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App Culture: Set on Mindfulness of Mental Health

Never before have we seen such a surge in apps focused specifically on mental health, mindfulness, and stress reduction.
The popular meditation app Headspace and our Apples App of the Year, Calm, both had major updates this year that expanded their breadth considerably, taking on topics such as mindfulness for children and better sleep. The creators of the new app Lake: Artists’ Coloring Books tackle destressing a bit more actively. It offers an ever-changing selection of drawings, created by burgeoning illustrators and artists, that you can color in—which is perhaps the most accessible meditation of all.
Several apps leverage the latest research on cognitive behavioral therapy to help address larger issues. Although the apps are not a substitute for professional treatment, they do put a host of resources at your fingertips. Pacifica provides a self-help toolkit and access to a support group whenever you need it, while Joyable lets you work with a trained coach via text, email, or phone.

 

Letter from our Executive Director

2017 has been a dynamic year in mental health. For some, it feels like both a lifetime and a single second has passed since the year started back in January.

Thanks to you, some big steps have been made in bringing mental health care in the United States into the 21st Century.

We couldn’t have made progress happen within Higher Education without your generous support.

We maintained coverage for mental health and substance use benefits thanks to the thousands of you who called, emailed, and sent letters to your legislators telling them to make mental health a priority.

Our high student affairs policy standards let peers show their expertise and experience, which opens new career paths and more opportunities to transform lives and services.

This is all thanks to you – with you, we can change the trajectory of thousands of young lives.

We cannot thank you enough for your support. Griffin Ambitions Ltd and Vital Time will not settle for the answers of the past in mental health care and treatment.

With your help, we can take charge of a brighter future—where there is always hope.

To all those preparing for the celebrations, happy holidays from all of us here at Griffin Ambitions!

Be well,

 

Jacob M. Griffin

 

Most Y’all Missed This ’13 Reasons Why’ Detail & It Sheds Insight Into Alex’s Story

If you haven’t finished 13 Reasons Why, exit out of this post right now because I am about to end all debates about the last episode.

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, 13 Reasons Why is proving to be one of the best and most socially aware young adult series in recent memory. It accurately shows what high school parties are like, using the kind of language high schoolers truly use (yes, F-bombs come out in droves), and not pulling any punches on more sensitive material. From almost everyone who has seen the show (many critics excluded), it is a poignant, incredibly well-done series that hits home pretty hard.

Seeing as it’s been several weeks since the show aired, you’ve probably either finished the series or got most of the way through it, which is what brought you here. It was a compelling show that made you want to get to the end just because of what it was talking about. For the same reasons, you probably had a hard time finishing it. However, if you weren’t paying enough attention while watching, you’ll not have noticed this one moment that changes the show’s entire narrative completely.

'13 Reasons Why' [Credit: Netflix]
’13 Reasons Why’ [Credit: Netflix]

It’s All In The Little Details

Unlike Clay Jensen, I’m not going to drag this out and make you wait 13 hours to know the whole story of what happened to Hannah Baker. During the 13th and final episode of the series, the Baker family finally has their deposition against the school. Several of the students from the tapes are called in and we get to see a few of their recordings as they’re sitting there being interviewed.

If you look to the bottom left corner of the screen, you’ll see the date that the tapes were recorded. Taking into account that the show was released on March 31st, 2017, this date changes everything about the show.

Zach Dempsey's deposition. '13 Reasons Why' [Credit: Netflix]
Zach Dempsey’s deposition. ’13 Reasons Why’ [Credit: Netflix]

November 10th, 2017: None of this has happened yet. OK, well some of it has.

The Story So Far

Hannah went to the park with Justin Foley, sparking that ill-fated picture of her on the slide. Hannah met Jessica Davis and Alex Standall; they started going to Monet’s every day to get hot chocolate and whatever the hell Alex was drinking. The three of them had their falling out due to Alex’s stupid list. Hannah and Courtney Crimson found out that Tyler Down was Hannah’s stalker. Courtney painted Hannah as a lesbian to salvage her own reputation. Hannah went on a pretty crummy date with Marcus Cole, after which Zach tried to make things better, but it ended poorly for both Hannah and him.

The rest of it probably hasn’t happened yet, however. Now, I’m not entirely sure about whether Ryan Shaver’s tape happened, but the rest of it certainly hasn’t.

This means that Bryce Walker hadn’t raped Jessica, Sheri Holland hadn’t knocked over the stop sign that led to Jeff Atkins’s fatal car crash, Clay and Hannah hadn’t hooked up — resulting in Hannah being unable to show her true feelings for him out of past traumas, Bryce hadn’t raped Hannah yet, and Mr. Porter hadn’t told Hannah to just let go of what happened to her and act like it never happened.

Giving life one last chance. '13 Reasons Why' [Credit: Netflix]
Giving life one last chance. ’13 Reasons Why’ [Credit: Netflix]

But the biggest, most important takeaway from knowing this is that Hannah is still here. We still have the chance to help her and prevent this from happening. We can still save Hannah. There is still time.

When it comes to suicide, at any age, those closest to the victim wished they had seen the signs and had the time to stop it. This theme is very evident throughout the series, as every character wishes they had only known what could cause Hannah to want to end her life. As the show points out, it can be obvious that someone is depressed and looking to find a way to put an end to their pain (evident from both Hannah and Alex). However, it is difficult to see it in those closest to you, which is why everyone was so blindsided by what had happened.

The biggest message that the show is trying to push is that we don’t know what’s going on in each other’s lives. We just have to be there for each other and support each other not matter what rumors we hear. There’s too much hate in the world, especially in high school. We need to overcome it and learn to appreciate each other for who we are.

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A worthy share for social media! Don’t forget to tag @GriffAmbitions

We often don’t know if someone is depressed, no matter how evident the signs may be. However, if we can be there for each other, we can prevent something like this from happening again. And, in the case of Hannah Baker, we can prevent it from happening altogether.

With this in mind, it’s interesting to note that Jay Asher’s original ending included Hannah Baker actually surviving her suicide attempt. This original ending was actually included in the 10th anniversary edition of the novel released last December. Which was coincidentally released mere months before the Netflix series aired.

Now I’m not saying that’s suspicious or anything, but maybe, just maybe, it was released around the same time as the Netflix series with the intent to continue the series for a second season – or maybe in another format altogether. Assuming the series does well (as most Netflix series do) and with this small little detail snuck in the finale, the creators could easily turn around and say that Hannah never did kill herself and instead give us a sequel following Hannah and company in a plotline in which she’s still alive.

Depression and Celebrity Suicide

Celebrity suicide can take a toll on those who are depressed and that happened to me this week with the suicide of Kate Spade and the suspected suicide of Anthony Bourdain, reported just this morning. I can say I was upset by Kate Spade’s suicide (particularly the details, which I won’t discuss here) earlier in the week and then this morning when I learned of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide (not an official ruling at this time), it felt like adding insult to injury. The celebrity suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have actually worsened my depression.

WHY DO THE CELEBRITY SUICIDES OF KATE SPADE AND ANTHONY BOURDAIN MATTER?

Now, truth be told, I don’t much care about celebrities. Their lives are very far removed from mine and for me, they can do whatever they want and it’s almost never relevant to me. So the latest “scandal” is something that others can flip over, I don’t need to.

But celebrity suicide is different. Suicide touches me, of course, and while all suicides touch a huge number of people, when a celebrity dies of suicide, it touches thousands, maybe even millions (Dealing with Depression in the Wake of Robin Williams’ Suicide). And it’s this pervasive and widespread effect that gets me, I think. In fact, sometimes I even feel mad at the celebrity as in, “How could you kill yourself – don’t you know how many people you will hurt?”

(Please understand, anger may not be the most logical of emotions following a person’s death but it is completely normal after a death, especially one of suicide. There are five stages to grief and one can experience any of them [anger being one] at any time.)

And I understand, of course, as someone who has been there, when you’re planning your suicide and taking steps to end your life, you’re not thinking of the others you will hurt, you are just thinking of your own unbearable pain. That pain outweighs everything else. And if you have ever felt it, you understand why. It’s like the pain is stealing all your air. And when you can’t breathe, nothing else matters. It’s also important to note that pain can even make you think everyone else will be better off without you. A very powerful, if very false, feeling.

In the case of Kate Spade’s suicide, I thought of the thousands of people who have her designs (she famously built a handbag brand). I thought it so sad that these cheery designs that must have brought smiles to many were actually tear-stained by Spade.

And I thought of Anthony Bourdain, whose travels and experiences made it appear that he had an amazing life, and how he must have had to hide his pain every day if it was so severe that it drove him to suicide. I know what it is to hide that kind of pain. It’s horrific.

DEPRESSION AND CELEBRITY SUICIDE

And these thoughts of celebrity suicide, particularly one piled on top of another so quickly, has made me feel even more depressed. Somehow, life feels more hopeless, pointless. I suppose this is how suicide can spread – the thought is, if these people, with every resource and everything going for them, can be taken by suicide, then what chance do I have to fight it? How can I possibly win against suicide when Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade could not?

I do find it odd that a person that I have never met or even felt strongly about can make me feel this way or think this way, but such is the power of celebrity suicide and such is the power of depression.

PUTTING ANTHONY BOURDAIN AND KATE SPADE’S CELEBRITY SUICIDES IN CONTEXT

While celebrity suicides pretty much poke us in the eye with the cold, hard facts about suicide, it’s worth remembering something that never makes it into the news: people fight and win against suicide every day. There is no news to report when someone simply doesn’t die. But countless don’t. Countless aren’t taken by suicide every day. And I’m one of them.

While the news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s death has made me feel a sense of hopelessness, this hopelessness needs to be tempered with the knowledge that I am one of those non-newsworthy people who has not died. I have fought suicidal depression. I have fought suicide and won. In fact, I’m doing it right now.

My point is, if celebrity suicide causes you to feel any kind of grief or the worsening of depression, I understand completely. But try to fight against these tragedies by knowing that there are even more miracles of people surviving out there. Yes, suicide statistics are depressing and every news article about these suicides will quote them; but the statistics we don’t have, the ones on surviving and even thriving in the face of suicidal ideation or even suicide attempt, those are worth remembering, too.

I grieve the loss of Spade and Bourdain to suicide. They brought happiness to many and, unfairly, didn’t feel that themselves. But I am also lifted knowing that this is a teaching moment that can encourage people to seek help and remind me of all the wins, including my own personal wins.

If you feel like you may hurt yourself, please reach out. You touch more people than you know and even if suicide is telling you that you don’t matter or the people don’t care about you, know that suicide lies and it is wrong.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Also, see the list of suicide helplines and resources on the HealthyPlace website.

Celebrity suicides can feel like dark moments, but there is light too, I promise.

