Category Archives: Uncategorized

For Your Tool-Box: How to get YouTube Captions to make a Transcript

My friend Capriuni passed along to me this awesome YouTube video of “Your Brains” (original song by Jonathon Coulton). In and of itself, that’s not really note worthy – Capriuni is my source for many cool things in YouTube’s Deaf communities. The video itself is subtitled for the ASL-impaired.

That’s where things got interesting, because my friend particle_person passed along to me how to get the captions off a YouTube video so one can make a transcript without duplicating work!

This is awesome to me because, of course, transcripts are necessary even for subtitled or captioned work, for a variety of reasons.

I wanted to pass along particle_person’s instructions, and the video itself because it made me laugh.

Continue reading For Your Tool-Box: How to get YouTube Captions to make a Transcript

QuickPress: The Carnival of Mental Health is Up!

I’ve been so behind in my reading this month that I missed entirely The Blog Carnival of Mental Health Issue 1: Diagnosis

Welcome to the first Blog Carnival of Mental Health. I’m a day late, but I’m going to share with you an interesting if small collection of posts. I must say that it’s rather ironic that I’m hosting a carnival on the theme of diagnosis barely a week after receiving a new diagnosis myself. Anyway, enjoy!

Astrid says that the next Carnival will be hosted at CBTish. You can read the Call for Contributions there. Deadline is December 30!

Happy Post! Things That Make My Life … Er … Easier?

I have a love of cooking that often times taps me all the way to the bottom of my silverware drawer. I will often borrow tomorrow’s spoons to finish what I want to do today… I am sure that some of this is drawn of my stubborn and bullheaded nature.

To assist me in my passions, The Guy outfitted our tiny Korean-style kitchen with a thick, squishy mat from the local E-Mart (like a Korean department store that has groceries and household goods). It takes a ton of the strain off of my back and upper legs while I am standing for extended periods while chopping or kneading. I love it. It makes my life easier!

Apparently, I am not the only one in our home who loves it.

A light coloured wood floor with a wood-floor-looking squishy mat lying on it. There is a mound in the mat with a wee little white paw sticking out from under it.

[A wee little white paw sticks out from a wood-looking squishy mat on my wood floor. Who could it be?]

A wee bitty white-tipped black paw reaches out from under a wood-looking squishy mat, and attempts to snatch the tan toes of The Guy, clad in Navy Issued navy blue sweat pants.

Whoever it is seems to think that these tan toes look enticing! Or maybe she is defending the honor of my stolen Navy Issued sweat pants. I was looking for those!

A black cat with white whiskers and paws peeks out from under a wood-look squishy floor mat, with a serious-hunter look on her face.

Someone was playing “submarine kitteh” under the floor mat and was stalking our feet as we walked past. Of course, it rendered the mat useless, because who can walk on a mat that is being used by a kitty?

I guess it isn’t really making my life easier, but I guess that is why she came in a cute package, so that I don’t mind so much!

Hope this brightened your day just a little bit!

WIN!: Federal Court Orders Canadian Government To Make Websites Accessible To Screen Readers!

I haven’t even had time to process this yet – I just found out when my friend called me to ask if I had heard the news. Donna Jodham has won her case against the Canadian Government – Government websites will now have 15 months to follow their own accessibility guidelines.

Canada must make Web accessible to blind

A federal court ruled Monday the government had denied Jodhan’s equality rights by not providing equal access to government programs online.

“She has been denied equal access to, and benefit from, government information and services provided online to the public on the Internet, and that this constitutes discrimination against her on the basis of her physical disability, namely that she is blind,” Justice Michael Kelen wrote in his ruling.

The government was not living up to its own 2001 accessibility standards, Kelen ruled, and he gave Ottawa 15 months to make its Web sites more accessible.

In a rare move, Kelen said the court would monitor the government’s implementation of online services for the visually impaired to ensure it complies by the deadline.

I am so excited to learn of this! Congratulations, Donna – your hard work is greatly appreciated!

