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May 6, 2006

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Column: Cheaper medicine controls bipolar disorder
Kansas State Collegian - Manhattan,KS,USA
... It's more than my car payment. That's for half a 15 milligram tablet of Abilify a day. Abilify is a medication used to treat bipolar disorder, which I have. ...

Bill covering uninsured is right medicine
Buffalo News - NY, United States
The last time Kasheef Moore went to Erie County Medical Center after a bipolar episode and was handed the bill, "my aunt helped me pay that.". ...

The man who fooled america
Independent - London,England,UK
... ("Good for both of us," says Blair, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the time of the scandal ... "Lying's got nothing to do with bipolar," admits Blair. ...

Margaret Trudeau rediscovers joy after treatment for bipolar ...
940 News
OTTAWA (CP) - Margaret Trudeau says she has rediscovered joy after treatment for bipolar depression which dogged her for years, and she's urging fellow

Resident with bipolar disorder wants illness out in the open
Lawrence Journal World
"I have bipolar disorder," he said. "I was diagnosed in 1984, and found out last year that I also have ADD (attention deficit disorder)."

Melatonin Improves Mood In Winter Depression

Colicky Babies And Postpartum Depression Linked, Study Finds

Light Therapy And Fluoxetine Are Equally Effective SAD (Winter Depression)

Suicide Awareness, Prevention Programs Needed In US Schools

Depression Screening Campaign, New York

Should We Screen People For Depression?

For performers, a healthy expression: Show is therapy for people with mental illness.

Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA); 5/5/2006

Byline: Benjamin Shors

May 5--The lights dimmed, and the piano keys twinkled. Offstage, Annita Powell took a deep breath, squared a black cowboy hat on her head and sauntered into the spotlight.

In a gravelly basso buffo, Powell launched into song.

I'm terrific

To be specific

I'm just wonderful to know

The song is classic Powell a in large part because she wrote it. The 56-year-old with schizoaffective disorder has emerged as a star in the annual music and variety show featuring Spokane residents with mental illness.

Powell's comic timing and her self-deprecating humor have made her a crowd favorite. But for Powell and 11 other members of On Stage!, their performance may be more than song and dance: It may be therapeutic.

"Think about what it takes to get on stage and do this," said Donna Douglass, founding director of the program and a music therapist. "We develop the skills to get people back into jobs or into school."

The theater group will host its eighth annual show at 7 tonight at Spokane Community College's Lair Auditorium. The group receives funding from the Washington Institute for Mental Illness Research and Training at Washington State University and a private family foundation.

The group will ask for a $10 donation to help offset its $1,600-a-month lease for a practice facility.

If the program can raise enough money, Douglass hopes to offer summer courses.

The benefits of the therapy, Douglass said, are evident in the success of cast members. They have gone on to college, jobs and even other theater groups.

For decades, Chris Weber, 56, has suffered from extreme anxiety and depression. Before her first show several years ago, Weber said she suffered a daylong anxiety attack.

"They said, 'You know, you don't have to do this if you don't want to,' " Weber said. "But I got on stage and I performed. I got hooked."

Today, Weber said, she is able to speak in front of hundreds of people about her mental illness.

Sheila Oliver, a shy 42-year-old cast member with bipolar disorder and depression, said the program has helped her make friends a even if she still lacks confidence in her singing.

"I know how to lip-sync real well," Oliver said with a smile. "My dancing is better than my singing."

Wayne Strong and Jeff Parr, both 49, said the training has provided confidence and motivation.

"I get home every day from the rehearsals, and I think, 'Wow, this is great. I'm doing something productive,' " Strong said. "My energy level is always really high."

Parr said the practices are "emotionally liberating." The program also helps educate the public about mental illness and eases some stigmas, he said.

"People might think, 'He can't do this.' I say, 'Yes I can. Just sit back and relax. You're here to have fun,' " Parr said.

At a rehearsal this week, assistant director Katherine Crow led the cast in a dance number as 29-year-old Peter Jose spun and sang, "Hats Off To You Spokane."

To ensure the cast members project their voices through the auditorium, Crow encourages them to imagine a friend or loved one seated in the last row, listening intently.

"Can I put my horse back there?" Weber asked.

"Yes, your horse is right next to my grandmother," Crow responded.

Crow helps the cast members reduce their stress through breathing and stretching exercises. She counsels them to counter stage fright with composure.

"Every professional has a moment of going blank," she said. "What's important is the grace with which we recover. We have complete permission to perform in any way we can."

That license to fail a as long as the effort is made a frees them to perform, the cast members said.

"I'm petrified right now," said Powell, who will sing several country songs in the performance. "But I try to remember the audience is out there to enjoy the show a they aren't there to put me down."

