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Heart Forward Conversations from the Heart

Kerry Morrison

The American mental health system is broken beyond repair. Rather than trying to tweak a system which fails everyone, it is time to commit to a bold vision for a better way forward. This podcast explores the American system against the plumb line of an international best practice, recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), in Trieste, Italy. The 40-year old Trieste model demonstrates how a community-based treatment system upholds the human rights of the people served.The Trieste story is anti-institutional and models the therapeutic value of social connection. Topics will address contemporary challenges in the American failed mental health system as contrasted with the Italian approach toward accoglienza – or radical hospitality – as the underpinning of their remarkable culture of caring for people. Interviews will touch upon how the guiding principles of the Italian system – social recovery, whole person care, system accountability, and the human right to a purposeful life – are non-negotiable aspects if we are to have any hope of forging a new way forward in our American mental health system.This podcast is curated and hosted by Kerry Morrison, founder and project director of Heart Forward LA ( Heart Forward is collaborating with Peer Mental Health as the technical partner in producing this podcast ( Kerry Morrison is also the author of the blog


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Soumitra Pathare trained as a psychiatrist at Seth G S Medical College & KEM Hospital Mumbai and St Thomas’ Hospital, London. He has a doctoral degree from VU University, Amsterdam and is a Member of The Royal College of Psychiatrists, United Kingdom. Dr. Pathare is based in Pune, India and is the director of the Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy at the Indian Law Society.

His main area of work concentrates on mental health policy, legislation and human rights. Soumitra has worked as a consultant to many countries reforming their mental health policies and laws.

As will be described in this interview, Dr. Pathare has been affiliated with the World Health Organization’s commitment to equip and train mental health practitioners throughout the world about the importance of human rights.

In this interview, Dr. Pathare will help to make the distinction between “civil or constitutional rights” and “human rights.” In essence, human rights are those afforded all people. They are universal and inviolable and not dependent upon the country in which you live.

He will walk us through the establishment of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and how, over the decades, there have been “elaborations” of that initial effort to focus on particular human needs (e.g., rights of children, rights of women, elimination of racism and discrimination, etc.). It was only recently (2006), that the UN promoted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which is a landmark human rights treaty among countries around the world to protect the fundamental rights of all persons with disabilities.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created global initiative, called Quality Rights to transform the way mental health care is delivered and to change attitudes toward people with psychosocial, intellectual, and cognitive disabilities. Their goal is to have all the countries in the world implement QR by 2030, but the US hasn’t even ratified the CPRD.

Dr. Pathare will talk about how Quality Rights represents a movement away from a bio-medical approach to mental illness to a recovery approach which values the ability of people to make choices. Further it is a movement away from a definition of wellness that is defined by “symptom reduction” toward the ability to fully participate in community.

Links to the studies discussed in the interview

Assertive community treatment for the severely mentally ill in West Lambeth

Tom Craig and Soumitra Pathare, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment (1997) vol 3, pp. 111-118.

Public Education for Community Care: A New Approach.

The British journal of psychiatry: the journal of medical science. May 1996. Pp. 441 – 447.

Soumitra Pathare, Julian Leff, Geoffrey Wolff, Thomas K J Craig


07/19/22 • 71 min

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Psynergy operates four facilities or campuses – Morgan Hill is the first one, which is discussed in the interview. In addition, they operate Greenfield Monterey County, Tres Vista supported living at the Morgan Hill campus and Nueva Vista in Sacramento. On deck is the proposed Vista de Robles campus in Sacramento.

In this interview, we talk with Lynda Kaufman who is the Director of Government and Public Affairs and Michael Weinstein, Chief Financial Officer, who is one of the founders of Psynergy.

You will hear about how Michael Weinstein cultivated his vision of what a congregate living community should offer – a high standard of cleanliness, nutritious fresh food, an attractive and safe living environment, access to medical and clinical supports, an orientation toward creating a place of healing – and how that unwavering vision separates Psynergy from other adult residential facilities we might visit in the state today.