Language Interpretation and Health Care

As promised, here is a post and a place to discuss policies and procedures about language interpreting in a health care context. Unfortunately, it is going to be a slap dash post as I’m knee deep in a number of things, both professional and personal, including preparing to clean ALL THE THINGS and cook a great number of the things for the upcoming U.S. Thanksgiving.

So. Here are some assorted thoughts and resources on interpretation policy!

My first and most prominent thought is the absolute importance of having interpretation done well. It is essential that the health care provider be able to understand the patient’s reported symptoms and experiences and sensations, their medical history, their concerns, and their desires and goals for the medical treatment or care. It is also essential that the patient be able to understand the instructions and questions of the provider and discuss any potential treatment options, including tests, medications, and therapies. Without accurate and competent translation, the provider cannot understand what is wrong and the patient cannot understand how it will be addressed. While there are times that medical treatment takes place without communication – primarily emergency situations when the patient is unconscious – that is definitely the exception rather than the rule and is not a good model for non-emergency care or even most emergency care. Communication is crucial and should be important to all individuals involved in health care transactions. In other words, bad communication could kill people.  So, this is an enormously important issue, both to people who do not speak English (or whatever the predominant language is where they are) and to people with hearing impairments and d/Deaf people.

Problems with interpretation:

In my experience, there is usually a vast gulf between interpretation policies as written and as implemented in practice. Even when a policy requires use of a trained and certified interpreter during all interactions, with clear instructions on when and how to obtain an interpreter, there will be interactions where no interpreter is present. (See, for example, this recent audit of interpreter use by New York City police finding that officers routinely failed to comply with the existing interpretation policy.) This is in large part because of logistical difficulties with interpreter use that I’ll discuss below and seems to be a feature of nearly every interpreter policy. This kind of built in failure rate makes me inherently nervous about relying on interpreters.

Interpreter policies are logistical nightmares, in large part due to the difficulty of matching language competence to language need that we discussed last week. This is especially true in areas with significant language variation – the court where I worked had several Spanish interpreters and an Armenian, Russian, Farsi, Cantonese, and Tagalog interpreter on call all the time, and still had incidents when a litigant needed interpretation in a language that wasn’t available. This is even more difficult in an emergency room situation, when it is impossible to anticipate when a need will arise and there is no way to just have everyone wait for a bit until an interpreter gets there. This leads to using interpreter phones – where the provider and patient use a handset to speak to an off-site interpreter, which are both expensive and clunky. Even if an interpreter is on staff, finding them in the building, pulling them out of a meeting or their break, and getting them to the desired location to provide interpretation is often a hassle.

There also needs to be an entire infrastructure around training interpreters and measuring and certifying their competence. Language knowledge is not enough for competent interpretation, interpreters must also be trained in interpretation skills and professional standards. There is a lot to well-done interpretation – positioning yourself so the provider and patient can maintain eye contact, knowing when and how to ask clarifying questions, providing concurrent interpretation without interrupting the flow of the conversation. This training and certification requires time and money.

The limited-English-proficient patient has very limited ability to address problems in interpretation policy. To address the failure to provide an interpreter at all, they can provide their own, usually by bringing a friend or family member to do the interpretation. This is a big problem for a number of reasons. First, there’s no way to know the competency of the friend or family member in interpreting, especially with specialized medical vocabulary and concepts. When the doctor tells me that the leg pain I am experiencing could be a rupture of my plantaris tendon, plantar fascitis, or tendonapathy, is there any probability that my sister will be able to interpret that accurately? (Personally, I’d have trouble identifying even what portion of the leg was being discussed if I didn’t have Medline open to get those terms in the first place.)  Second, this is a major confidentiality issue. If I am going to the doctor to discuss genital warts, I am unlikely to be as frank or forthcoming if my brother is my interpreter. This is especially true for medical issues around sexuality, pregnancy, mental health, and injuries from domestic violence, when discussing symptoms and experiences can open the patient to strong stigma effects. This is even more problematic if a child is serving as an interpreter and being expected to interpret discussion about conflicts between his parents or his mother’s suicidal thoughts, which could be dangerous or traumatic for the child.