‘Grasping at straws’: Farm advocates concur more resources needed to combat high suicide rates

Psychologist Michael Rosmann said that whenever he is home at his family’s farm in western Iowa he is taking calls or answering emails from farmers asking for help or counseling.

He specializes in behavioral health for farmers and said he has received more requests for assistance in recent months than the last three decades.

“My phone and my email have just been completely filled for the last six months. I work virtually seven days a week if I’m around the phone is always going email is always coming,” he told ABC News.

The calls are part of a critical issue faced by farmers, their profession faces the highest overall rate of suicide in the nation — much higher than the number of suicides in the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

PHOTO: Debbie Weingarten and Michael Rosmann during a visit to his farm in Harlan, Iowa, September 2017. Audra Mulkern/Female Farmer Project
Debbie Weingarten and Michael Rosmann during a visit to his farm in Harlan, Iowa, September 2017.

Debbie Weingarten reached out for help four years ago when she was running a vegetable farm in Arizona. She was a first-generation farmer and said that even without the pressure of maintaining a family farm she felt depressed and anxious about the possibility that they would lose money or crops.

“I felt like the risk that farmers undertake to produce food for eaters is not spread out fairly across the food system, so that’s squarely on the backs of farmers,” she told ABC News.

She said couldn’t find anyone to talk to online who understood her situation until she found a program run by Rosmann. The website said it lost funding a few years before but she called anyway.

“I was grasping at straws,” she said.

Rosmann picked up the phone.

Weingarten said she left farming in 2014 but still writes about agriculture. She spent five years researching and reporting a story about the suicide rate among farmers that was published in The Guardian last year.

Farmers in industries that have faced falling commodity prices and international trade disputes have faced additional economic pressure in recent years and farming experts and industry leaders say the uncertainty around the nearly $400 billion dollar Farm Bill adds additional stress for farmers and their families.

“Farmers were going through a very stressful winter weather-wise, a cold and tough winter, and on top of that we are into our fourth year of low milk prices, below the cost of production, and that has been creating a lot of stress,” Robert Wellington, a senior vice president of Agri-Mark Dairy Farmer cooperative, told ABC News on the phone Thursday.

PHOTO: Dairy cows on a Iowa farm are pictured in this undated stock photo.STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
Dairy cows on a Iowa farm are pictured in this undated stock photo.

On average, Wellington estimated, small and medium dairy farmers have struggled through four years of milk prices that are 10 to 30 percent below the cost of production.

His group sent a letter to members in January forecasting yet another year of low milk prices. In the letter, they included phone numbers for people dealing with financial and emotional stress and a suicide hotline.

The farm bill has traditionally been bipartisan legislation to maintain subsidies, crop insurance programs, and livestock disaster programs but there has been dramatic debate and delays in this year’s bill due to proposals to cut funding from food stamp programs that make up a huge portion of the money allocated by the bill every five years.

This draft of this year’s farm bill in the House would have also provided funding for crisis hotlines and other programs to provide mental health help to farmers.

“Our farmers who feed the world are feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders,” one of the sponsors of that bipartisan provision Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn. said on the House floor ahead of the Farm Bill vote.

The House rejected the proposed bill.

In a 2016 report, the Centers for Disease Control found that about 84 out of every 100,000 people in the farming, fishing and forestry industries died by suicide in 2012, the most recent data available. The suicide rate for the general population was about 12 out of every 100,000 people that year, according to CDC data.

PHOTO: A farm in Iowa is pictured in this undated stock photo. STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
A farm in Iowa is pictured in this undated stock photo.

That study included data from 17 states but did not include data from states like Iowa, Texas, or California where agriculture is a major part of the economy.

The report said that the high rate among farmers could be due to the potential to lose money in the business, as well as social isolation, lack of mental health services, or access to lethal means.

Rosmann is a psychologist and adjunct professor at the University of Iowa who specializes in behavioral health for farmers. He said farming is physically and emotionally stressful but that the current health system does not deal with all of the physical and mental risks for farmers.

“The bigger picture is that we have not attended to the behavioral well being of the agricultural population the way we have to the general population’s need for behavioral health,” Rosmann told ABC News.

He said that farmers have a unique psychology that drives them to work hard but that some factors are out of their control, like policy, weather, or commodity prices, resulting in a very stressful situation, adding that there has been increased economic stress on farmers in recent years and that they think they’re being economically marginalized.

Rosmann said farmers have a strong bond to their land and their farming operation and that on a psychological scale the stress of a life event like losing a family’s farm can be just as traumatic as losing a child.

“It’s almost always because of the loss of livelihood that people do such dramatic things as taking their lives,” he said.

Rosmann said he strongly supports a provision in the farm bill sponsored by Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., to provide more money for states to provide mental health services like crisis hotlines for farmers and ranchers.

He said that some states offer resources like a crisis hotline but they need a stronger network of resources and a national center to help with the problem. In Minnesota the state employs one rural mental health counselor to help roughly 100,000 farmers, according to MinnPost.com.

Earlier in May the president of the National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson, wrote to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging him to proactively address what he called “the farmer suicide crisis.”

PHOTO: The U.S. House of Representatives votes down a farm bill, 198-213, on May 18, 2018.C-SPAN
The U.S. House of Representatives votes down a farm bill, 198-213, on May 18, 2018.

“Farming is a high-stress occupation,” Johnson wrote in his letter. “Due to the prolonged downturn in the farm economy, many farmers are facing even greater stress. USDA’s national reach uniquely positions the Department to assist farmers and ranchers during times of crisis. We urge you to leverage your vision for collaboration across USDA and the entire federal government to develop a response to the farm suicide crisis.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced a bipartisan bill on the issue of farmer suicide that would mandate more spending on mental health resources in rural areas. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., also introduced a bipartisan bill earlier this year to provide mental health services for farmers and ranchers.

Emmer’s bill was included in the version of the farm bill that was voted down in the House. The Senate’s farm bill has not yet been released.

The current farm bill is set to expire in September the most recent Farm Bill failed 198-213.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7 free, confidential support. The organization Farm Aid also offers a hotline for farmers in need of emergency help and a directory of local resources.

ART: When Is an Artist’s Mental Health Your Business?

What does an understanding of an artist’s life story bring to bear on their work? It’s an old question, and of course, one that doesn’t have an easy answer. Biographical information can enrich our understanding of a practice, but it can also narrow a viewer’s focus, forcing critical interpretations through a distorting lens.

We certainly don’t need to know everything about an artist to appreciate her output—whether she smoked or drank; slept with men, or women, or both; was ever arrested, or took LSD, or loved cats—but a hunger for such details is understandable. We are, after all, a curious species.
In the case of so-called outsider art, or art made by those distant from the “art world” (often with mental health complications), it’s an even thornier issue. Curators, and those charged with translating and presenting the story of art to a wider public, have difficult choices to make. What details are relevant, rather than just salacious? Where is the dividing line between honest explication and exploitation?
In conversations with several figures, various aspects of this dilemma come into focus. First, and perhaps most obvious, is that there is no blanket statement or best practice to follow when resolving art’s relationship to mental health. Each artist’s situation is unique, and should be approached as such. Secondly, this is still a dialogue that is in flux, and one in which the foundational vocabulary—including basic terms like “outsider”—are very much contested. The lack of a shared language is itself uncomfortable.

Breaking Down Boundaries

It’s no surprise that

or outsider art—we can perhaps agree to drop the quotation marks and “so-called” qualifiers—are still wrapped up in questions of mental health. Outsider art’s founding moments were with publications and collections that had their roots in psychiatric institutions, from Hans Prinzhorn’s 1920s volumes (including Artistry of the Mentally Ill) to the iconic

collection organized by the French painter

, now housed in Lausanne, Switzerland.

From the beginning, this was art that was both aesthetic and diagnostic. Its interest was partially as a record of psychic maladies, evidence of how differently wired brains might work. (These collections and archives simultaneously provided a fruitful cache of imagery that modern artists were happy to plunder.)
In the 21st century, we’ve started to slowly slough off categorical divisions, as institutions grow more comfortable showcasing outsider or folk art alongside that made by trained or professional artists. It’s a tendency closely associated with a curator like Massimiliano Gioni and key exhibitions that he oversaw or organized, including the 2013 Venice Biennale and 2016’s “The Keeper” at the New Museum.
Installation view of work by Hilma af Klint in “The Keeper” at New Museum, 2016. Photo by Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio. Courtesy New Museum, New York.

Installation view of work by Hilma af Klint in “The Keeper” at New Museum, 2016. Photo by Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio. Courtesy New Museum, New York.

There are still institutions, though, specifically dedicated to the appraisal and scholarship surrounding art made by extraordinary individuals in uncommon circumstances. But these institutions, focused on folk or outsider art, aren’t organizing exhibitions for didactic purposes; the goal isn’t to lamely exemplify, yet again, what schizophrenia or bipolar disorder looks like in visual terms. And so they’re in a difficult position: making a case for the artistic merit of the work itself, while also deciding what amount of background information is necessary to fully appreciate or comprehend it.

Context Is Key

To get a better handle on this dilemma, I met with Valérie Rousseau, the curator of 20th-century and contemporary art at the American Folk Art Museum in New York. At the time of my visit, two exhibitions were on view, showcasing the work of

and Eugen Gabritschevsky. Wall texts for both shows seem to perform a familiar elision, hinting at unavoidable biographical facts while refusing concrete details.

Carlo Zinelli, Untitled, San Giacomo Hospital, Verona, Italy 1960. Collection of Audrey B. Heckler. Photo by Visko Hatfield © Fondazione Culturale Carlo Zinelli. Courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum.

Carlo Zinelli, Untitled, San Giacomo Hospital, Verona, Italy 1960. Collection of Audrey B. Heckler. Photo by Visko Hatfield © Fondazione Culturale Carlo Zinelli. Courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum.

“We always caricature our fields by saying that we’re all about biographies, and the market builds mythologies around the artist,” she explains, sitting in a gallery full of Gabritschevsky’s fantastical gouache paintings. In the case of these dual exhibitions, Rousseau says, “I didn’t [include] anything specific about their mental illnesses, and everybody is asking me: ‘Oh, by the way, I know it’s not written on the walls—but can you tell me? What exactly was the diagnosis of Gabritschevsky?’ People are savvy and curious about this connection, and they want to know. But I question the validity of giving them the answer.”
Would a different sort of institution, she wonders, feel inclined to share wall-text information about an artist’s struggles with “addiction, hallucinations, social issues, or anorexia,” she wonders? “You have to be careful about what’s relevant. I’m driven by showing great artworks—fascinating artists, complex lives—and you do want to be verbal, and bring the visitors into something that is an exhibition experience.”
At the same time, she notes, what would providing diagnostic or clinical information really add to that exhibition experience? Audiences, weaned on Hollywood and pop-psychology, might fancy themselves experts—but what comprehension does the casual viewer actually have of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia?

