Rumination is comprised of two separate variables -- reflection and brooding. The reflection part of rumination can actually be somewhat helpful -- reflecting on a problem can lead you to a solution. Also, reflecting on certain events can help you process strong emotions associated with the issue. However, rumination in general, and brooding in particular, are associated with less proactive behavior and more of a negative mood. Co-rumination, where you rehash a situation with friends until youve talked it to death, also brings more stress to both parties. In short, if you find yourself constantly replaying something in your mind and dwelling on the injustice of it all, thinking about what you should have said or done, without taking any corresponding action, youre likely making yourself feel more stressed. And you are also likely experiencing some of the negative effects of rumination.
The Toll of Rumination
Rumination can be oddly irresistible, and can steal an hour of your attention before you even realize that youre obsessing again.
In addition to dividing your attention, however, rumination has several negative effects.
For proven strategies on reducing rumination and effectively dealing with emotional stress, see this article on letting go of stress and anger, or scroll down for additional resources. If a strong tendency toward rumination persists, it could be indicative of a greater problem; a therapist may be helpful in helping you let go.
What situations seem to lead to rumination in you? How do you put the breaks on rumination once you find yourself in its holding pattern?
Byrd-Craven J, Geary DC, Rose AJ, Ponzi D. Co-ruminating increases stress hormone levels in women. Hormones and Behavior, March 2008.
Feldner MT, Leen-Feldner EW, Zvolensky MJ, Lejuez CW. Examining the association between rumination, negative affectivity, and negative affect induced by a paced auditory serial addition task. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, September 2006.
Key BL, Campbell TS, Bacon SL, Gerin W. The influence of trait and state rumination on cardiovascular recovery from a negative emotional stressor. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, March 2008.
Lo CS, Ho SM, Hollon SD. The effects of rumination and negative cognitive styles on depression: A mediation analysis. Behaviour Research and Therapy, April, 2008.
Selby EA, Anestis MD, Joiner TE. Understanding the
relationship between emotional and behavioral dysregulation:
Emotional cascades. Behaviour Research and Therapy, May 2008.
Help Bring Good Samaritan Laws to
Accidental drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Some of these deaths could be prevented if the patient received medical care in a timely manner. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids supports policies like Good Samaritan laws which encourage people to call 911 when someone is overdosing. Currently 35 states and the District of Colombia have such laws. We encourage every state to enact legislation which provides limited legal immunity for minor drug law violations for those who call for help as well as the person who is overdosing.
There are currently 35 states plus DC with Good Samaritan Overdose Laws. If your state has not yet adopted this life saving policy (see list below), you can send the following suggested letter to your Governor urging the state to do so.
Dear Governor Kate Brown:
Accidental drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental
death in the United States. Some of these deaths could be prevented
if the patient received medical care in a timely manner. Good
Samaritan laws, which encourage people to call 911 when someone is
overdosing, help to ensure that there is not an unnecessary delay in
getting medical attention for the patient. Currently 35 states and
the District of Colombia have such laws. I encourage you to fight for
this law in our state to provide limited legal immunity for minor
drug law violations for those who call for help as well as the person
who is overdosing. Good Samaritan laws will save lives and prevent
countless families from the heartache of losing a loved one.
Part I: Passivity and the Male Psyche
- John Lee
Passivity is a compulsion or learned tendency to live at half-speed which ultimately many men feeling their glass is half-empty and thus they half-heartedly committing to projects, plans and goals. Passive men are half in and half out of relationships. Passive men are more attached to not having what they think they want or desire, even though they protest loudly this is not so.
A client of mine, James, is 40 and a very successful real estate agent who earns a high six figure income. During a session he said, I work all the time on my marriage. Im in therapy, I read books and I regularly attend self-help workshops. No one can say Im passive. When asked about his marriage he quickly replied, I want more physical contact, more touching, and yes, more sex, but I dont get hardly any at all.
James wants his wife, Brenda, to be more affectionate and yet he indulges in a whole host of behaviors that guarantees he wont get this and actually gets him just the opposite of what he thinks and says he really wants.
I asked him to give me an example of his efforts to get affection from his wife, so I could see and show him his passivity and addiction to not having what he says he wants.
James said, I go into the living room all the time and Brenda is on the couch watching television for hours on end. I say something like, Cant you turn that thing off for a little while? Theres nothing intelligent or worth watching on TV. I dont know why you watch these silly shows. But she never agrees and I end up storming out of the room frustrated as usual.