Overall, I am most concerned about the inherent non-compliance caused by the logistical hassle and the patient’s agency being limited to bringing a friend or family member to interpret, and it is these issues that make me prefer language proficient medical professionals rather than reliance on interpreters. I also think that language proficiency for providers would help with cultural competence issues, but that’s more a side effect.

So – have at it! Interpretation? Language proficient providers? What makes sense? What do we want?

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: The Awkward Lines of -ist Language

[The scene sets with OYD, a slightly pale yet never-the-less still quite indigenous woman, sitting down to her trusty Macbook Pro, a laptop named “Lappy”, who has seen better days. She sets down and opens up her “drafts” tab under FWD/Forward, where she notices that egads! she has been working on this book review for over a month, and Oh my! how it must have been a long time since she has completed one. She cracks her “double jointed” knuckles like she does it too often, tucks a strand of brown hair behind her ear. She drags the review out of “drafts”, dusts it off, reaches for anything caffeinated, and begins to type.]

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 1st edition cover. A black background with plastic toy figures of a cowboy and an indian, with the title and author's name in chunky green and white letters.I like media where I can consume it, enjoy it, and get a sense that I am experiencing something that touches on experiences that are my own, that seems real to me with out over-exaggerating them (mostly). I also enjoy it when certain traits about characters are touched upon as a description, as part of who that character is, but then they are not brought up as Huge Deals throughout the entirety of the book.

These are a few things that really endeared Alexie Sherman’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to me. Sherman created a protagonist “Junior”, who was born into the world with several oppressions, living on the axis of poverty, race, and disability. Within the first few pages of the book Junior gives a pretty good run down of how each of these things affects his life, and has always affected his life from the moment he was born. From never having quite enough to eat, to the way his “grease on the brain” has given him a stutter and seizures.

But that is where Alexie leaves the discussion about Junior’s disability. It is just a part of him, a description of his character. It isn’t some great obstacle he has to overcome. His disability isn’t some plot point, and it doesn’t help the other people around him become inspired about trying harder or appreciating their lives more. In fact, he goes into great detail early on, in those first few pages, to explain that the reservation kids often bully him. From an excerpt on NPR:

You wouldn’t think there is anything life threatening about speech impediments, but let me tell you, there is nothing more dangerous than being a kid with a stutter and a lisp.

A five-year-old is cute when he lisps and stutters. Heck, most of the big-time kid actors stuttered and lisped their way to stardom.

And, jeez, you’re still fairly cute when you’re a stuttering and lisping six-, seven-, and eight-year-old, but it’s all over when you turn nine and ten.

After that, your stutter and lisp turn you into a retard.

And if you’re fourteen years old, like me, and you’re still stuttering and lisping, then you become the biggest retard in the world.

Everybody on the rez calls me a retard about twice a day. They call me retard when they are pantsing me or stuffing my head in the toilet or just smacking me upside the head.

I’m not even writing down this story the way I actually talk, because I’d have to fill it with stutters and lisps, and then you’d be wondering why you’re reading a story written by such a retard.

Do you know what happens to retards on the rez?

We get beat up.

At least once a month.

Yep, I belong to the Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club.

Sure I want to go outside. Every kid wants to go outside. But it is safer to stay at home. So I mostly hang out alone in my bedroom and read books and draw cartoons.

Then, he moves leaves it there. We know he deals with these things as part of his life, but they do not define his life. Even the most horrible and hurtful parts of his life with disability are not defining his life.

Some other things that are not defined by Junior’s particular disability:

  • His grades in school — He does well in school, and this point becomes part of the main plot, so I won’t give too much away for anyone who plans to read this book.
  • His ability to participate in sports — Junior plays many sports, including contact sports. He is a good basketball player, playing on the school’s team.
  • His ability to have romantic relationships — Despite his believing how shallow it is, Junior has a girlfriend, and as it turns out, she actually likes him! Imagine that!