Audiences might fancy themselves experts—but what comprehension does the casual viewer actually have of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia?

That’s not to say that curators should sweep mental health context under the carpet entirely. Rather, it’s one thread of a larger narrative.
In the case of Zinelli, who was a patient at the San Giacomo del Tomba hospital beginning in the middle of the last century, his physical surroundings—the jam-packed institution, the pioneering series of studio classes he took part in there—are important, but so are other things, Rousseau stresses. His upbringing on a farm, appreciation of nature, and fond feelings for a beloved dog are also salient details. Likewise, with Gabritschevsky, the artist’s background as an esteemed biologist provides arguably much more context than the knowledge of the mental health struggles that derailed his career.
“I found it interesting,” Rousseau says, “to show the full range of influences that an artist, a creator, could have had.”
Rousseau brings up another vital point: The way we conceive of mental health and categorize patients has evolved drastically over the centuries. The foundational definitions of sanity and normalcy are constantly shifting. “Timeframe is important,” she says. “If you were in a Swiss hospital in 1945, that’s different than being in one here in New York in 2013. Mental illness has changed, along with its diagnostics and treatments.”
Eugen Gabritschevsky, Untitled, Haar, Germany 1947. Collection Chave, Vence, France, no. 1647. Photo by Galerie Chave © Estate of Eugen Gabritschevsky. Courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum.

Eugen Gabritschevsky, Untitled, Haar, Germany 1947. Collection Chave, Vence, France, no. 1647. Photo by Galerie Chave © Estate of Eugen Gabritschevsky. Courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum.

Carlo Zinelli, Untitled, San Giacomo Hospital, Verona, Italy 1967. Collection of Gordon W. Bailey. Photo by Adam Reich © American Folk Art Museum © Fondazione Culturale Carlo Zinelli. Courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum.

Carlo Zinelli, Untitled, San Giacomo Hospital, Verona, Italy 1967. Collection of Gordon W. Bailey. Photo by Adam Reich © American Folk Art Museum © Fondazione Culturale Carlo Zinelli. Courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum.

As a result, a curator who decides to play armchair psychiatrist, at great historical remove, would run the risk of being both inaccurate and unethical.
“I hope my shows refuse the pathologizing of the artist,” says Gioni, whose recent curatorial work has been instrumental in mingling mainstream and outsider practices. In his mind, part of our thrall to the latter has to do with “a certain romanticism, a desire for sincerity” that is lacking in the larger art world.
Take

, a recently lauded artist from the early 20th century who was influenced by spiritualist movements of the times. Catalog copy on the artist casually suggests that she had “visions”—but what does that even mean?

“These objects and stories help us understand that the rules and notions of conformity and eccentricity are historical, and relative,” Gioni says. “Af Klint had visions or hallucinations—I don’t know if they were pathological or not, but we have enough history under our belts to understand that the definition of pathology is relative, and historical, and cultural. And to be reminded of that might help us also have a healthier relationship with our fellow humans.”

Risky Choices

Despite the fact that boundaries between these types of artmaking are slowly dissolving, prejudices and anxieties remain—tied to both artistic legacies and markets.
Rousseau points to the case of

, the subject of the Antigua and Barbuda Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. Walter is an artist whose work I encountered there, and later wrote about, focusing on the more colorful and anecdotal elements of his backstory (and doing my own part to dance around mental health issues by including the problematic word “visionary” in my headline).

Installation view of “Frank Walter: The Last Universal Man 1926-2009” on view at the Pavilion of Antigua and Barbuda at the Venice Biennale, 2017.

Installation view of “Frank Walter: The Last Universal Man 1926-2009” on view at the Pavilion of Antigua and Barbuda at the Venice Biennale, 2017.

The Pavilion, and its hefty accompanying catalogue, is a fascinating case study regarding the choices curators can make in dealing with complicated artists. In Rousseau’s reckoning, the Pavilion organizers “really dig into all the possible biographical facts they could—they don’t have an art-historical approach for that publication, which surprised me.” At the same time, she says, “I think the tone was right. I think it was a point of view that was risky.”
But what’s next for an artist like Walter, after the Biennale? Will it be the Serpentine or the American Folk Art Museum? Rousseau somewhat wistfully notes that, once an artist’s work has been received in a particularly high-profile manner, it’s difficult to change course.
“It’s impossible or often misperceived to send them back, to associate them again to a niche, specialized presentation like in our museum,” she says. “It’s [as if]: ‘Oh, no, he doesn’t belong anymore in this category.’ I’ve seen that so many times. It’s interesting how this whole process of recognition in the art world is more like an irreversible path, from one step to another. And I think outsider or self-taught artists do not escape that program.”
In other words, the biographical drama of Walter’s life might act as a wedge to generate (justifiable) interest and intrigue. Meanwhile, the paintings themselves—divorced from those details—are indeed fascinating and adept. If we fast-forward three decades, perhaps Walter’s oeuvre might be assimilated into a larger art-historical narrative that doesn’t dwell too much on his personal eccentricities or mental health. That might all depend on the steps his estate takes, institutionally, as well as the decisions it makes in terms of how his work is packaged, exhibited, and contextualized.
It’s a process that Rousseau and Gioni both allude to, in the case of canonized artists from

to

,

, or even

: At first, the details of the individual life are tantalizing. But after we’re generally familiar with those details, we can somehow move on and appreciate the art on its own terms.

The Challenge of Living Artists

As if this conversation wasn’t complex enough, there’s another wrinkle: the considerations at play with living artists who may have mental health issues or, more specifically, developmental disabilities. Perhaps no New Yorker has been more involved in promoting work from such artists than Matthew Higgs, the director of White Columns, who has created a thriving network between his non-profit institutions and centers around the country, like Creative Growth in Oakland and and Visionaries + Voices in Cincinnati. For these practitioners, he stresses, one thing swiftly trumps the viewer’s curiosity about an artist’s background: the right to privacy.
“Certainly, with historical work, it now seems pretty accepted that the biographical narrative is part of the work of self-taught, outsider, and folk artists,” Higgs says. “But it’s much more complicated when showing the work of living artists with disabilities.”
Here, the balance is twofold: Not encroaching on an artist’s privacy rights—especially in the case of those who are “not in the position to articulate” them directly—while also highlighting the positive work being done by non-profit organizations. “When you go to the desk at White Columns,” Higgs says, “the press text will explain that this is an artist who is affiliated with a center that supports artists with disabilities. But we wouldn’t then go beyond that into establishing a narrative around their medical circumstances or mental health issues.”

What Do We Talk about When We Talk about Mental Health?

Eccentric. Visionary. Prophetic. It often seems like institutions, galleries, and the media have developed a series of lightly coded terminology with which to tip-toe around issues that can’t, or shouldn’t, be fully unpacked in the case of a wall text or short catalog essay.
Is the vocabulary we have, I wondered, lagging behind the rest of the field itself? If so, Gioni sees a silver lining, that “these artists, artworks, and objects are still putting our system in crisis to such an extent that there’s not yet a word for it. That’s the hopeful aspect.”

It often seems like there is a lightly coded terminology used to tip-toe around issues that can’t, or shouldn’t, be fully unpacked in the case of a wall text or short catalog essay.

Andrew Edlin, who runs an eponymous New York gallery and also helms the Outsider Art Fair, is less optimistic when I bring up the handful of phrases that seem to resurface so often within the field. “I don’t particularly like any of these words,” he says. “Visionary can be appropriate at times, but I tend to think of

. Eccentric seems like a euphemism to describe someone who’s a bit weird. There’s that well-known line: The difference between someone who is eccentric and crazy is how much money they have!”

And perhaps, he suggests, the repetition of rote or cliched phrases is simply the byproduct of a certain laziness. “I don’t think we are lacking in vocabulary at all,” Edlin says. “If a writer sticks to the idiosyncratic qualities of each artist, there shouldn’t be any problem in finding the right words to accurately talk about his or her work.”

What Difference Does It Make?

We generally want to know more about all the artists we love—whether or not those facts actually enhance our understanding of the work they make. We crave gossip and insider dirt, or at least a broader picture of a life. “That’s one of the reasons why the Calvin Tomkins [profiles] in the New Yorker are so fascinating,” Higgs says. “It’s one of the rare opportunities to get a glimpse into an artist’s background, what their parents did, how they grew up, what their circumstances are—all of which is useful information.”
But with outsider artists, it’s important not to indulge in sensationalism under the guise of scholarship. Rousseau does admit that, in certain cases, a deeper understanding of someone’s mental health or related background can be fruitful. She points to

, an artist who has Asperger’s Syndrome. “Because of his love for inventories and numbers, it’s not an un-useful fact to know,” she says. “He also has a photographic memory. It helps you understand a cause and effect. But that’s not often the case.”

In other instances, seeing beyond biographies and categorical distinctions seems to be a way out of the morass. “I’m led to believe that there is no difference between the ‘eccentric’ artist and the professional artist, when they’re dealing with matter and materials,” Gioni says. “In the moment they sit down to make, I ultimately don’t think there’s any difference in the knowledge they have of their hands meeting the material.”
Susanne Zander of Cologne-based Delmes & Zander echoes that sentiment. Her gallery represents the likes of

and

. “Essentially, we are not that interested in the mental history of the artist,” she says. “The selection of the artists in our program is based mainly on the quality of their work, irrespective of whether or not it was produced specifically for the art market. It’s important for us that the quality is on a par with established art production, and that the artists are judged not for any of their psychological problems—but rather for the quality, individuality, and autonomy of their artistic work.”

As for the basic phrase “outsider art,” Zander feels that it has lost its usefulness. “We feel that the term ‘outsider’ focuses too strongly on the personal situation of the artist and misleads the public, who neglect the actual work itself. We see each work not in reference to a classification or terminology, but for what it really is.”
“The most respectful way to talk about an artist with any condition or pathologies is to stick to the facts,” Edlin says. “If there are things that are unknown—but evidence that suggests certain possibilities—than that’s exactly how it should be put across. Focus on the work, and use the biographical info to help interpret the artmaking process.”
At the same time, Edlin recognizes that an exceptional background can add another dimension to the appreciation of the work. “One of the most interesting and exciting results of accurately explaining the details of the lives of outsider artists—or any artists who have overcome incredibly challenging circumstances—is that their art becomes even more transcendent and uplifting for the viewer,” he continues. “It’s important to remember that figures like

,

, and

were some of the most downtrodden artists we’ve ever known. Genius resides in some of the most unlikely of places.”

When Ignorance Is Bliss

Disko Girls (Anonymous), untitled, 1970s-1980s (archive-# 1). Courtesy Delmes & Zander, Cologne.

Disko Girls (Anonymous), untitled, 1970s-1980s (archive-# 1). Courtesy Delmes & Zander, Cologne.

Disko Girls (Anonymous), untitled, 1970s-1980s (archive-# 32). Courtesy Delmes & Zander, Cologne.

