News

News about research, mental health, and Cure Alliance

Focusing on Mental Illness during Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Month, or Mental Health Awareness Month. President Harry Truman first declared Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949, when mental health was much less talked-about. It’s safe to say we’ve come a long way since then in our attitudes toward mental health, in what we know about it, and in our treatments for mental health problems. Mental Health America, which leads Mental Health Month each year in May, has chosen “Mind Your Health” as this year’s theme, focusing on the importance of mental health in overall health, including “tips and tools for taking positive actions to protect mental health and promote whole health.”  Indeed, there is no health without mental health (as the MHA motto says), and it’s important for every one of us to remember that we can take steps to keep mentally healthy. But what about mental illness? Is awareness of mental health the same […]

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Cure Alliance Hits the Big Apple for Brain Week

by Hakon Heimer New York City is the epicenter of Brain Awareness Week, sponsored by the Dana Alliance on Brain Initiatives, a yearly celebration of the 3-pound organ that runs the show. I made the trek to the Big Apple to join Cure Alliance for Mental Illness cofounder Robin Cunningham and local volunteer Elliott Koch for some of the BraiNY events at the invitation of organizer Heather McKellar of the New York University Neuroscience Institute. At the March 12 NYU Brain Fair, an incredible range of people from elementary school kids to senior citizens came by to see real brain slices, participate in educational games and attend lectures on brain health. Particularly popular were lectures on Staying Sharp and Enhancing Memory: Fact or Fiction? Elliott and I spent the afternoon talking with people about the need for more research into mental illness and collecting signatures for our petition to the […]

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Goodbye, and Thank You, to Scotti DiDonato

By Hakon Heimer   “Can you tell me why you aren’t joining the Mental Health Association of RI, whose mission you seem to have chosen for yours, rather than beginning a new organization?” That was my introduction to Scotti DiDonato, who died January 17, at the age of 80. She wrote me a challenging email on the weekend we launched Cure Alliance for Mental Illness with a party at PeaceLove Studios, and followed it up with a bracing interrogation over coffee a few weeks later. It was the start of an all-too-brief friendship. I explained that we were creating a dedicated national voice for research on mental illness, specifically targeted on the Federal public health research budget. I also said that MHA and NAMI had more than their hands full helping people with services, housing, insurance and other immediate needs. Scotti immediately said, Okay, what do you need? … How […]

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Cure Alliance Letter to the New York Times

In response to the New York Times’s profile on NIMH Director Tom Insel, Cure Alliance cofounders Hakon Heimer and Robin Cunningham joined with Nobel laureate and Cure Alliance Advisor James Watson on a letter to the editor to point out that Insel’s challenge of trying to please diverse and competing constituencies would be a lot easier if he had resources necessary for the task. Here is the full letter: To the editor: Dr. Tom Insel’s challenging job (“Blazing Trails in Brain Science,” Science, Feb 4) would be easier if the National Institute of Mental Health were not running on a shoestring. The Institute’s 2012 budget was $1.5 billion, which seems like a lot until you consider how much mental illnesses cost us: the 2010 US Burden of Disease study shows that the burden to Americans is about equal to that of cancer. As the nation’s economy strengthens in the next few years, we urge policymakers to bring NIMH’s budget closer […]

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Cure Alliance Walks the Walk With NAMI Rhode Island

Each year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness raises awareness about mental illness, not to mention funding to support its work, by hosting walks around the country. Cure Alliance for Mental Illness participated in Rhode Island’s 2013 walk on a cool but sunny autumn day in Providence’s Roger Williams Park. Visit our Flickr stream to see more photos from the NAMI Walk.  Our thanks to NAMI-RI Executive Director Chaz Gross and Walk organizer Sara Hutchings-Schwartz, who steered walkers to our petition for more research before they set off on their jaunt around the 430-acre green oasis in the Providence metropolitan area.  After the walkers returned, we had still more customers to chat with about the importance of research in mental illness. If you haven’t signed our petition, please do, and share it with your friends! We are calling on the U.S. government to increase funding for research in mental illnesses. Most […]

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You can help us build a grassroots advocacy force for research!