The other aspect of this book that I enjoyed, though I don’t expect every reader to view the same way, is that the Indian Reservation depicted has a lot of truth to it from my own experiences of having grown up on and around my own as a girl. Twenty, and even ten years ago, our reservation life was not so far off from the one described here, with the exception of perhaps the climate being slightly different, and perhaps I was too young to understand and remember anything about crime rates. But there was poverty, and then there was crushing poverty where I am from. There was alcoholism, though I would venture that perhaps it wasn’t the hot-button stereotype that I feel is portrayed at times in Alexie’s book. I don’t know. Every Native community is different, for sure, with their own unique set of problems. While I feel that there is a lot of truth to what Sherman Alexie has created, I also feel that there is a sweeping generalization. So, it hits and it misses, and I would encourage you to read it for yourself and decide what you think.

There are a lot of instances of language that I would not recommend in a progressive or social change setting going on here in this book. I see it being useful and very much achieving its purpose, for example, there is a very racist joke told by a white boy that Junior meets on his first day of school, using the “n”, which I will not repeat, but which is disparaging to Natives and Black people alike. Junior demonstrates an intolerance for it, without missing a beat, and in Junior’s point of view, the kid respects him for it. But, I have to wonder, is it because of how Junior addresses it, or because this particular student realizes that what he said was hurtful and wrong? The demonstration of how wrong racism is in YA literature is something I want to see more, but I question, sometimes, the ways in which we see it handled. There is almost no discussion or consideration of why this is wrong, just the very visceral use of very hateful words (like above, with the use of the “r” word in so casual a context). Just like using rape as a metaphor to show that a “bad” guy is bad, I don’t need to see or read -ist language for shock value to confront -isms. However, a well placed word could have the proper effect if viewed through the proper lens, but I don’t know if that is quite so obvious here. Junior simply reacts, saying he has to defend Black people, and Indians, but he doesn’t go into much else.

I will also note on the Wise White Person, or WWP, as I will. It takes a WWP living on the rez to point out all of Junior’s problems early on, and essentially Save Him! from the Rotten Destitution! Without a WWP, why poor Junior might be dead, the victim of a trailer fire started by grease from frybread, helplessly drunk and passed out.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is an excellent book, worth reading, for many reasons, but I caution you, gentle readers, there are many themes addressed, in very direct and raw ways that I am still not sure that I wholly approve of, and yet, as a non-white, Native American, woman, with a disability, I am not fully sure that fully disapprove of all of them either.

Oh, except for the sexist language. I found no use for that at all. I found no point where that taught any lesson, except where young boys were using it to show that “Hey!  Women and girls’ bodies are weak, so calling you a woman or a girl body part means you are weak! Har har!” You get no points there, Alexie. Misogyny wins again! Whee!

Why Can’t I Just Prescribe for Myself?

I recently changed my health insurance provider, which means I changed doctors and medical systems, which means I have to re-set up all of my care. (That must sound so funny to people with nationalized health care systems!) This mainly means I have to get new prescriptions. I was able to get a three month supply from my previous doctor to give myself time to jump through all of the hoops necessary before I can get them. A lot of annoying, time consuming hoops. And so I was considering – why can’t I just prescribe for myself?

Well, there’s a bunch of different policies that prevent me from doing so. First, there’s a federal law that prohibits anyone from selling me the drug without a prescription. Then there’s the policies my health care provider has created about how I can get a prescription. With my new provider, I have to go to an intake appointment with a therapist before I can get a referral to a psychiatrist. Then I have to have an appointment with a psychiatrist before I get a prescription.

So if I were allowed to prescribe to myself, it’d be a lot easier for me. And, as I’m filling out the 19th form required before my intake appointment, it seems obvious! I mean, I know exactly what drugs I want, the dosages, I’ve been taking exactly the same thing  for like 6 years, and having me do an intake appointment where I review my whole history just to get a referral is a waste of everyone’s time. I mean, really!

But let’s think about this from a more objective perspective than I use when I’m extremely impatient and bored of filling out forms. Presumably there must be some benefits to prescription laws or we wouldn’t have any in the first place. And whether those benefits are outweighed by the costs of these policies – including the monumental cost of my annoyance – can’t be determined until we know what the benefits actually are. So who do those laws protect? Or, what policy goals are advanced?