Disko Girls (Anonymous), untitled, 1970s-1980s (archive-# 32). Courtesy Delmes & Zander, Cologne.

“Despite thorough research it has not been possible to identify the artist behind these drawings, found in Germany in the late 1990s,” read the press statement for a group of 50 stunningly idiosyncratic colored-pencil drawings that Delmes & Zander showed at this year’s Independent art fair in New York. Based on its content, the series had been dubbed “Disko Girls,” a title that was “attributed to the work out of respect for the unnamed and unknown author.”
Here, finally, is a case study that happily short-circuits everything we’ve just discussed. For the moment, it’s possible to stand in front of these strange portraits—titillating, disturbing, campy, playful, raw—with absolutely zero baggage.
Perhaps art-historical sleuthing will turn up the artist’s identity in the next few years. Perhaps we’ll find out that he was an orthodontist in Cologne who drew on the weekends, or that she was a university student who copied designs from advertisements and pornographic magazines. Biography will become a magnifying glass used to zoom in on what was once peculiar, elusive, and magnificently foreign about the artist. With any luck, that day will never come.
By Scott Indrisek

Navigating the Student Healthcare Framework

The decision to share confidential student health information among clinicians in the campus health center and counseling center also deserves consideration. Over the past ten years, the US federal government has established integration between primary care and mental health services as a significant priority (learn more here). There are widely varying models for this integration (learn more here).

On college campuses (as in other primary care settings) many students presenting for medical care are experiencing concomitant mental health problems and in many case their mental health difficulties may be their primary presenting problem-whether explicitly or implicitly. On many campuses, some or all of the prescribing of psychiatric medications is done at the health service. As a result, in order to ensure continuity and quality of care, it is helpful for the counseling and health centers to establish a system of carefully bounded communication/collaboration. For some, this occurs through a shared electronic health record and for others it is through a regularly scheduled meeting between health and counseling center staff to discuss shared cases. On a few campuses, the students’ electronic health record is integrated while for others there may be firewalls in place allowing access only to specific information. Often this takes the form of a firewall that prevents health center clinicians from accessing counseling center clinical/therapy notes. Another approach is to keep therapy/counseling notes separate from the electronic health record. In any case, the ability for treating clinicians to be aware of diagnosis and prescribed medications should be carefully considered in informing treatment approaches.

As in the case of sharing information in the event of an emergency, policies for sharing information between health and counseling centers also need to be clear and transparent to students. Some institutions address this in the confidentiality/consent for treatment agreement that the student receives when they present for treatment at the health or counseling centers, while others obtain a release of information from students at the time when information needs to be shared.

JED encourages colleges and universities to develop systems for sharing appropriate clinical information when legally permitted and clinically indicated, whether it be in the case of significant risk or in the service of providing holistic and integrated health care. In both cases, policies for sharing information need to be clear and transparent and easily accessible to students. In all cases, the guiding principle that drives the decision on sharing confidential student health information needs to be what is in the students’ best interest as well as the safety and health of the campus community.

As Ralph Slovenko stated many years ago: “Trust—not absolute confidentiality—is the cornerstone of psychotherapy. Talking about a patient or writing about him without his knowledge or consent would be a breach of trust. But imposing control where self-control breaks down is not a breach of trust when it is not deceptive. And it is not necessary to be deceptive” (Ralph Slovenko, Psychotherapy and Confidentiality, 24 CLEVE. ST. L. REV. 375, 395 (1975))

For further reading on Confidentiality in Campus Counseling Services: Bower, K., Schwartz, V., Legal and Ethical Issues in College Mental Health, in, Kay, J., and Schwartz, V., Mental Health Care in the College Community, Wiley (2010). Pg. 115-23

Read more on integrated care.

JED is grateful to the following individuals who generously took the time to share their insights and experience in reviewing and contributing to this document:

• Louise Douce, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Director Counseling and Consultation Service, retired; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University.

• Greg Eells, Ph.D., Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, Cornell University.

• Peter F. Lake, J.D., Charles A. Dana Chair and Director, Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy, Stetson University School of Law.

College Students Deserve Mental Wellness

Nineteen-year-old Sophie described her state of mind when asked about what prompted her to seek therapy at her university’s on-campus counseling center in the spring semester of her freshman year: “I was feeling really depressed adjusting to college: the alcohol consumption, relationships, living really close to people for the first time after being an only child who was used to a lot of personal space and privacy — basically, the mess of freshman year.”

Sophie, who asked that her last name not be used, had been in therapy before. A lot of it. From age seven through 18 she had seen the same therapist back home in Los Angeles to treat her ongoing anxiety. The transition to college found her, for the first time in a long time, without a therapist to unburden herself and help her cope.

As a seasoned client she carefully unpacked for her campus counselor all the issues afflicting her and asserted a need to have someone to talk with who might really understand her. But, the counselor seemed more interested in cataloguing Sophie’s symptoms than truly listening to her painful life predicaments. Sophie’s distress was palpable as she recalled how the counselor responded.

“Being clear about what I needed felt like I was doing something wrong,” Sophie said. “The counselor knew what she wanted me to be. She wanted me to be a problem she could fix or put a band-aid on. I believe that therapy is a long-term process and the counselor was not interested in that. I only went to one appointment. It felt like I was with a graduate student getting practice doing therapy.”

After the first session, I was given a date a month later to see a different therapist,” she continued. “I’m sure the counselor had some order of immediacy, somebody who posed harm to themselves or others. I felt like I really needed help at that time but I didn’t fit their model. I wasn’t a priority.”

Adding insult to injury was the fact that Sophie had partially chosen her college over other choices because its well-advertised counseling services were a drawing point for her. Without her regular therapist and insurance coverage that would allow her to see a therapist in the nearby city, Sophie was counting on campus-based therapy. “I wish they had been more honest about what people could expect from the service,” she said. “I thought there would be more counselors. They really underestimated the number of students who prioritized their mental health.”

Sophie’s story is fairly typical of what all-too-commonly occurs on college campuses nationwide: students with complex mental health problems, and a rather sophisticated understanding of psychotherapy based on previous experience, relying on college counseling centers for quality treatment, dropping out prematurely when they encounter inexperienced clinicians who only offer crisis-intervention or a quick-fix approach.

Let’s start with findings that substantiate the complex mental health needs of the new generation of college students. Trends among college students serviced in college counseling centers tracked in the 2016 Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) annual report show 33 percent having “seriously considered attempting suicide,” compared with 24 percent in 2010-2011. The majority of the 518 counseling center directors polled in the 2014 National Survey of College Counseling Centers (NSCC) pointed out significant increases in the number of students presenting with anxiety disorders, clinical depression, self-injurious behavior, sexual abuse and eating disorders, over the previous five years. More students are showing up on campus with thornier mental health issues, as well as a prior history of receiving therapy. The 2016 CCMH survey estimates that one in two students seeking services on campus has been in therapy before. So we have a cohort of students who are savvy about therapy and in need of quality interventions.

Zach (not his real name) is one such informed psychotherapy consumer. His susceptibility to panic attacks had become aggravated by the dawning sense that his choice of college — a small liberal arts college in New England — might have been an incorrect one. He badly wanted a therapist to act as an objective sounding board so he could pick apart whether there was merit to his dissatisfaction with this particular college, or whether transitioning to any college would have been distressing. “He wanted to talk about my mental health and I wanted to talk about practical things,” said Zach. “But that’s not how therapy works necessarily. It’s like a lot of very practical talk, then you get moments of deeper understanding.”

Other disclosures reflect Zach’s finessed understanding of quality psychotherapy and his disappointment over not receiving it. “He asked about childhood trauma very quickly,” he said. “In fact, the questions he asked were not in sync with what I was talking about. I’m sure it’s good to understand how somebody thinks and you need to do that eventually. But I was flustered. No one at school seemed to listen and meanwhile he wasn’t listening. That was pretty alienating. I was so done after the first visit.”

Sadly, Zach’s final remark reflects an alarming trend in the delivery of care on college campuses — premature drop out. Various studies conducted by University of North Texas professor of psychology Jennifer Callahan reveal that premature termination of psychotherapy in college counseling centers approaches 80 percent, while similar rates in private practice and community clinics fall between 40 and 60 percent. Cognizant of this alarming trend, the authors of the 2016 CCMH report assert that “the management of client drop-out should receive greater attention during treatment and clinician training.”

Is it possible that the inordinately high therapy drop-out rates at campus clinics reflects inexperience on the part of many practitioners and the quality of care offered? We know from the latest annual survey of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, spearheaded by David Reetz, the director of counseling and psychological services at Rochester Institute of Technology, that there is about a one in four chance that a student walking into a college counseling center for services will be treated by an unlicensed trainee mental health professional. However, this data set may underestimate the actual chances a student ends up receiving therapy from a trainee. Several years ago, sleuth work by staff at The Flat Hat, the College of William and Mary student newspaper, discovered that students who sought services at the campus counseling center had a 58 percent chance of being treated by an unlicensed or trainee mental health professional. Depending on where you turn for information, there is probably a one in two to one in four chance that students’ therapy needs are met by trainees on college campuses.

In fairness to trainees, they are often left to “learn as they go,” because supervisors’ time is spread thin and decisions have to be made between reviewing trainees’ work with clients during supervision time and attending to trainees’ professional development and conduct. A study led by Chris Brown at the University of Missouri-Kansas City found that a majority of training directors at college counseling centers were ethically troubled by their struggle to find time to adequately focus on the quality of treatment trainees were providing to clients on the one hand, and addressing issues of professional development and conduct (e.g., discussing child abuse reporting laws, covering laws and ethics pertaining to treatment notes, dressing appropriately, treating other staff members as colleagues/coworkers rather than friends), on the other.

Trainees often aren’t afforded the opportunity to observe their supervisors perform psychotherapy, nor get observed doing psychotherapy themselves. A recent investigation of over 1200 trainee psychologists overseen by Gerardo Rodriguez-Menendez, former dean of the College of Psychology at John F. Kennedy University in Florida, found that 62 percent of trainees had never been observed by a supervisor performing psychotherapy during their internships. Beginning therapists are often left to somehow transpose what they have learned from textbooks and scientific studies into actions that are therapeutically useful.

Matthew Liebman, a psychologist in training at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, captures the dilemma no-doubt shared by his counterparts in college counseling centers.

“In graduate school it is easy to forget that everything you learn has to do with people,” said Liebman. “None of the theory is any good unless it can be applied to helping people in need. And when that person is sitting in a chair across from you, looking at you with a bizarre mix of depression and hope as if the next thing out of your mouth could potentially have the power to make it all better, the pressure may be enough to shake loose every bit of information you’ve learned in the past several years all at once, creating a flood in your psyche. Alternatively, everything you’ve learned thus far may simply disappear.”

