“a sane reaction to insane circumstances”

11 08 2013

To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn’t know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.

Eleanor Longden overcame her diagnosis of schizophrenia to earn a master’s in psychology and demonstrate that the voices in her head were “a sane reaction to insane circumstances.


To see & hear her talk at TED click HERE



One in 10 Employees in Europe have Missed Work Due to Depression

1 10 2012

Few days ago I discussed the biological aspects of depression. This time I want to talk about the dire [socio] economic consequences of this serious health condition. According to a new survey by the European Depression Association one in 10 working people surveyed in Europe have taken time off work because of depression causing more than 21,000 Working Days Lost. Furthermore, this survey indicate that “the costs of depression were estimated at €92 billion in 2010 in the EU, with lost productivity due to absenteeism (taking time off work) and presenteeism (being present at work while ill) representing over 50% of all costs related to depression”.  Due to mental illness stigma “one in four of those experiencing depression stated they did not tell their employer about their problem. Of these, one in three said they felt it would put their job at risk in the current economic climate”.  Hmmm… these figures my friends are significant. I hope that policy makers read this survey and think about some effective ways to address this issue.


Here is a link to the article from which I found these interesting findings: http://www.multivu.com/mnr/56613-european-depression-association

The Israeli Government has Ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities!

15 09 2012

Below please find the Statement and the speech of the Israeli commissioner at the UN headquarters.

Israel Ministry of Justice

Spokesperson’s Office

Sept. 11, 2012


The Israeli Government has Ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) was ratified by the Israeli Government on September 10th, 2012. The State of Israel signed the Convention in March 2007, and has now joined the majority of countries worldwide who have already ratified it. The Convention was ratified after an assessment was carried out to determine the compatibility of Israeli legislation with the requirements of the Convention. This assessment was carried out cooperatively by the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and two other units at the Ministry of Justice: the Department for International Agreements, and the Counseling and Legislation Department.

The ratification of the Convention will influence the daily lives of some 1.6 million people with disabilities in Israel, their rights, and the policies of the relevant Government Ministries.

The Convention sets standards for equality, full participation, inclusion and integration into society, provision of accommodations, and autonomous decision making by the people themselves. Under the CRPD, these standards apply to the various areas of life: Education, community living, health and rehabilitation, accessibility, recognition of legal capacity, family and parenthood, access to justice, employment and more.

The CRPD was adopted on December 13th, 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters, following four years of intensive work by delegations from various countries, Disabled Peoples’ Organizations, and human rights activists. The Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Counseling and Legislation Department, the Foreign Ministry and the NGO “Bizchut” were involved in drafting the Convention and formulating the principles it includes. These are, among others, the right of every person to live in the community, the right to accessibility in general and to the legal system in particular, and the right to employment.

After all obstacles were removed, the Convention was ratified, and an Israeli delegation, headed by Mr. Ahiya Kamara, Commissioner for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities, will participate in the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD.

To the translation of the CRPD into Hebrew:


The Minister of Justice, Yaakov Neeman: “The ratification of the CRPD is a very important step indicating the centrality of people with disabilities within the priorities of the State of Israel. The Government of Israel and the Ministry of Justice in particular, are constantly working to achieve their full inclusion in the society of the State of Israel.”

Dr. Guy Rotkopf, Director General of the Ministry of Justice: “The ratification of the Convention shows the commitment of the State of Israel to work practically towards equality, inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in Israeli society. The ratification of the Convention continues the endeavors of the Government of Israel in recent years to place the issue of people with disabilities at the head of the public agenda and to promote policies to ensure their full inclusion in all areas of life”.

Ahiya Kamara, Commissioner for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the Ministry of Justice: “The ratification of the CRPD is a meaningful step, in which Israel enters the respectable family of countries which have ratified the CRPD and are working to promote the rights and quality of life of people with disabilities. Israel has advanced legislation concerning the rights of people with disabilities, but faces the challenge of implementing it in practice. Ourtest as a society will be to make the vision of full inclusion of people with disabilities a reality”.

AND, here is the speech of the Israeli commissioner:

Statement for the Opening of the Fifth Conference of State Parties

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


By Ahiya Kamara

Israel Commissioner for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Ministry of Justice


14 September 2012

UN Headquarters, New York


Thank you Mr. Chairman,

I am delighted to announce that this week the Israeli government finally approved the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, marking the end of a lengthy process of discussions with all government offices, and the start of a new phase in the lives of people with disabilities in Israel. The process was long, because our legal system requires that our laws be fully compatible with the Convention before ratification.

