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MARJORIE MORRISON | PsychArmor Institute

And while private entities have denigrated the VA for not embracing their alternative treatments, more than 90 percent of VA facilities today offer some type of supplemental therapy, from meditation and yoga to sweat lodges staffed by medicine men. The VA has not been able to hire or retain enough mental health professionals to keep up with demand. Currently, it has a 12 percent vacancy rate for psychiatrists and a 13 percent rate for psychologists. Many at the VA worry that by adopting or endorsing unproven treatments, the agency will steer precious budget dollars away from needed hiring and clinically efficacious treatments and toward the pursuit of dubious, often expensive options.

If a nonprofit wants to spend money on providing them, fine. That, to me, is unethical. While the widespread use of hyperbaric therapy is being mulled in Washington, the VA made the treatment available to VA patients in eastern Oklahoma and Northern California in November. Following political pressure from Rep. Since Trump took office, there has been a flurry of lobbying from private mental health interests eager to offer new — and sometimes questionable — treatments for veterans with PTSD. Any type of treatment may be submitted to the office as a formal proposal, which, if found to be safe and potentially helpful, could result in deployment at hospitals across the country.

The recent hyperbaric pilot was spearheaded by the center. The hearing featured panelists from the private sector who often criticized the VA while boosting the private sector. As veterans and VA officials pointed out, studies consistently show that VA mental health care outperforms the private sector. President Donald Trump, shown at the national convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars, and his administration are working to set up a permanent private care network mandated through the VA MISSION Act, which likely will make private mental health care appointments among veterans more common.

Since Trump took office, there has been a flurry of lobbying from private mental health interests of all sizes, including four organizations that testified before the House last summer. The treatment is based on the idea that adversity can spur positive mental growth. Yet the study, which was not peer-reviewed and has no control group, is far from conclusive. It initially measured 49 people but followed up with only 19, and their self-reported improvements generally are limited. Anthony Mancini, an associate professor of psychology at Pace University, has written about how acute adversity has organically resulted in positive long-term growth.

Boulder Crest and other alternative treatment providers have found allies among their home state lawmakers, too. In late May, U. Scott Taylor, a Virginia Republican, introduced legislation to require the VA to study the benefits of private post-traumatic growth treatments like the kind offered at Boulder Crest.

Boulder Crest was the subject of a flattering VA press release in December and has established an informal partnership with the VA. Similarly, a bill from Republican U. Stephen Knight, the No Hero Left Untreated Act , demands that the VA carry out a one-year pilot program to provide access to magnetic-guided resonance therapy.

Mental illness crisis in US military

Magnetic resonance therapy has shown promise, but early clinical trials have been flawed. One study , for example, was conducted without a control group, had no female participants and did not follow up to gauge long-term efficacy. Yi Jin, offers it through the Brain Treatment Center clinics. Some private interests are looking to get federal dollars for programs that largely overlap with VA initiatives.

For instance, several federal lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, repeatedly have pushed the VA to support an online cognitive behavioral health program from Magellan Health, despite the fact that the VA has created similar online tools. Amazon also has shown interest in replicating signature VA mental health services. One specific idea floated by Amazon was to offer its signature Dash Button — which allows customers to order staple goods such as toilet paper with one click — to help prevent veteran suicide.

While the VA has scaled back its use of drugs to treat mental health issues and last year prioritized psychotherapy as a primary treatment for PTSD, a cadre of pharmacological interests is making a play to bring new pills to market that they say can stave off symptoms of military trauma. Leading this charge is the Coalition to Heal Invisible Wounds, a trade group formed in February Some inside the VA are hopeful that pharmaceutical companies are taking an interest in PTSD after years of little development for treatments.

Yet the drugs in development by these interests include antipsychotic medications and muscle relaxants, which already have been proven to have potentially dangerous side effects. Some also are concerned that if promising drugs are brought to market, the VA could face steep prices, despite helping with development. Twelve weeks of treatment showed little difference in symptoms between those on the drug and those receiving a placebo. In the trial, the drug showed some promise among veterans with recent trauma, and the company plans to continue its development, with a redesigned clinical trial coming soon.

