silly animation has been deleted due to violation of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rules.
However, I thought I would post a couple songs I recorded today. Both were written a long long time ago.
Someone has been whispering:
and Om Nama Shivaya
KBOO Radio 90.7 FM
1- 2 a.m. Late Friday night
(yes, I know that it is technically Saturday morning- relax, it’s just a radio show)
May 31st, 2008
Dedicated to Everyone
who has ever been given a psychiatric label, to anyone who experiences mental health challenges and to anybody who has the misfortune (or good fortune) of being awake at that hour.
You can participate!
Call in at (503) 231-8187
Friday nights from 1 am to 2 am following the full-moon, will be a segment on KBOO radio (90.7 on your fm dial, to the left of NPR), also streamed on the internet on their website, http://www.kboo.fm/index.php will be time for of Mad Lib by Moonlight. The program is part of the usual Friday night show, The Outside World.
Your Radio really is talking to you. Join the conversation.
When I was growing up, when my father was alive, we could count on at least one thing (other than that my parents would be drunk). All of the leftovers from the week’s dinners would go into a pot, be heated to boiling and called Saturday Soup. Because my folks were not particularly creative about what they made for dinner, the soup usually amounted to the same basic ingredients, in varying proportions depending on our appetites for particular meals. The main ingredient was spaghetti and meatballs. This was a meal my dad made that was always made in such quantity that there were leftovers, without fail, even on Saturday (quite a thing really- my brother and I generally ate the leftover spaghetti for breakfast and snacks). Another common ingredient was stew. This was made in smaller amounts because it involved buying “real meat”. Another weekly staple was navy bean soup (cheap to make and my dad was in the navy for 23 years). Some items that made it into the soup less dependably but maybe alternating week-to-week included corned beef and cabbage, pork chops, meatloaf, sloppy joes and sometimes things that my folks brought home in “doggie bags” when they went out to dinner (this could be anything from chop suey to steak.
I always like Saturday Soup.
So, today is kind of a Saturday Soup- odds and ends from the past week. Working my way back through time…
Tadpole/ frog habitat reconnaissance
Yesterday I walked quite a bit along the Springwater Corridor and on Powell Butte (near my home) to check on the status of the annual spawning in marginal habitat. Summary:
Mad Liberation Radio
Last night was supposed to be the monthly Mad Liberation by Moonlight show on KBOO but I opted towait 2 more weeks because I had forgotten to publicize it. So, the show will be the last friday night in May, 1 a.m. I will post more info at some later date. I hope to have a dynamite show with several guests.
I’m still looking for work
Enough said. Let me know if you have any leads.
We did a presentation this past Tuesday at the First Unitarian Church Downtown and it went well. This Spring’s production is mental Health, Family and Work and is called “A Day at the Office”. There are some more performances but I don’t have a flyer handy so I’ll post them at another time. I believe the next one is June 1st at PSU but I could be wrong.
If you are unfamiliar with Interactive Theater/ Theater of the Oppressed, it is based on the work of Augusto Boal who developed the concept in Brazil as a way of getting urban dwellers and peasants to work together to solve social problems. The way it works is that we present a short play that consists of a series of conflicts that have increasingly bad outcomes. After one performance where we just follow the script, in the second time through the audience is invited to stop the play at any point and take the place of one of the actors to see if they can change the outcome. They are encouraged to avoid taking the place of the “oppressor” in the scene (because in real life you don’t just have that person suddenly have a change of heart and solve the issue as if by magic). They are encouraged to take the place of potential allies (who are present in each scene but who don’t act in a way that helps). We let them take any part they wish, though, because there are always things to learn. The challenge to the actors is to ad lib based on their understanding of their character. (We spend a lot of time in the rehearsal phase doing things to develop the underlying aspects of each character, to understand their thinking and their unspoken reactions to events.
