May 6, 2022

"Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health" is a bold, expert, and actionable map for the re-invention of America's broken mental health care system.

Tom insel

MAMH was honored to welcome Dr. Thomas Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), earlier this month to celebrate the release of his new book, Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health.

A bold, expert and actionable map for the re-invention of America’s broken mental health care system, Dr. Insel discusses how our mental health care systems in the United States fail at every stage to deliver care well, despite having treatments that work. Mental illness claimed a life every eleven minutes by suicide prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and has only been further exacerbated by this global challenge. Rather than plans on long-term recovery, our society tends to focus on drug therapies for symptom reduction. Care is often unaffordable and unavailable, particularly to those most vulnerable such as the homeless and incarcerated individuals.

While mental illnesses are medical problems, Dr. Insel discovers that the cures for the crisis are social, not medical. What he calls the threes Ps (people, place, and purpose), provide a path to healing. In his book, Dr. Insel offers a comprehensive plan for our failing system and for families trying to discern the way forward.

““The time has come for a social movement to address the needs of people with mental illness across national borders. I believe that Tom Insel’s book can be the catalyst for this movement.””
Shekhar Saxena, MD, Former Director of Mental Health, WHO, Geneva
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With several Massachusetts state legislators, key stakeholders from academia and community psychiatry in Massachusetts, as well as individuals with lived experience of mental health conditions and their families in attendance, Massachusetts’ Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders provided a thoughtful and impactful introduction to an informal discussion between Dr. Insel and Dr. Paul Summergrad, Tufts Chair of Psychiatry.

Over the duration of their conversation, the two conversed about:

  • How to respond to the fire that is the crisis in poorly met need for mental health care while building/rebuilding system infrastructure needed to prevent future fires;
  • The role of Covid in this crisis, the role of technology in exacerbating or ameliorating it, and the role of prevention in managing for the future;
  • Reforms to crisis services, the opportunity of 988, and the rebuilding continuum from urgent response to crisis resolution; and
  • Steps needed to redefine mental health care to include recovery and prevention.

Dr. Insel’s lifetime of expertise and his global quest for answers cumulate into a hopeful, actionable account and achievable vision for us all in Healing during this time of mental health crisis.

For more information on the book, read these recent interviews with Dr. Insel from the New York Times and NPR.

Order your copy here.

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