Congress gets serious about mental health, again.

Congressional hearings are being held today on the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. 

Pennsylvania Republican Tim Murphy is the principle author. His work on the bill began after the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook - Murphy is a clinical psychologist. 

There is no ambiguity about Murphy's position on the issue.  He told the New York Times: "It’s a broken system, and we’re not going to fix it by throwing a little money here or there.”

The effort is serious and the individual initiatives in the bill are well-researched. One provision would strip funding from Federal substance abuse programs - those that have shown no evidence of their worth. Another recognizes that police and emergency crews are routinely the first providers in psychiatric crises, and that they need training too.

The controversial element in the bill concerns proposals to expand "assisted outpatient programs." The assistance referred to is mostly in the form of involuntary medication. It is about something that happens everyday in every community in America: a parent cannot get help for an adult child who is on a clear path towards a psychiatric tragedy of some sort.

The Civil Rights arguments surrounding this one provision (among two dozen) will probably garner the most attention and should present the only opposition to this necessary legislation. The Civil Rights issue is complex, but not so much so when looked at in the glare of a tragic outcome.

The NY Times article (Mental Health Groups Split on Bill to Overhaul Care) says that the measure has support from both sides of the aisle in Congress.

Copyright, Paul G. Mattiuzzi, Ph.D.


Zero Tolerance Policies Gone Wild!

A teenager in Montgomery County Tennessee has become the new poster-boy for a continuing news drama that should perhaps be called:  Zero Tolerance Policies Gone Wild!

Apparently, the aspiring college applicant and ROTC candidate did not know that the truck he drove to school one morning carried a tool commonly used by fishermen (i.e., a knife) - a tool that can be repurposed for use as a weapon.  The young man is being sent to the "alternative" high school program and is now facing criminal charges in Juvenile Court.

Meanwhile in Florida, legislation is advancing that would prevent school districts from punishing students for "brandishing a partially consumed pastry or other food item to simulate a firearm or weapon." It is called the Pop-Tart Bill.  After it passes, the law will probably need to be amended to include food items that can be used to simulate a weapon without first being partially consumed (Banana used as gun in holdup, then eaten).

When it becomes necessary for a legislature to carve out an exception for food items that might appear dangerous, it is clear that zero-tolerance policies are a failed social experiment.

The experts have weighed in on the question, and so has the Obama Administration.


McDonalds Mocked for Remarkable Stress Hormone Discovery?

Banksy gives foot massage 
to relieve an executive's stress. 

New York City minimum wage workers have organized at FastFoodForward.org, thinking that McDonalds is going to give them a raise. They are just poor people complaining about poverty, so to get attention, these activists decided to mock McDonalds. It’s not rocket science and the company is fair game. 

The headlines at Salon.com caught my eye: McDonalds tells workers to ‘sing away stress’ and ‘chew away cares’ … Stress hormone levels rise by 15% after ten minutes of complaining … giant corporation warns employees.

Pulled from the web the day after Christmas, the “McResource Line” must have been the work of consultants hired by HR. 

How else can you explain why a company that takes pride in cooking with healthy low-acid Canadian rapeseed oil (canola) would advise that olive oil can prevent the blues?  

Maybe they were trying to send a message to B.B. King?

The employees were also told:  “two vacations a year can cut heart attack risk by 50%.” 


Rebooting everydaypsychology.com

I have always treated this space somewhat more like a static web page than a dynamic blog.

Little of what I have published here was written in "real time" or with the proper immediacy of a "blog."

I am reformatting in a number of ways and planning to add content, at my own pace.


Aaron Antonovsky's insight on observing Holocaust survivors.

An interview I gave to the Sacramento Bee was published this morning.  I was asked about the escape of Amanda Berry with her child, and the rescue of two other women after years being caged in a house in Cleveland by a sadist.

When interviewed,  I discussed an observation about Holocaust survivors that was made by the late Aaron Antonovsky,  an American-born medical sociologist (doctorate from Yale) who made his career at the Israel Institute for Applied Social Research in Jerusalem.

Antonovsky is not as well known as he should be.  To the extent that he is known,  it is for "a theory" that he called the sense of coherence and a term he coined:  salutogenesis.