It’s loads of fun for the actors and the audience. And it really does help educate the public and generate creative responses to situations of oppression. Our little group is called From the Inside Out and we are running on a shoestring with individual donations. The actors/ director etc. are all people with a mental health diagnosis and are volunteers. (We’d love to get some money for our expenses, travel and time but we don’t have enough financial support yet.)
Short article: Self-help and recovery by Joann Lutz
My experience with spiritual emergency and recovery has taught me the need to grow beyond cultural conditioning, beyond other’s expectations, to discover what ideas and behaviors are truly life-affirming and growthful for me. My recovery was based around the practice of yoga. It gave me validation for the profound changes which I experienced which were pathologized in the mental health system, such as early morning awakening, fasting, and vegetarianism, which lowered my anxiety level; self-esteem which I cultivated through the slow mastery of the yoga postures; peace of mind from the calming effects of the breathing practices; and an expanded view of who I really am, separate from my personality and its constant ups and downs.
I also experienced the healing power of dance; re-experiencing myself moving through the developmental stages as an infant, toddler, playful child; accelerating my feelings of aliveness; feeling energy moving through my body which was more compelling than the thought patterns which I had falsely identified as myself.
I learned about the value of regular exercise, of a daily spiritual practice, wholesome eating, positive relationships, solid emotional support, inspiring thoughts, connection to the natural world, awareness of body sensations and deep relaxation, in building health.
What I was doing, essentially, was creating my own world, keeping what was positive and staying away from what was not. My yoga teacher, Swami Satchidananda, talks about thinking of our body and mind as a country protected by border guards which will not let anything harmful in. For me, that meant staying away from violent movies, from watching TV. indiscriminately, from overeating, from cigarette smoke, and from negative-thinking people. As time went on, it became easier and easier to build this positive world. I began to see my spiritual emergency as an opportunity for transforming my life rather than as a disability and my feelings of inferiority dropped away.
Joann Lutz, L.I.C.S.W., is a psychiatric survivor currently working as a licensed, holistically-trained psychotherapist and stress-reduction teacher in Northampton, MA and Brattleboro Vt. She can be reached at 413-586-6384.
This is great! Olberman rant on MSNBC re Bush: “Shut up!”
I love it. You can almost feel the spit hit you from the monitor listening to this.
Miscellaneous items for your amusement
Pictures, animation, whatever.
This is me above…
Below, some songs I recorded, wrote many years ago:
I didn’t write this. Yoko Ono. Suprisingly melodic, enjoyable. Don’t be afraid, just listen-
First in a series: The Great Love- Listen to the rest at http://www.freebuddhistaudio.com/talks/details?num=OM690&c=p
That’s enough for now.
Have a great weekend.
The below free MAD PRIDE event is worth traveling to from anywhere in
! A documentary video crew is traveling two hours to be there!
But no matter what, please spread the word, it’s hilarious. Download
the poster, it’s a blast!
FREE ACTIVIST EVENT IN:
“Mad Pride” group plans public street theater for
Worship of “Big Giant Pill” during skit called “The Norm-a-Thon”
to poke fun at power of psychiatric drug industry.
Feeling a little crazy? What with war,
chaos, who isn’t?
No worries! You are invited to bring all of your problems to an
enormous replica of a psychiatric pill in a free public skit to be
held in , .
The street theater — called “The Norm-a-thon” — is organized by the
nonprofit coalition MindFreedom International as part of an
international “Mad Pride” movement that encourages everyone to exlore
their “creative maladjustment.” It’s a unique way to celebrate May,
which is considered “Mental Health Month.”
Update: An out-of-state participant will be part of The Normathon:
Long-time activist Ted Chabasinski from will be
one of the players. Ted has been a psychiatric survivor activist for
35 years after experiencing ten years of about by the psychiatric
system as a youth. Now an attorney, Ted is a legend in our mad movement!
NEW YORK TIMES covers Mad Pride!
Adding to the excitement… Sunday’s New York Times, 11 May 2008,
Mad Pride, including Eugene’s own MindFreedom and director David Oaks!