I jokingly said, Hows that working for you? Then I offered a suggestion. Try sitting on the living room couch next to her; gently lifting her legs and placing them on your lap while you massage her feet, instead of shaming, criticizing, demeaning, and judging her. Then simply ask her whats on that you two can watch together.
He looked at me like I was speaking in a foreign tongue; in a way it was an unfamiliar language because it was the language of compassion and assertiveness. James looked a little dumbfounded before saying, No, I have never even thought of it. It sounds so simple. I can see me doing that but I never would have thought to do so. I wonder why? he said very seriously.
It was because of his passivity and his fears of rejection, abandonment and intimacy.
By the way, he tried my suggestion the very next week. We got up off the couch ten minutes after doing what you suggested. She looked at me and said Who are you? Before I could answer she laughed and said, Never mind, I like this, and we got up and got in bed and made love for the first time in a year.
This same man devoted an exorbitant amount of time to reading about relationships and marital counseling. He said he worked all the time on his marriage. But in reality, he thought his wife had the problem and not him.
Passivity is difficult to identify because one of the greatest tricks a passive man plays on themselves goes something like this, Look how hard I work. I work eighty hours a week and am the CEO of a large company. How can anyone label me as passive? or Look how much I work on myself, how can I be passive? Cant you see Im suffering? Isnt that proof that Im not attached to passivity?
One of the main symptoms of passivity (well go into many more later) is being out of balance in our personal and professional lives. The passive mans creed is, Im bored, or Im feeling overwhelmed, and they think the world acts on them and moves them rather than being actors and movers.
It is important to note that passivity causes you to react rather than act, control rather than respond, manipulate rather than make, or self-destruct instead of create. The passivity I am discussing is NOT to be confused with passive/aggressive behaviors, timidity, shyness, apathy, or laziness. It is also not to be misconstrued as surrendering or letting go, turning it over, or passive resistance. All of these are very active processes that actually energize the ones doing so. The passivity that is being discussed here is more closely akin to giving up, feeling defeated, settling for, or feeling unsatisfied.
Passivity is a learned behavior; a reaction to life that can be unlearned. In part II of this article I will provide readers with concrete solutions to the passivity problem.
Blurb about John Lee. John has been a leader and author in
mens health issues for over a decade. Lee began his career as a
professor at Austin Community College, the University of Alabama, and
the University of Texas. He has written 18 self-help, psychology,
recovery, creativity, or relationship non-fiction books that explore
mens health issues, like alcoholism and co-dependency. In
addition to literature, Lee has advocated for the maintenance and
improvement of mens health in magazines, like Newsweek and on
shows such as Oprah and 20/20. In 1986, Lee co-founded Primary,
Emotional, Energy, Recovery (P.E.E.R.), a training program for
counselors, social workers, and psychotherapists. Two years later, he
founded and directed Austins Mens Center, a counseling
center that specializes in mens issues. In the late
1980s, he opened his own private practice in Austin, Texas
specializing in mens issues, relationships, adult children of
alcoholics, and co-dependency. His latest two books, The Anger
Solution and When the Buddha Met Bubba, are on sale now on
Amazon.com. More information about John Lee can be found on his web
site www.johnleebooks.com and on his daily blog at openingtheheartnow.blogspot.com
The Eroding (Ok, Eroded) Masculinity of the
American Male - Luke Manley
In a fascinating new novel, cultural historian Gary Cross explores the modern epidemic of man-boyhood that first infected parts of the WWII generation, spread most noticeably in the Boomer generation, and has now become a part of the cultural genome of the Gen Xers and Millennials. Dont believe it? Just take a look at the way men are overwhelmingly portrayed in the most popular TV shows and movies. Awkward, whiny characters stuck in a perpetual state of immaturity that in most cases must be dragged, kicking and screaming away from their toys and into adulthood. Toys that are indistinguishable from those in which they indulged ad nauseum during their teenage and college years. These man-boys view responsibility and formerly respectable activities such as excelling in a career, marriage, and raising a family as an albatross at best and at worst a curse to be avoided at all costs. Once resigned to this domestic purgatory, we nurture our portrayal as bumbling, beer-swilling, video-game-addicted, good-for-nothings. Consider the cultural icons of the older generations, such as Cary Grant, Robert Redford, Humphrey Bogart, and Paul Newman and compare it to todays stars. Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Hugh Grant, and Russel Brand. Men whose characters celebrate and revel in their desire to avoid commitment and responsibility. Most frightening of all is that the statistics bear out this shift. Surely exacerbated by the current financial crisis, which has hit men especially hard, a staggering 55% of American men between 18 and 24 years old and 13% between 25 and 34 are currently living with their parents. This is compared to only 8% of women in the same situation. The average age for marriage has been climbing steadily over the years and now over 16 percent of men reach their early 40s without marrying, up from only 6% in 1980. What do the statistics say men are doing with all this extra time? Sadly, not working on their careers, but rather indulging in the same activities that they were unable to leave behind in college. For example, the average video game player was 18 years old a decade ago. Want to take a guess at the mean age now? If you guessed 33 you would be, sadly, correct.
