Mental Health in America: Looking Back With Pride and Ahead With Hope

In the early 1970s at the height of deinstitutionalization in New York, I worked at a psychiatric rehabilitation program on the West Side of Manhattan that primarily served people who had been in state psychiatric hospitals for 5, 10, 20, even 40 years. Each week I went to Manhattan State Hospital...

For One Mind, Too Many Silos

In the worlds of advocacy and policy making, there are sharp distinctions drawn among Alzheimer’s (and other dementias), mental illness, and substance use disorders. This results in separate, distinct, and insular fields of policy and practice, often referred to as “silos.” [caption...

Stigma Is Being Used as a Political Weapon: Reject It

I and many others have said it before but, as recent events make clear, we will have to say it again and again and again: Mental illness is not the cause of mass murder in the United States. The continuing assertion by the political right that it is has become a core element of the vituperative...

The Triumph of “Recovery”

By the early 1970s, just a few years after aggressive deinstitutionalization began, it became clear that merely keeping people with serious and persistent mental illness out of the hospital and in the community was not enough. It was not even enough to make sure that they got good psychiatric...

Volunteering Makes Old Age Meaningful

When I moved to Baltimore to be closer to my daughter and grandchildren, I left behind 50 years of work in New York’s mental health community, 20 years of teaching at Columbia University School of Social Work, an active life in jazz and in photography, many friends, and (though I tried to avoid...

Let’s Celebrate Our Workforce

Every day when he left home to serve as the attending psychiatrist at an inpatient unit at a general hospital, he wondered whether he would contract COVID at work that day and bring it home to his wife and two small children. Maybe he had already brought it home. Had stripping in the garage and...

Becoming an Adult During the Pandemic: Trauma and Resilience

Studies tracking psychological distress during the pandemic show that young adults are more likely to be struggling emotionally than are older adults. No wonder. Their lives have been disrupted just at a time in life when they are making the transition from the common turmoil of adolescence to the...

Mental Health Advocacy With and Without Advanced Technology

I just switched from E-mail to Microsoft Word to write this article about mental health and technology. I left 250 E-mails unanswered to make the move. Oy vey! I feel like I’m guilty of E-mail neglect. Who will I offend today by not responding to them? It wasn’t always like this. 45...

Psychological Fallout of the Pandemic: What We Know, What We Don’t

More and more studies confirm widespread psychological fallout from the pandemic. The studies also confirm intuitive expectations about which populations are most psychologically vulnerable—those directly experiencing illness and death, those with economic hardship, frontline health care and...

Social Determinants of Behavioral Health: Time to Augment Advocacy Strategy?

The hope implicit in the concept of social determinants is that broad changes in the social, economic, and political structures of our communities, nations, and world can result in improved behavioral health of large populations, such as regions, age-groups, social classes, genders, disabilities,...