Please donate to Cure Alliance for Mental Illness during this holiday season. Our goal is to raise $50,000 as we go into 2014. This will allow us to spread the word about the need for more research in mental illness, and let legislators and other policymakers know how important this is. Many people are unaware of how underfunded mental illness research is compared to other illnesses, especially with the very large burden they place on  individuals and on society. But it’s not as well-known how little understood they are, and how much better our treatments could be if we knew more about the causes and development of mental illnesses.  The other mental health advocacy organizations are dedicated to the immediate and serious problem of inadequate access to treatment and services and to eradicating the stigma of mental illness. Cure Alliance is the only organization focusing specifically on increasing the Federal commitment […]

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More Research? … Why?

Cure Alliance for Mental Illness is a new organization, still looking for supporters, collaborators, and friends. Recently we had a dialogue with prominent Hollywood mental illness advocate Joe Pantoliano (founder of No Kidding? Me Too!) about our call for more research. He said: “I would rather see new money go to treatment for the suffering. Research has already proven that mental ‘dis-ease’ is 50% genetic, the rest being the result of our environment. What I want to see happen is this. Our brain must have the same insurance coverage as our other vital organs. We are not alone. Mental unrest is here to stay. What is available right now is recovery, peace of mind, coping skills.” This is an understandable response—right now, people with mental illness do not have access to the full range of support and treatment to aid in their recovery. We agree that more money must go […]

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Cure Alliance Debuts Campaign At National Rally For Recovery

By Robin Cunningham By the end of the event, we were all exhausted and a bit giddy. Cure Alliance for Mental Illness went to the National Rally4Recovery on 21 September 2013 in Providence, Rhode Island, and our booth  was a measurable success. All the hard work of Cure Alliance supporter Tom Monahan, founder of ad agency creative powerhouse Leonard/Monahan, and our Communications Director Alden Bumstead had paid off. We were supported by enthusiastic volunteers, many from a business school class at Johnson & Wales University that has adopted Cure Alliance as their senior marketing project. Supporters Dr. Anne Whitaker and her husband, Dr. Mark Bear, a leading brain researcher at MIT, stayed all afternoon and competed fiercely to gather the most signatures for our petition calling for more mental illness research. We had the opportunity to meet Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, R.I. congressman Jim Langevin, and advocacy stalwart Patrick […]

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Depression Hits Close to Home

By Audra Moran My name is Audra Moran, and I am a founding board member of Cure Alliance for Mental Illness. I spent the early part of my career working in mental illness—first as a rehabilitation counselor and later in research funding, at the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, where I was Vice President for Development and Scientific Affairs. All of which is to say that I am no stranger to psychiatric brain disorders. So when my father, at age 60, experienced his first episode of major depression, I should have been prepared, but instead felt immobilized. What should or could I do to help, especially from so far away? I was in New York, he was home in central Florida. My first attempt to help didn’t go so well—a clinician I located in his area began my father on a course of antipsychotics, though his depression did not have […]

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Research Priorities at NIMH

by Robin Cunningham On February 8, 2013, I attended the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) Alliance for Research Progress Meeting held at NIMH Headquarters in the Neuroscience Center, Rockville, MD.  The purpose of these semi-annual meetings is to assist advocacy organizations in staying abreast of current and on-going research into the causes, treatments, prevention and cures for the various brain disorders, including mental illnesses, for which they advocate. The organizations at the meeting represent a wide array of brain disorders, but Cure Alliance for Mental Illness was the only non-profit in attendance that focuses its efforts entirely on advocating for increased funding for research for all mental illnesses. More information about this February 8th meeting, including an agenda, a summary of the presentations made, and a list of attendees, is available at the NIMH website. Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the NIMH, gave a presentation entitled “The State […]

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