Lynda will take you on a visual tour of the campus at Morgan Hill. Contrasted with tours that some of us have taken of board & care environments where the properties are held together with duct tape and bubble-gum, and residents sit in the courtyard all day long, smoking cigarettes and sipping from 7-11 Big Gulps, Psynergy’s campus offers a striking contrast. You’ll hear about a living room with leather couches for residents to enjoy, a courtyard with a barbecue and gazebo to gather outside, and a hospitality desk in the lobby. How do they accomplish this? Lynda and Michael will share some insights into their business model.

The Psynergy leadership team is interested in talking with people who might be interested to invest in this type of “housing that heals” in other CA communities. If you want to start that conversation, reach out directly to Lynda at [email protected].

Reports on the state of the Board & Care system in California

State of California

CALBHB/C Issue Brief: Adult Residential Facilities (

Vanishing board-and-care-homes leave California residents with few options - CalMatters

LA County

1074299_h.12.18.2019_Report-AgendaofNovember12_2019.pdf (

LA City


For every bed lost a person is displaced: California’s continuing board & care crisis – Accoglienza: lessons for America

No Time to Waste: An Imminent Housing Crisis for People with Serious Mental Illness Living in Adult Residential Facilities (


06/28/22 • 71 min

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Dr. Roberto Mezzina headed the Dipartimento di Salute Mentale in Trieste until his retirement in late 2019. Both of the California delegations that visited Trieste (in 2017 and 2019) were graciously welcomed by Dr. Mezzina and his staff in our quest to understand the culture and principles that make this system so noteworthy. Within those two delegations were representatives from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), harboring a deep desire to embrace a more human-focused posture on how to come alongside people with mental illness, both in the county jail system and in the community.

The Department is also interested to lean into guiding principles of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights – which is espoused by the Italian system – as a framework to guide how people with mental illness are cared for in our society.

In April 2022, Dr. Mezzina was invited to Los Angeles at the behest of the L.A. Sheriff’s Foundation to come alongside some specialized divisions in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department: the Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) and the Mental Evaluation Team.

Dr. Mezzina also toured the remarkable program that was initially started in 2016 at Twin Towers to provide a more caring and therapeutic environment for the most seriously mentally ill patients in the jail. Under the leadership of the Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Health Services Correctional Mental Health division, this program, described in an article which appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, has expanded. (See website created by the Mental Health Assistants for more information about this innovation.)

Dr. Mezzina’s visit to Los Angeles coincided with the filming of an episode of the CNN documentary series, “Life with Lisa Ling.” This episode (to be aired in the show’s next season) will focus upon the mental health crisis in Los Angeles County. The producers and host of this show participated in some of the outreach and engagement conducted by the LASD HOST Team and Dr. Mezzina.

This interview was conducted in person in the podcast studio at Verdugo Sound on the way to the airport. Dr. Mezzina also provides an update on the changing political climate in Trieste – a topic that was introduced in a podcast interview that can be found in Season Two, Episode Seven.


05/23/22 • 58 min

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This interview will regale the history of a mental health pilot from the early 90’s that remains as relevant today as the day it was started. Back in the day, the Wright-Bronzan-McCorquodale Act of 1988 (known as AB 3777) funded – from the state’s general fund -- three Integrated Service Agency programs for mentally ill consumers. The most well-known of these was MHA’s The Village in Long Beach (Mental Health America) which became a model for the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) which would follow about ten years later.

This pilot featured two study groups. The Village coordinated and supported the 24/7 whole-person life needs of 120 consumers, randomly picked by the independent evaluator. The budget was based upon a per-capita allocation of $15,000 per person per year, paid quarterly in advance. Within this budget, Village staff (think “community integration managers” as opposed to case managers) had to cover all costs associated with inpatient care, outpatient care, vocational support, community engagement, whatever was required. By contrast, the control group was serviced through the usual and customary public mental health system; a clinical model.

Ragins and Pilon will talk about the remarkable staff culture that evolved and the stunning outcomes associated with the pilot. Higher levels of employment, lower levels of hospitalization and the like. The evaluation report is summarized here.

True payment reform is required if the public mental health system is going to make a difference in the lives of the people it services. Recovery is possible, but people need to be supported in all aspects of their life, not just with medication and clinical interventions.

