National Experts on Treatment of Mental Illness Lead Rochester Conference

Strong Ties Marks 10 Years of Service

October 29, 1998

National and local experts will gather in Rochester next week to mark the 10th anniversary of Strong Ties, a program that mental health professionals across the nation recognize as a leader in the care, teaching and research of severe mental illness. The conference, titled, "The Treatment of Severe Mental Illness: Problems and Promises for the New Millennium" will be at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center, Thursday and Friday, November 5 and 6.

Tremendous advances in the treatment of severe mental illness — which includes manic depression, schizophrenia, and recurrent major depression — have been made in the last few years. New and more effective antipsychotic medications, such as Clozaril and Zyprexa, are vastly superior and cause fewer serious side effects than previous medications on the market, according to J. Steven Lamberti, M.D., director of Strong Ties. Major advances have also been achieved in assisting families, in treating addictions, and in helping people with mental illness succeed in school and work through psychiatric rehabilitation.

Experts at the conference will also discuss the challenges they face, such as developing ways to prevent mental illness, ensuring adequate funding for treatment and rehabilitation, and overcoming the stigma of mental illness. One of the speakers, a clinical psychologist who was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young Marine Corps officer, will speak on the process of recovery.

"Severe mental illness is a major public health problem," says Dr. Lamberti, stating that only 60 percent of persons with severe mental illness receive treatment, and that 2.2 million severely mentally ill adults in the U.S. are not being treated. "One such person was recently responsible for the Capital Hill murders, a terrible tragedy that underscores the need for increased funding for treatment and research on severe mental illness."

Strong Ties specializes in the treatment of adults with severe mental illness, providing a comprehensive array of outpatient services, as well as extensive teaching and research of the treatment of severe mental illness. Strong Ties recently received second place (out of 187 national applicants) in the 1998 Lilly Schizophrenia Reintegration Award competition for innovation and effectiveness in treating schizophrenia. The program also was also a finalist in the 1999 American College of Psychiatrists Creativity in Psychiatric Education Award competition. Researchers at Strong Ties recently completed a $1 million National Institute of Mental Health study of prevention in schizophrenia, and last year received a $500,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to provide outreach services to minority patients with severe mental illness and addiction.

Approximately 200 mental health professionals have registered for the conference, and almost 400 are expected to attend. Consumers of mental health services, family members and friends are also encouraged to attend. For more information or to obtain registration materials, please call (716) 275-0300, extension 2237.

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