1. The goal that people take medication for “legitimate” ends.

I put “legitimate” in quotations because it’s defined differently by different people, but one of the clear goals of the current prescription policy is that people should take prescription medications only when those medications address a genuine medical need. Part of this – the part of which I’m skeptical and that is motivating my use of quotation marks – is the “war on drugs” mentality that insists we need prescription controls on any medication that could create dependency or be abused or have any real street value. That portion is based on the assumption that we cannot trust adults to make logical and rational decisions about their use of these substances and so have to protect them from themselves, basically.

But even putting that extremely problematic goal aside, there are other components to the policy goal of restricting medication use. [1] With antibiotics, for example, taking them when they’re not medically indicated reduces their effectiveness in the future – not only for the person misusing antibiotics, but for anyone else infected with that now antibiotic-resistant strain. While the potential negative impact to me of someone taking a narcotic pain medication for fun instead of for pain management is both small and indirect, the potential negative impact of antibiotic misuse is significantly higher.

This goal also protects the interests of another major player in health care decisions – the insurer. Their insurance policy is a gamble that I will incur less in health care costs than the amount I pay them for the insurance policy, so every cost I incur is a danger to their bottom line. They want to make sure they are paying only for medication that addresses a “legitimate” medical need – using quotes again because insurers’ definitions of “legitimate” are often arbitrary and constrained, even compared to a doctor’s medical recommendations.

Looking at those subgoals, we could imagine a policy that dumped some or all of the restrictions on all drugs that don’t have the dangers of misuse that antibiotics have – although such a policy would make insurance companies unhappy and likely have big effects on the way they insured prescription coverage. Short of that, we might say that people with recorded diagnoses can purchase prescriptions in the drug classes appropriate for that diagnosis – so my bipolar diagnosis would allow me to buy antidepressants and mood stabilizers, but not blood pressure medication or cream for skin rashes. This would satisfy the insurer’s need while allowing me to buy the only kinds of prescriptions I really care about. (It would still create problems about ability to get diagnosed, though.)

2. Protecting people who take prescriptions.

The requirement that prescriptions come from doctors forces the person taking the medication to have an ongoing relationship with a doctor. This serves several goals – ensuring someone is monitoring the patient’s ongoing health and the course of their medical condition, ensuring someone is monitoring the patient’s response to the medication, and ensuring someone with education and licensing is evaluating all the potential medications and exercising their professional judgment in determining which medication is appropriate. Given the extreme information imbalance between patients and doctors, that makes some sense. I consider myself an extremely well informed health care consumer – I’ve read the full inserts that come with the medications, even – but I would be hard pressed to tell you the difference between lithium and Depakote, two types of mood stabilizers, or to say why one is more appropriate than the other for me other than it was the one my doctor decided to put me on years ago. If i did not speak English or didn’t have the education and free time to read up on all these issues, it would be even more necessary for me to rely on my doctor’s judgment and recommendations. And while I’m not getting a ton of benefit from having the ongoing course of my medical condition monitored, I do rely on my psychiatrist to order the blood tests and review the results to make sure I don’t have toxic blood levels of lithium.

It’s difficult to imagine how we could have a policy that allowed people who “really knew what they were doing” to prescribe for themselves while having doctors prescribe for everyone else, because of the impossibility of determining who “really knew what they were doing.” The only modification I imagine would be for people who had been taking the same medication for a period of time – 2 years? 5 years? – to be able to purchase ongoing refills without ongoing prescriptions. Although with such a policy, I’m not sure through what mechanism my doctor could get me to go get the necessary blood tests done, which I believe is an important component of the policy.

There are a few other issues – like the interest of the patient of having their medical history documented, for things like disability applications – both those two broad policy goals provide the bulk of the motivation for current prescription rules. And while in my irritated-at-forms-and-delays states, it seems obvious that I should be able to write my own prescriptions for the drugs I’ve taken for 10 years that will not harm others if misused, it’s difficult for me to articulate an alternate prescription policy that both serves my interests and the interests of people who are not me.