Read the article on MindFreedom’s web site at
WE NEED YOU — YOU CAN BE PART OF THIS HISTORIC SKIT *THIS* SATURDAY!
Just show up!
The skit will include a “Bed Push,” in which a manequin named “Norm”
strapped onto a bed with wheels will be chased through Eugene by
mental health workers in white coats, along with their Big Giant Pill
of course. Mad Pride Bed Pushes have been held in , and USA
to challenge human rights violations in the mental health system.
The organizers intend to upload a video of The Norm-a-thon onto
, as part of an international Mad Pride movement that now
stretches from to , from Africa to . The Mad
Pride events are promoted by the International Association for the
Advancement of Creative Maladjustment (IAACM), chaired by
International physician, clown and celebrity Patch Adams, MD.
Mental health worker Ron Unger, a moderator at the event, will chant
psychiatric labels as participants worship the Big Giant Pill. One
of The Norm-a-thon organizers, David Oaks, director of MindFreedom
and psychiatric survivor, said, “We promise to question reality,
normality, media and psychiatric drug industry bullying… and have
fun at the same time. We are pro-choice about personal health care
decisions. A number of our members take prescribed psychiatric drugs.
But we all agree it’s time to call for more choices in mental health
care besides drug, drug, drug, drug, drug or drug.”
When not using humor, MindFreedom is also involved in serious
campaigns this month, including the launch of an international treaty on disability and human rights. MindFreedom is the
only group of its kind that is accredited by the UN as a Non
When:to 6 pm (start gathering at 3 pm).
Eugene, Oregon, USA.
Who: You! Come as you are or bring props, signs and costumes (normal
or strange). Just show up, or contact MindFreedom for rehearasal.
What: A peaceful protest prank we will broadcast globally on web via
*** Bring your problems to our Big Giant Pill while a mental health
*** Speak, sing, scream or act your real true feelings in a videoed
*** Oppression Olympic Trials! Win valuable prizes, like a nonviolent
*** Cheer for a performance by Youth Committee of Psychiatric Survivors.
*** Free “Normality Screenings” using authentic rubber chickens.
After 1,000 screenings, none has been found.
*** Join a Bed Push so a mannequin named Norm tied in restraints can
[Later on that evening celebrate at a benefit by a MindFreedom
sponsor group, Life & The Universe. The concert will be nearby at 7
pm, Fenario Gallery, 881 Willamette.]
Volunteer now at the MindFreedom office at.
More info on web about The Norm-a-thon including poster you may
More info about Mad Pride:
More info about
More info about MindFreedom anddisability treaty:
Also in May: Premiere of documentary, “
at Bijou Theater:
This information is forwrded from MindFreedom International. Ron Unger is a a therapist in Oregon who embraces the CS/X movement and teaches cognitive approaches to recovery from serious mental health issues.
http://www.mindfreedom.org – human rights in mental health
FORWARDED PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
alternative treatment in mental health seminar:
Ron Unger is a longtime MindFreedom member, and coordinator of
MindFreedom Lane County, who advocates for a treatment alternative
called “cognitive therapy for psychosis.”
This therapy might sound like common sense to many of us: noticing
that people who sound “crazy” can really be understood if we try,
noticing that their problems aren’t that much different than anyone
else’s, and finding the story of how the problems got going and
looking for practical ways to shrink the problem.
However, this therapy is revolutionary in a mental health system that
insists that “psychosis” is a biological brain disorder that can only
be treated with medications!
Details on the seminar are below: this seminar is very affordable to
mental health workers who need CEU credit, and is free to consumers
who might be interested.
Cognitive Therapy for Psychosis: an evidence-based psychological
approach for delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia
A Seminar In,
– Conceptualize psychosis as an understandable reaction to life events
– Use proven cognitive methods to reduce psychotic thinking
– Help clients recover by activating their own rational and self-
– Offer an effective alternative to people who receive limited
benefit from medications or who prefer less dependence on medications
Most current treatment approaches frame psychotic experiences as non-
understandable, address them only with medication, and then ask
clients to resign themselves to living with the symptoms medication
does not control.