Most interesting is that Mr. Cross traces the roots of much of this change back to the men of the Baby Boomer generation and their rejection of their fathers passive involvement in their childhood. These men brought about what in many ways was a sea change in the paternal-child relationship, making it acceptable for fathers to no longer be merely the disciplinarian, but take on roles that had always been traditionally reserved for women. They paved the way for the modern emotionally available, stay-at-home, soccer dads. However, in subsequent generations this laissez-faire approach to fatherhood appears to have caused an unintended confusion about the role of manhood. In the quest to dismantle the father-as-authoritarian and regain some of our boyhood to connect more with our kids, we have failed to produce a proper alternative role-model to which men can aspire. This ambiguousness has led to much of the current culture of men as the loveable, useless, lounge-about; dad as the easy-going playmate that flouts the rules as often as the kids.
Now dont get me wrong, no one laughs harder at Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Happy Gilmore than I and there is nothing I look forward to more than playing a twilight game of hide-and-seek or having summer water-balloon battles with my kids. Yet there has to exist a healthy mix of 1950s responsible disciplinarian and 2010s lovable playmate (my vote is for Mike Brady or Cliff Huxtable). There is a dignity and nobility in the balance of softness and strength, a trait that our wives and girlfriends will surely appreciate and which our sons and daughters will benefit from and remember far more than how to beat Level 5 of Rock Band. I dont need my kids to call me Sir, but I sure as heck dont want them calling me Dude.
Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity. Gary Cross. 2010. Book Review: cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-14430-8/men-to-boys
Excerpt from Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity. History News Network. George Mason University. 2008. hnn.us/articles/53417.html
The Basement Boys: The making of modern immaturity. Newsweek. George F. Will. 2010. www.newsweek.com/2010/03/07/the-basement-boys.html
Study Links Cat
Litter Box to Increased Suicide Risk in
Scientists have long known that pregnant women infected with the toxoplasma gondii parasite -- spread through cat feces, undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables -- could risk still birth or brain damage if transmitted to an unborn infant.
But a new study of more than 45,000 women in Denmark shows changes in their own brains after being infected by the common parasite.
The study, authored by University of Maryland School of Medicine psychiatrist and suicide neuroimmunology expert Dr. Teodor T. Postolache, was published online today in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
The study found that women infected with T. gondii were one and a half times more likely to attempt suicide than those who were not infected. As the level of antibodies in the blood rose, so did the suicide risk. The relative risk was even higher for violent suicide attempts.
"We can't say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies," said Postolache, who is director of the university's Mood and Anxiety Program and is a senior consultant on suicide prevention.
"There is still a lot we don't know," he told ABCNews.com. "We need a larger cohort and need a better understanding of the vulnerabilities that certain people have to the parasite."
Suicide is a global public health problem. An estimated 10 million attempt suicide and 1 million are successful, according to Postlache's work.
More than 60 million men, women, and children in the United States carry the toxoplasma parasite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but very few have symptoms.
Toxoplasmosis is considered one of the "neglected parasitic infections," a group of five parasitic diseases that have been targeted by CDC for public health action.
About one-third of the world is exposed to T. gondii, and most never experience symptoms and therefore don't know they have been infected. When humans ingest the parasite, the organism spreads from the intestine to the muscles and the brain.
Previous research on rodents shows that the parasite can reside in multiple brain structures, including the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, which are responsible for emotional and behavioral regulation.
Rat Study Showed Parasite Changes the Brain
A 2011 study on rats infected by the parasite showed that their fear of cats disappeared. Instead, the parts of their brains associated with sexual arousal were activated. Researchers theorized that the mind-manipulating T. gondii ensures that the parasite will reach and reproduce in the gut of a cat, which it depends upon for its survival.
"The parasite does actually alter the brain of its host," Stanford University study co-author Patrick House told ABCNews.com last year. "The fact that a parasite can get into an organism, target its brain, stay there without killing the host and alter the circuitry of the brain -- we've seen this is insects and fungi, but it's the first time we've seen it in a mammalian host."
It was this and other research that led Postolache to investigate the relationship between the parasite and biological changes in the brain that might lead to suicide. He was also intrigued by studies on allergies and research that showed a connection between toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia.
