Monday, March 22, 2010


Today a landmark bill was approved giving tens of millions of people access to health care!!! It will be interesting to see how this bill actually goes into effect.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mental Health Care in Haiti

In Haiti, Mental Health System is in Collapse

"As disasters often do in poor countries, Haiti’s earthquake has exposed the extreme inadequacies of its mental health services just at the moment when they are most needed. Appalled by the Mars and Kline Psychiatric Center, the country’s only hospital for acute mental illness, foreign psychiatrists here have vowed to help the Haitian government create a mental health care system that is more than just an underfinanced institution in the capital city." (NY Times)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reciprocal Giving:)

I'm sure you've heard of the timebank concept before but the city has just launched an NYC timebank:)

I've thought (many a time) that I should just walk into places in my neighborhood and figure out how to volunteer and have even done a few, short-term, NY Cares projects. While volunteerism has its assests, reciprocal giving allows all members of the community to help as well- leaving no one with nothing to give/offer. I've been thinking of taking language courses or perhaps a sewing course- how much more fun if I could find someone in my community that I could give to and also someone that I could learn from...

TimeBanksNYC is a free resource for connecting individuals who recognize that each person has talents to share, and that the overall community is strengthened when neighbors help one another with a wide range of services. For every hour that a TimeBanksNYC member provides a service or shares a skill with another member, s/he earns a time credit for the exchange. This time credit can then be redeemed for a service from someone else, and so on.

As a member of this community, you can help to:

  • Identify and build on the assets that neighborhood residents have to offer one another
  • Foster a sense of togetherness within and between NYC neighborhoods
  • Promote skill sharing as a way of accessing services and support, especially in hard financial times.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When Parents Are Too Toxic to Tolerate

Recently I have noticed a number of clients who have terribly damaged relationships with their parents. I don't mean the regular "mom is driving me crazy." It is a chronic and negative issue in their lives. How do you tell someone that it might be best for them to stop talking to their own mother. Or rather, how do you get someone to come to that conclusion themselves? This article doesn't really answer the question, but does address it.

When Parents Are Too Toxic to Tolerate

Published: October 19, 2009
"You can divorce an abusive spouse. You can call it quits if your lover mistreats you. But what can you do if the source of your misery is your own parent?

Granted, no parent is perfect. And whining about parental failure, real or not, is practically an American pastime that keeps the therapeutic community dutifully employed.

But just as there are ordinary good-enough parents who mysteriously produce a difficult child, there are some decent people who have the misfortune of having a truly toxic parent."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hidden pockets of elderly said to be in poverty

'Still many millions of older people on the edge,’ AARP president says

The Associated Press

updated 12:46 p.m. ET, Fri., Sept . 4, 2009

WASHINGTON - The poverty rate among older Americans could be nearly twice as high as the traditional 10 percent level, according to a revision of a half-century-old formula for calculating medical costs and geographic variations in the cost of living.

The National Academy of Science's formula, which is gaining credibility with public officials including some in the Obama administration, would put the poverty rate for Americans 65 and over at 18.6 percent, or 6.8 million people, compared with 9.7 percent, or 3.6 million people, under the existing measure. The original government formula, created in 1955, doesn't take account of rising costs of medical care and other factors.

"It's a hidden problem," said Robin Talbert, president of the AARP Foundation, which provides job training and support to low-income seniors and is backing legislation that would adopt the NAS formula. "There are still many millions of older people on the edge, who don't have what they need to get by."

If the academy's formula is adopted, a more refined picture of American poverty could emerge that would capture everyday costs of necessities besides just food. The result could upend long-standing notions of those in greatest need and lead eventually to shifts in how billions of federal dollars for the poor are distributed for health, housing, nutrition and child-care benefits.

The overall official poverty rate would increase, from 12.5 percent to 15.3 percent, for a total of 45.7 million people, according to rough calculations by the Census Bureau. Data on all segments, not only the elderly, would be affected:

· The rate for children under 18 in poverty would decline slightly, to 17.9 percent.

· Single mothers and their children, who disproportionately receive food stamps, would see declines in the rates of poverty because noncash aid would be taken into account. Low-income people who are working could see increases in poverty rates, a reflection of transportation and child-care costs.

