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Mental Illness Research

My son Ben spent his Saturday afternoon playing basketball with 3 friends. If you, too, have a child or other relative living with mental illness, you know that this is a small miracle - or maybe not so small. Ben's social brain function has been among the victims of his schizophrenia. But it's possible that it can come back - and, in some ways, it has begun to.
The news is exciting: a research study has found that cognitive improvements are possible for those with schizophrenia - and that the results can stick. And even better: these results can be achieved with the help of a program to teach social and cognitive skills with the use of computer games. A reporter called me yesterday for a comment before she finished her article, and it certainly got me to reflect on my my son Ben, and how he is - slowly - beginning to show more signs of "growing up." One of the very first "aha moments" for me, when I finally began to learn about schizophrenia and its symptoms, came with the information that it is a "double-edged sword" of positive (added to personality) and negative (taken away from personality). I also learned, in NAMI's Family-to-Family course, about the concept of being "frozen in time" for many affected by mental illness. 
[caption id="attachment_254" align="alignright" width="119" caption="Thomas Insel, NIMH"][/caption] Let's hope so. Let's hope earlier detection is possible. Why? Because it's essential.  At the NAMI Convention in Chicago a few weeks ago, Dr. Thomas Insel of NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) said that more research dollars are spent on tooth decay than on mental illness. Really? Wow!