Some final thoughts: Our current policy relies heavily on the professionalism of doctors – perhaps attempting to enforce those professional standards would be more helpful to individual patients than reforming prescription policy itself? Can you articulate an alternate prescription policy that would address these goals and subgoals?

[1] It’s important to remember that there are a separate set of prescription issues relevant to trans people, based not only on overall health care discrimination against the trans community, but also specifically in the discrimination and harassment that takes place around hormone prescriptions. This discussion does not address those issues, but you can read more at Bird of Paradox and at Kiri’s tumblr.

I Love Policy

It’s true. I am a policy wonk. I am endlessly interested in it. I read about it, think about it, talk about it and … write about it. (As in, what I’m doing right now.) And I do all of this because I think it’s immensely important. Crucially important. Vitally important.

Public policy is how the government – whether local, state, provincial, federal, or any other level – takes action on a particular issue. It covers a whole huge range of potential state actions – allocating and spending money, setting and enforcing professional guidelines and standards, creating agencies and staff, structuring tax incentives, even defining what constitutes criminal behavior. That’s an extremely big category that clearly has an enormous and unparalleled effect on the world.

Public policy not only drives state and governmental actions, it also has enormous influence on private sector actors. Tax policy can encourage specific areas of business, grants can encourage specific methods or practices, and governments both licence and regulate businesses. This combined effect on public and private actors means that to my mind, changing public policy is the quickest and most effective way to change things for a big group of people, all at once.

Policy touches almost everything we do and everything with which we come into contact. Right now, I am sitting on my bed, the mattress of which complies with regulations to prevent it going up in flames. I am wearing a shirt made in the United States by workers subject to minimum wage laws and industrial safety protections. The US shirt manufacturer is protected from competition from international producers by trade tariffs and taxes. The soda I am drinking displays nutritional information pursuant to federal regulations. The internet I am using is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. Even the air I am breathing is affected by pollution standards and the decisions to grant or deny permits to things like coal processing plants. Even my kitty is included – she’s protected from abuse by criminal statute and, where I live, is protected from declawing. And that’s just scratching the surface of all of the policies surrounding and affecting me right this second.

There are, of course, a lot of other factors and forces that influence how people interact with the world, both as individuals and in groups. There’s huge effects from family, religious, cultural, and ethnic beliefs and traditions. Then there’s a myriad of individual differences – the things a person reads and watches and talks about and is talked to about, for example. I would argue that each of those things could also be influenced by government policy – like how the private movie ratings system created as a reaction to public regulation prevented me from seeing R movies until I was at least 16, or what books my local public library system bought and so were available for me to read. I’d also argue that individual preferences and differences are a lot less important than public policy in determining whether an area has a functioning health care system.

There are obviously a lot of difficulties with public policy. First, it’s mainly done by politicians, so political climate and general popular opinion can limit the range of what policies can achieve. For example, the United States could never have created a government-run nationalized health care system given the current makeup of our decision makers. Second, achieving specific goals through policy can be kind of complicated and difficult – if you were the government and wanted to “fix the education system,” it’s not exactly clear what specific steps would reach that outcome, even if we could agree on what a good education system would look like. Third, the differences between a policy as carefully written down and a policy as actually implemented can be vast, so a great policy may end up being too difficult or complicated or expensive or just impossible to implement, or may end up being significantly watered down.

At the end of the day, though, policy is literally life and death. Whether a mentally ill teenager gets tased or shot by a police officer depends on law enforcement policy, training, and management. Whether a PWD can afford and access the medications and equipment they require to live. Policy determines how and why and for how long and under what circumstances people are institutionalized. Whether and how they are protected from abuse and neglect from caretakers and family. Whether and when and how they have children.

So in the coming weeks, I’ll be writing about policy. Good policy, bad policy, and everything in between. Policy often doesn’t feel as sexy or gripping as a lot of the other topics we discuss here, but I’m hoping you’ll find it as interesting and important as I do.

