Category Archive for ‘Activities’

Brain Awareness Week: A Festival for the Brain

Every year, in March, international Brain Awareness Week features educational activities all over the world, organized by local partners under the umbrella of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. Brain Awareness Week is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research, and this year it takes place March 14-20. Last year, we wrote a piece describing Brain Awareness Week and why on earth we need such a thing. The short answer is: because the brain is infinitely complex and with new discoveries coming at fast pace, it’s hard to keep up! This year, we took on Brain Awareness Week in our home state of Rhode Island, and we created Brain Week RI, with the help of many dedicated people who are interested in brains—neuroscientists, neurologists (no, they’re not the same thing), artists, college students, mental health providers, and a bunch of people who […]

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George Mason Students Start Cure Alliance Campus Chapter

Students at George Mason University (GMU) have rallied to Cure Alliance’s mission of education and advocacy and recently launched the inaugural campus chapter of Cure Alliance, Cure Mental Illness (CMI) GMU. Mason has responded enthusiastically. Within a few short weeks of establishing the group, over a hundred undergraduate and graduate students from disciplines including Neuroscience, Psychology, Nursing, Social Work, and Global & Community Health contacted CMI to ask how they could contribute. Our members are energetic, bright, motivated, and bring diverse experiences to the table. Many are currently engaged in research projects, have worked as clinicians in mental health care, or are active participants of community groups that support mental health. Many have been personally affected by mental illness and see the organization as a means to positively impact their lives and alleviate the suffering of loved ones. Opportunities for CMI members abound. At Mason, students can directly participate in […]

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Reflections on Mental Health Month

May was Mental Health Month here in the U.S. Some call it Mental Health Awareness Month, but we like Mental Health Month, because we want the focus to be squarely on mental health and mental illness, not just awareness. Awareness about mental health is important, of course, and so is decreasing the stigma of mental illnesses. But ultimately, both of those goals fall short of relieving the symptoms of the millions of people that live with mental illnesses without effective treatment, or with effective treatments that carry bad side-effects. Over the past month, Cure Alliance for Mental Illness ran a social media campaign sharing images with words that expressed our desire for cures for mental illnesses—we called it Hope4Cures and it started some important discussions. About the word “cure,” one person wrote to us on Facebook, “I just don’t like that terminology in regards to mental illness and mental health. […]

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Be the Hope for Cures!

Green is the color of spring and of mental health—and May is Mental Health Month. It’s the time of year when we join with other voices to make some noise about the last frontier in health. Cure Alliance is marking Mental Health Month by kicking off our campaign “Hope for Cures.” The part you can play is to be a spokesperson for hope—see below for how you can help. Why do we hope for cures? Cure Alliance for Mental illness was founded on the conviction that our society should put more resources into finding cures for mental illnesses. Today’s treatments for these brain disorders are not adequate, since they don’t work for many people, and even when they do work, they carry undesirable side-effects. This means that too many people living with mental illness have to settle for partial recovery. We should not accept this current reality as forever given […]

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At the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting

Cure Alliance Debuts to the Neuroscience Community Every year, Cure Alliance co-founder Hakon Heimer goes to the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in his capacity as editor of the online Schizophrenia Research Forum. SfN is the organization linking neuroscientists from all over the world—at the annual meeting, you can mingle with over 30,000 other people, most of them brain researchers. For the past couple of years, our other founder Robin Cunningham has joined him for an exhilarating and exhausting few days. This year, Cure Alliance had an added presence—we joined 711 other exhibitors at the meeting, to introduce our organization to brain researchers and learn from them. We joined Autism Speaks as the only mental illness organization there (there were also 3 Alzheimer’s groups). In the small section reserved for nonprofit organizations, we collected signatures for our petition for more mental illness research funding, and talked with researchers and others about how […]

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At the NAMI Annual Convention

Cure Alliance is just back from the annual convention of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Washington, DC. We had a booth in the exhibits area, where a steady stream of people stopped by to learn about what we are doing, and to sign our petition calling for more research on mental illness. Perhaps some of you visited us there! It was an energizing trip, not least because of the impassioned advocates at the meeting–we got to see Patrick Kennedy, Creigh Deeds, Demi Lovato, and NAMI President Mary Gilberti fire up the crowds on NAMI’s National Day of Action, before NAMI members made their visits to Capitol Hill to convince their legislators to pay attention to the burden of mental illness. We also saw Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), give the Research Plenary on Saturday morning (see the video). He is eloquent and […]

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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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