News

News about research, mental health, and Cure Alliance

Schizophrenia: Change is Afoot . . .

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1956 at thirteen years of age and have lived successfully with this brain disorder for well over 50 years.  Many members of my father’s family had schizophrenia, but I was the first to receive “best practice treatment” over the entire course of my illness, consisting of early intervention, continuity of treatment, medications, and cognitive therapy. This comprehensive treatment approach is rarely available to people with schizophrenia even now. By most standards, I have been successful in my life, particularly in my business career, where I have held senior executive positions with a number of large international corporations and have been instrumental in the formation of several new ventures. People with schizophrenia are not expected to lead such high-achieving lives. In a New York Times opinion piece, Elyn Saks, (a law professor at University of Southern California and winner of a Macarthur “genius” award) writes […]

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The American Brain Coalition

Cure Alliance for Mental Illness has just become a member of the American Brain Coalition. The ABC is a non-profit organization that seeks to advance the understanding of the functions of the brain, and to reduce the burden of brain disorders through public advocacy. The goals of the ABC are very similar to Cure Alliance’s goals, with a broader general focus on the brain. The coalition advocates for: Research funding and progress towards a cure Building a healthcare system more responsive to people with both acute and chronic brain disorders Advancing public understanding about the cause, impact, and consequences of neurologic and psychiatric illness in our society through lobbying and advocacy efforts ABC members are patient/consumer advocacy organizations, physician and researcher organizations, and related organizations that focus on neurological and brain disorders—from Parkinson’s to migraines to all the mental illnesses. Cure Alliance is one of several members with a mental […]

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Cure Alliance in Washington

  Cure Alliance co-founder Hakon Heimer has been appointed to the National Advisory Mental Health Council by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius. The council advises the HHS secretary, the National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Director Tom Insel on all policies and activities relating to the conduct and support of mental health research, research training and other programs of the NIMH. The group is composed of mental health experts from different professions, and meets in Washington, D.C., three times each year. Heimer will serve a four-year term. “The most obvious benefit of being on the NIMH Council is having some voice in how mental illness research policy is made,” said Heimer. “But it is also a tremendous opportunity to meet other advocates, along with top researchers and service providers.”

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Kennedy’s Message on Mental Illness: 50 Years Later

“We must act to bestow the full benefits of our society on those who suffer from mental disabilities.” John F. Kennedy, 1963 When John F. Kennedy was a young man, his sister Rosemary, age 23, was given a lobotomy. Rosemary was thought to be mentally retarded, and had also developed behavioral problems—mood swings, violent temper tantrums—as she became a young adult. The lobotomy was a disaster. The previously lively Rosemary spent the rest of her long life in an institution, mentally and physically incapacitated. This experience no doubt motivated President Kennedy to send his “Special Message to the Congress on Mental Retardation and Mental Illness” 50 years ago, on February 5, 1963. (Listen to a sound recording of his remarks here.) Kennedy focused primarily on the need for better services for the mentally ill, specifically the need to replace the antiquated and often inhumane system of state-run psychiatric hospitals with community-based […]

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Conversational Caffeine

by Hakon Heimer On Thursday, Robin and I were guests at the first ever MentaLatte MeetUp for Cures, at the Stone Creek Bar and Restaurant in the Murray Hill neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan. (See the photos here.) The MentaLatte MeetUp event was the brainchild of newly arrived New Yorker Elliott Koch and recently relocated Mirna Kvajo. (Congratulations to Mirna on her new job in Boston at Cell Press!) The idea behind the MentaLatte events is to get us talking about mental illness, normalizing it so that we can be open about autism or schizophrenia or anxiety disorders in the same way we have come to be about cancer or AIDS. On Thursday, Robin talked about his experience with schizophrenia, and about the fractures he has seen in the whole system from treatment delivery on down to research. Hakon followed with some slides about our work to build Cure Alliance for […]

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Cure Alliance Petition for Mental Illness Research

Cure Alliance has started a petition asking the President and Congress of the U.S. to fund research in mental illness. The violent tragedies over the past year have sparked numerous petitions calling for improved treatment and services for mental illness. Cure Alliance is the sole voice calling for more research to find cures for mental illness. We call on the President and Congress of the United States to ensure that mental illnesses get the research attention they deserve. Without adequate resources, scientists will not find better treatments and cures to stop mental illness at the outset. Read the rest and sign here. Ask all your friends to sign too!

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30,000 Brain Scientists!

By Robin Cunningham On Thursday, October 11, Hakon Heimer and I flew from Providence, RI and Pennington, NJ, respectively, to New Orleans for the annual conference of the Society for Neuroscience (Neuroscience 2012). Hakon attends each year in his capacity as editor of Schizophrenia Research Forum, to gather the latest news on brain research, but for me it was an eye-opening, first-time experience.  A huge conference The annual Neuroscience conference is the biggest deal in the brain world.  More than 30,000 researchers and sundry others involved in neuroscience come from all over.  There are only a few convention centers in the U.S. that are big enough to handle such numbers.  The one time that I walked from one end of the convention center to the other it seemed to me a long trip indeed! Even with that many in attendance there were precious few standing around in the lobbies killing […]

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Nationwide in 50 Days!

Over the summer, Cure Alliance for Mental Illness challenged our social network to help us put one of our oval car magnets—Cure BP, Cure SZ, Cure DEP, or Cure OCD—in each of the United States. We called it 50-50-50: 50 magnets, 50 states, in 50 days.  We asked people to send us a photo of their car with a Cure magnet on it, and we’ve been posting those to our Facebook page. With some help publicizing the campaign from our friends at PeaceLove Studios—an expressive arts organization—we succeeded! Cure Alliance even managed to send magnets to Hawaii and Alaska, with bonus magnets in Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.! Cure Alliance’s oval car magnets are designed to pique curiosity—”what are those mysterious letters?” To those unfamiliar with bipolar disorder, a Cure BP magnet makes several simple but powerful statements at once: Bipolar disorder is a real medical disorder There is hope […]

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Looking for Hope in the City of Angels

By Hakon Heimer Los Angeles: the place for people with dreams, where a few succeed and many work in restaurants. Robin Cunningham and I flew to Los Angeles recently to join the dreamers: we dream of a world where disorders of the brain that affect thought and emotion are accorded the respect that other illnesses receive.  Much of our first two days was spent at the annual meeting of the One Mind for Research Campaign, and we also visited with other advocates for people with mental illness in Los Angeles. Soldiers as the vanguard against brain disorders After a long morning of flying from Providence to Los Angeles, I met up with Robin just in time to dash to the opening afternoon session of the One Mind meeting.  The new organization was conceived by founders Patrick Kennedy and Garen Staglin as the brain’s version of the American Heart Association, promoting […]

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50-50-50 for Mental Illness

Cure Alliance has just launched a 50 (magnets)-50 (states)-50 (days)  promotion for our Mystery Letters campaign to increase awareness of mental illnesses. Our “Cure” car magnets are a way to show your support for those living with mental illness, and your support for the search for cures. If a fleet of cars in every community had these magnets with mysterious letters, the disorders they represent would become less mysterious! We want to start with 50 magnets – one in every state. With your help, we can get a magnet in every state in 50 days! 50 magnets in 50 states in 50 days! (A bonus will be the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other US territories!) We are sending a FREE car magnet to the first person who contacts us from each state and posts a picture of the car magnet proudly displayed next to a license plate to […]

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