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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: What don't we know about mental illness?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Nov 7, 2013 7:46 AM

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, November 7, 2013:


Over the past year, there has been renewed emphasis on recognizing and treating mental illness.

Unfortunately, it took a tragedy to prompt the efforts.

Last December, a mentally ill young man took guns owned by his mother, went to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and went on a shooting rampage.  He killed 20 school children and six adults.  A gun control debate ensued, even though the mother had purchased the weapons legally.  Part of the conversation centered on someone suffering from mental illness having access to guns.

Gun rights supporters responded that the real problem was mental illness and even gun control advocates agreed that was part of the issue.

The Sandy Hook shooting is unusual.  There are millions of mentally ill people who suffer in silence or with very little fanfare everyday.

On Thursday's Smart Talk, we'll discuss how pervasive mental illness is, how and if it is being treated, and funding.

Joining us will be representatives of Keystone Human Services.


Keystone Human Services

Network of Care

The Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association


Kathyann Corl, Mike Grier & Daniel Rios

For more personal stories about recovery check out the book Recovery: In Our Own Words. This collection of personal stories of recovery and transformation is based on the Ten Fundamental Components of Recovery from the National Consensus Statement on Mental Health Recovery, and shared by Keystone Community Mental Health Services' Leadership Council and Recovery Specialists. These are powerful stories of strength and inspiration, giving readers a message of hope for the future.

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  • sequoia img 2013-11-07 09:49

    I was listening in on the way to work. As the mother of a 27 year old daughter who has bipolar 1, I take issue always with the term "recovery" that was used earlier in the show. Someone with a serious illness like this never "recovers". You can only manage it. "Recovery" sounds like "cure". Just like diabetes 1 in particular, it is a disease that must be constantly managed with medication, proper rest, nutrition, therapy and support. And there are always residual effects from medications like tirednesss, weight gain, thyroid issues, and in many cases eventual diabetes. The average lifespan of someone with a serious mental illness is 25 years less than the normal population. That doesn't sound like an illness you recover from.

    • Doug Smith img 2013-11-08 06:02

      Hello I am a man of 47 who lives with Bi-polar disorder and a bit more. When we say we recover or are in recovery we are saying that we cope with our illness and are living a full life as others who do not deal with these illness . sequoia as far as the meds go each person differs on works for then , as for myself i studied the meds use for treatment and talked with my doctors telling them the side effects that I did not like at all and what ones i could live with . I once was 380lbs now I am 160 ….I am now doing thing I would never would beleave I would ever do in my life time but I am doing now. I thought my life was over but I now work a 40 hour a week job and around 20/per week part time job I am giving back to others making a difference

  • Robert D Colgan img 2013-11-07 10:32

    I don't think "mental illness" is often actually an "illness" . . although it has become fashionable to label states of being as "illness" largely for profit.

    There is a clear difference between suffering that is socially tolerated, and suffering which is stigmatized as "aberrant"/"abnormal"/"eccentric"/"neurotic"/"psychotic"
    and therefore not socially 'sanctioned'.
    For example, pregnancy at one time was pregnancy. It meant a woman was growing within her a fetus and would at some time give birth.
    It wasn't a medicalized event. People treated her respectfully and kindly. People helped her through the ordeal of birth and brought food offerings to help her postpartum as she regained her strength after delivery. This was the long pattern through human history.
    Now, pregnancy and birth are "conditions" (read: "illnesses")which require medical oversight all through the process and birth HAS to occur within a hospital--------yet we know that most childhood deaths in the past occurred from contraction of childhood diseases which immunizations now prevent, not from childbirth or in estro.

    By medicalizing states of being, depression for example, and treating it as a chemical imbalance needing chemical medications we have taken the person out of the picture. Everyone gets depressed at times, and, almost always come out of it---but this is very different from a state of deep depression which lasts chronically and from which the person can't seem to escape: but even this may be treated by engagement with others in the community who reach out in compassion and friendship.

    What we have really lost, it seems to me, is community involvement.
    We have replaced personal connection with impersonal drugs.
    We have substituted strangers for familiars, and we have lost sight of the human being, the person, by seeing and "treating" only the "illness."
    I applaud the peer to peer movement.

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