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Saturday, May 18, 2013

We are out numbered, not defeated!

My friend Brad works for Tennessee Health Care Campaign, THCC, to help improve the lives of individuals suffering with mental illness in our state. Recently, he sent me this email that reveals how consumer protection group's lobbyist are outnumbered on Capital Hill. This fact is stunning.

I wish Brad much success and happiness in his decision to continue his education. I greatly appreciate all of his hard work in his years with THCC. He will be sorely missed.

Dear Steve,

I was listening to NPR's Fresh Air yesterday morning as Dave Davies interviewed an author who mentioned that the top five consumer protection groups sent 20 lobbyists to Capitol Hill during the financial reform debate while the top five finance industry groups sent 406 lobbyists during the same time. In other words, consumers were outnumbered 20 to 1.

This is a story we know too well as the voice for Tennessee's health care consumers. During the implementation of health reform, we are constantly out numbered. Fortunately, THCC has a long history of working on your behalf and our success stories are many and varied. From the beginning days of TennCare to the passage and implementation of national health reform, we've been privileged to represent your interest during challenging times.

Through the years, THCC has had fantastic leadership to help make all of this possible, and I'm so lucky to have been able to follow in such tremendous footsteps. However, my time as THCC's interim executive director has come to an end. I'll continue with THCC and will be focused mostly on policy and communications as we move forward with enrolling hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans later this year. I will eventually be leaving THCC in August to pursue a Masters of Social Work at the University of Michigan's School of Social Work.

Until then, I'm happy to provide the transition and introduce you to THCC's new director - Walter Davis. Walter comes with much experience in organizing and building community partnerships, which is just what we need as we start planning for open enrollment, and I'm thrilled to be by his side as we move forward.

With gratitude,
Brad A. Palmertree, BSW
Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fwd: TMHCA 25th Anniversary & Annual Conference

Sent from my iPad

Begin forwarded message:

From: Dan Hamer <>
Date: May 5, 2013, 12:44:14 PM CDT
To: "" <>
Subject: FW: TMHCA 25th Anniversary & Annual Conference

TMHCA 25th Anniversary & Annual Conference



From: Anthony Fox
Sent: Friday, April 19, 2013 11:41 AM
To: Staff
Subject: FW: TMHCA 25th Anniversary & Annual Conference


Please Distribute


From: TN Mental Health Consumers' Association [] On Behalf Of TN Mental Health Consumers' Association
Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2013 11:04 PM
To: Anthony Fox
Subject: TMHCA 25th Anniversary & Annual Conference


The latest news and happenings from TMHCA.

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Tennessee Mental Health Consumers&apos; Association Newsletter

Celebrate 25th Anniversary of TMHCA

TMHCA ConferenceCome Join TMHCA as it celebrates 25 years of "Honoring our Past, Building our Present, and Shaping our Future."

TMHCA's 25th year celebration will be at the world renowned Jim Oliver's Smoke House Lodge. Where much of the planning for what is now one of the nation's largest consumers/survivor groups began – Monteagle, TN.

Date:  May 16, 2013

Time: Registration begins at 8am Central, Conference 8am-4pm Central

Registration Deadline: May 8th, 2013 (register here and apply for scholarship if applicable)

Location: Jim Oliver's Smoke House Lodge in Monteagle, TN

PaoloPaolo del Vecchio, MSW, is the Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)'s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS).  SAMHSA is the lead Federal agency designed to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

A self-identified mental health consumer, trauma survivor, and person in recovery from addictions, Paolo has been involved for over 40 years in behavioral health as a consumer, family member, provider, advocate, and policy maker.

FisherDr. Fisher obtained a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin and carried out neurochemical research at NIMH.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was hospitalized on three occasions, and recovered. He co-founded the National Empowerment Center and was a Commissioner on the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. He helped organize the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, a national voice for consumers and Interrelate, an international voice.

Plus a panel of well-known speakers from Tennessee including: Lisa Ragan, LMSW; Daniel Grooms MS, MBA;, Carolina George, MSSW; and Jennifer Jones, MSSW.

For conference questions contact Tory Vaughn at

To register visit:

To register and apply for a scholarship (covers cost of an overnight stay):

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Thursday, May 2, 2013


Editor's Note: Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research, an evangelical research organization. He blogs and his most recent book is "Subversive Kingdom."

By Ed Stetzer, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The first time I dealt with mental illness in church was with a man named Jim. I was young and idealistic - a new pastor serving in upstate New York. Jim was a godsend to us. He wanted to help, and his energy was immeasurable. He'd visit with me, sing spontaneously, pray regularly and was always ready to help.

