Mental Illness Awareness Week 2014

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress in recognition of the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), is an annual event that brings awareness to mental illness through support, education, and advocacy. Below is a series of resources from The Linehan Institute in honor of MIAW 2014.

Day 1

Mental health research is critical to ensure that people with mental illness have access to treatments based on empirical evidence. Below, DBT experts Alan Fruzetti, PhD, and Martin Bohus, MD, share what's exciting about their current research and the impact it will have on the mental health field.

International DBT Researchers Use Science to Improve Therapy

International researchers in the field of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) gathered at the University of Washington for the DBT-Strategic Planning Meeting (DBT-SPM) to review current research and strategize efforts for the coming year. This year's September meeting included members from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and Egypt. Together, their ongoing research contributions strengthen the body of evidence that is critical in ensuring that patients worldwide receive effective mental health treatment.

Day 2

There is a gap between what is available to consumers in clinical practice and what we know works from a research perspective. Technology is revolutionizing practice and care and reducing suffering by increasing the availability of evidence-based treatments. In International Innovation, Issue 153, Dr. Melanie Harned shares how technology can help reduce suffering.

Day 3

Reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness is so important to ensure that people get the treatment they need. If you're looking for a role model, NFL Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall is an excellent example of moving from a place where there is no light to a place of freedom. Now, he advocates reducing stigma, using his career with the National Football League (NFL) as a platform.

In a video on the Brandon Marshall Foundation YouTube channel, Marshall shares, "Mental health in itself is so stigmatized, and it's a taboo topic in our homes and in our communities, and we need more people to talk about it. Football is my platform, not my purpose. My purpose is to bridge the gap in our community between patients and clinicians, and clinicians and family members. I'm excited about the future, and I think we're going to turn this thing into everyday conversation."

Thank you, Brandon Marshall, for your leadership in raising awareness and modeling positive life changes in the NFL. Read more about Brandon Marshall's leadership, as well as Dr. Linehan's views on what is needed to address issues of domestic violence in the NFL, in this article by ESPN.

Day 4

"It should come as no surprise that DBT skills are widely applicable," writes Dr. Marsha Linehan in the preface of the 2nd edition of her DBT Skills Training Manual.

The first edition, published in 1993, focused entirely on the treatment of clients with high risk for suicide and borderline personality disorder (BPD). In the 11 years since its publication, evidence-based research has shown Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills to be effective with eating disorders, depression, and a variety of other disorders.

Many more have found the skills useful for life improvement. DBT skills lesson plans are now being used in school systems to teach middle school and high school students, are working their way into programs focused on resilience, and can be applied across work settings.

Read the preface of the DBT Skills Training Manual, 2nd Edition, from Dr. Marsha Linehan.

Day 5

When clients first start DBT treatment, they often describe their experience of their mental illness as "being in hell."

The treatment stages of DBT are designed to move people through a process of building lives worth living. In Stage 1, the client is miserable and their behavior is out of control: they may be trying to kill themselves, self-harming, using drugs and alcohol, and/or engaging in other types of self-destructive behaviors. In Stage 2, they’re living a life of quiet desperation: their behavior is under control but they continue to suffer, often due to past trauma and invalidation. In Stage 3, the challenge is to learn to live: to define life goals, build self-respect, and find peace and happiness. For some people, a 4th stage is needed: finding a deeper meaning through a spiritual existence.

In this video, Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP, describes the amazing changes she’s seen in people who have received DBT and gotten out of hell.