Not only is there a high chance of being treated by a relatively inexperienced trainee when students seek campus-based services, the therapy offered is likely to be of the short-term, solution-focused, crisis-management variety, with sessions spaced weeks apart. On the Health and Counseling Services website at Northeastern University in Boston, students are quickly schooled on the type of therapy offered:

. . . we focus on identifying issues or major concerns, problem-solving, and we provide support to help you develop strategies to address your personal goals. Some problems can be addressed in one or two sessions, while others need a number of sessions spaced over a period of time. We do not automatically see students on a weekly basis.

The emphasis is often on risk-assessment and risk-management, rather than giving clients ample time and space to talk at length about their angst-ridden concerns and delve deeply into the sources of their anxiety and depression. Along these lines, Ben Locke, who directs counseling services at Pennsylvania State University, recently told a STAT news reporter, “You’re making sure people are safe in the moment. But you’re not treating the depression or the panic attacks or the eating disorders.”

According to a trusted source who has been on staff at a variety of top-tier university counseling centers in Southern California, “I’m listening for risk more than listening for things that would result in me making a real connection with a client. I’m listening for any words that I need to jump on because they indicate a suicidal potential. Then I go into overdrive getting consent forms signed, alerting resident assistants, parents, anybody who can keep an eye on the client. My clinical decisions are so governed by fear and anxiety, rather than what the client really needs, which is a connection to a trained professional to talk about distressing problems.”

This source also informed me that at one site he was required to have his laptop open at all intake sessions with clients asking numerous symptom-oriented questions and clicking off boxes accordingly.

This medical-model, symptom-governed, solution-focused, crisis management approach to psychotherapy might quell the anxiety of beginning clinicians, making them feel they are being productive and safety-conscious. It may also satisfy the aspirations of college administrators worried about any added liability associated with increased numbers of students on campus admitting to suicidal ideation. However, paradoxically, a therapy approach where the practitioner functions more like a medical provider and dictates the agenda in terms of symptoms, goals and solutions, can undercut clients being genuinely engaged, encountered and listened to in their moments of dire need. In fact, suicide-prevention experts, like David Jobes at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., would proffer that any effective suicide-prevention counseling is predicated on hearing in great detail suicidal clients’ agonizing reasons for having reached such emotional lows in their life; really settling in to thoroughly understanding their existential struggles; really entering the painful narrative they tell and struggling with them to restore hope and meaning in their life.

And, to effectively treat the depression that accounts for clients’ suicidality, short-term therapy comes up short. In one of the most well-regarded studies of its kind, Jeffrey Vittengl, psychology department chair at Truman State University, along with several colleagues, found that crisis intervention, symptom-reduction, solution-focused therapy is insufficient to treat many clients’ depression. Within a year, almost 30 percent of clients offered this approach relapse, as do 54 percent within two years.

If college counseling centers are to accomplish their mission of maximizing the mental health of struggling students to enable them to be “ready to learn,” they need to heed this message from Louise Douce, former assistant vice president of student life at Ohio State University, in the influential publication A Strategic Primer of College Student Mental Health:

Fundamentally, we need a web of caring services that makes it more likely that students who experience symptoms or consequences of a behavior or mental health problem, whether those symptoms are personal, social, or academic in nature — will “stick” somewhere and find their way to one of the entry points for mental and behavioral health care.

Presumably, “stick” means not just improving access to needed psychotherapy, but ensuring it is of quality — relationship based, humanistically-informed and of adequate duration. That way any emotionally troubled student will have a reasonable shot at having contact with the same, well-trained, caring psychotherapist over time. A system heavily staffed by trainees who typically have a year-long stay counteracts the continuity of care from the same trusted provider a recurringly depressed student may intermittently need throughout the four or more years it takes him or her to graduate.

When more than 240 experienced psychotherapists were asked in a 2003 study by the Emory University psychology professor Drew Westen about the number of psychotherapy sessions the average anxious and depressed client needed to achieve meaningful and lasting change the number ranged from 50 to 75. That falls far short of the 4.66 average number of attended therapy sessions per student at campus counseling centers cited in the 2016 CCMH study.

Effectively engaging and keeping college students in the therapy they need to enduringly overcome the psychological problems interfering with their readiness to learn will require a more relationship-based, humanistic type of therapy. College administrators may need to turn back the clock and get reacquainted with the original client-centered philosophy of treatment fostered at the flagship counseling center at the University of Chicago, founded in 1945 by one of the pioneers of humanistic psychology, Carl Rogers: Sustained active listening and empathic understanding, nonjudgmental acceptance and recognition of clients’ feelings, and genuine regard for and dedication to students as they struggle to acquire personal agency, meaning and purpose in their lives.

Mental health in universities …still lethargic

mental-health-in-higher-educationI work in a university – the same university where I studied my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The same university where I was first diagnosed with mental illness, and the same university which has supported me ever since my diagnosis. I am incredibly grateful to work where I do, and to work with such incredible individuals. While I was a student the support I received through the Student Services mental health and wellbeing team was fantastic – the Mental Health Adviser within Student Services was able to organise practical support that enabled me to manage my mental health around my studies, as well as contact my GP and Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) when I was in crisis. Most importantly I had a space to express my concerns about dealing with mental health while at university – something which I never realised I needed, and something that I am whole-heartedly grateful for.

Now I work full-time at my university and I have been overwhelmed by the number of students that contacted me in relation to mental health. Having used the university’s counselling and mental health team myself I have been able to guide students in the direction of support, as well as signposting them to charities and organisations such as Student MindsStudents Against Depression and Vital Time by Griffin Ambitions LTD. While my job role doesn’t directly focus on mental health I certainly spend a great amount of time supporting students – or working on mental health projects. I do however know my limits, and I know when and where to go if I feel unable to support a student – Student Services and our Students’ Union are fantastic in working alongside me to ensure that we offer the best possible support for students. However, I do wonder how this works in other institutions – recently The Guardian published a series of articles focusing on the ‘mental health crisis’ currently encompassing higher education – which considers the mental health of both students and academics.

Having dealt with ongoing mental illness both as a student and now as a member of staff within my institution I feel comfortable and confident in the support I have received. And I feel comfortable and confident in encouraging students to use our support services – I have access to my own support networks – but I wonder, does more need to be done to protect the mental health of staff within higher education? And I don’t just mean academics, I mean support staff. Not all staff are like me – I have a fantastic support network, and most importantly – I feel comfortable and able to speak openly and honestly about my mental health, but for others this may not be the case.

Potentially Preventable Tragedies involving Mental Illness in Ohio

The purpose of assembling these is not to demonize persons with mental illness. The people involved in these incidents
are our children, siblings and parents. But because they (i) have serious mental illness, (ii) often do not recognize their
need for treatment, and (iii) are ‘protected’ by HIPAA, we can not help them get treatment until after they become danger
to self or others. Rather than preventing violence, the law requires it. Congress can help by (i) eliminating or reforming
SAMHSA which supports policies that prevent our relatives from getting care (ii) implementing demonstration projects of
Assisted Outpatient Treatment, (iii) instituting HIPAA reforms so we can get info needed to care for our relatives; (iv)
require agencies to prioritize mental “illness” rather than mental “health”, and (iv) end the IMD Exclusion in Medicaid.
Roselawn, Hamilton, OH
On October 22, 2009, James House III, a man with paranoid
schizophrenia, fatally stabbed 93-year-old Ida Martin. House had
been released four months ago from court monitoring after serving
10 years in a mental health facility for stabbing a woman in 1998.
Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/23/09; WKRC, 10/23/09; WLWT.com,
10/22/09
Columbus, Franklin, OH
On October 17, 2009, Daniel James Neeley fatally shot his mother
and wounded his sister. In 911 emergency calls, Neeley’s sister,
Bethany Lafountain, told dispatchers that her brother is a paranoid
schizophrenic. Prior History: On August 5, 2000, Calvin Neely
attacked his father Calvin Neeley who told officers his son has
mental health issues and was not taking his prescribed medicine.
Dayton Daily News, 10/26/2009; Springfield News Sun, 10/28/09;
WHIO, 4/28/10; The Columbus Dispatch, 4/28/10
Columbus, Franklin, OH
On May 2, 2009, Anthony Tilley, a prison parolee with schizophrenia,
knocked on the door of his next-door neighbor at 3:30 a.m. and
stabbed Undra Amos to death. Columbus Dispatch, 11/25/09
Hamilton, Butler, OH
On March 23, 2008, Vincent Blanda killed his 5-month-old daughter,
Brooklynn Blanda, by shaking her. At the time of Brooklynn’s death,
Blanda was not taking his medication for mental illness.Hamilton
Journal-News, 1/13/10
Columbus, Franklin, OH
On October 3, 2011, 40-year-old mentally ill Alesia Sheppard fatally
stabbed her boyfriend, 62-year-old Larry Edwards. Her symptoms
include “auditory hallucinations, delusional beliefs, paranoia and
erratic and impulsive behaviors.” She was ordered held in a secure
psychiatric unit at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare until she could
be restored to competency. The Columbus Dispatch, 10/4/11, 3/5/12
South Euclid, Cuyahoga, OH
On March 11, 2012, 30-year-old Quentin Diggs killed his 61-year-old
father Oliver Diggs and attacked his 58-year-old mother Brenda with
a brick. Diggs had a long history of mental illness, and his parents
had always tried to help him. He had a history of domestic violence
against his parents. Witnesses said Quentin Diggs attacked his
mother, and then his father tried to protect her. Fox 8, 3/11/12
Canton, Stark, OH
On January 26, 2011, 60-year-old Alana Monroe fatally shot her
husband, 54-year-old James Monroe, before overdosing on pills. A
judge ruled that Alana Monroe was legally insane when she fatally
shot her husband and had paranoid schizophrenia. Newsnet5.com,
1/27/11; Canton Rep, 7/28/11, 9/7/11

Copley, Summit, OH
On August 7, 2011, 51-year-old Michael Hance killed seven people
during a shooting rampage before he was killed by police. Hance
shot his girlfriend Rebecca Dieter at their home and then moved to

an adjacent house where he shot 51-year-old Craig Dieter, 67-year-
old Russell Johnson, 64-year-old Gudrun Johnson, 16-year-old