The ratification signifies another milestone in the gradual advancement of disability rights agenda in Israel throughout the last decade, which started with the Israeli Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Law enacted in 1998. The law put in place a “human rights” approach to disability, in addition to the “welfare” approach that underlies most of the extensive Israeli disability legislation. Together, they were intended to enable people with disabilities to achieve a better life and fuller social inclusion. The welfare legislation provides disabled people with an umbrella of eligibilities and services and the Equal Rights Law aims to prevent discrimination in all areas specifically in employment and mandates accessibility to all public buildings and services.

Yesterday in a side event we presented another example of an innovative Israeli law which requires specific procedural accommodations for interreges and witnesses with disabilities. In one recent case, for example a mentally disabled girl gave assisted testimony against a bus driver who sexually abused her. As a result, the abuser was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. This law can give a voice to people, and especially vulnerable women and children with disability who might otherwise be silenced, and provide them with access to justice.

Although we are progressing, our statistical data on the situation of disabled people in Israel shows that an elaborated legal system is not enough, and  much more needs to be done to promote the ideals set forth in the CRPD. Stigma and barriers still prevail, inequality of education levels and employment opportunities still exist, community living must be further developed, and legal capacity sought.

We foresee our specific commission for equal rights of persons with disabilities becoming the focal point for implementing the CRPD in Israel. The commission, which I head, was established to implement the Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Law. Today we focus on implementing accessibility regulations by enforcement and education, providing legal assistance, promoting inclusive policies etc. To advance the implementation of the CRPD, we plan to build upon our wide partnership with government as well as civil society organizations to this common goal.

Mr. Chairman,

We look forward to continuing the process of advancing equal human rights for people with disabilities in Israel. In doing so we are inspired by Moses, a person with disability with a stutter, one of the greatest leaders in history who managed to lead the nation of Israel from slavery to freedom. We strive for a world in which all people with disability, will, like Moses, be able to realize their full human and leadership potential for the benefit of society.

Thank you for your attention.

Translation: Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Lets Search Together

13 09 2012

Here is a very cool website entitled WeSearchTogether aimed to connecting mental health researchers and participants with mood disorders. The rationale of this website is that research and the participants involved are essential to increased knowledge of mood disorders, but researchers often experience barriers in engaging adequate numbers of participants in mood disorder research studies, causing many studies to experience delays in finding breakthroughs. This website is based on a partnership between the University of Michigan Depression Center and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Researchers, people with mood disorders, family members and other stakeholders are encouraged to visit this site.


World Suicide Prevention Day

10 09 2012

Today is the World Suicide Prevention Day. Not many people know but the rates of suicide in the world are enormous. In the US alone, over than 36,000 people die by suicide each year. In Israel more people are dying from suicide than from car accidents. Unfortunately, we still don’t understand enough the reasons for suicide and the ways to address this major public health phenomenon. By all means, though, the fact that suicide is very low prioritized among policy makers lead to a situation where the budget for research in this field is very low (in Israel almost ZIRO) and the services aimed to address it are poorly funded does not help the dire situation.  ANY THOUGHTS WHY SUCH A DIRE PHENOMENON GET SO LITTLE ATTENTION AND SUCH A POOR BUDGET???

Here is a short video by NIMH where NIMH director interviews NIMH research Dr. Jane Pearson. I hope that you will find it helpful.






A methodology to assess real world hiring behaviors toward people with disabilities

6 05 2012

As you probably know by now, the topic of employment of people with disabilities, and most specifically the impact of employers attitudes and behaviors toward people with disability has been the focus of my field work in the past few years . Nowadays, when I am trying to plan some research directions (in light of the fact that my PhD was approved..) I want to present a paper that my colleagues and I published a couple of years ago. What do you think about this methodology? would you use it as a method to assess real world hiring behaviors of people with a psychiatric disabilities or other disabilities?

Here is the abstract of the paper:

Using Situation Testing to Document Employment Discrimination Against Persons with Psychiatric Disabilities

Amir Tal, Galia Moran, Dan-Olof Rooth, and Marc Bendick, Jr.

Many individuals with psychiatric disabilities are unemployed or under-employed, with detrimental consequences for their lives and mental health. Although prior research suggests that stigmatization and discrimination contribute to this outcome, the exact extent of such employer behavior has remained largely undetermined. This article reviews the employment situation of persons with psychiatric disabilities, considers traditional ways to analyze the role of discrimination, and proposes situation testing as a new methodology overcoming many limitations of prior research. By rigorously documenting real world discriminatory practices, situation testing can importantly infl uence public opinion and government policy, as well as change employers’ behavior through education or litigation.


To read the full text click HERE