Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone whose relationships are forever changed by the shootings in Santa Barbara.

Blame abounds. Who or what is responsible? Video games, lax gun laws, a seriously flawed mental health system, garbage movies and video games, the parents, a kid suffering from Affluenza and narcissism?

Apparently, the shooter was a lost, lonely kid who we believe was mentally ill, but do we know his diagnosis? Schizophrenia? Antisocial Personality Disorder? Who knows? But his self-admitted ‘pining for his mother’ speaks volumes about the ugly seed growing in him. This guy experienced a lot of loss in his formative years.

Loss 1 – Parents moved him from Europe to the U.S. at age 5 = Loss of culture, home and possibly extended family

Loss 2 – Parents divorced at age of 6 = Loss of family, safety, and stability

Loss 3 – Dad quickly brought new woman into his life = Loss of hope of family reunification, loss of time with Dad

Loss 4 – Mom moved back to Europe = Loss of primary relationship…and hope.

Most kids, depending on their temperament, could handle this.

Instead of pointing all fingers at the shooter, we could take a look at a narcissistic society that lacks emphasis on commitment to marriage and family. I’m not blaming the parents for doing what most have done. Sometimes dissolution is unavoidable but in many or maybe even most cases we could make it work. Maybe we ought not to rely on the common thinking that we shouldn’t stay together for the kids. Maybe we should.

Here are a few suggestions for help in dealing with building a strong marriage, or helping kids cope when divorce is the only answer.

An evidence-based online program for kids whose parents are going through divorce. Children of Divorce – Coping with Divorce. Kids who take this course during their parent’s divorce, or maybe even after, have a far better chance at sustaining good mental health both now and into their adult lives. Highly Recommended

A helpful book on building a strong marriage: Take Back Your Marriage: Sticking Together in a World That Pulls Us Apart

Great gift for anyone having a baby:

Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love

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By Ron Honberg, NAMI Director of Policy and Legal Affairs

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in a small, two-hour meeting with Vice President Joe Biden at the White House. The stimulus for the meeting was a sad one: the one year commemoration of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The meeting was attended by a small group of parents and surviving family members of victims of the tragedy.

Although it is a heady feeling to meet with the Vice President, this was one meeting I wish there was no need for. The Sandy Hook tragedy focused attention on the nation’s broken mental health system and fostered a national dialogue that continues through today. The focus has had an impact in many states. As documented in NAMI’s recently released state legislative report , a majority of states increased funding for public mental health services in 2013, after years of budget cutting.

Sadly, the impact at the federal level has been less dramatic. Despite lots of rhetoric, the U.S. Congress to date has passed virtually no legislation to address the crisis in the mental health system. At the meeting, Vice President Biden announced that the Administration was doing what it could, specifically releasing $100 million in discretionary funds to be split equally among improving capacity to provide mental health services in Federally Qualified Health Centers and in beefing up mental health services in rural communities. While these measures will not solve the crisis, they are steps in the right direction.

I came away from the meeting with the Vice President with two enduring impressions. First, I am amazed and awestruck by the families of Sandy Hook victims who have somehow managed to translate unspeakable grief and sadness into positive acts, including raising funds for more mental health services in schools, developing programs to support other families who experience tragedies, and advocating for funding for research to better understand the workings of the brain. In the meeting with the families, Vice President Biden noted how profoundly difficult it was for him to speak publicly after the tragic death of his wife and daughter in an auto accident many years ago, telling the families how inspired he is by the work they have done to honor their lost family members.

My second enduring impression concerns the Vice President himself, who has clearly spent much time in the last year learning as much as he can about the mental health system in America. In a far ranging and rich conversation, Mr. Biden led the group in exploring what can be done to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook and others that have taken place. He remarked that serious mental illness remains in the shadows of American society and that the barriers imposed by societal ignorance about these disorders discourages individuals and families from seeking help and support when they most need it. He is particularly concerned about early identification and intervention during those critical years when symptoms first emerge. As many NAMI members know too well, there are no easy solutions, particularly in a society that still tends to shun those manifesting severe psychiatric symptoms. Nevertheless, it is encouraging that there appears to be sincere interest on the part of the White House in finding solutions.