Cognitive therapy for psychosis, developed mostly in the
little known in the US, is an evidence-based method with a different
perspective. In this seminar, you will gain insight into the
connections between everyday psychological difficulties and the more
extreme ones we call psychosis. You will become able to track the
story of how psychosis develops and how people became trapped in it.
Then, by hearing about basic cognitive therapy principles,
participating in exercises, and exploring case examples, you will
learn how to collaborate with clients in exploring evidence and
explanations for experiences, and in testing coping ideas. This
process works to restore the client’s role as an active problem
solver capable of making decisions that reduce psychotic symptoms,
and as an active partner in a journey toward recovery.
Ron Unger, LCSW, is a therapist specializing in cognitive therapy for
psychosis. He has given numerous seminars about cognitive therapy and
other psychosocial approaches to psychosis, and on trauma and the
relationship between trauma and psychosis. His presentations
emphasize simple, practical, and humanistic ways of understanding and
relating to human difficulties that can too easily be perceived as
being “beyond understanding.”
* Refute misconceptions that have often discouraged professionals
from attempting psychotherapy for schizophrenia or other psychotic
* Learn about research showing that medical model explanations
actually increase stigma, and identify a better approach
* Understand psychotic symptoms as existing on a continuum with other
human reactions to distressing circumstances
* Utilize the style and the essential steps of cognitive therapy for
* Explore a variety of case examples that illustrate effective
* Identify 3 ways to integrate this psychological approach with
existing treatment methods
A cognitive perspective on psychosis
Continuum from “normal” to “psychotic”
Inter and intra-personal dialogue and its breakdown
Nonlinear causality in psychosis
Stress and trauma as factors
Limits of biological explanations
Multi-factorial understanding and hope for recovery
Relationship considerations always primary
Goals structured around client concerns
Balance between confrontation and collusion
Drawing out client’s rationality
Empathy even when it is challenging
Self disclosure of unusual experiences by therapist
*Two Key Procedures
“Normalizing” psychotic experiences
Developing a formulation
*Approaches for specific issues
Hallucinations and voices
*Putting it into practice
Difficulties and possible solutions
Three levels of integration with the existing system
Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Case
Managers, Addiction Counselors, and other mental health professionals.
If you contact us before the seminar date, you can receive a tuition
refund, less a $30 cancellation fee.
Seminar Schedule for Friday, June 27, 2008:
8:00 Check in/Continental Breakfast
8:30 Program Begins
Lunch /(on your own)/
4:30 Program ends
Questions? Call email@example.com, or email
Credit Information: 6.25 NASW CEU credits approved – attendees
registering for CEUs must attend the full seminar.
Guarantee: If the quality of this seminar does not meet your
expectations, simply explain the reasons for your dissatisfaction, by
mail or email, and you will receive a full refund.
Call early with your ADA needs!
Seminar Location Details:
LaSells Stewart Center
http://oregonstate.edu/lasells/gettinghere.html for more details on
finding the site, and on parking. Note that while the website says
parking costs $5, it is actually free the day of the seminar due to
OSU being out of session.
Include the book listed below with your seminar registration and save!
*Cognitive Therapy of Schizophrenia (Guides to Individualized
Evidence-Based Treatment) (Paperback)*
by David G. Kingdon and Douglas Turkington
Drawing on the authors’ decades of influential work in the field,
this highly practical volume presents an evidence-based cognitive
therapy approach for clients with schizophrenia. Guidelines are
provided for collaborative assessment and case formulation that
enable the clinician to build a strong therapeutic relationship,
establish reasonable goals, and tailor treatment to each client’s
needs. Described in thorough, step-by-step detail are effective
techniques for working with delusional beliefs, voices, visions,
thought disorders, and negative symptoms; integrating cognitive
therapy with other forms of treatment; reducing relapse risks; and
enhancing client motivation. Special features include reproducible
client handouts and assessment tools. List Price $25: available with
this seminar for just $20!
