The Oxford Declaration: No One Should Die Alone and in Despair

David W. Covington, Zero Suicide, Recovery, Behavioral Health Version 3.0“We are at the beginning of this journey and we start out from the core value that no one of our patients should die alone and in despair by suicide.” This challenge, issued by Dutch psychiatrist Jan Mokkenstorm, became the shared declaration for the first international gathering of organizations committed to Zero Suicide in Health Care,  Read more

Why “Jumpers” is the Wrong Word

David W. Covington, Gap Park, Suicide as Choice, Recovery, Behavioral Health Version 3.0I just returned from a whistle-stop speaking tour in New Zealand and Australia. While it was only a brief week-long trip, I brought back so many amazing memories of the people and places. The most indelible by far was Gap Park, just five miles outside Sydney. The park sits atop cliffs that outline the coast for miles on the city’s eastern side. Read more

Historic Summit Celebrating Lived Experience (San Francisco)

National Action Alliance, David W. Covington, Suicide Prevention, Recovery,  Behavioral Health Version 3.0In “Silver Linings Playbook,” Pat Solitano talks about his friend Tiffany with his psychiatrist. He questions whether he, like Tiffany, can like “that [‘shameful’] part” of himself along with all the other parts.

“Can you?” Dr. Jones asks.

“You’re really asking me that question? What, with all my crazy sad[ness]… Are you [completely] nuts?” Pat says. Read more

Us & Them: Our Brothers in Law Enforcement

Crisis Intervention Team, CIT, Law Enforcement, David W. Covington, Recovery, Behavioral Health Version 3.0We had just exited the Urgent Psychiatric Center (UPC) when the radio announced an armed robbery in process at a convenience store just over a mile away. Nick and I jumped into his police cruiser and took off. My body slammed back into the seat from Nick’s swift acceleration and I barely noticed the scenery as my peripheral vision dropped away,  Read more

The Crisis Call Center Hub

In 2013, Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds told CNN that he was alive for just one reason: to work for change in mental health. Just a week earlier, his son “Gus” stabbed him 10 times and then ended his own life by suicide. This happened only hours after a mental health evaluation determined that Guss needed more intensive services, but unfortunately, he had to be released from custody before the appropriate services could be found. Read more

Measure Something!

David W. Covington, Quality Management, David Lloyd, MTM Services, National Council for Behavioral Health, Behavioral Health Version 3.0, RecoveryI just returned from the National Council for Behavioral Health Board of Directors annual retreat, which was held this year in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is always invigorating to network with colleagues from across the country, receive an update on the innovations of the National Council team, and plan together on how best to advance the cause of behavioral health in the coming year. I travelled 3,008 miles from Phoenix, Arizona to participate. Read more

Is Suicide Really a Choice?

shutterstock_3191962After multiple trips down the hall, I dumped the last bucket of ice into the bathtub, then topped it off with cold water.  Just a couple hours earlier, I had completed my first marathon in New York’s Central Park, finishing fifteen minutes north of three hours. My legs cramped badly in the last half-mile, and after returning to our hotel, my friend Michael and I thought it would be a good idea to do what the professionals do to expedite recovery: take an ice bath. Read more

What’s the Best New Year’s Resolution?

Health and Wellness, David W. Covington, Integrated Care, Behavioral Health Version 3.0, RecoveryNearly half of Americans made a New Year’s resolution over the past week. I did. I pledged to return to the Six Gap Century road race in north Georgia, which means I’ll need to spend a lot more time on my road bike in 2014. In fact, many people’s resolutions revolve around health and wellness, and the top ten year over year include losing weight, getting fit, eating better, and quitting smoking. Read more

Zero Suicide in Healthcare

Zero Suicide, David W. Covington, Behavioral Health Version 3.0, Recovery“Over the decades, individual [mental health] clinicians have made heroic efforts to save lives… but systems of care have done very little.” With this quote from SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Bureau Chief Richard McKeon, we launched our two-day kick-off meeting of the new Zero Suicide in Healthcare Advisory Board last week in Baltimore, Maryland.

Nearly 20 years ago, I received a phone call that I was unprepared for. Read more

25% Peers by Tuesday

Peer Leadership, Recovery, David W. Covington, Behavioral Health Version 3.0 His reaction was definitely not one I was anticipating: he looked disgusted, ready to spit. It was 2010, and I had just been blown away at the NAMI Arizona annual conference by Phil Pangrazio’s keynote. Phil is President and CEO of the Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL). Phil, himself disabled, oversees $30 million in a wide array of programs Read more