The costs of untreated mental illness in America are staggering. Many of these costs are incurred by criminal justice systems, emergency rooms, and other systems left to respond to those who have fallen through the cracks of a failed mental health system. It would not be a stretch to declare untreated mental illness as the number one health crisis facing America today, yet I am hard pressed to think of politicians who have run for office on a platform to improve services for people affected by mental illness. In a sad, perverse sort of way, the Sandy Hook tragedy may serve as a turning point. It is high time to make better treatment of mental illness a national priority.

About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.

kennedy

Fifty years ago this month, President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act, a largely unheralded piece of legislation that embodied a hopeful vision of what life should be like for people with mental illnesses, addiction and intellectual disabilities: living lives of dignity and sharing in the benefits of our society.

The President’s nephew and former Rhode Island congressman, Patrick J. Kennedy, is organizing the Kennedy Forum October 23 and 24 in Boston to commemorate the anniversary and start a new conversation among diverse leaders to assess what has been accomplished and what is now needed to improve care and achieve equality in all aspects of life. The forum is catalyzing a larger, national conversation in communities around the country.

To coincide with the event, community events are being held in California, Colorado, New York and South Carolina; many others will be held in the coming months. A webcast of the keynote speech delivered at the October 23 gala dinner will be available, as well as short videos that frame several topics being addressed at the conference: prevention and early intervention; research; and community inclusion. For more information, or to sign up to host a community event, contact the Kennedy Forum team at thekennedyforum@gmail.com.

One of the short videos will feature Greg D. Williams, the director and producer of a new independent feature documentary, The Anonymous People. This film includes moving stories of people whose lives have been transformed by recovery, and documents the enormous societal value that recovery produces. Williams’s own story—he became sober after he nearly lost his life in a drug-related car accident as a teenager—makes an urgent case for early intervention to prevent a later need to clean up after the wreckage caused by addiction.

The film shows the impact of people coming out of the shadows to engage in a new political movement to support expanded research, prevention and treatment for addiction. Community events to view and discuss the film are encouraged and facilitated by its backers. The power of speaking passionately and with one voice is demonstrated vividly in the film. To get involved, go to ManyFaces1Voice.org.

A second short video will feature Ashley Counts, a Global Messenger for Special Olympics, who describes the importance of work in her life and how she, as a person with an intellectual disability, has overcome obstacles on the path to reaching her full potential.

A third video addresses the need for research to find better treatments and supports for individuals with mental illnesses and addictions. Michelle Colder Carras, a leader in the Lived Experience Research Network (LERN), makes a strong case for the involvement of “consumers” (individuals who consume mental health and addiction services) to help design research, which would result in better outcomes in the health care system. The goal of personalized and patient-centered health care cannot be achieved without the involvement of those with “lived experience,” argues Carras. She describes how the Internet has made possible the creation of communities of shared interests, supports and values in a way that embodies the core vision of President Kennedy’s concept of community.

Several participants in the Kennedy Forum in Boston are involved in public education campaigns to help erase the stigma surrounding mental health and addictions, and are urging individuals reach out to others who may need their help or support. Michael Thompson, who will speak at the conference on how business can help individuals and their families in the workplace, tells about the suicide of his brother in the “I will listen” campaign of the New York City Metro Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The campaign, described in an October 1 New York Times article, includes local TV spots of Thompson and encourages others to post their own stories. Another conference speaker, Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, was fined for wearing green cleats during a NFL game to bring attention to Mental Health Awareness week.

These and other efforts to transform public opinion and elevate public policy to significantly improve the futures of individuals with mental illness and addiction and their families are shining lights in an otherwise grim landscape. The “deinstitutionalization” of individuals from the asylums of the past has too often meant homelessness or “re-institutionalization” in our jails and prisons.

A significant reduction in adverse childhood experiences could be achieved by investing in prevention and early intervention, as well as promising treatments, for mental illness and addiction. As Greg Williams says in the Kennedy Forum video, we must correct the enormous imbalance in what this nation spends to clean up after the wreckage of addiction by investing in prevention.