To Register, please complete entire form (to notify you of any
Home/Cell Ph ( )______________Dept. Ph ( )___________________
To register together with another person: send both registrations in
at the same time, and write in the name of the other person(s) here:
Please note: Confirmation/receipts are sent only via email.
Please return entire registration form
Register by Fax:
Register by Phone:
Register by Mail:
Ron Unger LCSW
Eugene, OR 97401
Check tuition (includes refreshments)
_____ $99 single registration postmarked three weeks prior to seminar
_____ $79 per person for 2 or more pre-registering together
postmarked three weeks prior to seminar date
_____ $89 per person for 2 or more pre-registering together if *not
*postmarked three weeks prior to seminar date
_____ $109 Standard
_____ Scholarship (free attendance for consumer/survivors and family
members who want to learn more about this approach)
_____ $20 to purchase the book */Cognitive Therapy for Schizophrenia /
*(See below for a description of this book. It will be distributed at
the seminar – saves you $5 plus shipping costs!)
Indicate method of payment (All registrations must be prepaid):
_____ Check enclosed payable to Ron Unger LCSW
_____ MC (16 digits)
_____ VISA (13-16 digits)
_____ AE (15 digits)
_____ Discover Novus (16 digits)
Card #______________________________ Card Exp. ______________________
V-Code #*: ________________
(MC/VISA/Discover: last 3 digit # on signature panel on back of card.
: 4-digit # on face of card.)
Registrations due one week in advance of the seminar! Walk-in
registrations at the seminar are welcome, but admission cannot be
From: David Oaks <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [OCSC-talk] dialogue with office of Governor
To: Oregon Consumer/Survivor Coalition <email@example.com>
Thanks Dave R.
I’m thinking about the times we testified and met with legislators
I’ve been visiting the legislature for about 20 years.
In the early years we were mainly just stopping bad bills. That’s it.
And it was uphill.
It just seems more and more legislators are supportive of mental
health consumer/psychiatric survivor voice, involvement, etc.
Enough? No not enough. But more and more.
Plus there are more consumer/survivors speaking out!
Here’s a photo of two OCSC group representatives (Marie Parcell of
BEARS and Rick Snook of EI) testifying during the last legislative
Here are more photos:
A number of people who showed up had to do so on very last minute
notice, fairly early in the morning, and wait through a lot of other
bills. And thank much to folks like Drake, Beckie and others who have
helped promote these bills. (And thanks to ADAPT trainers who came in
for a state-wide brainstorming session a few years ago that helped
get these bills started.)
True, we won one bill, lost the other… but we’re finally taking the
initiative, filing a bill, and winning.
And yes we have a long way to go, but my point is about the RECEPTION
we had from some legislators. Quite a few know us, support us, etc.
As one legislator passionately put it to us, “You are preaching to
Enough? Not enough. But a bit of hope.
Maybe people could post some of their “legislators who give us hope”
who might support us… that is, elected state legislators who know
some of us personally, who seem to get some of our issues, who
express warm support.
Again, I’m not saying it’s enough, some have a lot to learn.
A few from my point of view from Lane County: Sen. Prozanski, Sen.
Morrisette, Rep. Holvey,
On May 4, 2008, at 8:14 PM, David Romprey wrote:
> Excellent thoughts, and ideas to build on, Pat.
> Also, I learned through David Oaks personally that there are some
> very positive updates in our image on Capitol Flats (I say this due
> to there is NO hill around our Oregon Capitol building, and
> actually somehow seems LOWER than most of the city!).
> David Oaks tells me some Coalition members are being much better
> received. Part of the image problem is simply knowing and learning
> TOGETHER how well we are doing. I’m happy about the good news, and
> hats off to some intentional relationship work by folks working
> closer to this cause than I am!!
> The best,
> David R.