"I was interested in the neuron aspects of suicide and intrigued by low-grade activation in patients who attempted suicide, as well as victims," he said. "Other studies had looked at the brain and suicide risk and impulsivity. The next question was, what could be the triggers that perpetuate this level of heightened activation in the brain?"
Postolache collaborated with Danish, German and Swedish researchers, using the Danish Cause of Death Register, which logs the causes of all deaths, including suicide. The Danish National Hospital Register was also a source of medical histories on those subjects.
They analyzed data from women who gave birth between 1992 and 1995 and whose babies were screened for T. gondii antibodies. It takes three months for antibodies to develop in babies, so when they were present, it meant their mothers had been infected.
The scientists then cross-checked the death registry to see if these women later killed themselves. They used psychiatric records to rule out women with histories of mental illness.
Postolache said there were limitations to the study and further research is needed, particularly with a larger subject group.
Dr. J. John Mann, a psychiatrist from Columbia University, said Postolache's research mirrors his work in the field of suicidal behavior.
"The relationship of the brain to the immune system is more complex than it may appear," said Mann. "The brain regulates the stress response system, which impacts the immune response."
Scientists already know that steroids like cortisone can affect the immune response. Some antibodies whose goal is to kill off cancer can also affect the brain. Oftentimes the first symptom of pancreatic cancer is depression, he said.
Research also shows that streptococcus bacteria can trigger obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in some children. Sydenham's chorea, the loss of motor control that can occur after acute rheumatic fever, may also be an immune response affecting the brain, according to Mann.
Maryland researcher Postolache suspects that some individuals have a predisposition to these neurological changes.
He speculates that the parasite may disrupt neurological pathways in those who are vulnerable, so that projections of fear and depression from the amygdala are not tempered or controlled by the "braking" function of the prefrontal cortex.
But, Postolache warns that even if a direct cause were found, no antibiotics for T. gondii yet exist and it could be a decade before effective vaccines or other agents that might stop the neurological damage are developed.
Right now, the most effective weapon against T. gondii is education about handwashing, the proper cooking of food, and not using a knife exposed to raw meat on cooked meat.
He also cautions against trendy food production techniques that
let animals roam free. "The risk of infection could go up," he said,
"and increase the rate of toxoplasmosis."
Which personality type
do you fit into?
We each have our very own special and unique personality. Its a major part of who we are as individuals and set us apart from others. While were all different in one way or another, all of the many personalities out there in the world can be boiled down to simply four main personality types. They are the following; intelligent, emotional, introvert, and extrovert. Which one are you!?
Extroverts are highly social, outgoing, and they tend to be quite vocal and outspoken. They like to keep busy and are always involved in any action going on around them. In comparison, introverts are more shy, quiet, and reserved. They prefer to observe the world around them and instead of being available and open, as extroverts often are, they keep more to themselves.
Those with intelligent personality types are rational and logical which is, generally speaking, the opposite of emotional types. Intelligent individuals think foremost with their heads, emotional people go with what their hearts tell them.
While you likely have an idea about which personality type you
identify the strongest with, there may actually be a closer match! To
gain a better understanding of how your brain is wired simply work
through the following nine questions. This quiz comprehensively
covers your thoughts, views, and responses to a range of situations
and a variety of topics. The answers you provide will tell you
whether or not you are the type of person you think you are, so click
Play button at the end of the article to begin and figure
out exactly which personality type fits you best!
Kelly Thomas video a turning point for
mental health care?
"I sleep in trash cans."
It is a minute and 45 seconds into the security camera video. Kelly Thomas, 37, jaws with police officers at a Fullerton bus depot, his arms crossed over his bare chest, his backpack double-strapped. It is the night of July 5, 2011, about 8:30. It's still 80 degrees outside. A few pedestrians wander by. A car passes. There is no indication that the lives of every person on the tape are about to change.
"You planning on going to sleep pretty soon?" one officer asks.
"I'd like to," Thomas replies.
But another officer, Manuel Ramos, isn't done. "It seems like every day we have to talk to you about something," Ramos says, twirling his baton. "Do you enjoy it?"
It is a critical moment 2:12 on the video. From that point forward, the exchange spirals out of control. At 15:47, Thomas receives the first blow from a baton. At 17:29, officers pile on top of Thomas, who screams: "I can't breathe!" At 21:25, blood gurgles in Thomas' throat. At 21:49, he shrieks: "Daddy! Daddy!" At 22:36 come his last words: "Help me! Help me!"