Recommended Reading for October 11

Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Dorianisms – A Different Kind of Coming Out

Today is (Inter)national Coming Out Day. It happens on October 11th every year, and I think it’s a really cool initiative. Visibility is important, for one thing. And sometimes, people find it easier to come out knowing that other folks, all over the country or the world, will be doing the same thing at the same time. Acting with a group is a powerful thing, and I think this day attempts to harness that power in what is really a very positive way. So, with the above in mind, I’m coming out. Not as queer—I really think that’s something most, if not all, of you have been aware of for a long time. I’ve been out about my sexuality to basically everyone since…geez, since I was in eleventh grade. That is, for those of you keeping track, somewhere in the neighbourhood of five years ago now. That’s a long time. This coming out is a bit of a different one, though probably still not a surprise if you’ve been paying ANY kind of attention to the things I write and the things I link. I am a person with disabilities.

The World Health Organization Targets Poor Countries for Treatment of Mental Illness

The World Health Organization says more than 75 percent of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders living in developing countries do not receive any treatment or care. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan says people in poor countries miss out on care because it is generally believed that sophisticated and expensive technologies are essential in improving mental health. “In other words, we face a misperception that mental health care is a luxury item, a luxury item on the health agenda …  It costs two dollars per person per year,” Chan explained. “It is one of the best buys you can get. High profile disease always get the attention and mental disorders are disorders that people often do not talk about, brush aside, sweep under the carpet.”

AFL-CIO Blog: Actors with Disabilities All But Invisible on TV

About one in eight Americans is disabled, but you wouldn’t know it from watching TV. In the new fall TV season, only six characters out of 587, about 1 percent, will have a disability. Even more amazing is that only one of those actors has a disability in real life. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and a new report shows persons with disabilities are all but invisible on the nation’s five broadcast networks— ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC. That also means there are few opportunities for actors with disabilities to be cast.

cripchick – Happy Disability History Month

I want to talk about why disability looks white. I want us to understand how ableism has been leveraged against communities of color with black folks historically being thought of as less capable (therefore fit for slavery) and special education commonly serving as a means of segregating students of color both with and without disabilities. I want us to create a disability pride that acknowledges the complexities of our experience and does not pit living resiliently and proudly against the knowledge that disability is often created by injustice our communities face. All of this must be done without flattening our differences, without saying being disabled is just like being of color, just like being poor, just like being queer. Let us bring our best selves to community and learn to be with each other in ways that transform and grow who we are, even when (and though) the work is hard.

Huffington Post – Psychiatry and the Media: A Strange and Strained Relationship

As a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist for almost 30 years, I cannot believe the major role sensationalism plays in determining what gets published in the popular media about mental illness and its treatment, especially concerning children. Recent examples include the September 2, 2010 New York Times front page article, “Child’s Ordeal Reveals Risks of Psychiatric Drugs in Young,” the September 8, 2010 piece in the Huffington Post, “Psychotropic Drugs, Our Children and Our Pill-Crazed Society” and the September 23, 2010 Huffington Post’s, “Making a Market in Antipsychotic Drugs: An Ironic Tragedy.” Where is the balanced approach to journalism that the public is entitled to expect from a free press? Most people get a substantial amount of their knowledge from what the media chooses to print, and sadly what is disseminated these days is often quite biased. Frequently, it is the off center, brash, highly emotional and clearly outrageous stories and/or the unorthodox physicians or therapists who write them or serve as their sources which make headlines much more than those with more reasonable views and approaches.

Denver Post – Movie Review: ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story

“It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” based on the first-person novel by Ned Vizzini, follows bright, depressed Craig Gilner (Keir Gilchrist) as he checks into the psych ward of a Manhattan hospital. He’s having suicidal thoughts. But as he hands his shoe laces over to an orderly, he’s having second thoughts. Yes, he’s blue. He’s has a crush on his best friend’s girl (Zoë Kravitz). He’s blocked about writing an essay for a prestigious summer school gig. Yes, he’s part of the Zoloft nation. But does he really belong on Three North among a population of wounded, idiosyncratic characters? How to explore mental illness — particularly depression — without cheating on the pain people face and keeping the wry energy of the book? It’s a balancing act that filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck don’t quite pull off.