Archive for April, 2009

Former Atomic Kitten Speaks Out About Bipolar Disorder

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
MTV Europe Music Awards 2008: VIP Arrivals

I think bipolar disorder is one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses today. I mean, really – how many times have you heard people say, “Oh, my God, she is so bipolar!” whenever a person happens to be able to experience more than one mood?

You might’ve even said it yourself once or twice.

The truth is, there are different types of bipolar disorder (think Type I, Type II, Cyclothymia, and Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), various other disorders often co-exist with bipolar disorder (such as anxiety disorders and substance abuse/addiction), bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as or for conditions like depression and borderline personality disorder, and, yes, a person can be happy one minute and sad the next and not have bipolar disorder.

Former Atomic Kitten member Kerry Katona recently addressed the Oxford Union about her battle with bipolar disorder during what she claimed was to be a “nothing off limits” question and answer session and during what I hoped would help educate a lot of people about bipolar disorder, or at least give them some insight about the disorder from someone who’s been there.

Now, Jamie Foxx Is Trying To HELP Kids

Monday, April 27th, 2009
Premiere Of DreamWorks The Soloist - Arrivals

He might not be the most well-liked guy in Hollywood right now, but Jamie Foxx still has some redeemable qualities.

The Soloist finally hit theaters last Friday and, unlike the lower brow Observe and Report, is racking up some pretty favorable reviews (The Washington Post says “‘The Soloist’ blends high art and entertainment in near-perfect proportions,” and Rolling Stone claims “the film’s refusal to conform to typical Hollywood sentimentality makes it worth seeing”).

However, it’s not Foxx’s acting that might shed some Good Guy light on him; rather, it’s the fact that he’s lent his voice to a crisis helpline for troubled children.

As part of Participant Media’s social action campaign for “The Soloist,” Jamie Foxx has lent his voice to a recorded message on Nineline, a crisis helpline run by Covenant House, a nationwide agency that works with homeless kids. (

Good thing he’s not the one actually taking phone calls. I don’t imagine advising a kid to “make a sex tape” and “do some heroin” would be such a good idea.

Sorry, that was bitter and inappropriate of me. I applaud Foxx for doing this, really.

To learn more about the helpline, visit

Transcendental Meditation: Musicians Believe 'Change Begins Within'

Monday, April 27th, 2009
David Lynch Foundation Change Begins Within Benefit Concert

Earlier this month, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eddie Vedder, Donovan, Sheryl Crow, Ben Harper, Moby, Bettye Lavette, Paul Horn, and Jim James – with the help of filmmaker David Lynch and the David Lynch Foundation – came together to host a benefit concert dubbed “Change Begins Within” to help raise money for the Transcendental Meditation (TM) training of millions of at-risk children.

I’m a fan of meditation, but until very recently knew pretty much nothing about TM, so I decided to do some lightweight research.

So…what exactly is Transcendental Meditation?

2009 PRISM Awards: Outstanding Accomplishments In Accurate Depictions

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

The 2009 PRISM Awards are scheduled for Thursday, April 23, 2009 (that’s today!) at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Unfortunately, unless you’re actually going to be at the ceremony, you won’t be able to watch any of it until September 26, 2009, when it airs on FX.

If you’re not familiar with the awards:

The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC) annually presents the PRISM Awards, in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), FX Network, and News Corporation, for outstanding accomplishments in the accurate depiction of drug, alcohol and tobacco use and addiction, as well as mental health issues, in film, television, interactive, comic book, music, and DVD entertainment.

PRISM Award winners are selected through a submission and review process by members of the creative community and scientific experts. They are selected for their entertainment value, accessibility of their message, and scientific accuracy. The production in each category that best exemplifies these three objectives is presented with an award.

This list of nominees for this year’s PRISM Awards is pretty lengthy, including television shows like Desperate Housewives, House, Grey’s Anatomy, ER, Boston Legal, and The Simpsons; actors and actresses like B.J. Novak, William Shatner, Marcia Cross, and Chandra Wilson, and Dana Delany; and kid-friendly programs like Degrassi: The Next Generation and Nick News with Linda Ellerbee.

Learn more about both The PRISM Awards and the Entertainment Industries Council online, and cross your fingers for your favorite nominees!

British Reality Show Stumps Mental Health Professionals

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

On Monday, the New York Times posted “To Fight Stigmas, Start With Treatment,” an interesting article about a semi-recent British reality show called “How Mad Are You?” As the title suggests, the show was about mental illness.

Very simply put, for one week “How Mad Are You?” grouped together 10 people – five with histories of mental illness and five without – and put them through a series of challenges designed to draw out mental illness symptoms.

At the end of the week, three experts in mental health – a psychiatric nurse, a psychiatrist, and a psychologist – were put through another kind of test: Identify the participants with mental illnesses.

Did they succeed?

Not really, according to Sally Satel, M.D., the writer Times article:

They could not. After watching hours of videotape, the experts correctly identified only two of the five people with a history of mental illness. And they misidentified two of the healthy people as having a mental illness.

The point was made: even trained professionals cannot reliably determine mental illness by appearances alone.

That’s interesting stuff, especially when you think about all the doctors out there who pretty regularly diagnose celebrities based solely on what they see on or read in the news.

Paige Hemmis: Help For Depression, One Blueprint At A Time

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

BeFunky_Paige Photo.jpg

Perky. Bubbly. Upbeat.

If you’ve caught even just one episode of ABC’s Emmy-winning and tear-jerking Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in the last few years, these descriptions might come to mind when you think of Paige Hemmis, the animated blond who always seems to have a smile on her face and a pink tool belt slung around her waist.

You might even describe Paige Hemmis as one who’s likely to be the recipient of cliché construction site catcalls rather than one of the hardhats herself.

A description that might not come to mind, however, is depressed. It’s certainly not a word many people associate with lively and helpful go-getters like Paige Hemmis, yet, somewhere between building new homes for struggling families and changing lives for deserving folks across the nation, that’s exactly how Paige found herself.


I was fortunate enough to talk with Paige last week about her struggle with depression, how treatment has helped her refocus her energies on the show, and the exciting new campaign she’s started to help shed light on depression advocacy, awareness, and resources.

Texas Death Penalty Debate: Andre Thomas Is 'Clearly Crazy'

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Mike Farrell. Phil Donahue. Elvis Costello. Arlo Guthrie. Danny Glover. Ani DiFranco. Martin Sheen. These are just a few of the celebrities who openly oppose the death penalty.

Even my own personal hero, Dave Matthews, has spoken out on the issue.

Me? Well, I’m not here to discuss my views on the death penalty. I’m not even up to speed on the death penalty laws throughout America. Actually, before I Googled the information, I was only a hundred percent sure about two things regarding death penalty laws: My own state doesn’t have the death penalty, and Texas does.

What I am here to discuss is an ongoing death penalty debate in Texas right now involving a man named Andre Thomas who murdered his wife and her two children in 2004. You’d think, with all the news stories surrounding the death penalty (some involving Texas, and some not), the story wouldn’t have stuck out too much for me. Yet, when I read about how Thomas plucked each of his eyes from its socket (one at his trial, and one later on while he sat on death row), actually ate one of them, and is still being considered “sane,” I had to raise an eyebrow.

Thomas is “clearly ‘crazy,’ ” a judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals wrote in a concurring denial of his appeal last month, “but he is also ‘sane’ under Texas law.”

(“Clearly crazy”? Really? That’s the kind of stuff judges include in appeal denials? And here I thought there was some kind of official standard or something.)

Observe And Report: Does The Mental Health Humor Cross A Line?

Saturday, April 18th, 2009
Observe And Report film premiere at the Graumans Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California

Observe and Report, actor Seth Rogen’s latest “comedy” adventure, has been out for a week now, and reviews are – quite frankly – not all that hot as far as the mental health angle is concerned.

Rogen portrays Ronnie Barnhardt, a mall security guard with bipolar disorder on a mission to restore safety and decency to the Forest Ridge Mall with a mouth worthy of some industrial strength disinfectant.

Several reputable names support Rogen in Observe and Report. Ronnie’s mother (Celia Weston) is an alcoholic who blames him for Ronnie’s father leaving, the object of his affection (Anna Faris) is a makeup counter girl with some questionable behavior issues of her own, and his archenemy is apparently a toss up between the mall’s latest nuisance – a flasher – and the real detective who steps in to clean up the problem (Ray Liotta).

However, despite an impressive cast, some reviewers are, well, quite unimpressed themselves.

Tweet Hugh Jackman: Donate To Mental Health Nonprofit

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

The stars are apparently in very generous moods lately.

On Tuesday, April 14, actor Hugh Jackman “tweeted” that he’d donate $100,000 to the charity of one lucky person’s choice, as long as that person could convince him in 140 characters why he should do so.

The Sierra Club and Ecorazzi, both of which are very green oriented, have picked up on the challenge, but unless I missed an extra tweet, I’m pretty sure “one individual’s favorite nonprofit organization” can include those focused on mental health, yes?

If you’re on Twitter and want to try to help out a mental health nonprofit, here are a few suggestions:

And, if you do tweet Jackman (@RealHughJackman), be sure to stop back by here and let me know how it goes!

Jared Leto Helped Kids Have A Little Fun Last Weekend

Thursday, April 16th, 2009
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The past couple of days were filled with Jamie Foxx’s nonsense and completely expected backtrack of said nonsense, so let’s follow up with some positive news, shall we?

And what’s more positive than finding out my old junior high boyfriend (well, in my head, anyway) Jordan Catalano Jared Leto and his band, 30 Seconds to Mars, recently opened up the studio doors of their recording session to the kids of Children of the Night?

(Nothing I’m finding at the moment.)

If you’re not familiar with Children of the Night (COTN), it’s a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that works to rescue children between the ages of 11 and 17 from prostitution.

According to the website:

Children of the Night is the only comprehensive organization in North America that works solely with child prostitutes, helping them to escape the danger of the streets and learn to function in mainstream society. We take on the role of a loving parent for children who have never experienced a true sense of family.

COTN provides a 24-hour hotline (1-800-551-1300) for children to call and provides them with over-the-phone counseling services while they wait for a taxi to pick them up and bring them to the shelter home. Once the children become part of COTN, they receive individual attention that includes:

  • Medical and psychiatric care, as well as the “time, tools, and care they need to build trust with responsible adults.”
  • An educational curriculum individually tailored to their specific needs.
  • Regular opportunities to engage in recreational activities, including outings.

Hugh Hefner and the Johnny Carson Foundation are among some of COTN’s biggest contributors, but I’m willing to bet the chance to watch and listen to Leto and the rest of the guys record their new album is ranking pretty high among the kids’ lists of coolest things ever right about now.


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