> On Fri, May 2, 2008 at 2:45 PM, Patricia M DAVIS
> <Patricia.M.Davis@state.or.us> wrote:
> In response to David and Dan’s comments:
> Hello OCSC Friends,
> Recovery Thinking and Mutuality filled the halls of the Portland
> State University’s conference center last week, April 24-25, as Dan
> Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., National Empowerment Center Director, person
> in recovery, inspired all in attendance to see dreams become
> reality in taking hold of recovery personally and advancing
> recovery thinking in our society and its systems of care.
> That fancy sentence to say, it was an awesome event with Dan and a
> room full of people listening and becoming change agents in their
> own neighborhoods/communities! People who identified themselves as
> consumers/advocates/patients and x-patients, people who identified
> themselves as family members, people who identified themselves as
> therapists, state hospital employees, people working in provider
> agencies, and people who identified themselves as students. People
> with all sorts of experience wanting to come together in empowerment!
> By the way, Dan’s presentation was a direct result of behavioral
> health workforce development efforts! PSU asked consumers on the
> BHWD Committee to coach them on new thinking and the consumer/
> recovery movement last year. As a result, PSU has added an entire
> Behavioral Health Training Series to their Continuing Education
> Department so that the next generation of “helping professionals”
> will be recovery and empowerment minded.
> The group of friends of the OCSC instilled such hope in me that all
> of our efforts for change over the years is really making a
> difference. What a fantastic group! 16 members of the group
> signed up to be “official” friends of the work of the OCSC. The
> group asked to be formally linked to our OCSC web site and they
> will also stay in touch with each other to support one another in
> their efforts to support you and transform the part of the system
> they touch.
> So group, I’ll create an email group for these change leaders and a
> directory of these friends for you to refer to, but I need to ask
> you about linking them to OCSC. How would you like this done?
> Should the “friends” nominate someone from their group to get
> connected and be part of the “talk” group, etc.? A few in the
> group are in recovery and working in the system. Like the
> Oregon Stop Stigma slogan goes…People…JUST People, like you and
> Which leads me to “whole person” thinking and the wellness
> initiative The more we see wellness and illness as a common human
> experience…all of us move up and down on the continuum, that you
> cannot have wellness in our society or in the body without treating
> the whole person (mind, body, spirit)…and that even the people
> serving at the Capitol can and do move along this SAME continuum,
> the more we reduce stigma and discrimination. When we go to the
> Capitol and speak, or speak individually to Legislators, we speak
> on behalf of “them” as well as “us.” We become “all” just people
> and the “us” and “them” must disappear!
> As to “repairing” our image at the Capitol or anywhere. (In my
> opinion) It’s all about trust, relationship building, and being the
> strong, brilliant unified voice we have become. Sticking together,
> presenting concise facts, sharing our stories, working in our own
> communities, finding the leader’s at the Capitol who “get it” and
> following other good civil rights movements like that of the
> physical disabilities movement.
> Raising awareness May is Mental Health Awareness Month Educate
> every chance you get! We are the living evidence!
> Happy Friday All,
> Patricia M. Davis-Salyer, M.Ed.
> Training and Development Specialist
> Addictions and Mental Health Division (AMH)
> Workforce Development Unit
Can I ask for your help to show there is national and international
concern about the mental health system in the State of Oregon in the
Oregon’s Governor Kulongoski budgeted zero  for the state-wide
voice of Oregon’s mental health clients for five years.
At the same time Oregon is one of the very few USA states building
brand new huge psychiatric institutions.
The Governor found half a billion ($500,000,000) for bricks and
mortar for new psychiatric institutions.
But not a dime for the voice of mental health clients. Again and again.
Please take a moment to show there is international concern.
*BELOW* is a letter to the editor by me that was published today, 6
May 2008, in Eugene, Oregon’s daily newspaper, _The Register-Guard_.
Please read my brief letter.
And then ask Governor Kulongoski in a civil way:
Easy ways to ask the Governor via the web are here:
Or see links at the bottom of this alert.
LETTER TO EDITOR – Published 6 May 2008 in The Register-Guard,
Eugene, Oregon, USA:
The Register-Guard’s recent guest viewpoints and letters about humane
alternatives in mental health are appreciated. This community
dialogue is healing and necessary.