That gives her comfort and confidence, Powell said, each time she steps into the spotlight.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.),

(213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail

COPYRIGHT 2006 The Spokesman-Review

This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

Sex-offender program gets first fix: The Legislature is expected to approve plans to revamp its program for holding sexual predators after their prison sentences for treatment.

Miami Herald (Miami, Florida); 5/5/2006

Byline: Jason Grotto

May 5--Under pressure to fix Florida's program for treating the state's most violent sexual predators, lawmakers today will take the first step toward overhauling a system that has allowed hundreds of dangerous pedophiles and rapists to avoid therapy and return to the community.

The proposal to improve the Sexually Violent Predator Program marks the first serious effort to tackle problems in the system created in 1998 to hold and treat men with sexual disorders after serving their prison terms. The measure, which includes hiring more prosecutors to speed up commitment trials, was attached to the state budget to ensure approval this year. Although the plan targets some of the most pressing problems, lawmakers said they aren't finished mending the program, which costs taxpayers more than $26 million annually.

"This is a start, a way of hitting the areas we identified as priorities," said co-sponsor Rep. Joe Negron, a Republican from Stuart who chairs the powerful House appropriations committee and is running for attorney general. "There will be more substantive bills next year." FLAWS EXPOSED The bipartisan measure comes three months after an investigative series in The Miami Herald exposed widespread flaws in the program, including a lack of security at the treatment center and the release of offenders who went on to commit new sex crimes against women and children. While lawmakers move to make changes, the state must also replace the private contractor operating the treatment center in Arcadia, located in the southwest corner of Florida. The contract with Liberty Behavioral Health is set to expire June 30. The Department of Children & Families, the state agency charged with running the program, has been at odds with Liberty since February 2005, when more than 300 riot officers were forced to conduct a raid at the center to restore order. "The Department is committed to and continues to plan for a smooth and orderly transition of operations at the Florida Civil Commitment Centerwhen our contract with Liberty Behavioral Health expires June 30," DCF spokesman Tim Bottcher said. The Miami Herald's investigative series, Predators Among Us, documented serious problems at the center, including marijuana and child pornography arriving in peanut-butter jars and transistor radios, suicide attempts, stabbings and coverups by the center's staff. Among the newspaper's findings: -- More than 60 percent of the men held at the facility receive no sexual-offender treatment, partly because of a lack of funding and because a loophole in the law allows the men to refuse therapy. -- Once the offenders are placed at the facility, they are supposed to have their civil-commitment trials within 30 days, but most wait an average of 2 1/2 years. -- Hundreds of offenders have been freed from the facility without completing a comprehensive treatment program and with no continued monitoring or follow-up. Many were later arrested on new sex-crime charges. Negron and co-sponsor Rep. Jack Seiler, a Democrat from Pompano Beach, identified three areas to address after holding a two-hour oversight hearing in February. Once the measures are adopted by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jeb Bush, they will become law July 1. Among the proposals: -- Speeding up the civil-commitment trails to get more offenders into treatment by limiting the number of continuances attorneys can request to one lasting 120 days. -- Earmarking money for state attorney and public-defender offices to fund additional positions focused solely on the civil-commitment trials. For court circuits of one million or more people -- such as those in Miami-Dade and Broward -- the state will pay for two more prosecutors and two more public defenders. For those under one million -- such as Monroe County -- the state will pay for one of each. -- Ensuring Florida has access to experts by creating a database of mental-health doctors specializing in sexual offenders to provide attorneys with experts to examine offenders and testify at commitment trials.

A proposal to remove from the treatment center offenders who suffer from severe and persistent mental illnesses was scrapped at the last minute Thursday because of concerns the measure would spark lawsuits.

MENTAL ILLNESSES The Miami Herald found that dozens of men at the center suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses and receive no specialized treatment, let alone therapy for their sexual disorders. For years there have been widespread problems in the wing of the facility where these men are housed, including attempted suicides, fights and a lack of treatment. In October, one of the men in the dorm died after a brawl over a bag of Cheetos.

"We recognize that there is a problem, and we're trying to work toward fixing it," Seiler said. "This is the first step. We aren't finished yet." While the Legislature has sought to improve the program by enhancing the law, the new measures do nothing to increase funding, which critics say is necessary to make the program viable. In fact, of the 16 states with civil commitment laws, only South Carolina and Kansas spend less on treatment per offender -- and both hold fewer than 100 men. When broken down by the amount spent per offender, money for the program has actually decreased as the population soared nearly 300 percent -- from 139 in 1999 to more than 530 today -- and the center's budget increased just 46 percent. In the wake of The Miami Herald's reports, DCF Secretary Lucy Hadi testified during legislative hearings that the program was properly funded -- an assertion that mirrored comments by Gov. Bush. "In terms of priorities, this would not be one that we would ask for additional funding," she said during a House hearing. LAWSUIT LOOMING But those comments contradict seven years of DCF documents and budget requests asking for increases in funding to "meet the public safety goals of the Jimmy Ryce Act."

Now, Florida faces a federal class-action lawsuit that seeks to force the state to provide more treatment and threatens to saddle taxpayers with millions of dollars in fines.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Miami Herald

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.),

(213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail

COPYRIGHT 2006 The Miami Herald

This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

Child's death yields 30-year term: Dundalk mother, 26, gets the maximum sentence in abuse-case fatality of her 3-year-old.

Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD); 5/5/2006

Byline: Jennifer McMenamin

May 5--Calling the 3-year-old boy "an innocent who died only because he happened to be born to Denise Lechner," a Baltimore County judge sentenced the Dundalk woman yesterday to 30 years in prison for child abuse that resulted in the death of her toddler. Prosecutors had asked for the lengthy term - the maximum allowed by state law for child abuse - in an effort to prevent Lechner, 26, from having more children.

"It cannot go unsaid. She can't even be responsible for herself let alone someone else," prosecutor Susan H. Hazlett told Circuit Judge Ruth A. Jakubowski. "We just can't take that risk." The announcement of the judge's sentence capped an emotional hearing that included testimony about the horrific childhood that Lechner suffered, including years of being raped weekly by her father - abuse that a forensic psychiatrist said has left the her "psychologically numb." The prosecutor also berated Lechner's husband, Roy Lechner Sr., who she said ignored signs that his wife might be causing Roy Jr.'s repeated injuries and continued to work more than 70 hours a week, often leaving his wife alone with their children, even after promising a judge in child protection court proceedings that he would take responsibility for the toddler's care.

"The relationship that [Denise Lechner] has with her husband is toxic," Hazlett said in court. "I think it's safe to say that while Roy Lechner bears no legal responsibility for his son's death under the laws of this state, he bears a moral responsibility." Outside the courthouse after yesterday's hearing, Roy Lechner Sr., 61, said that might be true. "I feel it. I really do," he said. "I don't know what to say about it. I did everything I could to protect my boys."

On the day Roy Jr. died in March 2005, Denise Lechner told police that her son was being noisy and she swatted his bottom, causing him to tumble down the basement stairs. She told detectives that she carried him upstairs to the couch, gave him a pillow and covered him with a blanket before returning to the basement to work on her computer, according to charging documents. But prosecutors said yesterday that at least two neighbors told police that they were awakened by loud thumping noises from the Lechners' rowhouse. One neighbor said it sounded like someone falling down stairs and an adult going back up, three or four times in a row, prosecutor Corry Nastro said. Another neighbor who heard someone running up and down the Lechners' steps followed by crying knocked on the family's door, only to be told by Denise Lechner that Roy Jr. had fallen but was OK. Less than an hour later, Nastro said, police responding to Denise Lechner's 911 call found the toddler to be "blue and lifeless." "She was on the computer, working out details for a cruise, while her son was upstairs dying on a couch," Hazlett told the judge. The toddler's death followed more than 150 visits from social workers and the November 2004 death of the Lechners' younger child, 6-month-old Donald, which was classified as sudden unexplained death in infancy. The medical examiner could not determine whether his death was due to natural causes, an accident or a homicide. The medical examiner who conducted Roy Jr.'s autopsy listed the toddler's fall down the steps, his asthma, a seizure, an untreated strep throat infection and .phphyxiation due to smothering as possible causes of death. He similarly could not attribute the boy's death to natural causes, an accident or a homicide. Dr. Neil H. Blumberg, a forensic psychiatrist called to testify for the defense, told the judge that the years of abuse Denise Lechner suffered, her bipolar disorder, a cognitive disorder, a learning disability and limited intellectual functioning left her incapable of caring for her children. Defense attorney Larry Polen told the judge that his client "did not intend to harm Roy Jr." Rather, he said, she lacks a motherly instinct possessed

by most women who become parents. "She lacks these things because they were taken from her," he said. Denise Lechner declined an opportunity to address the judge. She must serve seven to 10 years in prison before she will be eligible for a parole hearing, prosecutors said. Defendants convicted of crimes of violence must serve half their sentence before becoming eligible for a parole hearing, but child abuse resulting in a death is not considered a violent crime under Maryland law.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Baltimore Sun

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.),

(213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail

COPYRIGHT 2006 The Baltimore Sun

This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

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