This week, after the tape was played for the first time in court, it exploded in the public consciousness one YouTube version had been viewed 91 times each minute and became an instant touchstone for those who advocate for a more robust and effective mental health system.
Advocates for the mentally ill said they viewed the recording, the centerpiece of the prosecution's case against two officers accused in Thomas' death, as something akin to their Rodney King video.
In the case of the King video, civic activists felt they had a record, at long last, of something they'd been trying to articulate for years: that the relationship between African Americans and Los Angeles police was fundamentally broken. Similarly, advocates for the mentally ill say they now have a record of a scattershot, chronically underfunded mental health system. This is what it looks like, they said, when schizophrenics fend for themselves on the streets, when their only interface with the government is with haplessly unprepared police officers.
"I think I'm a fairly strong woman. I've seen a lot of tragedy over the years. But I am reeling," said Carla Jacobs, a veteran Southern California mental health activist, shortly after watching the recording.
The tape, she noted, will be picked apart during the legal proceedings. Some will argue, she said, that Thomas should have been more respectful, and worked harder to follow instructions. Others will argue that the officers should have received better training. None of that, she contended, will matter in the end.
"As far as I'm concerned, the blame the guilt is on the mental health system that left Kelly out on the street and didn't provide him with the treatment that could have prevented this horror," she said. "I hope we can develop a collective memory and recognize the tragedy that we have caused."
In interviews, advocates said the beating death and its recording could fuel meaningful reform in mental health funding; in the use of coordinated, "wrap-around" social services; in persuading wary or defiant patients to consent to treatment; and, in particular, in the training of police officers to defuse encounters with the mentally ill.
"It is my personal crusade to change the way police officers deal with the mentally ill," said Thomas' father, Ron Thomas.
Kelly Thomas suffered brain injuries, shattered facial bones, broken ribs and a crushed thorax. He was taken off life support by his family and died five days after his beating.
Ramos, 38, is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter; a second officer, Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 40, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and using excessive force. Ramos faces a life prison term; Cicinelli could be sentenced to four years in prison. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The black-and-white recording, lifted from a city surveillance camera, was played in public for the first time Monday at a preliminary hearing to determine whether the case should go to trial.
The recording was not equipped with sound, but authorities paired it with audio recordings lifted from devices attached to some of the officers' uniforms. On the recording, Ramos is seen pulling on latex gloves and can be heard telling Thomas that he is "getting ready to f you up." Cicinelli can be seen striking Thomas and heard telling a colleague: "I just smashed his face to hell."
"The audio is what is key," Ron Thomas said. "Without the audio
the brutality isn't as devastating."
When the Hospital
Fires the Bullet
More and more hospital guards across the country carry weapons. For Alan Pean, seeking help for mental distress, that resulted in a gunshot to the chest.
When doctors and nurses arrived at Room 834 just after 11 a.m., a college student admitted to the hospital hours earlier lay motionless on the floor, breathing shallowly, a sheet draped over his body. A Houston police officer with a cut on his head was being helped onto a stretcher, while another hovered over the student.
Blood smeared the floor and walls. What happened? asked Dr. Daniel Arango, a surgical resident at the hospital, St. Joseph Medical Center.
The student, 26-year-old Alan Pean, had come to the hospital for treatment of possible bipolar disorder , accidentally striking several cars while pulling into the parking lot. Kept overnight for monitoring of minor injuries, he never saw a psychiatrist and became increasingly delusional. He sang and danced naked in his room, occasionally drifting into the hall. When two nurses coaxed him into a gown, he refused to have it fastened. Following protocol, a nurse summoned security, even though he was not aggressive or threatening.
Soon, from inside the room, there was shouting, sounds of a scuffle and a loud pop. During an altercation, two off-duty Houston police officers, moonlighting as security guards, had shocked Mr. Pean with a Taser, fired a bullet into his chest, then handcuffed him.
One Patients Story: Thats a Kill Shot FEB. 12, 2016
I thought of the hospital as a beacon, a safe haven, said Mr. Pean, who survived the wound just millimeters from his heart last Aug. 27. I cant quite believe that I ended up shot.
Like Mr. Pean, patients seeking help at hospitals across the country have instead been injured or killed by those guarding the institutions. Medical centers are not required to report such encounters, so little data is available and health experts suspect that some cases go unnoticed. Police blotters, court documents and government health reports have identified more than a dozen in recent years.
They have occurred as more and more American hospitals are arming guards with guns and Tasers, setting off a fierce debate among health care officials about whether such steps along with greater reliance on law enforcement or military veterans improve safety or endanger patients.