Lobbying has extended to alternative drug treatments, too, including ketamine. Carl J. Bonnett, founder and medical director of Klarisana , has advocated for VA reimbursements for ketamine treatments offered in his Austin and San Antonio clinics. Yet documents shared with Reveal show that when the VA partners with private providers, there is virtually no oversight of the quality of that care.

The documents further suggest that no standardized reporting mechanisms exist for patients to report adverse events in the private sector and noted little collaboration and communication between the VA and the two contractors administering private care through the Veterans Choice program: Health Net Federal Services and TriWest Healthcare Alliance.

Official VA policy is to request these medical records only three times before closing out the request, a directive that has led to thousands of VA patients with black holes in their records. A VA researcher in California told Reveal that many veterans who have been weaned from opioids and benzodiazepines at agency facilities return from private care back on the addictive, potentially lethal mixtures of medications.

Tauheed Zaman, medical director of the Addiction Consult and Prescription Opioid Safety Team at the San Francisco VA Health Care System, said this problem largely arises because private providers work in a fee-for-service system and are reimbursed more for medication management than for providing long-term care. The Trump administration now is working to set up a permanent private care network mandated through the recent passage of the VA MISSION Act , which will almost surely make private mental health care appointments more common.

Bills pending in Congress would further outsource mental health care to the private sector. One draft from Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. Another bill , sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, would allow a veteran to seek private mental health care if he or she provides a written or verbal statement requesting such care. Currently, VA doctors make these calls in consultation with patients based chiefly on what makes the most sense for their mental health.

He recalls when the Defense Department invested millions for computer equipment to conduct interactive virtual reality exposure therapies. I touched my mind because I didn't have any thoughts inside of my head! This is so amazing. The healing came unexpectedly, I fell done to my knees and worshiped the True Living God.

The Mental Health Crisis of This Unhinged Presidency

I'm set free from depression and mental illness. You guys we will go through in this life until we die. Its apart of life. But having God makes it all better! He can do it for anyone. I encourage you all to not go by what men says about "Religion, and God. Get alone when no one is around and tell him all about what your going through.

Don't put a time limit on God as to when he will heal you. God Bless!

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Patty Fonda, Thank you for your well written blog! I personally am working hard to try to help with erasing the stigma of mental illness. My son was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was At first, at age 17, it seemed like he was just depressed. We have prayed and prayed for God to heal him. Since his diagnosis he has been diligent to take his meds and is now able to hold down a part time music teaching job.

He was able to start a support group for others suffering from mental illness as well as working. He's doing great and if you met him, you probably wouldn't even know he had this condition. Maybe this is how the Lord has answered our continued prayers for him!! My husband and I teach the Family to Family Class now because it helped us so much when we took it. I highly recommend that class!! I wish you well and will continue to fight for fulfilling lives for those with M. John Cunningham Prayer is a narcissistic control mental disorder. As is all parts of religions. The god, messiah complex.

They get their information from book with no printed authors. No original text. No appendix or providence listing sources. Caring, loving humans and human rights should always be over any and all gods, religions, religious beliefs or rights. Prabhjot Please I request to preister of the church for pray me because I have depresion. Mary Carver Loved this article!! I am not a minority but I am a Christian and have been told way too often to just have more faith or "think positive"! Have to fight tooth and nail to get real medication! What a hell mental illness can be at times.

Francisca T. Rimando I need to know more about mental health is it inborn or made up thanks. Tosha I'm dealing with this very thing right now! I'm so fed up with folks saying "give it to God" "pray harder" or my all time favorite one I have bipolar disorder, anxiety and PTSD and I pray, meditate, practice mindfulness, go to every support group there is and I see a therapist regularly It's insane and just plain wrong! I believed for many years that there had to be something wrong with me because no matter how much I prayed and "gave it Up to God" I was still suffering with mental illness I actually believed that I was being punished.