Autumn Johnson, and 16-year-old Amelia Shambaugh. Hance then
pursued 44-year-old Bryan Johnson and 11-year-old Scott Dieter
through neighboring backyards and shot both. Polixw asked Hance
to drop his weapon, but shot him when he refused. Hance’s family
believed he had untreated mental illness, though the disagreed on
the diagnosis. He had “delusional beliefs” that airplanes were
polluting the area and the proof was on the stained roof shingles atop
homes. According to the final investigative report Hance was a
depressed, sometimes paranoid. ABCNews.com, 8/8/11; Plain
Dealer, 8/9/11; Beacon Journal, 10/8/11
Bono, Lucas, OH
On October 31, 2010, 24-year-old William ‘B.J.’ Liske, killed his 53-
year-old father, William Liske, Jr., his wife 46-year-old Susan, and
her son 23-year-old Derrick L. Griffin inside their home. There was
“blood everywhere in the house.” A relative said B.J. was dangerous
and had threatened Susie before. Police said that he suffered from
Schizophrenia and at one time had been off his medications. Liske
had repeated encounters with law enforcement that resulted in jail
time and mental health treatment. Five months before his death,
William E. Liske, Jr., called the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office to
report that his 24-year-old son had walked off after yelling at him and
pushing him during a confrontation at his pole barn. The elder Liske
said he had brought his son home for a weekend visit from the
Sandusky group home where he lived. He said his son was
schizophrenic and apparently wasn’t taking his medication. “He is
angry and uncontrollable,” the elder Mr. Liske wrote in a June 4
statement for the sheriff’s office. “I do not want to press charges, but
he needs to do his meds like most mentally ill individuals.”
ToledoOnTheMove.com, 11/1/10; ToledoBlade.com, 11/1/10,
11/2/10, 9/15/11; CBSNews.com, 11/2/10;
MansfieldNewsJournal.com, 3/22/11; Las Vegas Sun, 9/15/11
Dover, Tuscarawas, OH
On September 5, 2010, Jason Lee Gordon fatally beat his girlfriend,
33 year old Gina Harper. Gordon suffers from bipolar disorder and
schizoaffective disorder and had been admitted to mental institutions
both as a juvenile and an adult. NewsNet5.com, 9/5/10;
19ActionNews.com, 9/6/10; The Times-Reporter, 1/3/11
Enon Beach, Clark, OH
On January 1, 2011, 57-year-old Michael L. Ferryman fatally shot 40-
year-old Clark County Deputy Suzanne Waughtel Hopper before he
died in a shoot out with police in a trailor park. Previously, Ferryman
was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2001, after a shootout

with authorities in Morgan County. Ferryman stayed at various state
facilities for over three years due to his mental illness.
DaytonDaileyNews.com, 1/3/11, 6/28/11; Columbus Dispatch, 1/4/11
Mansfield, Richland, OH
On April 3, 2010, Mansfield Dan Redman, 27, fatally shot John D.
Williamson, 61, in the back of the head while he was sleeping.
Redman, who had been staying with Williamson, said he couldn’t
control his actions. “It was like I was in control of my eyes, but
nothing else. I didn’t want to do it,” said Redman. Redman’s mother
said her son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia
when he was 16, and couldn’t afford to stay on medication. Mansfield
News Journal, 4/7/10
Southington, Trumbull, OH
On July 31, 2012, 60-year-old Royce C. Honaker fatally shot his wife,
58-year-old Donna Honaker and called 911 to tell dispatchers he had
just killed his wife. Family members said that Royce Honaker
suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and his condition had
worsened in the last six months. He believed, among other things,
his wife was poisoning his food. Family said she moved out of the
house but returned frequently to care for him and make sure he was
safe. Donna Honaker had taken her husband to Trumbull Memorial
Hospital’s psychiatric care center to be evaluated, but he checked
himself out three days later against doctor’s advice. Tribune
Chronicle, 8/3/12
Newport, Washington, OH
On August 1, 2012, 48-year-old Mark Stevens shot his neighbor,
Patrick Arnold. Neighbors said that Stevens, who had a history of
mental illness, behaved erratically and made people uncomfortable.
In 1985, he had been found incompetent to stand trial on an
attempted murder charge.Marietta Times, 8/3/12; TheNewsCenter.tv,
8/4/12
Lakemore, Summit, OH
On January 8, 2009, Daniel Tice fatally shot his estranged wife,
Brandi Tice, 28 with a single gunshot wound to the head. After
keeping SWAT officers at bay with Noah, his 4-year-old son by his
side, Daniel Tice was shot by police. Daniel Tice suffers from bipolar
disorder. Family and police said Tice stopped taking his medication.
Akron Beacon Journal, 1/10/09
Colerain Township, Hamilton, OH
On January 24, 2009, Timothy “Timmy” Sturgel shot his adopted
father Jerry Sturgel, 51, Mary Sturgel, 40, and Mary’s daughter,
Emily Hurst, 13 and set the home on fire. Timmy was diagnosed with
bipolar disorder and reportedly heard voices. Sometimes the voice
told him to do bad things. Hamilton County court documents show
Timmy had been ordered to undergo psychiatric care and treatment
at least four times since he was 20. Colerain Township police had
been called to the house previously for a psychiatric emergency as
recently as May 2008, according to records. Cincinnati Enquirer,
1/24/09, 1/25/09, 1/26/09
Dayton, Montgomery, OH
Eric Tyrone Moorer, a mental patient on a weekend pass from the
Dayton Mental Health Center, walked into a bar near the Center and
shot two men to death there. Dayton, Ohio News (Dayton
Metropolitan Area), November 17,
Marietta, Washington, OH

On August 19, 2002 Faran L. Sebring, 43, shoved Hames Lupardus,
42, of Marietta, into oncoming traffic while the two men were walking
together at night. The state’s report indicates Sebring was hearing
voices around the time of the incident and that he feared Lupardus
was trying to kill him. Psychologists determined Sebring was
suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The
Marietta Times (OH), February 26,
Noble, OH
In March 2004, Fred Mundt, a 29-year-old man from Lebanon OH,
beat, raped and murdered his girlfriend’s 7-year-old daughter,
Brittany Hendrickson. Mundt’s mother, Sara Mundt, said her son has
depression and a bi-polar disorder. WTAP News, March 16, 2004
Marietta Times (OH), March 16, 2004 Akron Beacon Journal, 12/8
Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH
Timothy Ward, 20, of Cleveland, pled guilty to strangling 19-year-old
La’Erica Patterson to death on their first date. Police later found her
body in a toy chest in Ward’s room. Ward said that the “devil made
me do it” and was diagnosed by a court psychiatrist as a paranoid
schizophrenic. Ward had a history of killing family pets and had once
attacked a former girlfriend but had no prior troubles with the law.
Plain Dealer (Ohio), October 1,
Lucas, OH
Stephen Everett, 19, raped, robbed, and murdered Rhonda Douglas
on March 29, 2002 in her Lucas County home about six weeks after
he was released from the Lucas County Youth Treatment Center.
Everett was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression at age
13. He stopped taking medication before the murder, and drinking
and drugs exacerbated the illnesses’ effects. Toledo Blade,
November 21,
Alliance, Stark, OH
Felicia Jennings, 35, was charged with involuntary manslaughter,
child endangering and abuse of a corpse for disposing of her
newborn twin sons in a plastic bag for trash pickup. Jennings has
been diagnosed with schizophrenia and borderline personality
disorder and twice was committed for mental health care. She was
apparently not taking her medication at the time she gave birth to the
twins at home. Akron Beacon Journal, November 22, 2002 The
Repository (Ohio), March 13,
Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH
Jay D. Scott was given the death penalty for murdering 74-year-old
Vinney Prince, a Cleveland delicatessen owner, during a robbery in
May 1983. Prison doctors say Scott has schizophrenia and suffers
from a “history of psychosis characterized by delusional thought
process, paranoia and bizarre behavior.” He hears voices, set his
cell on fire several times, screams incoherently and bangs his head
on the wall Scott was executed on June 14, 2001. The Columbus
Dispatch, April 15,
Columbus, Franklin, OH
Gregory A. Pack stabbed social services caseworker, Nancy
Fitzgivens, to death on October 16, 2001 at his home in Columbus,
OH, after she told him that Child Protective Services would be taking
custody of his children. Pack had a history of bipolar disorder.
Columbus Dispatch, April 27,
London, Madison, OH

Veniamin Linnik, 43, a Ukrainian immigrant with paranoid
schizophrenia, beat his father to death after a night of drinking on
December 14, 2003 inside the London, OH apartment. Columbus
Dispatch (Ohio) May 22,
Akron, Summit, OH
Paul Michael Fassnacht, 32, stabbed and killed his stepmother on
September 10, 2006, in her home. Prior History: According to
records, police and paramedics have been called to Fassnacht’s
home seven times since December 2003 for incidents stemming from
mental illness. The most recent call came in January. In an October
2005 incident, Fassnacht was described as schizophrenic and said
he heard voices and a tapping sound on his windows. In an August
2004 incident, he was said to be yelling obscenities to himself and
punching himself hard enough to fall to the ground. Barbara Lenc, a
neighbor, said she noticed Fassnacht behaving strangely on several
occasions. He would pace alongside the house, wring his hands, talk
to himself and stomp, Lenc said. Akron Beacon Journal, September
12, 2006, November 2,
Alliance, Stark, OH
On February 18, 2007, Morgan Ellis, 53used a gun to fatally wound
his wife, Debra, 44, shortly before shooting himself. Family
members and relatives described Morgan Ellis as a man struggling
with mental illness. Aaron Ellis, 23, who shared the home with his
parents said “He had a problem, he had a serious problem. In his
mind, he thought the world was against him. He took everything out
on her.” Aaron Ellis said one reason he lived with his parents was to
help safeguard his mother. “I had been worrying about my sister for
years,” Jeffrey Carter, Debra Ellis’ brother, said. “He had some
serious issues. I didn’t think he would go this far.”Canton Repository,
2/19/07
East Palestine, Columbiana, OH
Ernest B. Robinson, 21, formerly of East Palestine, OH, pleaded
guilty to causing the death of his 5-month old daughter on August 14,
2002. Robinson had been treated for bipolar disorder and had taken
medication for the illness, though he hadn’t taken medication for the
past five years. Morning Journal News (Ohio), August 25,
Columbus, Franklin, OH
Police say Robert Villalon, 46, attacked his mother Lucia Villalon, 75,
on December 11, 2002 in their home in Columbus, OH. Both the
defense and the prosecuting attorneys agree that he should be
permanently committed. Columbus Dispatch (OH), October 14,
Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH
Eroge Thomas, a 45-year-old man with paranoid schizophrenia,
stabbed and killed his boss in a downtown Cleveland, OH hotel
restaurant on July 28, 2003. Thomas attacked 29-year-old head cook
Amy Brin in the restaurant’s kitchen and stabbed her 13 times with a
large chef’s knife in front of their co-workers. Thomas, who court
records show was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1981,
was on parole after serving 20 years in prison for another murder. In
1980, he robbed and fatally shot Charles Nixon, 23, of Cleveland.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 1, 2003; 218/04; 1/23
Huber Heights, Montgomery, OH
On July 22, 2004, Duane Allen Short, 36, shot and killed his wife,
Rhonda Michelle Short, 31, and her friend, Donnie Ray Sweeney, 32
in Huber Heights. Short had recently been diagnosed with bipolar

disorder and depression, but had flushed medication down the toilet.
The Dayton Daily News, September 21,
Miami Township, Clermont, OH