Via acestoohigh.com

About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.

We’ve just added a new book on parenting to our store called Becoming a Better Parent: Ten Things We Need to Know About Parenting written by Bob Lang, LPC, LAC, MAC, SAP, a licensed mental health and substance abuse counselor based in Colorado, USA. We asked Bob to write a short synopsis of the book. Enjoy!

Bob Lang: I’m excited to talk with you about my book “Becoming a Better Parent.” Unlike other parenting books, my book goes beyond current limitations to provide a comprehensive and compassionate model that focuses on the entire parenting continuum. It contains a combined wisdom that has become my passion and is presented in a way that sheds new light on an age old subject. As a licensed mental health and addictions professional in providing forensic and therapeutic services, I’m delighted to share these system based perspectives on parenting with you. This book is an integrative and inclusive model of parenting that is based on 30 years of experience, knowledge, research, and know-how.

Intended to enlighten the path for parenting in the future, my only mission is to generate a similar enthusiasm in moving toward a better understanding of parenting. It is an effective blend of the art and science of parenting that provides us all with a new parameters-based approach for understanding the true complexity of parenting. Intended for professionals and parents alike it provides us all with a new framework for developing a multidimensional insight into the parent-child system.

My search for an answer to the driving question, ‘what does it mean to be a good parent?’ has opened up the horizon to a new frontier in parenting. These pathways form a new theoretical orientation to parenting that I hope creates a similar desire in your own search for truth. This book has developed its own course and has become a divergent path from the current advice driven parent literature that seeks to transcend our common knowledge of parenting. It attempts to transform our current views about parents, children, and their relationship, and creates a cohesive theory of effective parenting. It probes the deepest places of our hearts, minds and souls so we can all seek to create a better world for our children and make a difference in the future.

Unhooked Books: unHooked Books is an online bookstore specializing in personality disorders, high-conflict people, living healthy, eating healthy, and better managing life.

Megan Hunter and Life Unhooked:

Megan Hunter is founder and CEO of and Life Unhooked, a speaking, training and consulting company that provides a fresh perspective and approach to help companies and individuals identify and overcome the damaging behaviors of HCD’s – whether they are employees, customers, vendors, board members, or anyone in your life. Most importantly we help you ‘unhook’ from these peoples’ behaviors so that you can make the right, next decisions – cleanly and clearly. She is also the co-founder of the High Conflict Institute launched in 2007 with Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq., an internationally renowned expert in High Conflict Personalities. She has been the recipient of several awards including the President’s Award by the Arizona Family Support Council (2005), the Friend of Psychology Award by the Arizona Psychology Association (2006) and the Outstanding Contribution Award by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (2010). She is a volunteer in several organizations including a member of Tanzania Project and Vice President of Personality Disorder Awareness Network (PDAN). She holds a BA degree in business from Chadron State College and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. To contact Megan about speaking engagements or to gather more information, email megan@lifeunhooked.com

Bob Lang:

Bob is a licensed mental health and addictions counselor, has his Master’s degree from Northern Arizona University and has been in practice since 1983. He was the founder and is the owner of Family Treatment Centers and is a co-occurring specialist. Bob is a forensic and legalistic evaluator and is an expert witness. He is a Family Systems authority and works as a consultant, writer and presenter. He is member of the state and national professional associations in mental health and substance abuse.

becomingabetterparent-tenthings.blogspot.com/

A Jump Start on Treatment (as published on Psychology Today blog)

As the medical director of McLean’s Adolescent Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program, every day I work with teenagers who have been misdiagnosed with bipolar, conduct disorders, and other conditions because they’re “too young” to have BPD. As a result of this misdiagnosis, not only are they not getting the right treatment, they’re often on medications that may do no good, or in some instances, made things worse. Read full article here:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201006/borderline-personality-disorder-in-adolescents

Megan’s note:  Dr. Aguiree has made tremendous strides in helping mental health professionals understand that BPD can be present in adolescents. This is a significant advancement in the treatment of BPD and will help countless thousands.