by Evander Lomke on
This is the fifth Annual Report of The American Mental Health Foundation (AMHF), a research organization formed in 1924, incorporated in New York State December 31, 1954. In 2014, AMHF celebrated ninety years of philanthropic service and activities—“Advancing Mental Health.” Striving toward 100 years is a remarkable achievement of longevity and vision.
Vision: Building a More Compassionate Society—Get Involved!
Mission: AMHF endeavors to advance mental health in society. This means education and advocacy, in several forms. (The Mission Statement, updated in 2012, is found on the homepage of its Web site.)
- Toward this end, a Facebook Page was created in 2015.
- The executive director was invited on NASH 94.7, “NASH Matters,” with Kelly Ford, broadast on the history and mission for 15 minutes the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month (May 31, 2015). The show, on early Sunday morning, reaches hundreds of thousands of listeners.
- In June, AMHF also reached out to the New York City Department of Mental Health and Mental Hygiene (Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City).
History: The AMHF Wikipedia entry now more clearly describes the key role of Hermann Broch, postwar chairman. A giant of 20th-century Austrian literature and social psychology, Broch was helped out of Vienna by James Joyce, as one of his last acts, following the Austrian Anschluss. Broch and Otto Kauders recruited Dr. Stefan de Schill for director of research in 1948.
Leadership Changes: Secretary and board member Thea Lucas accepted the role of board-member emeritus on February 9, 2015; Monroe W. Spero, M.D., board member emeritus since 2005, passed away March 15, 2015; Jacqueline A. Lofaro joined the board; Sister Joan Curtin accepted the position of interim secretary. John P. Fowler announced on December 15, 2015, that he would be leaving the AMHF board, May 2, 2016, for undisclosed personal reasons. The board wishes Mr. Fowler well, and thanks him, in advance, for helping make this the vital nonprofit organization it is. (He is one of only four chairmen in the history of AMHF in the post-World War II period.)
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As a leading research organization, AMHF is dedicated to the welfare of people suffering from emotional problems and mental illness, with a particular concern for individuals with special needs of all ages, especially elders. Historically, this Foundation advocates improving the quality of treatment and developing more effective methods of research. To this end, AMHF leads in three program areas:
- conducts research,
- organizes educational seminars and webinars
- publishes books in related areas
(1) Research. In June 2012, the directors approved funding a two-year control study under the direction of Dr. Suzanne Button of Astor Services for Children & Families. This is a scientific study of individuals with documented behavioral issues, between the ages of eight and fourteen, to identify factors and causes that could develop into later-life schizophrenia or other psychoses. Given the dearth of analysis in the area of predictive psychiatric behavior among youth, AMHF established this as its principal research and programming goal to 2015: to support important and necessary studies in the area of early detection, palliative care, and prevention, publishing these findings (in April 2016) under the imprint of American Mental Health Foundation Books. The monograph, by Mary Nichols, Suzanne Button, Katherine Hoople, and Laura Lappan is entitled Early Identification, Palliative Care, and Prevention of Psychotic Disorders in Children and Youth.
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No Person Will Be Untestable. AMHF and Dr. William Van Ornum of the professional-advisory board, with Pearson Assessment, have completed the first stage in developing an improved IQ-abilities test for individuals diagnosed in the severe-to-profound range. (Pearson markets Stanford-Binet, the Bayley Scales, Weschler, et al internationally.) “No Person Is Untestable”: Potential applications are enormous: e.g., to test aging individuals with Down syndrome for signs of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. There are many other potential applications. In May, Dr. Van Ornum left the project for personal reasons. As of October 2015, several candidates are under consideration. AMHF requires a substantial gift or foundation grant to move forward.
(2) Publishing. In March 2015, Anatomy of Delusion, by Dr. Henry Kellerman, was issued in traditional paperback as well as ebook formats. Kellerman’s 1979 (Grune & Stratton) standard in the field, Group Psychotherapy and Personality, was reissued in both formats—ebook for the first time. Dr. Kellerman’s There’s No Handle on My Door: Stories of Patients in Mental Hospitals will be published on April 7, 2016 (as will the above-cited Early Identification.
Also for publication in April 2016 is a third title, by Dr. Raymond B. Flannery Jr., Violence: Why People Do Bad Things, with Strategies to Reduce that Risk. Altogether, AMHF Books will have published 20 titles (discounting two on its historic research in group psychotherapy, available on its Web site in several languages) between its launch in fall 2009 and spring 2016.
These include four by Erich Fromm; seven (by April 2016 eight) on aspects of individual and societal manifestations of violence and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by Harvard Medical School clinical-psychologist Dr. Raymond B. Flannery Jr.
AMHF Books are now exhibited at academic meetings, beginning in 2015, through the Library of Social Science.
(3) Seminars/Webinars. As a vital part of its mission, in 2012 at the FDR Presidential Library, AMHF inaugurated its one-day seminars, “The Stefan de Schill Memorial Series.” This series was launched in 2011 as a two-day seminar “Small Family Business, Big Family Stress.”
AMHF ran its first interactive Webinar with Dr Eric J. Green, play therapist, on September 5, 2014. The Webinar is available on the AMHF homepage to view or for CEU. A second Webinar, also by Dr. Green, entitled “Disaster Mental Health with Children and Families,” was offered on November 6, 2014. Signups numbered 350.
Due to our scale, additional funding is sought to defray the prohibitive costs of even successful Webinars and seminars.
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Web site: The Web site was completely overhauled and redesigned by an independent Web designer in mid-2013. It receives an average of 250 hits per day. The goal is to double this in 2015 and increase significant looks/landings. A full Google Analytic has not been performed in three years, and will aid in improving the homepage. Web-site interactivity is complicated and not planned.
Professional Advisory Board: AMHF also has a professional-advisory board. In 2015, the aforementioned Dr. Green was recruited. In addition, a professional with an M.D. degree is desired.
Income: AMHF has a single modest endowment: the Baschkopf Family Fund. The generosity of Rosaria Tomasetta, half of whose estate was donated to AMHF in August 2012, has been a source of funding through the present fiscal year. It is running out. Other 2014-15 donors are listed on the AMHF Web site. Additional, but in truth inadequate, sources of income include earnings from investments as well as the publishing program, which also slipped this year. Other income streams are essential to the mission. Latest AMHF-audit and NYS Charities Bureau filings are posted on the Web site under Donate.
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Long-range Future: Building Donors, Grant Applications: The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is processing their analysis and rating of AMHF, which is expected in November 2015. The AMHF mission and accomplishments are outstanding for a nonprofit of this scale, and the BBB findings are expected to be high.
One of the first philanthropic organizations of its kind in the world, AMHF is committed to growth, expansion, and extension of its mission and research in a way that will benefit individuals and society as a whole, particularly focusing, in the future, on the specific emotional needs and issues confronted by the disabled and elders, populations traditionally underserved and of the work of Dr. Stefan de Schill.
Following are eight areas or research programs, all listed on the Web site under “Donate” (per above link) alongside the following fund-raising goals:
- Schizophrenia $350,000
- AMHF-Pearson Assessment (Developmentally Delayed) $650,000
- PTSD $150,000
- Suicide Prevention $150,000
- Depression $150,000
- OCD $150,000
- Alcoholism $150,000
- Animal-companion Bereavement $150,000