Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA)

Name of Innovative Program: 
The BRAIN campaign
Sponsoring Organization
Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA)
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Linda Stalters
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead: 
linda.stalters@sardaa.org
Physical Address of Innovative Program: 
602 Pink Azalea Trl, Houston, TX 77079
Project Description: 

12 million Americans live with a schizophrenia-related brain illness.  Tragically 50% do not receive treatment, instead they are punished/incarcerated, ostracized without treatment, left to suffer homelessly or perhaps die by suicide.  Until the community (judicial, legislative, medical, lay public and criminal justice) recognize BRAIN illnesses like other physiological illnesses are treatable; until there is no shame to be treated for an illness of the brain, people will continue to be the victims of discrimination, mistreatment, violence and without treatment.   The BRAIN campaign is an effort to replace the word “mental” and “behavior” illness/health with “brain”. This will impact parity, resources, and empathy.  We do not call pulmonary disease cough disease.  People think if it's behavior – just change the behavior; if it’s “mental” illness – it's your choice to think that way.

How does the innovative program work to improve behavioral health access?: 

Dr Pamelar Sklar-Chief of Psychiatric Genetics, professor of psychiatry, neuroscience, genetics and genomic sciences at Mount Sinai Hospital, agreed with the “brain” campaign and thinks such a movement would be very beneficial especially for early intervention programs. She needs people to get interested early to stop the progression of their illness.  People will be connected to the SARDAA website; receive newsletters with the latest updates on research and treatment as well as hope; find support groups for diagnosed individuals and family and friends both locally and via conference call groups; a free app is available to help with managing their health and connectivity and resources are available online as well as on the phone.   

How does the innovative program work to improve behavioral health quality? : 

When people are treated appropriately and with dignity they will be more likely to access treatment.  When people understand that schizophrenia is not a choice but a neurological disease of the brain, even clinicians will be more likely to provide appropriate treatment.  When the criminal jusitice system understands, treatment will be provided instead of punishment.  When young people learn early that these are treatable illnesses like other illnesses they are more likely to accept early treatment.  People will be directed to our website with access to free tools and a support system to help them cope with their challenges.   

How does the innovative program work to address behavioral health costs? : 

Currently the largest facilities for the most severely ill are the prisons and many are homeless.  "Treatment" is the prison.  Michael F. Hogan, “We are spending too much on mental illness in all the wrong places”.  Dr. Thomas Insel, "Indirect costs are incurred through reduced labor supply, public income support payments, reduced educational attainment, and costs associated with other consequences such as incarceration or homelessness. "  Early intervention and treatment leads to better prognosis, less severity, more stability and less likelihood of substance abuse and recidivism and use of the criminal justice system as well as more productivity, more empathy and inclusion in the community will be realized.    

Creativity and Innovation: 

Schizophrenia-related brain illnesses are the most misunderstood and people affected are the most maligned, mistreated and ostracized.  Focusing on individuals who suffer the most and who are the most underserved and change that scenario is critical to decrease costs, fiscal, indirect and including humanitarian costs.  Reaching out to all sectors of the community via conferences, educational venues, community venues, media and social networking will spread the understanding.  FOX BusinessNews Network has aired our campaign and maintains a copy of our professionally crafted video on their website.  We want to improve the visual portion of the video.  We have incorporated the vision of scientists, diagnosed individuals, family members, business people, lay community members and clinicians in the development of the campaign.   People have been inspired and grateful for its inception.

Leadership: 

All "mental illnesses" are neurologically based and each organization can utilize our template and join our campaign.  We collaborate with a majority of psychiatric organizations.  As we collaborate together and reach out to the community from multiple areas, we will have a greater impact.  We continue to contact other organizations to join in the campaign.  Many University of Houston students have been motivated and signed the pledge and are enthusiastically sharing their new insights.

Sustainability: 

The American Brain Coalition is considering. Dr. Thomas Insel’s 2013 TED talk; Towards a New Understanding of Mental Illness (as brain disorders) supports this concept. Dr. Insel stated one of his biggest challenges was educating society on this concept. SARDAA’s movement will make this education a reality. Dr. David Lewis-chair of the University of Pittsburgh Dept of Psychiatry, and national expert on schizophrenia, was very excited. He said, it is "hauntingly simple-but very profound". He went onto to say, many psychological treatments are "brain treatments". Dr Eric Nestler-chair of IMHRO's scientific board, pres. elect for the Society of Neuroscience, and director of the Friedman brain institute commented: “I am intrigued by such an effort. Indeed, I would see it as one step toward eventually merging psychiatry and neurology, something in which I've long been interested.” Pharma companies are interested in supporting the efforts.

Replicability: 

This is easily replicated.  Changing the disease and posting the campaign video and pledge is very easily executed.

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TO CHANGE TREATMENTI will change my language from Behavioral or Mental disorder to Brain disorder.I will educate others to change their language from Mental illness to Brain illness.I will not use stigmatizing, discriminatory or derogatory language related to brain disorders.I will encourage my peers, family members, and colleagues to advocate when they see discriminatory language or practices in the media or in public.I will advocate for people with brain disorders to have equal and comprehensive healthcare. I will treat all people with brain disorders with respect and compassion.  REMEMBER: People are not their disease.  Congratulations, you are now a BRAIN Health Advocate!

Results/Outcomes: 

People who sign the pledge on our website will leave their email.  We can survey the individuals with questions pertaining to the changes that they have experienced, such as: their attitude regarding individuals diagnosed; their change in terminology; have they introduced the terminology to others; have they noticed how diagnosed individuals are treated and have they attempted to make a change.  There are other criteria that will be included in a survey that would reflect the pledge goals. 

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