I’ve studied the history of the mental health system over the
centuries. Minor reform is not enough. Reform often results in more
money for more of the same. One step to deeper change is to start to
listen to the diverse perspectives of mental health consumers,
psychiatric survivors and their organizations.
Most of the states support the statewide voice of mental health
clients in some way, even if small. Most states fund an office of
mental health consumer affairs, a statewide conference or a
newsletter to support the empowerment of our citizens who are
diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities. Many leaders in Oregon’s
mental health system and Legislature endorse this common sense idea.
Our advocacy group concludes that a top obstacle to real change in
Oregon’s mental health system is in the office of Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
Since Kulongoski took office, his budget item for the statewide voice
of mental health clients has been eliminated. The governor has
continued to recommend that this funding stay at zero, even while he
raised about half a billion dollars to build huge new psychiatric
Now I hear Kulongoski say that as a superdelegate he may override the
majority of Democratic voters in Oregon’s May 20 presidential
primary. Is there a pattern here of the governor squelching the
voices of Oregonians? Let’s all ask him.
David W. Oaks
Eugene, Oregon, USA
* ACT NOW * ACT NOW * ACT NOW *
Two easy actions you can take to ask “Why Zero?”
Encourage funding Oregon’s state-wide voice of mental health clients
in your own words!
1) ASK OREGON’S GOVERNOR!
Just use Governor Kulongoski’s web contact page here to send e-mail,
phone or postal mail:
2) COMMENT ON OREGON’S BUDGET!
The Governor’s Department of Human Services is asking for public
input *now* about their next budget!
E-mail your comment here:
An assortment of news and information releases related to the consumer/ survivor movement, broadly:
Mental care – As the nonprofit tries to right itself, critics trace
the crisis to early leadership
by ARTHUR GREGG SULZBERGER
Even though he moved to France more than two years ago, the chief
information officer at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare continues to
collect a hefty paycheck as a full-time employee, telecommuting
across many time zones.
Like the other three members of Cascadia’s executive team, Jeff
Poolin worked at the small predecessor organization that aggressively
built itself up into the state’s biggest provider of mental health
Critics say that small team, leading an insular and top-heavy
management, played a big role in steering the massive nonprofit
The organization has tried to answer its critics and change its
culture with a leadership overhaul that has for the first time
shifted the agency out of the hands of the small group that built it.
Upper managers were cut by 40 percent. Most strikingly, Poolin is the
only longtime executive still there (and he is still in France).
The changing of the guard might help explain why the state and
Multnomah County stepped in this week to ensure that Cascadia could
continue to work with the 23,000 people it serves each year. Their
eleventh-hour $1.5 million cash infusion will keep Cascadia operating
for at least another two weeks.
But how the company will go on after that and in what form are the
complicated questions now facing the governments that send millions
of dollars to the agency to treat their hardest cases.
To explain the current crisis, it makes sense to go back to the
How did Cascadia start?
In the 1970s, after years providing mental health services itself,
the county decided to decentralize the local mental health system. It
divided the county into quadrants and contracted with four nonprofit
companies to provide the bulk of care in those areas.
But in the mid- to late 1990s, those agencies and a number of smaller
mental health nonprofits struggled financially. Leslie Ford — the
CEO of Network Behavioral HealthCare in Southeast Portland, one of
the four geographic companies — made a series of aggressive mergers
and acquisitions with the goal of consolidating services under a
In 2002, Ford successfully united the companies and called the new
amalgam: Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare.
Cascadia struggled financially from the start, partly because the
merger included the debt-laden nonprofit charged with providing
mental health services for the west side of Portland.
But it has continued to expand. In the five years since its
inception, the company grew an additional 45 percent. It now has an
annual budget of $58 million, with more than 1,000 employees and 90
Cascadia provides a full spectrum of mental health care — from
housing to counseling to crisis treatment. The roles include
operating walk-in clinics, crisis response and a network of housing
for low-income people with mental illness. Though the bulk of its
business occurs in Multnomah County, Cascadia also provides services
in Clackamas, Lane, Marion and Washington counties and directly to
Why is Cascadia struggling?