Christina Miracle, 25, a woman with mental illness, killed her 6-year-
old son on February 6, 2004 after she stopped taking her psychiatric

medication. Miracle thought she was bringing her dead brother back
to life and baptizing her son. Prior History: In March 2003, Miracle
began acting irrationally and expressing paranoid fears that
somebody had poisoned her water, family members said. Miracle
was admitted to a psychiatric ward for two days and then released. In
the following days Miracle was re-admitted to the hospital and stayed
for a week. Hospital officials told Miracle’s family she suffered from
major depression and sent her home with medication and orders to
see a counselor. Miracle never sought additional treatment and
discontinued her medications. Cincinnati Enquirer, September 23,
2004;Cincinnati Enquirer, October 13, 2004; Cincinnati Enquirer,
March 1, 2005; Cincinnati Enquirer, March 9, 2005.
Canton, Stark, OH
On July 3, 2004, Sherah N. Bennett, a woman with bipolar disorder,
rammed her car into a delivery truck in Canton, OH, killing the driver,
retired Canton police officer Sheldon Gotschall. Bennett’s attorney
Timothy C. Ivey told the judge that his client is very “functional”
when she is properly medicated. But when her medication is altered
or she fails to take it, Ivey said, problems can arise. Three weeks
before the July 3 crash, Bennett was involved in another crash when
she hit a parked tractor-trailer in a rest area on Interstate 71. After
that incident, according to police records, Bennett told a state trooper
that she was “bipolar and not taking her medication”.
Akron Beacon Journal, September 30, 2004 Akron Beacon Journal,
October 5 & 27, 2004 NewsNet5.com, OH, November 4,
!!!!!Springfield Township, , OH
On August 24, 2004, Paul Thomas Faith, 25 entered a K-Mart store
in Springfield Township, OH, shot and killed one man and wounded
another, then shot and killed himself after leading police on a short
car chase. Faith’s mother said he was diagnosed with paranoid
schizophrenia in 1999. He often heard voices and didn’t take his
medications, she said. “I am angry that the system failed my son,”
Linda Faith said, adding that Faith often wanted to stay in the
hospital but was released because he wasn’t deemed ill enough.
Prior History: Hamilton County court records show that Faith was
twice declared mentally ill and was hospitalized four times between
1999 and 2003.Cincinnati Inquirer, October 6,
College Hill, Hamilton, OH
Michael Meridy, a 20-year-old man with mental illness, stabbed and
beat his grandfather to death at the elderly man’s College Hill, OH
home in November 2003. Meridy told detectives that God and the
devil made him kill Pillow. Meridy suffers from schizophrenia and was
not in his right mind during the killing. Prior History: A month before
the murder, Meridy was taken by family to a psychiatric ward, after
he walked around the house asking if others could hear the voices he
was hearing. Cincinnati Enquirer, October 14, 2004 Cincinnati Post,
October 14, & November 2,
Westlake, Cuyahoga, OH
Daniel Jung, a 22-year-old man with a history of mental illness, killed
his 68-year-old father and injured his mother with the family car in the
driveway of their Westlake, OH home. On October 18, 2004, a judge
ruled that Jung was mentally incompetent to stand trial. Court

psychiatrists who evaluated Jung and reviewed records of past
psychiatric treatment diagnosed him as schizophrenic. Plain Dealer
(Cleveland), October 19,
Columbus, Franklin, OH
On December 8, 2004, 25-year-old Nathan Gale entered a
Columbus, OH nightclub and shot and killed four people, including a
well-known heavy metal guitarist who was up on stage. Gale, who
had taken a hostage after shooting the last victim, was then shot and
killed by a police officer at the scene. Gale’s mother, Mary Clark, said
her son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2003, when
he was sent home from the Marine Corps on an early medical
discharge. “He came home with his medications, and I don’t know if
he took them or not,” Clark said. MSNBC.com, December 15, 2004;
Cincinnati Enquirer, April 14, 2005; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 12,
Hyde Park, Hamilton, OH
On May 31, 2005, Andrew Warrington, a 16-year-old boy with mental
illness, killed his brother Johnny Warrington, 17, in their Hyde Park,
OH home by beating him to death with a baseball bat because he
thought Johnny, was trying to poison him. Warrington suffers from
paranoid schizophrenia and was refusing to take a prescription
antipsychotic medication. Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/16/05, 11/30/05,

12/2/05, 6/12/08, 12/5/08; ChannelCincinnati.com, 11/30/05; WLWT-
TV, 12/16/05; Middleton Journal, 12/17/05; Cincinnati WCPO.com

Cincinnati, Hamilton, OH
William Ushry, a 23-year-old man with mental illness, stabbed a
woman to death after burglarizing her apartment in Cincinnati, OH on
April 25, 2004. Ushry accused his parents of trying to poison him,
took a knife out of his father’s drawer, and left the house. When
Ushry returned, he told his parents he “might have hurt someone,”
said his father. Prior History: After returning from the Army, Ushry
told his parents that the government was reading his mind, that he
was getting messages from the television, and that he could see
spirits. Ushry later lost a job with the Cincinnati Public Schools
because of his mental health problems, his father said. Ushry’s
parents took him to University Hospital, where he was diagnosed
with paranoid schizophrenia. The Kentucky Post, August 12, 2005;
Cincinnati Post, August 19, 2005; Cincinnati Post, September 23,
Middletown, Butler, OH
On September 3, 2005, 25-year-old Michael Carreiro fatally stabbed
his mother, 56-year-old Christine Minnix in his apartment. Carreiro
told detectives he killed his mother as part of a prophecy he received
from a higher power. Carreiro’s stepfather said he suffered from
paranoid schizophrenia. He said Carreiro stopped taking his
medication when he turned 18 and had spent four years in outpatient
mental health care, which was initiated in November 2000 through a
civil commitment proceeding, before he was released on December
7, 2004. Middletown Journal, 9/7/05, 11/8/05, 9/5/06, 11/21/06,
12/12/06, 11/28/06, 12/11/06, 8/10/11, 11/28/11; Cincinnati Enquirer,
9/5/05, 9/7/05; Dayton Daily News, 9/14/05; Journal-News, 10/19/05;
Cincinnati.com, 6/15/11, 12/1/11; Dayton Daily News, 6/21/11
Canton, Stark, OH
Henry A. Sunderman, 32, is accused of raping and killing his infant
niece on March 10, 2006, when Sunderman was baby-sitting 7-
month-old Zoey Sunderman, her two sisters and a brother. Ward
has bipolar disorder and has been on disability for at least five years.
Canton Repository, March 14,

Toledo, Lucas, OH
On March 10, 2006, Sharon John Hawkins, 62, allegedly beat his 77-
year-old roommate, Norbert Konwin, to death at the Foundation Park
Alzheimer’s Care Center. Hawkins has schizophrenia. Toledo
WUPW, 3/29/06; Toledo Blade, 8/8/07
Middleton, , OH
On January 1, 2006, Dean Geldrich killed his roommate, Miranda
Lint, 29, in their Malvern Street home after he bound Lint’s limbs with
duct tape and brutalized her for hours. The judges said they spared
Geldrich’s life because his mental illness — a bipolar disorder with
psychotic features — was an overwhelming mitigating factor against
the death sentence Middletown Journal, 8/9/06, 9/6/06, 9/18/06,
6/5/08; Journal News, 9/27/06; Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/26/06
Youngstown, Mahoning, OH
On March 11, 2007, James R. DiCioccio, 49, choked and killed
Stephen A. Lawson, 34. Lawson died at St. Elizabeth Health Center
shortly after a fight at Illinois Manor, a group home for mentally ill
men. In February 2006, staff wanted him removed to the psych ward
of a hospital, saying he was becoming too violent. Youngstown
Vindicator, 3/20/07
Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, OH
On May 26, 2007, Timothy Halton Jr., 27, shot officer Jason West,
who later died at Huron Hospital.
• Nineteen days before, Timothy showed up for a psychiatry
appointment at the downtown offices of Mental Health Service

for Homeless Persons Inc. He had skipped his monthly anti-
psychotic injections recently.. The psychiatrist asked Halton to

stick around for the shot. But Halton left, and the staff never saw
him again. As with Halton’s mother, who struggled to get her
son help, there was nothing the agency could do to compel
treatment.
• On October 4, 2003, Halton’s mother, Jeanette Tiggs, called
police to report Halton’s threats to relatives. Halton says that he
wants “a bullet in his head” and that he is going to “kill a police
officer.” Halton is stopped by police, smashes a patrol car with a
brick and punches Patrolman Mark Merims in the face. He was
sentenced to probation and ordered to take antipsychotic
medication. His probation ended in June 2006, according to
court records.
• On May 24, 2001, Halton’s mother, Jeanette Tiggs, called police
to say her son was threatening to “go kill” President Bush, who
is visiting Greater Cleveland.
• On July 8, 2000, Timothy Halton Jr. punched and kicked a 60-
year-old man who walked past his home. Police get a call from
Halton’s screaming sister, who has locked her brother out of the
home telling them he is bipolar and “violent when not properly
medicated.” Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/26/07, 5/30/07, 5/31/07,
10/30/09; The Morning Journal, 6/2/07; Plain Dealer, 6/2/07,
6/3/07; Cleveland Free Times, 6/6/07; WKYC.com, 10/30/09
Mansfield, Richland, OH
On May 7, 2007, Preston Fenderson bludgeoned Larry Gutshall at
his apartment in Dalton Place, a 12-room apartment building for
people recovering from mental illness. Fenderson was a diagnosed
paranoid schizophrenic. Police said they believed Fenderson had
been off his medication. Bacyrus Telegraph (CA), 6/13/07; Mansfield
New Journal, 3/19/09, 3/27/09, 4/1/09, 4/2/09
Canton, Stark, OH