The same day Mr. Pean was shot, a patient with mental health problems was shot by an off-duty police officer working security at a hospital in Garfield Heights, Ohio. Last month, a hospital security officer shot a patient with bipolar illness in Lynchburg, Va. Two psychiatric patients died, one in Utah, another in Ohio, after guards repeatedly shocked them with Tasers. In Pennsylvania and Indiana, hospitals have been disciplined by government health officials or opened inquiries after guards used stun guns against patients, including a woman bound with restraints in bed.
Hospitals can be dangerous places. From 2012 to 2014, health care institutions reported a 40 percent increase in violent crime, with more than 10,000 incidents mostly directed at employees, according to a survey (17 page PDF) by the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety. Assaults linked to gangs, drug dealing and homelessness spill in from the streets, domestic disputes involving hospital personnel play out at work, and disruptive patients lash out. In recent years, dissatisfied relatives even shot two prominent surgeons in Baltimore and near Boston.
To protect their corridors, 52 percent of medical centers reported that their security personnel carried handguns and 47 percent said they used Tasers, according to a 2014 national survey (88 page PDF). That was more than double estimates from studies just three years before. Institutions that prohibit them argue that such weapons and security guards not adequately trained to work in medical settings add a dangerous element in an already tense environment. They say many other steps can be taken to address problems, particularly with people who have a mental illness.
Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, for example, sends some of its security officers through the state police academy, but the strongest weapon they carry is pepper spray, which has been used only 11 times in 10 years. In New York Citys public hospital system, which runs several of the 20 busiest emergency rooms in the country, security personnel carry nothing more than plastic wrist restraints. (Like many other hospitals, the system coordinates with the local police for crises its staff cannot handle.)
Tasers and guns send a bad message in a health care facility, said Antonio D. Martin, the systems executive vice president for security. I have some concerns about even having uniforms because I think that could agitate some patients.
But many hospitals say that with proper safeguards some restrict armed officers to high-risk areas like emergency rooms and parking areas and supervision, weapons save lives and defuse threatening situations. The Cleveland Clinic, which has placed metal detectors in its emergency room, has its own fully armed police force and hires off-duty officers as well. The University of California medical centers at Irvine and San Diego and small community hospitals are among the more than 200 facilities that use stun guns produced by Taser International, which has courted hospitals as a lucrative new market.
Ive worked in systems where everyone has a firearm and an intermediate weapon, and Ive worked in systems where a call to security meant the plumber and every able-bodied man would respond, said David LaRose, past president of the health care security association. How much has your system thought about safety and security? In some places thats a 2 or 3; in some places its a 10.
After Mr. Peans shooting, St. Josephs chief executive, Mark Bernard, said the officers were justified. The hospital said it was reviewing its practices but declined to respond to questions. The Houston Police Department, citing an internal investigation, declined to comment or to make the officers available for interviews, and released only a heavily redacted version of its report on the shooting. This account is drawn from a review by federal health investigators, medical records, criminal complaints and interviews with medical personnel and family members.
Mr. Pean had expected an apology after the shooting. Instead, during four days in intensive care, prosecutors charged him with two counts of felony assault on a police officer. They accused him of attacking with four deadly weapons an unspecified piece of furniture, a wall fixture, a tray table and his hands.
James Kennedy, a lawyer representing Mr. Pean, says his client disputes that he was the aggressor and other allegations by the police, but cannot discuss specifics until the charges are resolved. His family has filed complaints with the Justice Department and health care regulators, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which provides funding to most American hospitals.
After an emergency investigation, the Medicare agency faulted St. Joseph for the shooting, saying it had created immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of its patients. Threatening to withdraw federal money, the agency demanded restrictions on the use of weapons.
A family with Haitian and Mexican roots who settled in McAllen, Tex., the Peans were shocked that Mr. Peans effort to get medical aid ended so badly. Though his father, Harold Pean, and a half-dozen other relatives are physicians, they said they had no idea that guns could be used against patients. After watching the nation roiled by the shootings of unarmed black men by police officers over the last year or so, the family now wonders whether race contributed to Alans near-fatal encounter.
We never thought that would happen to us, Dr. Pean said.
In his family of high-achievers, Alan Pean (pronounced PAY-on) is the soft-spoken and mellow middle sibling, into yoga, video games and pickup football. Christian, 28, now a medical student at Mount Sinai in New York, is the Type A leader; Dominique, 24, is following his path, applying to medical school while pursuing a masters degree. Alan, who had never been in any sort of trouble, is probably the nicest of us three, Dominique said.