I'm sorry for the long post but I really needed to vent and after reading ur blog which by the way is incredible! I knew this was a place where I wouldn't be judged. Thank u for sharing ur story it definitely hit home. Adam Montgomery When I lived in a spiritual, African-American community, I felt more accepted than ever given I was experiencing bipolar symptoms. My friend was able to explain the "devil came in my life" to be reintegrated after a borderline episode.

See a Problem?

Religion is a great thing for mental illness. I just wish we could accommodate science and religion to find a solution to this horrible problem. JRice Fonda, Thank you for sharing this story. As a woman of color, who is working my way through depression with the help of professionals and medication, I know there is much more that you could of have said. I have been told by well-meaning people that this functioning shell of a human being is all I will ever be; but I believe that is where pray comes in.

The faith to continue to work with my doctors, and counselors; to exercise, to eat better, to try new things and even new medications, if I have to; will come from continued growth in my spiritual relationship. All of us have to remember that faith needs work!

Gwen Captain I'm an African American woman with mental health issues. I would love to reach out to you and share some insight into some of the barriers I have endured personally and professionally. I am looking to starting an informal group in my church talking about solutions during critical times. Your article was refreshing. Thank you. Tracy G. I understand the struggle that our people had in society that did not lend itself to making mental illness an issue. However, I was sexually abused, lived amidst domestic violence, incarceration of a primary care giver, and alcoholism.

I too now advocate for the de-stigmatization of mental illness in every community. Thank you for your contribution on the topic! LaShawn Faison-Bradley Thank you for the article. Matthew Potter African-Americans are not the only people subjected to this illness, i. Whites, also are prone to to depression, and any other form of illness you can think of. By the way, your story was well written and inspirational. I, too, have suffered depression ever since I can remember, and used to use sweets to "medicate myself" and it turned into full-blown schizophrenia.

I no longer suffer from symptoms of schizophrenia, but still struggle with long-term depression. Matthew Potter African-Americans are not the only people affected by mental illness, i. Whites suffer from it also, and I am one of them, hoping for answer for the cure someday, just like you did. By the way, your story was well-written, AND inspirational.

Nancy I am discovering that it is not only the African-American culture that is holding on to misconceptions about mental health issues, but the majority of all Americans hold false beliefs. I think we are back to the Middle-Ages regarding mental health. Why is it so hard for people to accept that the brain is an organ of the body just like any other organ? Faith without works is not faith. Pat DeVries I am a white mother with an adopted black daughter who has been diagnosed as bi-polar, mood disorder and borderline personality disorder.

I have heard from her so many times This is a very helpful article for me. I have printed it off and am giving it to her to read. JD Vashon True cross-culturally. Many clergy are not trained to handle medical or mental illnesses. Thank you for the reminder. Victoria Marie Alonso Astonishing! With God all things are possible but we have to do the footwork and that includes seeing doctors and taking our medicine. Lolita I too have a passion to eliminate stigma among Our culture.

It's inspiring and brings hope to see someone who has been through it give an even deeper perspective on the effects and how it hinders. William Tritz Loved your story! Thanks for sharing! Flovea Great article. Direct and to the point. Barjohn Fonda you are amazing. I stand with you and am so proud to call you my friend. Keep pressing forward my sister. Linda Phillips Fonda, I really appreciate your speaking out so openly and honestly to address how the African-American culture views mental illness. I know your voice is being used to open the eyes and minds of many in our community and state, no matter their racial or cultural roots.

Patricia Mallory Thanks so much for shedding light on an otherwise hopeless situation that many people are in great need and understanding what a devastating MI is not only personally but to the families as well. Looking to join up with support groups to help my grown son in his battle with this.

Just giving him the meds and expecting him to cope all by himself! They are falling thru the cracks in society, and it seems nobody really cares! But I do and with a Gods Hrlp , we'll find a way out of this nitemare! Again, thank you.

Robin B. Kemp We almost lost our daughter this week to suicide. She is recovering medically, but she has a long road ahead. The hard part is just beginning. She doesn't want to let go of the things and people who are bad for her. How do we convince her to move forward? Carlene W. I was drawn to this blog post because a relative told me that if I believed "enough" that God would heal me he would. I spent some time feeling abandoned by God and guilty about my failure to "believe enough.