On July 9, 2006, Brian C. Aduddell who has a history of mental
illness, admitted using a cane and a carving knife to murder Charles
W. Evans Sr., 81, and Evelyn C. Evans, 80, inside their home.
Aduddell told police that God told him to kill his grandparents in order
to save the world. Aduddell, whose his grandparents basically raised
him since he was 5 years old, had moved in with the couple the day
before. He suffered from severe mental illness. For at least two years
before the killings, Aduddell’s behavior was erratic. He believed in
UFOs and spent his days writing his bizarre thoughts. His relatives
have said he claimed to chase flying saucers and preach the Bible to
aliens. At one point, Aduddell was hospitalized for mental illness; a
month before the murders he sought treatment at a crisis center in
Wayne County, Stafford said. Aduddell’s mother had schizophrenia
and committed suicide when he was young. That Aduddell wasn’t
treated for mental illness frustrates his cousin, John Gardiner.
Aduddell lacked insurance and when he went to the crisis center and
was told nothing was wrong even though his family knew better,
Gardiner said. Canton Repository, 8/7/07
South Euclid, Cuyahoga, OH
On March 22, 2008, Walter D. Spencer Jr. critically wounded his
mother and killed his father in their South Euclid home. Walter D.
Spencer Jr. suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and may not have
been taking his medication. Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/24/08
Waynesburg, Stark, OH
During the week of August 17, 2008, 22-year-old Joseph P. Grossi of
Waynesburg killed his former roommate, Bruce Bai, 38, after walking
17 miles to Bai’s apartment by stabbing him once in the lower back.
His mother Catherine Grossi said her son bipolar disorder, and
needs medication. Canton Repository, 8/26/08, 1/5/09, 1/13/09
Mansfield, Richland, OH
On December 26, 2007, Larry Evans Jr., fatally shot his brother
Officer Brian Evans, and a neighbor, 44-year-old Robert Houseman
and held police officers at bay for several hours before surrendering.
Evans was off his psychotropic medication at the time. The defense
team, court and prosecution team each hired an expert and they all
agreed Evans, had bipolar disorder and psychosis. WMFD
Mansfield, 9/2/08; Mansfield News Journal, 4/6/10, 4/24/12;
IndeOnline, 6/6/12
Zanesville, Muskingum, OH
On August 29, 2008, John Matthew Hughes, 32, killed Eugene David
Durben. Wendy Pritchard, Hughes’ sister, of Mississippi, said while
she is shocked her brother had anything to do with Hughes’ death,
she wants the Hughes family to know her family is extremely sorry.
Pritchard said her brother has suffered from mental illness for years.
“He’s been diagnosed as a bipolar, paranoid schizophrenic and has
never really gotten any help with his problems,” Pritchard said. “We
aren’t excusing him we’re just hurting ourselves.” Pritchard said the
justice system has never addressed any of Hughes’ problems. “They
just keep putting him in prison and not allowing him to have his

medication,” Pritchard said. “We’ve asked and asked that they keep
him locked up and get him help, but nothing seems to work.”
Zanesville Times Recorder, 9/10/08, 1/23/09
Toledo, Lucas, OH
On July 18, 2010, 24-year-old Lawrence Fitzgerald James was

charged in the fatal stabbing of University of Toledo student 22-year-
old Casey Bucher. James had a history of not taking the anti-
psychotic prescriptions he needed for Schizophrenia and Bipolar

Disorder. Prior History: James was diagnosed with Schizophrenia
and Bipolar Disorder as a teenager, and attempted to claim he was
incompetent to stand trial during a similar case two years ago. He
was released from the Lebanon Correctional Institution near
Cincinnati June 6 after serving time for a 2008 attack in which he
stabbed a gas station attendant who did not comply when he asked
for 70 cents. In both cases, his brother, Lawrence E. James, said he
was not taking the anti-psychotic prescriptions he needed for
Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder When he left the prison in
Lebanon last month, he did not refill his four prescriptions for
psychiatric drugs, according to his brother. Toledoblade.com,
7/21/10; ToledoontheMove.com, 7/19/10, 7/21/10; ABC 13, 7/21/10
Harrsville, Butler, OH
On July 28, 2010, 49-year-old Thomas Smith fatally shot his former
brother-in-law, 56-year-old Clifford Stevenson. A relative said that
Stevenson was providing Smith with food and a place to live.
Stevenson’s sister said Smith was being treated for Paranoid
Schizophrenia and was off his medication. KDKA, 8/01/10; Pittsburg
Tribune-Review, 8/2/10; Allied News, 7/12/11
Dayton, Montgomery, OH
On March 17, 2011, 47-year-old Michelle Walker was shot in the
head. The next day, her son, 27-year-old Glenn Walker was taken
into custody and charged with murder several days later. According
to a family member, Glenn Walker suffers from mental illness.Dayton
Daily News, 3/21/11, 3/23/11; WHIOTV.com, 3/17/11
Colerain Township, Hamilton, OH
On July 12, 2011, 24-year-old Lanny Stoinoff violently shook his
infant niece killing her. Stoinoff asked to hold 1-month-old Roslyn
Stoinoff, then shook her while his mother and sister, the baby’s
mother, tried to get him to stop. Officers arrested Stoinoff, who was
staying at this parents’ home, where he been since being released
from a psychiatric hospitalization a few weeks before. “He had some
mental issues and he was committed like for seven days, and they
released him. Prior History: On June 27, 2011, Stoinoff was taken
from his home by police to University Hospital’s psychiatric unit.
Stoinoff told a nurse at the hospital that he had killed his dog
“because it had demons in it” A deputy called Stoinoff’s father, who
said his son was paranoid schizophrenic and off his medicine .
Cincinnati.com, 7/14/11, 11/26/12; Fox19.com, 7/22/11; WLWT News
5, 7/14/11, 8/10/11

What should you say to someone bereaved by suicide?

At every moment of every day someone is grieving the loss of another person by suicide. But when you know a person or family scarred by this awful loss, it can seem impossible to know what to say.

As a result, you may feel embarrassed or awkward about talking to the bereaved but if you avoid speaking to them or avoid all mention of the dead person, they may feel rejected and isolated.

But what should you say? You don’t have to say anything. There is no formula of words that will take the pain away. Just listen and if the bereaved person wants to tell the story a hundred times, let them.

Here are some guidelines for being supportive to people in this cruel situation: – Avoid the temptation to indulge in comforting clichés. Examples include: “Time will heal,” “He/she is at peace now,” “You’re strong.”

– Saying that the person “wasn’t in his/her right mind” can seem disrespectful to the person who died.

– And don’t say “I know how you feel” unless you, too, have been bereaved by the suicide of a person very close to you.

– When you are in a conversation in which the survivors are talking about the dead person, use the person’s name. Not doing so could give the impression that the dead person is being forgotten.

– Don’t judge the person who died. Calling them selfish, cowardly, weak, brave or strong is just not helpful and may be very hurtful as well as untrue.

– Don’t be afraid to tell the bereaved person that you just don’t know what to say. A way to open up the conversation is simply to ask “How are you getting on?” and listen to the answer.

Support after Suicide has additional suggestions which include:

– Maintain contact personally or by telephone, notes, cards. Visits need not be long.

– Offer specific practical help, such as bringing in a cooked meal, taking care of the children, cutting the grass, shopping.

– Be aware of and acknowledge special times that might be significant, and particularly difficult, for the bereaved person such as Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc.

In a sense what you are doing is being there for the bereaved family in their search for an understanding of this terrible event. Very often, people have to accept that they will never arrive at that understanding. As the You are not alone booklet puts it: “Although a stressful event may appear to have been the trigger, it will seldom have been the sole reason for death. Ultimately, the bereaved will have to live with their loss, in their own way, albeit without having all the answers.”

Survivors often blame themselves or each other while absolving the person who died of all responsibility. The role of providing sensitive outside support, especially a listening ear, is all the more important when you consider this: “Often, in trying to cope with the impact of the death, family members are unable to offer one another support . . . Frequently, feelings of bitterness towards one another may surface.”

So the support you give, just by expressing sympathy and being there to listen, may be all that some family members are getting.

The funeral is also an important aspect of support. According to You are not alone, families who have been bereaved by suicide “emphasise the benefits of and comfort in having a public funeral so that adequate tribute is given to the deceased”.

Sometimes we hear criticisms of the creation of Facebook tribute pages to someone who has died by suicide. But so long as the page doesn’t glorify suicide, so long as it reflects grief and loss as well as love and friends it shouldn’t be counterproductive

Mariah Carey begins new conversation with hopes of normalizing Bipolar Disorder

Mariah Carey opened up about living with bipolar disorder in an article for People magazine on Wednesday. This is the first time the singer has spoken publicly about her diagnosis.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmariahcarey%2Fposts%2F10156269718892766&width=500

Carey told People she was diagnosed in 2001, but “didn’t want to believe it.” After experiencing what she called the “hardest couple of years I’ve been through,” she finally reached out for treatment.

Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me. It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music.

When she first experienced symptoms, Carey said she thought she had a sleep disorder — but soon realized her trouble sleeping was actually due to hypomania, characteristic of bipolar II disorder.

It wasn’t normal insomnia and I wasn’t lying awake counting sheep. I was working and working and working … I was irritable and in constant fear of letting people down. It turns out that I was experiencing a form of mania. Eventually I would just hit a wall. I guess my depressive episodes were characterized by having very low energy. I would feel so lonely and sad — even guilty that I wasn’t doing what I needed to be doing for my career.

Fans on Twitter reacted positively to the news of Carey’s diagnosis, congratulating her for speaking out:

maria yagoda

@mariayagoda

brave as heck. her courage will save lives. 👑 https://twitter.com/people/status/984028774714003458 

maria yagoda

@mariayagoda

mariah carey’s honesty about finding medication & treatment is SO important in a world where ppl with mental illnesses are doubly stigmatized for taking meds. http://people.com/music/mariah-carey-bipolar-disorder-diagnosis-exclusive/?xid=socialflow_twitter_peoplemag&utm_campaign=peoplemagazine&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com 

Mariah Carey: My Battle with Bipolar Disorder

In this week’s PEOPLE cover story, Mariah Carey reveals for the first time her battle with bipolar disorder

people.com

Aadam@AadamDunn

This is so brave, imagine if Mariah Carey said she had bipolar in 2001 she would’ve been written off. Shows how much things have changed in 17 Years. https://twitter.com/mariahcarey/status/984025281957629953 

Olivia@selfloveliv

So @MariahCarey has come forward with her diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, and I feel really good about this because it starts a conversation. Let’s end the stigma and help raise awareness for mental health!
Go Mariah!! ❤️

Carey said she’s in a good place right now, although she knows how isolating the stigma of mental illness can be. “I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone,” she said. “It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”

Archived: walkout support letter

We are sending this to show our support for those students who walked out of class as a part of the National School Walkout on March 14. We believe that it is these students’ First Amendment right of free speech and right to peacefully assemble to walk out and fight for what they believe in.

This right was affirmed in the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, where Justice Abe Fortas read, in the majority opinion, that students did not lose their First Amendment right to freedom of speech when they enter the school building. This opinion also stated that students have the right to peacefully protest as long as it did not interfere with the “operation of the school.”

We do not believe that this 17 minutes interfered with the education of these students, in fact we believe it only enhanced this education. The point of the public school system is to teach students to become good citizens and to be active in our political system. There is no greater way to be active in our political system than to protest and speak up for what you believe in. We believe by telling these students that they could not partake in the walkout you are telling them that peaceful protest is not OK and that they do not have their First Amendment rights in your school.

To be clear, we are not pressing any political opinion as it comes to gun control or school safety with this letter, we are simply stating that we believe that you, as a school, are infringing on the First Amendment rights of students as affirmed in the case Tinker v. Des Moines.