Like many people with mental health issues, he did not get a clear-cut diagnosis. After a brief delusional episode in 2008, he was hospitalized for a more severe recurrence the next year, at the end of his second year at the University of Texas. He was kept for a week and told that he had possible bipolar disorder, though his symptoms did not reappear for years even after he tapered off medication.
He was prone to bouts of sadness and anxiety, he recalled in an interview, but had attended college, taking breaks from time to time, and worked for a while as a medical assistant back home in McAllen, near the Mexican border. Though he had smoked marijuana regularly to help tame his symptoms, he said in an interview, he quit last summer when he enrolled at the University of Houston to complete his bachelors degree.
Just days into the semester, though, he barely slept and found himself increasingly agitated and delusional.
On Aug. 26, he talked repeatedly on the phone with his parents and brothers, who tried to calm him but worried that he sounded disoriented. Christian had been concerned enough that he called the Houston police to do a welfare check on his brother at his apartment, though no one answered the door when officers arrived.
When Mr. Pean sounded worse in the evening, his family summoned a fraternity brother in Houston to take him to an emergency room; his parents would fly in the next morning. But Mr. Pean did not wait. His mind vacillating between the knowledge that he needed psychiatric medication and encroaching delusions that he was a Barack Obama impersonator or a Cyborg robot agent who was being pursued by assassins, he said, he got into his white Lexus and drove at high speed to St. Joseph Medical Center, the only major hospital in downtown Houston.
Turning into the parking lot just before midnight, he crashed, nearly totaling his vehicle. As Mr. Pean was helped into the emergency room and onto a stretcher by paramedics and nurses, he recalled, he yelled: Im manic! Im manic!
Alan Peans white Lexus. He struck several cars after driving himself to St. Joseph Medical Center for treatment of possible bipolar disorder. Prosecutors later charged him with reckless driving.
He was seen immediately by a doctor from the trauma team to assess his injuries (scans and exams showed none). The physicians initial note, minutes after arrival, lists the young mans history of bipolar disorder. His father and brother, in separate phone calls to the emergency room, and a family friend who came to the hospital, alerted the staff about his psychiatric issues, they recalled.
Nonetheless, Mr. Pean was admitted for observation to Room 834 on a surgical floor. The diagnoses: hand abrasion, substance abuse , motor vehicle accident. His toxicology tests were negative for alcohol, opiates, PCP or cocaine, records show. (They did disclose some THC, the active ingredient of marijuana, but the chemical remains in the body for many weeks.)
While St. Joseph does have a psychiatric ward, Mr. Pean was never seen by a psychiatrist or prescribed any psychiatric medicines before the shooting. Because he had complained of back pain, he was given Flexeril, a muscle relaxant, which can exacerbate psychotic symptoms.
In interviews with the Medicare investigators and notations in medical records, the nurses who cared for Mr. Pean describe a man who had flashes of lucidity, but was increasingly restless and bizarre.
He pulled out the IV in his arm. He thought it was 1989. He could not remember the car crash or why he was in a hospital. But even in the throes of his illness, he was polite. When a nurse told him to return to his room after he repeatedly emerged naked into the hall, he complied, she told investigators, with a Yes maam, righty-o, O.K. maam.
No Clear Guidance
Though the trauma team had planned to discharge Mr. Pean that morning, his parents were so alarmed when they arrived about 10 a.m. that they insisted a psychiatrist see him. As they waited for doctors to discuss their concerns, the Peans went to their nearby hotel to try to rent a car and drive their son to a psychiatric facility. In their 30-minute absence, a nurse made the call to security.
At St. Joseph Medical Center, the security force included armed off-duty police officers as well as unarmed civilian officers. Who responded to a call depended only on availability, according to the investigators interview with the chief nursing officer.
The two men who arrived were Houston police officers. Roggie V. Law, 53, who is white, and Oscar Ortega, 44, who is Latino, each had decades on the force. They supplemented their base salaries of about $64,000 by moonlighting at the hospital. Their records were unremarkable. Both had some commendations, and Officer Ortega had one distant four-day suspension for failing to submit an accident report.
Houston police officers get 40 hours of crisis intervention training, according to the department. The N.A.A.C.P. and the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice, a civil rights group, have complained that local officers too often use their weapons, and repeatedly requested the appointment of an independent police review board. From 2008 to 2012, there were 121 police shootings, in which a quarter of the victims were unarmed, according to an investigation by The Houston Chronicle.
The two off-duty officers had signed on with Criterion Healthcare Security, a four-year-old staffing agency based in Tennessee whose executives had previously managed prisons and owned gyms. Their training at St. Joseph consisted of an orientation and online instruction, which investigators found inadequate. The facility had no clear guidance for the role, duties and responsibilities of the police officers they employ to provide security services, the Medicare investigators report said.
