Bipolar News

March 9, 2005

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Author's Family Hopes to End Stigma

AP Online; 3/8/2005

Dateline: NEWARK, Calif.
The family of Iris Chang, who chronicled the Japanese occupation of China and the history of Chinese immigrants in the United States, thinks her suicide could have been averted if mental illness didn't have such a strong stigma in the Asian-American community.

Making their first public comments since the 36-year-old best-selling author died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in November, Chang's parents and brother spoke at a fund-raiser for a nonprofit that works to raise mental health awareness among Chinese-Americans.

They described Chang's shame after she suffered a breakdown and was diagnosed with "brief reactive psychosis" and possibly bipolar disorder. They said she asked them not to reveal her condition, and resisted taking medication.

"What's so powerful about the stigma of mental illness that someone would want to take the knowledge of their illness to the grave with them?" her brother, Michael Chang, said Sunday.

Ying-Ying Chang, the author's mother, said she wished now they'd been more open about what she was going through.

"In Asian culture, it's considered shameful to have some mental patient in your family," she said. "But mental illness is a disease, a chemical imbalance in the brain. We should treat it just like a heart attack or diabetes."

In 1997, Chang published "The Rape of Nanking," which described the rape, torture and killing of Chinese civilians by Japanese soldiers in the former Chinese capital during the late 1930s. In 2003, she followed up with "The Chinese in America," a history of Chinese immigrants and their descendants in the United States.

She had been at work on a fourth book when she suffered a breakdown and was hospitalized.

Copyright 2005, AP News All Rights Reserved Announces Launch of Operations; Commences Pre-Production of First Feature Film, 'Manic Ride'; Through 'AdFilmTies Movie Producer' Concept, Independent Movie Studio Is First Ever to Call on General Public to Help Produce Nationally Distributed Feature Films.

JERSEY CITY, N.J., March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- AdFilmTies Inc. (, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of those afflicted by mental illness, health, social and economic issues through creative and appealing films and other multi media, today announced its launch of, an interactive website that provides the public with a direct say in the movies they want to see made.

AdFilmTies will utilize a patent-pending business model that eliminates the risk of traditional film financing by providing corporations the opportunity to finance films pertinent to their business without script rights or product placement guarantees. AdFilmTies' unique production model involves a community of sponsors, expert advisors, grass roots organizations, media outlets, and consumers, who help ensure that the company's films reach the widest possible audience.

"A Reel Difference": From Fans to Producers

For the first time in the history of the motion picture industry, consumers, film fans and the general public will also be empowered to assist in the production of an independent, nationally distributed feature film by assuming the role of "AdFilmTies Movie Producer."

"AdFilmTies Movie Producer" is a concept that enables supporters of the AdFilmTies concept to assist in the production of the company's first feature film, "Manic Ride," by allowing them to participate in production decisions. "Manic Ride" tells the story of how bipolar illness affects an entrepreneur and his family.

The "AdFilmTies Movie Producer" platform, administered through streaming video and online polling, will enable users to vote on topics such as cast, location, music, and distribution, in essence allowing them to become a tangible part of the film making process.

All-Star Crew

AdFilmTies was founded by "Manic Ride" screenwriter, John DeTitta, who based the script on his personal experiences in successfully treating and living with bi-polar disorder. The company will also be managed by George DeTitta, an Academy Award nominee with over 50 years experience in the film industry. The production division of the company will be headed by Barbara De Fina, renowned producer of such classic films as "Goodfellas," "Casino," "Cape Fear," "Raging Bull," and other critically acclaimed films. "Manic Ride" will be produced by Ms. De Fina.

"We are delighted with the launch of, which began with my mission to become both an advocate for the understanding of mental health issues and a resource base for knowledge and support," said John DeTitta, Founder and CEO. "We are particularly proud of AdFilmTies' unique model that brings the advertising and film industries together to better support our communities."

"We believe film is the most powerful medium for creating awareness and acceptance among the general public," said George De Titta, President of AdFilmTies. "John and I look forward to working together to bring an understanding of mental health, health, social and economic issues into the mainstream consciousness of America."

Individuals can become an "AdFilmTies Movie Producer" for the Manic Ride project by registering at

A Revolutionary Screenplay Funding Source also seeks to become a revolutionary funding source for the leading screenwriters of tomorrow. The company is currently accepting projects and screenplays, which will be voted upon by registered "AdFilmTies Movie Producers." Screenwriters are encouraged to utilize the AdFilmTies website to post scripts for vote.

Once voting has concluded, the four highest scored projects over a given period will be placed into a development stage with the final winner greenlighted by AdFilmTies. Once a project receives greenlight status, it will be assigned a producer and production schedule in accordance with the AdFilmTies platform.

"We are proud to be a revolutionary funding and support source for screenwriters on projects that dovetail with our core mission," John added. "Accordingly, we will oversee projects developed by tomorrow's leading writers and leverage the power of the "AdFilmTies Movie Producer" concept to champion the production process."

About AdFilmTies Inc.

AdFilmTies Inc. is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by mental illness, health issues and social and economic issues. Leveraging the power of multi-media entertainment and community ties, the company seeks to raise awareness about the prevalence of emotional and behavioral disorders and empower sufferers and their families with the knowledge, resources, and support necessary for recovery.

CONTACT: Beatriz Garcia, +1-212-515-1998, or Meaghan Smith, +1-212-515-1904, both of Gavin Anderson & Company for AdFilmTies Inc.

Web site:

COPYRIGHT 2005 PR Newswire Association LLC

Academy Seeks Psychiatric Hospital Label Approval

The Tampa Tribune; 3/6/2005; SUSAN M. GREEN


RIVERVIEW -- Tampa Bay Academy, located for 16 years on Boyette Road, is applying for state permission to become a children's psychiatric hospital of up to 112 beds.

The new label, if granted, wouldn't kick Spider-Man, SpongeBob and assorted stuffed animals off the beds that already are there.

Nor would it do away with the quarterly talent show or change any routines for the children and teenagers who live, study and play there, said Ed Hoefle, the facility's longtime administrator.

There just might be more kids in the dormitory.

Tampa Bay Academy is seeking the label change to put the residential treatment center for children with behavioral problems into an approved coverage category for more private insurance companies, Hoefle said.

He predicted the shift would make services more accessible for seriously disturbed youngsters ages 5 to 18 who have failed to respond to outpatient therapy and need the daily attention of a residential program.

"We are the treatment of last resort," Hoefle said. "These kids have had many treatments before they come here."

Tampa Bay Academy is the only long-term residential program of its kind in Hillsborough County, he said, adding that the closest similar alternatives for local families are in Lakeland and Pinellas County.

"We have the third-largest population of children within the state," Hoefle said, referring to 2000 U.S. Census statistics that listed 253,000 people younger than 18 living in the county. "It seems ironic that Hillsborough County doesn't have these services."

Last month, Tampa Bay Academy's parent organization, the for- profit corporation Youth and Family Centered Services of Florida, filed a letter of intent with the Agency for Health Care Administration. The letter stated the corporation's desire to become an "intensive residential treatment facility" under the state category of special hospitals.

The letter is the first step toward securing a certificate of need the state requires for operating certain types of medical facilities, including hospitals. Formal applications will follow this month and in mid-April, Hoefle said.

He said he receives three to 10 telephone calls a day from parents inquiring about the academy, only to find out services wouldn't be covered by their health insurance.

"They call us to find out if we're licensed as a hospital, and that's the end of the conversation," Hoefle said.

Children can be admitted if they are considered disabled because the state's Medicaid program recognizes the academy's program as eligible for coverage, Hoefle said. However, the necessary paperwork sometimes takes months.

"One of the things I see is the state has been generous in terms of providing funding for these kids," Hoefle said. "The irony is that some of these kids could be funded by private insurance if private insurers were recognizing this environment."

Tampa Bay Academy's cluster of Spanish-style buildings opened in 1988 on 24 acres just south of the Alafia River. The facility started with a dormitory, offices, a schoolhouse and a gymnasium.

The academy is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families as a 112-bed residential treatment facility. The dormitory has 98 beds, Hoefle said, but they are not filled, and he doesn't expect to add any if the hospital plans go through.

Amenities include tennis and basketball courts, a ball field and playground equipment, a swimming pool and a stable. Three miniature ponies, a cow, a pig, rabbits and other animals provide comfort for troubled children.

"Sometimes children will respond more to horses than to humans because of negative past experiences with adults," Hoefle said.

The staff of 300 includes three psychiatrists, plus nurses, teachers, therapists, advisers, administrative staff and custodians.

In recent years, the campus added four group homes and a charter school that buses students in for day programs. The hospital moniker, if approved, wouldn't apply to those facilities, Hoefle said.

Children and teenagers who check in for residential treatment typically display aggressive behavior or symptoms of attention deficit disorder, depression or bipolar disorder, Hoefle said. They must be evaluated and referred for treatment by a psychiatrist.

Many have been physically or sexually abused, he said.

"A lot of these kids just didn't get a good deal in life, which is certainly no fault of their own," Hoefle said.

Quite a few have adoptive parents who were unprepared for behaviors that may stem from genetics or a past environment, he added.

Academy residents receive medication, meals, individual and group therapy, schooling, recreational activities designed to help them develop socially and a stable routine.

Some stay several months, others for a year or two, depending on family circumstances and severity of their illness.

Hoefle said the academy's goal is to help youngsters function well in mainstream society. Each child's treatment program includes a transition plan for returning to the world off campus.

The site about two miles east of U.S. 301 was chosen to keep patients close to needed services in Brandon and Tampa, Hoefle said. Over the years, the suburbs have grown ever closer, with new subdivisions and retail centers springing up around the campus.

The residential quarters, styled after Hoefle's college dormitory, are divided into eight halls named after people well- known in the juvenile mental health field. Each hall houses up to 12 children, two to a room. The dormitory has two additional "overflow beds," he said. Residents are housed according to age and gender.

The rooms are austere, but some children add a personal touch with colorful blankets and stuffed animals. In the adolescent halls, therapists work with groups in sitting areas with comfortable sofas. Molded plastic seating is the furniture of choice for younger children.

Residents at the academy tend to be destructive, especially in their initial weeks, Hoefle said.

"They're absolutely convinced they're not going to stay, so why invest any effort at all in the place?"

Hoefle said Tampa Bay Academy could have applied for the special hospital moniker years ago, but he saw no need. Other institutions in Tampa had beds for emotionally disturbed children.

Those programs have closed over the years, Hoefle said. Short- term inpatient treatment of a few days remains available through Children's Crisis Services in Tampa, operated by the nonprofit Mental Health Care Inc., and at some acute-care hospitals.

Nancy Pape, children's crisis program manager for Mental Health Care Inc., said the Tampa center has 14 beds available for children. When admitted, they stay one to three days, she said.

The agency evaluated 1,600 to 1,700 children last year and admitted 500, she said.

Reporter Susan M. Green can be reached at (813) 657-4529.

Copyright (c) 2005, The Tampa Tribune and may not be republished without permission. E-mail

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