· Cities with higher costs of living, such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco, would see higher poverty rates, while more rural areas in the Midwest and South might see declines.

· The rate for extreme poverty, defined as income falling below 50 percent of the poverty line, would decrease due to housing and other noncash benefits.

· Immigrant poverty rates would go up, due to transportation costs and lower participation in government aid programs.

The changes have been discussed quietly for years in academic circles, and both Democrats and Republicans agree that the decades-old White House formula, which is based on a 1955 cost of an emergency food diet, is outdated.

The current calculation sets the poverty level at three times the annual cost of groceries. For a family of four that is $21,203. That calculation does not factor in rising medical, transportation, child care and housing expenses or geographical variations in living costs. Nor does the current formula consider noncash aid when calculating income, despite the recent expansion of food stamps and tax credits in the federal economic stimulus and other government programs. The result: The poverty rate has varied little from its current 12.5 percent.

Next week, the Census Bureau will publish official poverty figures for 2008 with a cautionary note about the shortcomings. The agency says it will expedite release of alternative numbers in the following weeks, because of the interest expressed by lawmakers and the Obama administration in seeing a fuller range of numbers.

"The current poverty measure does a very bad job of measuring the impact of quite a few of our anti-poverty policies," Rebecca Blank, the Commerce Department's undersecretary of economic affairs, said in an interview. "It isn't meaningless, but it isn't complete."

Although the White House Office of Management and Budget dictates how federal poverty is measured, legislation pending in Congress would require use of the National Academy approach. Advocates are hoping the White House may act on its own.

Cities are already showing interest.

In New York City, roughly one in three senior citizens fell below the poverty line after Mayor Michael Bloomberg adopted the new formula last year; state officials in Albany, N.Y., plan to publish their revised numbers next month. Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, San Francisco and Chicago also have been considering a switch.

When New York City changed to the new formula, a smaller percentage of children fell below the poverty line, particularly those living in single-parent homes. Residents 65 and over in poverty nearly doubled, from 18.1 percent to 32 percent.

Bloomberg, who previously pushed for cuts in programs for the elderly, now is advocating pilot programs for older residents that would reduce taxi costs, provide free bus service to get to grocery stores and offer legal aid to those at risk of eviction from their homes.

"Under this up-to-date measure, you understand that government programs have had a beneficial impact on households with single parents and children," said Linda Gibbs, New York's deputy mayor for health and human services. She expressed concern that as the official measure becomes increasingly outdated, it is redirecting social programs and funding away from the people who may need it the most.

"We wanted to look at poverty with a finer view in New York City and have an impact," Gibbs said.

Nationally, official poverty rates for older Americans have improved significantly over the past 30 years due to expansions of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. But many older people with modest cash incomes would fall below the poverty line under the NAS formula due to out-of-pocket expenses from rising Medicare premiums, deductibles and a coverage gap in the prescription drug benefit that is known as the "doughnut hole."

The NAS figures could take on added significance at a time when the government is touting an overhaul of Medicare and Social Security as its best hope for reducing the ballooning federal debt. With the potential to add more older Americans to the ranks of the poor, the numbers may underscore a need for continued — if not expanded — old-age benefits as a government safety net.

Advocates for updating the formula note that Barack Obama indicated during the presidential campaign that he supported an improved measure as part of a broader strategy to reduce poverty.

Simon Norwood of Little Rock, Ark., 56, says he's still keeping faith in that promise. A lifelong construction worker who receives food stamps, Norwood hasn't had regular work for months once jobs dried up in the housing meltdown. He doesn't dare to think about getting sick or injured because he doesn't know whether he could cover the expenses. Now working a part-time, minimum-wage job, Norwood said it doesn't matter to him how the poverty numbers are sliced so long as people get a fair shake at getting assistance.

"I often tell my son, 'You've got to save your money. Live within your means,'" he said. "Because you never know when things might take a turn."

More information


· Census Bureau

· Commerce Department

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mental Stress Training Is Planned for U.S. Soldiers

This sounds promising and way overdue!

Published: August 17, 2009

Here's a blurb: "The Army plans to require that all 1.1 million of its soldiers take intensive training in emotional resiliency, military officials say.

The training, the first of its kind in the military, is meant to improve performance in combat and head off the mental health problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide, that plague about one-fifth of troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Active-duty soldiers, reservists and members of the National Guard will receive the training, which will also be available to their family members and to civilian employees."