Like many other security firms, Criterion encourages applications from those with law enforcement or military backgrounds, who are trained to use weapons and to deal with volatile situations. But working in health care settings requires a different mind-set, security experts emphasize.
If they come from law enforcement or the military, I ask them directly, How would you respond differently here than if you encountered a criminal on a street in L.A. or when you are kicking down a door in Iraq? said Scott Martin, the security director at the University of California, Irvine, Medical Center. You have to send the message that these are patients, theyre sick, the mental health population has rights and you need to be sensitive to that.
Many mental health professionals strongly object to weapons in hospitals, saying they have numerous other means from talk therapy to cloth restraints and seclusion rooms to quick-acting shots of sedatives to subdue patients if they pose a danger. State mental health facilities typically do not allow guns or Tasers on their premises; even police officers are asked to check weapons at the door. (Twenty-three percent of shootings in emergency rooms involved someone grabbing a gun from a security officer, according to a study by Dr. Gabor Kelen, director of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School.)
Uniforms and weapons may, in fact, exacerbate delusions, since many psychotic patients are paranoid and, like Alan Pean, believe they are being pursued. Anthony OBrien, a researcher at the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, said, Thats not a good thing, pointing something that looks like a gun at a patient with mental health issues.
When the two Houston officers arrived on St. Josephs eighth floor, they headed for Room 834. Unannounced, and unaccompanied by doctors, nurses or social workers, they went in, the door closing behind them.
Anxious Patient to Felony Suspect
Racing upstairs to a Code Blue in Room 834, Dr. Arango found a cluster of about 20 Houston police officers in the hall, according to his interview with investigators.
When he pulled back the sheet covering Mr. Pean, he saw that the patient was in handcuffs, his torso dotted with Taser probes and a bloody wound on his upper chest. It was only after the doctor noted the blood pooling around the young man, who began shouting that he was Superman as the physician tried to examine the wound, that someone mentioned he had not only been hit with the Taser, but also shot.
Mr. Peans X-ray, taken several days after he was shot, showing bruised lungs and bullet fragments scattered through his chest.
Initially combative and flailing, Mr. Pean allowed a staff member to start an IV as she told him: Its O.K., Alan, Im a nurse. Were here to help. Within minutes, doctors placed him on a ventilator, inserted a tube into his chest and whisked him away for a scan, which showed that the bullet had fractured his fifth and sixth ribs, scattering metal fragments and causing extensive bleeding as it ripped through his chest.
According to a statement on the Police Departments website, Alan struck one officer in the head, causing a laceration, when they arrived in the room. Officer Law shocked the patient with a Taser, to no apparent effect, and then Officer Ortega, fearing for their safety, shot Mr. Pean.
fter the shooting, his father said officers asked over and over if Alan had a criminal record. The next day, Christian Pean asked Sgt. Steve Murdock, a Houston police investigator, why the officers had to shoot his brother. In a phone conversation, Christian recalled, the sergeant replied, Lets just say the term Tasmanian devil comes to mind.
It was like a big whirlwind, he went on. Everything was fair game. Objects, chairs, eating trays, everything was being thrown.
An ambiguity in Medicare rules allowed Alan Peans conversion from delusional patient to felony suspect. If a patient throws a tray at a nurse and the staff responds with restraints, it can be considered a health care incident. If the same patient throws the same tray at a police officer, even one off-duty, who shoots in response, the encounter is subject to a criminal investigation.
While Mr. Pean was in the intensive care unit, he was handcuffed to his bed, even though he was heavily sedated, with a Houston police officer standing guard. His family had to post $60,000 bail days later so he could be discharged from the hospital.
Mr. Peans felony case is likely to go before a grand jury in the coming months. Under the care of a psychiatrist and on medication, Mr. Pean left Texas behind. Living with his brother in New York, he is finishing his degree at Hunter College and planning to go to graduate school in public health.
But the day before Christmas, Mr. Pean learned that prosecutors had brought a new charge reckless driving against him, referring to his race to the hospital.
Accompanied by his father, he flew to Houston. In five hours of processing at the Harris County Detention Center, Mr. Pean was interviewed by a detention officer, photographed for a mug shot and fingerprinted. Being paraded around was really stressful, he said. Did they not understand what Id gone through? Id been shot in a hospital room by an officer.
A version of this article appears in print on February 14, 2016,
on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: When the
Hospital Fires the Bullet. Order Reprints| Today's
I can do something else besides stuff a ball through a hoop. My
biggest resource is my mind. - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar