PAHO AMIA CNMHC Meetings

Flying has been much on my mind and part of this report will be how that process is going for me. I woke a bit ahead of my alarm at 2:00 AM Tuesday, left at 3 for the airport (no traffic), parked in long-term parking, waited alone 15 minutes for the shuttle bus feeling a bit apprehensive, got to the terminal just two hours ahead for my 6:20 flight. Not many others there. Security opened around 4:30 and was quick. Starbucks didn’t open ‘til 5:30 - that line was long.

I’m staying at a Bed & Breakfast. It’s friendly and cozy and there’s no TV in my room - that will be a break from turning on the news first thing each morning.

The Pan American Health Organization launched the World Health Organization Mental Health Report for this region, the sixth and last launch of the report release October 4, from 9 - 11 Wednesday morning. Perhaps 75 people, including Jim McNulty, consumer and NAMI board chair, consumer Adriana Alyett and consumer advocate Virginia Gonzalez from Mexico, were seated in eight semi-circular banks of club chairs. Copies of the report were available and other well produced and heavy WHO materials. There was a photographer who captured each presenter, and I saw no press. Saraceno noted that mental health is 12% of the global burden and 1% of the global budget. Norquist from NIMH stressed illness and suffering. Cohen from El Salvador noted that their law prohibits electroshock; it has never been applied. It was noted that after recent earthquakes there has been a thirst for mental health treatment and that related issues arising from current and past political strife have been revealed. Virginia is interested in organizing a Pan American consumer meeting.

The American Medical Informatics Association held a Consumer Informatics seminar Wednesday evening and Thursday. Tom Ferguson put forward the idea that in the past the physician was the authority and the patient was compliant and in the future the physician would be "tech support" and the customer would describe the problem to be fixed, the desirable result and when satisfaction was achieved. Two other presenters were also connected with www.pewinternet.org and they are looking for ideas to research about health and information/Internet. I can pass on suggestions or connect you - please let me know what suggestions you have about People Who and The Net.

About 75 people gathered for the day session. Bites follow: Mass media effectively increases awareness but doesn’t much change behavior. 70% of Asian-Americans are online, the most wired US group. 90$ of college grads use the Net. Part of the Hippocratic Oath is to not reveal medical knowledge except to other physicians. Tech-savvy physicians are now prescribing links, yes links, web addresses for information about the patient’s condition. There’s a traveling online e-bus bringing training and access to areas that otherwise wouldn’t be served. Funding is an action. I lined up at the microphone and told about People Who and the recommended CMHS project to develop a consumer-operated evaluative web site. When I started to speak by voice cracked, and it stayed high and nervous. I felt uncomfortable disclosing there. Of course afterwards people came up to talk, made connections, ... so I was very glad I’d spoken, and surprised at my lack of confidence.

I think it would be useful for some advocates to be tracking the consumer informatics field. The vocabulary, the key words, whether the field evolves as driven by providers or consumers, will affect People Who and our issues are characterized.

The fall leaves were wines and rusts and bronzes. I flew from DC Reagan via Chicago to San Jose. Security was straightforward at Reagan but at the gate in Chicago my computer bag was challenged, I was told I had two bags and had to check one, FAA rules, and needed a supervisor’s intervention to permit my roll-on and computer in a cabin tote bag. We were an hour on the ground in Chicago, first an unsynchronized computer system, mostly then waiting in line for takeoff. From San Jose, I drove to the annual meeting of the California Network of Mental Health Clients.

311 people are registered; 200 rooms have been sold at the San Mateo Marriott. Conference packet has a "no-scent" statement, on bright pink, in bold print. Remarks of speakers at the dinner were typed into a large-screen display. I set out a display of Wellness Guides, www.wellnessguide.org, am training on its use Saturday, saw lots of friends, and went to sleep still on DC time. California’s leading opc legislative proponent will not be running for state-wide election; we only have this next year to stop her efforts. Dave Housseini, a rousing speaker: "Mental health consumers fighting to keep our rights protects society." Maria Mar and Bonnie Schell were awarded the Howie The Harp advocacy awards. Paul Gerowitz, PAI, was awarded the Public Service award.