Cascadia has been constantly shadowed by looming financial crisis.
While management decisions and rapid growth played a significant
role, much of the trouble is linked to the thin margins that come
with working in the mental health field, experts say.
Most of the money in Oregon’s mental health system comes from the
state and federal government in the form of Medicaid reimbursements.
That money is passed to counties, which determine how to spend it.
Some counties provide their own services, but most contract with
private nonprofits to provide service.
Because of the dependence on government funding, mental health
providers have coped for years with budget cuts and, more recently,
with mandated changes to how they conduct business. The most
significant is a switch in how they get paid.
Multnomah County and other counties until recently provided up-front
payments to mental health agencies for each client and allowed broad
spending discretion. In 2006, Multnomah County mandated a change:
Agencies now would be reimbursed for specific services after clients
received them. The move was touted as a way to increase fiscal
transparency and ensure that money was going for services rather than
But Cascadia managers said that while the new system was good at
caring for people with mild or moderate mental illness, it failed to
provide resources to care for the very sickest clients. That’s
because it provides no money to track down and help people too ill to
enter or stay in the system on their own. Cascadia’s success reaching
out to those individuals before they ended up in expensive hospital
beds or jail beds was core to the company’s mission.
In June, a consultant estimated that Cascadia employees spent about
30 percent of their work days providing billable services and would
have to double that ratio to break even. That same consultant warned
about incorrect record-keeping. Months later the state ordered the
nonprofit to pay back $2.7 million because of improper payment
records. Cascadia still owes the money.
What has happened so far?
In recent months, Cascadia has laid off more than 250 staff, or about
of a fifth of its work force. Last week it replaced Ford as CEO with
Dr. Derald Walker, who has worked at the nonprofit for just two months.
County and state officials still refused to bail out the agency by
backing its loans.
On Wednesday, the Capital Pacific Bank drained most of Cascadia’s
cash accounts, saying the company had defaulted on a $2 million loan.
Cascadia was only able to make payroll because the state and county
accelerated a $1.5 million payment for services Cascadia already has
The company remains deeply in debt and many of its vendors have
stopped providing services unless paid cash in advance.
Nevertheless, Walker said this week that Cascadia’s focus on cutting
staff and increasing productivity are starting to pay off with
What happens next?
County officials already have spent weeks working with state and
local mental health leaders planning to shift contracts from Cascadia
to smaller providers and have drafted detailed plans for an emergency
partitioning of the rest of the company’s services and assets should
it be forced to declare bankruptcy.
The county will wait until an independent audit of Cascadia’s
finances is completed later this month before making any big decisions.
Arthur Sulzberger: 503-221-8330; firstname.lastname@example.org
News Release – 3 May 2008
United Nations Treaty on Disability and Human Rights Now in
Psychiatric Survivors Play Important Role in Creating the
Legally Binding Treaty.
MindFreedom International (MFI) joins with the international
disability rights community in celebrating the entry into force of
the “United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities.” The UN Convention — a type of binding international
treaty — enters into force today, 3 May 2008, after 20 countries
Celia Brown led the MFI UN team of psychiatric survivors inside the
United Nations. “It’s been great to be in the United Nations with
survivors of psychiatric abuse and many international disability
groups from around the world,” said Celia. “We’re all fighting
together for human rights, self-determination and freedom.”
For the full news release — text or PDF — click here:
(2) News Report – 3 May 2008
MindFreedom Ireland Holds Successful Protest of Electroshock
Members of MindFreedom Ireland protested in Cork, Ireland on 3 May
2008 against the use of electroshock as a ‘treatment’ both in Irish
psychiatric institutions and worldwide.
For the brief report of the Cork Ireland protest of electroshock from
Mary Maddock, click here:
For news of other May electroshock protests and events click here: