In The News
- Al Franken, Jim Ramstad: Improving care for mental illness
- This article appeared in the Star Tribune newspaper of Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 26, 2013. Al Franken currently represents Minnesota in the U.S. Senate and Jim Ramstad formerly represented Minnesota’s Third District in the U.S. House.
- During much of his time in Congress, Mr. Ramstad worked with Senator Paul Wellstone, fighting to end discrimination against individuals with a mental health illness. Their efforts resulted in the passage of the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act of 2008,
which expands access to behavioral health care.
- Senator Franken is a strong believer in improving access to mental health care. He is carrying on the work of Mr. Ramstad and questioned how we identify and treat mental health illnesses. Senator Franken has identified two key areas that access to mental health care is lacking - our public school
systems and our criminal justice system.
- Since 2009, Senator Franken has worked long and hard for full implementation of the Wellstone-Domenici Act. In January 2013, his efforts paid off as he convinced the Obama administration to include it in the gun violence reduction strategy announced by the President.
- Senator Franken has currently authored to improve mental health care in our schools and the criminal justice system. He states, "Foremost, it is absolutely essential that we not stigmatize mental illness, especially in such a raw and emotional moment. The vast majority of those suffering from
mental illness are no more violent than the general population. And the very small minority who could become violent are much less likely to do so if their illness is identified early and treated correctly."
- Senator Franken's Mental Health in Schools Act focuses on early detection and treatment of mental health illness in chldren. He has identified that there are not enough appropriately trained individuals for the number of children in our schools, and has worked towards increasing the number of school counselors
and psychologists. Senator Franken's bill also includes that all staff that work with school children from bus drivers to principals will have some training to recognize when children are struggling; and additionally, ensure that schools have the resources available to get children the help they need.
- In respect to our criminal justice system, Senator Franken belives that we have long criminalized mental health illness. Instead of getting indviduals the help and treatment they need, we have instead put them into jails and prisons. The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act proposed by Senator Franken will provide for intensive training for law enforcement individuals
to help people with mental health illnesses receive the treatment they need instead of getting trapped in the criminal justice system. It will further provide for screening of inmates for untreated mental health illnesses and help set up transition plans for returning to the community.
- Senator Franken's partner on this bill is Representative Richard Nugent (Republican - Florida). The bill currently has 22 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate and has been endorsed by over 200 organizations around the country, including groups representing veterans, mental-health advocates, and law enforcement and criminal-justice professionals.
- Response from Bipolar Child Support. We commend Senator Franken on his work towards decreasing the stigma of mental health illness and his hard work towards increasing the access to mental health care services. Senator Franken is correct when he states that America has stigmatized and criminalized mental
health illnesses for a long time. Early detection of mental health illnesses and access to treatment is lacking in our country, especially for children. Including a mental health care component within our school systems that trains all of the individuals that work with our children and provides the necessary resources to begin treatment of mental health illnesses is absolutely
essential. Currently, many children and their families do not have a means to access mental health care resources, and Senator Franken's bill would be of great benefit to our children with mental health illnesses.
- We applaud the work of Senator Franken, former Senator Ramstad, and Representative Nugent, as well as their co-sponsors. We are thankful that they recognize the need to end the stimatization and criminalization of mental health illnesses.
- Senator Baucus (Dem - Montana) Responsive, Puts Education First by Kelly Hartigan
- This article appeared as a guest column in The Missoulian of Missoula, Montana, on March 5, 2013, and is the first part of our article regarding a potential safety risk for special education students in Kalispell, Montana's School District #5, and how we advocated for our local special education students.
- To read more details about the circumstances surrounding this issue, please visit our Education First article.
- Mommy, Am I Really Bipolar? by Dr. Stuart L. Kaplan
- This article appeared in Newsweek on June 19, 2011, and is an adaptation from Dr. Kaplan's book "Your Child Does Not Have
Bipolar Disorder: How Bad Science and Good Public Relations Created the Diagnosis". Dr. Kaplan is a child pyschiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry
at Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Kaplan presents a different point of view than that believed by the founders of this website. In Dr. Kaplan's opinion,
bipolar disorder in children is a diagnostic fad and there is no evidence, scientific or otherwise of the existence of bipolar disorder in children.
- The view of childhood bipolar disorder expressed by Dr. Kaplan is one that may not only be believed by some doctors, but also by the general
public. This view may make it difficult for parents who are raising children with bipolar disorder, not only to receive a diagnosis and appropriate treatment for their children,
but also to have their child accepted and understood by other adults and children in their daily lives.
- Susan Resko, the executive director of the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF) sent a letter to the editor of Newsweek with CABF's
response to Dr. Kaplan's article. After reading this article, you may be interested in reading CABF's Response
to Dr. Kaplan's opinion of childhood bipolar disorder.
- Response from Bipolar Child Support. While Dr. Kaplan is certainly entitled to his point of view on childhood bipolar disorder and has the right to share
that view, he does not have the right to demean the views, research, and work of others who strongly believe in and have proven pediatric bipolar disorder.
- Childhood bipolar disorder is a very serious illness and should not be taken lightly. We hope that parents will use caution when hearing a perspective similar to Dr. Kaplan's that bipolar disorder does not really
exist in children. In fact, studies have proven that the mortality rate from childhood bipolar disorder is higher than some childhood cancers. According to Karen Swartz, a psychiatrist and the director of Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center in Baltimore, "1 out of 5 people with bipolar disorder will commit suicide."