Until he was gone.

For days and sometimes weeks at a time, he would struggle with darkness and depression. During this time, he would withdraw from societal interaction and do practically nothing but read Psalms and pray for hours on end. I later learned that this behavior is symptomatic of what is often called bipolar disorder or, in years before, manic depression.

I prayed with Jim. We talked often about the need for him to take his medicine, but he kept asking God to fix him. Eventually, at his lowest point and filled with despair, he took his own life.

As a young pastor unacquainted with how to deal with these events, I found myself searching for answers. I realized two things:

First, people with mental illness are often attracted to religion and the church, either to receive help in a safe environment or to live out the worst impulses of their mental illness.

Second, most congregations, sadly, have few resources for help.

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This weekend, we learned of the death of Rick and Kay Warren's son Matthew.Those of us who know the Warrens know how they have anguished over their son's illness, seeking to keep a low profile even as Rick penned the best-selling devotional, "The Purpose Driven Life." This weekend, Matthew took his own life - putting the issue of mental illness front and center again.

Matthew had the best medical care available, a loving church that cared for him and his family, and parents who loved and prayed for him. Yet, that could not keep Matthew with us.

Mental illness is incredibly destructive, and the end result is not always ours to determine.

Matthew's life was not a waste and, yes, every day had a purpose. His pain is over now, but perhaps his life and death will remind us all of the reality of mental illness and inspire people of faith to greater awareness and action.

So, what can we do as people of faith to address issues of mental illness?

1. Churches need to stop hiding mental illness.

So often in a congregation, we like to pretend this is not a real issue because we have such a difficult time understanding it. We stick our heads in the sand, add the person to the prayer list and continue on ministering to the "normal" people. But it's real, and it isn't going away. In 2009, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index showed 17% of respondents as having been diagnosed with depression. There are people in the pews every week - ministers, too - struggling with mental illness or depression, and we need to recognize this.

2. The congregation should be a safe place for those who struggle.

We are often afraid of mental illness and the symptoms that come with it. As a result, we don't know what to do with our own level of discomfort and our fears for safety, or we just don't want to be inconvenienced.

study from Baylor University indicates "that while help from the church with depression and mental illness was the second priority of families with mental illness, it ranked 42nd on the list of requests from families that did not have a family member with mental illness." This is a real need among our congregations, one that we absolutely cannot ignore or expect to go away. People of faith know that God has freed them to love others, and that love extends to everyone, even (and sometimes especially) those we don't understand.

3. We should not be afraid of medicine.

I realize this can be a heated debate. I also recognize that medication must be handled with care - as it should with any condition. But many mental health issues are physiological. Counseling will naturally be a part of treatment. But if we are not afraid to put a cast on a broken bone, then why are we ashamed of a balanced plan to treat mental illness that might include medication to stabilize possible chemical imbalances? Christians get cancer, and they deal with mental illness.

We've long seen the value in the medical treatment of cancer. It's time for Christians to affirm the value of medical treatment for mental illness as well.

4. We need to end the shame.

I saw it in my own family. Suicide has struck our family more than once, making the news where we wished it did not. When my aunt was arrested for gun smuggling to Ireland, our family did not think of this as an issue of Irish revolution. She was brilliant, a lawyer and a doctor, but mentally ill. Her involvement in the Irish "revolution" was one in a long line of bad choices driven by her illness and eventually led to her suicide.

Yet, it was hard to talk of these things. They had to be "handled in the dark" because "no one could know." I love my family. But shame was something that was difficult to avoid in every case.

Let's be honest. These are typically delicate situations. And we want to protect the privacy and dignity of the people we love, particularly when they are behaving in ways that might draw negative attention. But compassion and care can go a long way in helping people know they don't have to hide.

CNN's Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Why should this be of concern to people of faith? Simply put, there is no place where Americans are more connected and no place where grace is more expected than the church.

Mental illness has nothing to do with you or your family's beliefs, but the greater community that holds those beliefs can be key to the lifelong process of dealing with mental illness. Most research points to the fact that more religious people tend to be healthier, both physically and mentally, but religious activities do not remove people of faith from sickness of either kind.

Christians believe the church is the body of Christ—the hands and feet of Jesus—and that means going into the darkest places and the toughest situations to bring light. It means walking with those who are suffering, no matter what the suffering looks like.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ed Stetze.

Sent from my iPad