Along with reducing stigma, let's be sure people know they didn't do anything to cause MI, God is not punishing them, and we can get well and live productive lives.

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  • Rodrigo Thank you for you advocacy and more importantly for sharing your story! And right now God is walking with me through recovery which He is bringing through medication and psychiatric help. Yes and people with mental health issues can thrive! Thanks for writing this, it's helping me continue to blog about y journey as well - www. Carol Ward Hi. So glad you got help - you have a great story, perspective, and very positive outlook.

    I love that you are so involved in eliminating stigma; it is a thing of the past and hinders people from going forward and making progress.

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    Best to you. Andrea Simply, thank you!!! Beth Fonda- Thank you SO much for your article. You are an inspiration. While I am not a member of a minority, we do have an adult child who has a brain disorder and zero insight to her illness. We've watched her life fall apart over the last two years, losing her home, her children, and a thriving business, as well as many friends and family members.

    It gives me hope to hear your story and to see someone standing up to the myths that are perpetuated about mental health issues. I'm so grateful you've found what you need and are standing up against the stigma society places on people who face these challenges. Thank you for sharing. Gwendolyn Great read. Very proud of the work you are doing to save lives, Fonda! Subscribe Leave comment. Your email:. Please enter email address in correct format.

    Please enter an email address. Donate Now. Keep up with NAMI news and events, or take the next step and become a member. Join NAMI. Inspire others with your message of hope. Show others they are not alone. Share your story. All Rights Reserved. I have had depression my entire adult life.

    How PTSD Became a Problem Far Beyond the Battlefield

    I thank God for this blog. Thank you all for your comments. Lenore Rutti. We need both the church and the medical community! Kimberly Renee Lampkin. It's a struggle no matter how much i pray god will take these ugly voices away it gets me angry the more i hear it speaking lies i hate what I'm going through i feel like god isn't going to answer me this is a spiritual emergency i attempted suicide too many times my family doesn't understand how life threatening this is to have your freedom and peace stolen by some unknown thing with a voice trying to force you to kill yourself when I'm not thinking about it none of these thoughts belong the medication doesn't work.

    Here's some hope for those who have been slapped with a mental illness label. Janie Daniel. Janie Thank you Fonda, your blog I just so happen to find is amazing. God bless you. Georgie Beaver. Thank you Fonda for your comments. Kimberly lampkin. I hate it i hate hearing voices i wish this illness did not exist it has separated me from family it caused me to nearly commit suicide i just wish god would silence this demonic lying voice.

    I read information that stated the medical field needs to stop trying to do the churches job and the church needs to stop trying to do the doctors job. Many blessings. Excellent article it spoke to what I have experienced personally as I have learned to live with mental diagnosis for family members. When I tried to meekly explain my schizo-affective and bipolar disorders to my minister - I felt immediately 'negatively judged' by my minister due to my mental illnesses. Regards to all. Melodye Ray. I wish every pastor in America would read and understand this essay.

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    I'm not saying it was the sole purpose of the article, but this is creating a divide between Christians and non-Christians as illustrated in the comments. All I know is I didn't have any mental illness until I prayed to someone and got an answer. Lizanne Corbit. Thank you for this beautiful read. Amen to everything you said sister! Michael Manuel.

    I believe the Lord can he a person from mental illness through fasting and prayer,supernatur healing a real miracle from above is the best option that is attainable to all who call on Him. Gay Brickhouse. I want to know how to start a support group. Hey, I love this post. Fonda, Thank you for your well written blog! John Cunningham. Prayer is a narcissistic control mental disorder. Please I request to preister of the church for pray me because I have depresion.

    Mary Carver. Loved this article!! I need to know more about mental health is it inborn or made up thanks. I'm dealing with this very thing right now! Adam Montgomery. When I lived in a spiritual, African-American community, I felt more accepted than ever given I was experiencing bipolar symptoms. Fonda, Thank you for sharing this story. Gwen Captain.