Phillip’s journey: From homelessness to help

ATLANTA — On a sunny fall day in a simple Atlanta apartment, Phillip Haynes goes about his day. He gets a drink of water in his kitchen. He turns on his TV to search for a favorite show.

They are mundane moments — until you consider where Phillip was less than a year ago.

I ask Phillip if he remembers when we first met.

“Yes,” he says. “I was surprised. What would the news want with me? Being homeless, in the situation I was in.”

We were with Phillip’s mother when she found him living behind an abandoned Alpharetta office building.

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MEET the SCIENTIST – a Virtual Q & A Discussion – from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation:

The 2nd Tuesday of every month, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation hosts a Webinar that you can participate in by phone or on the web.

Tuesday, Aug 13 – “Ketamine & Next Generation Therapies”
Monday, Sept 9 – “Childhood Onset Schizophrenia: The Study and Treatment”

To register visit

For more information go to BBR Foundation site.

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Smoking and Mental Illness

People with behavioral health conditions are more likely to smoke. Psychologists are among those working to understand why and helping them quit.

Chad Morris, PhD, didn’t begin his career with tobacco in mind. His wake-up call came while reviewing best practices for treating bipolar disorder.

“I had this aha moment when I realized: What’s the one thing you have to be to benefit from the best services?” says the associate professor in the psychiatry department at the University of Colorado Denver. “The bottom line is, you have to be alive.”

But for people with mental illnesses, just staying alive can be challenging: People with serious mental illness treated in the public health system die a startling 25 years earlier than those without mental illness, according to a 2006 article in Preventing Chronic Disease. The problem hasn’t improved in the years since, Morris notes, and all too often, smoking is part of that mortal equation.

Tobacco-related illnesses including cancer, heart disease and lung disease are among the most common causes of death in this population. And Americans with mental illnesses have a 70 percent greater likelihood of smoking than the general population, according to new findings from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Feb. 8). People with mental illnesses also smoke more often than smokers without mental illness, says Tim McAfee, MD, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and a co-author of the report. “We can’t just ignore this population.”

Read the rest of the article by Kirsten Weir at the APA website.

NAMI National Convention update from San Antonio!

I am at the Nami National Convention in San Antonio. The thing that strikes me the most is how there is this diverse group of people who have all come together because of a shared experience. We come from all over the United States. We come from a variety of cultures and socio-economic backgrounds but we all share one thing in common and that is our lives have been impacted by mental illness.

It is amazing to me how this one commonality somehow forms an instant bond and openness with complete strangers.

I experienced this on the shuttle as I was traveling to my hotel. A woman had on a NAMI polo shirt. A young man next to me asked her if she was here for the convention. Then I said “I’m here from Atlanta and NAMI Northside” . Before you knew it 5 other people were introducing themselves from different affiliates and states. There were only 3 people on the shuttle who had nothing to do with the convention. Open conversations were struck up about programs they were involved in and what they hoped to learn at the convention. It made me wonder what the other 3 non-Nami participants on the shuttle thought about our open and stigma free conversations about mental illness.

Tonight I attended a screening for the documentary “Of Two Minds”. It was produced by Lisa Klein whose sister suffered from Bi-Polar disorder and died from suicide. The documentary follows 4 persons over a 3 year period. Quotes that stood out for me in the documentary were:

“People have a complete misunderstanding of what mental illness is like.”
” Those living with bi-polar disorder find inspiration in truth.”
“The hardest part was learning that the parts of my life that I enjoyed the most were the illness.”
“Sadness is different than depression because sadness goes away.”

It was an inspiring movie with moments of laughter, sadness, and hope. It showed what it is like to struggle to live with this brain disorder from the perspective of both the individual with the illness and their loved ones.

Tomorrow is a day packed with opportunities for learning. Some sessions I look forward to experiencing are:

  • Out of Crisis and Into Treatment: Key Partnerships for Success. It will provide an overview of Bexar County’s model for building a strong infrastructure of community-based services and supports.
  • “Road Map” For Empowering Families to Collaborate with Professionals: A Flexible Train-The -Trainer Curriculum.
  • Special Presentation: “I’m Not Sick; I Don’t Need Help” by Xavier Amador

I look forward to sharing more from the NAMI Convention in San Antonio tomorrow!

Neitcha Thomsen
Nami Northside Atlanta

From the Treatment Advocacy Center, an amazing FREE app for your smartphone to help families during a crisis situation.

Read Neitcha’s updates from DAYS 2 & 3.

View the convention’s Full Program.

NAMI’s Mike Fitzpatrick speaks on FACE THE NATION on mental illness panel.

NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick speaks on FACE THE NATION on a mental illness panel. Watch the video HERE.

When a life starts to unravel, where do you turn for help?

Melissa Klump began to slip in the eighth grade. She couldn’t focus in class,
and in a moment of despair she swallowed 60 ibuprofen tablets. She was
smart, pretty and ill: depression, attention deficit disorder, obsessivecompulsive
disorder, either bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder.

In her 20s, after a more serious suicide attempt, her parents sent her to a
residential psychiatric treatment center, and from there to another. It was
the treatment of last resort. When she was discharged from the second center
last August after slapping another resident, her mother, Elisa Klump,
was beside herself.

Read the rest of the article here.

Mental Health Court Program Starts in Gwinnett

Mental illness shouldn’t be a life sentence. It can be, though, for people whose conditions go untreated and who become stuck in the revolving door of the criminal justice system. Read more about the new mental health court program starting in Gwinnett.

NAMI Statement on Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy including Trauma Resources

NAMI Statement on Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy including Trauma Resources.

What families can do when a child may have a mental illness. Click here.

Another View: More Mental Health Care.

I have Bipolar Disorder, I am not Bipolar

Ellen Krantz’s bipolar disorder does not define her. Speaking out allows her to demystify the stigmatizing ideas about the illness. READ MORE