America Shrugs: A Glimpse into the Future of Suicide

shutterstock_54460900 (1)In order to catch a glimpse of the future of suicide prevention, perhaps it would be helpful to visit the past, a time when our nation was first complacent, then went to war.

So many deaths of people in the prime of life… and yet “America simply shrugs.” This was last week’s hard-hitting USA Today article on suicide, but it sounds a lot like something that could have been written about cancer…back in 1943. Read more

Everything We Knew About Suicide… Is Wrong

David W. Covington, Everything we knew about suicide was wrong, Recovery, Behavioral Health Version 3.0In “How to Train Your Dragon,” the citizens of Berk had observed, measured, categorized and chronicled dragons for decades. They thought they knew most everything there was to know about these violent beasts. But when Hiccup, a small, anything-but-Norse-like-warrior boy comes into contact with one of the most feared and misunderstood dragons, his eyes are opened wide. Putting aside his preconceived notion of dragons, he develops a loving friendship with “Toothless,” admitting, “Everything we know about you guys…is wrong.” Read more

Can Clinical Match the Power of Peer Supports?

David W. Covington, Clinical Versus Peer Supports, Recovery, Behavioral Health Version 3.0Generally, people ask the opposite question looking to researchers to examine the outcomes of peer supports and comparing them with established clinical best practices. Consider, though, the school shooting that was averted due to the actions of a peer. How would we clinicians have done in her shoes? 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

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

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

No Recovery By Force

No Recovery by Force, Seclusion and Restraint, David W. Covington, Recovery, Behavioral Health Version 3.0There were only two of us left in the group room and the ten chairs that had been in a circle were now scattered. To my left 15-year old Kenneth* towered over me holding his chair above his head, with huge tears streaming down, his lips quivering, the angriest I had ever seen him. To my right, I could see my co-worker Mark, standing outside in the hall, peering through the small round portal in the door. He was holding his hand to his ear like a phone and his eyes were questioning. We didn’t need to talk for me to know he wanted to call 9-1-1. Read more