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Hey everyone,

Check out the NASW-NJ Blog:

It's a good way to stay connected to our field!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Schizophrenia research

July 1, 2009, 5:10 pm
"Hoopla, and Disappointment, in Schizophrenia Research"
By Nicholas Wade

There's still a long way to go in schizophrenia research:

"The principal news from the three studies is that schizophrenia is caused by a very large number of errant genes, not a manageable and meaningful handful . . . Schizophrenia too seems to be not a single disease, but the end point of 10,000 different disruptions to the delicate architecture of the human brain."

Monday, June 29, 2009

A New Approach to Orphanages

“Fragile Tanzanian Orphans Get Help After Mothers Die”—New York Times
By Denise Grady
Photographed by Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times
Published: June 24, 2009

This is a great article on efforts focused on the surviving children of dead mothers in Berega, Tanzania. This article provides an example that there are other ways of offering child services that can be effective and healthy aside from traditional orphanages.

“ . . . Most of their mothers died giving birth or soon after — something that, in poor countries, leaves newborns at great risk of dying, too. The children are here just temporarily, to get a start in life so they can return to their villages and their extended families when they are 2 or 3 years old, well past the fragile days of infancy and big enough to digest cow’s milk and eat regular food.

And, in an innovative program designed to meet the infants’ emotional as well as physical needs, many have teenage girls from their extended families living with them at the orphanage . . . “

Friday, June 19, 2009

An Emotional Hair Trigger, Often Misread

An Emotional Hair Trigger, Often Misread--New York Times

By Jane Brody

Published: June 15, 2009

Here's a blurb from the article: "Rather, affected individuals seem to be born with a quick and unduly sensitive emotional trigger. The condition appears to have both genetic and environmental underpinnings. Brain studies have indicated that the emotional center of the nervous system — the amygdala — may be overly reactive, while the part that reins in emotional reactions may be underactive."

I found this to be a really interesting article about the enigma that is Borderline Personality Disorder.

Report on Gene for Depression Is Now Faulted

"Report on Gene for Depression Is Now Faulted" --New York Times


Published: June 16, 2009

The nature vs. nurture debate continues.

Here's a snippet from the article: "One of the most celebrated findings in modern psychiatry — that a single gene helps determine one’s risk of depression in response to a divorce, a lost job or another serious reversal — has not held up to scientific scrutiny, researchers reported Tuesday."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

P Star Rising

Tonight a couple of gals and I went to see P Star Rising (a documentary that is part of the Tribeca Film Festival). I love a good coming of age story and this fit the bill. It's funny, outrageous, touching, and unnerving. And, I guess one of the best parts of the story is that P Star's story is just beginning.

Make sure to check it out!
Synopsis of the documentary:

At age 9, Priscilla, an adorable yet precocious little girl, tells her single-father, Jesse,: “I am going to become a rapper and fulfill your dreams of succeeding in the music business.” Moved by Priscilla’s passion and impressed with her natural talent and undeniable charisma, he begins to teach her all he knows about rapping. In the four years that follow there is no question that rapping has brought Priscilla closer to her estranged father, and that her success has made him proud. Before our eyes, this father-daughter duo go from a one-bedroom shelter in Harlem to a 4 bedroom apartment, from food stamps to shopping sprees, from rapping on street corners to sold out night clubs, and from sneaking under train turnstiles without the $2 fare to spare to being driven around in tinted SUV’s. It is further undeniable that Jesse has been reborn, from looking at old photos and bitterly reflecting on how he never was given the respect he deserved in the music business as a rapper himself to finding his own voice and self-respect as his daughter’s overzealous manager. But in the efforts to make her dad proud, Priscilla struggles to remain a child and finds herself trapped in a world of people twice her size and four times her age and doesn't know who to trust. Jesse himself is caught between wanting to protect his daughter’ innocence and exploiting her raw talent to fulfill his deferred dream. All they know is that the ride has just begun.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Student Loans

Interesting article in the New York Times about student loan debt and the current economy. There is even mention of a loan forgiveness program that starts July 1st (but not sure how it's different from the current loan forgiveness programs out there--any clarification is appreciated).

Thanks Cara!!