The Guests:

Dave Pilon received his doctorate in Social Psychology from Harvard University in 1981. From 1989 until his retirement, he served in various roles at Mental Health America of Los Angeles (MHALA), including as its CEO from 2009 until 2017. For over 35 years he has consulted in the design and transformation of mental health programs and systems throughout the United States, New Zealand and Japan. Most recently he has served as the lead consultant to the L.A. County Department of Mental Health for the TRIESTE Pilot.

He is passionate about creating better ways to serve the most vulnerable among us, particularly people with serious mental illnesses.

Mark Ragins calls himself a recovery-based psychiatrist. He worked for 27 years as the medical director at the MHALA Village in Long Beach. Most recently, he’s been serving on campus as the only psychiatrist at CSU Long Beach

Dr. Ragins website features a number of resources and writings from the recovery mindset about which he is so passionate. He has recently published a new book, Journeys Beyond the Frontier: A Rebellious Guide to Psychosis and Other Extraordinary Experiences.


05/14/22 • 82 min

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John Foot is a professor of Modern Italian History at the University of Bristol in the U.K. He is an expert on the life of Dr. Franco Basaglia, the visionary psychiatrist whose lasting impact on the Italian mental health system continues to inspire the world.

We will explore Professor Foot’s journey into this avocation, which was sparked by the chance viewing the film San Clemente (1982) while on a trip to Trieste.

Professor Foot is author of Franco Basaglia: the Man who Closed the Asylums. He is a co-editor of compendium of essays about the impact of Trieste in other counties that emanated from a symposium held in Oxford in 2018. It is titled Basaglia’s International Legacy: From Asylum to Community.

We also explore in this interview the plan to translate into English a book that was originally published in 1968, L’istituzione negata (The Negated Institution), which had seminal impact on advancing the Basaglian revolutionary school of thought in Europe and South America.

That one man could have such profound impact on advancing a human-centered, community-based system of care for people living with mental illness is astounding. This interview will provide some insights into Basaglia, who is relatively unknown in the English-speaking world.

Other resources associated with the interview:

Documentary (1968) I giardini di Abele

Book (1969) Morire di classe

Documentary (2013) Dentro le proprie mura


04/18/22 • 50 min

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Guyton Colantuono is the executive director of Project Return Peer Support Network, a position he has held since 2014. He has spent more than 25 years working in the field of mental health and has led a multitude of programs including those addressing homeless outreach and shelter, transition-aged youth and employment development.

He has an unwavering belief that “people are people first” and a label is not a destiny. His lived experience as a survivor of homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness has fueled his passion for a whole-person approach throughout his career.

Particular emphasis will be placed on the unique offerings of a Peer Respite Home, to which he applies the metaphor of a “bed and breakfast for someone experiencing a mental health crisis.” He and his team of peers oversee Hacienda of Hope in Long Beach, one of two peer respites in all of Los Angeles County, and one of five in the state of California.

We’ll talk about how peer respites naturally adopt a posture of radical hospitality in welcoming guests, and how this is a stunningly less expensive bed to provide than those associated with psychiatric hospitalization or the county jail. Peer respite is the ultimate in trauma-informed care, and we’ll make a case for increasing the availability of these beds as a resource for providing care for people living with a mental illness not only in Los Angeles County, but throughout the state.


Definition — Peer Respites

'Peer respite' homes aim to be alternative to psychiatric wards - Los Angeles Times (

The Effectiveness of a Peer-Staffed Crisis Respite Program as an Alternative to Hospitalization | Psychiatric Services (

Impact of the 2nd Story Peer Respite Program on Use of Inpatient and Emergency Services | Psychiatric Services (

Report from the Auditor of the State of California. Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. California Has Not Ensured That Individuals with Serious Mental Illness Receive Adequate Ongoing Care. July 2020


04/06/22 • 65 min

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Dr. Tom Insel is a psychiatrist, a neuroscientist and an influential voice in the national conversation that is gaining momentum around the failures of the American mental health system and the need to do better for the humans that are suffering as a result. His new book, released in February 2022, is a worthy read, Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health.

In this episode we talk about how his life journey informs his current work and advocacy as he enters this chapter in his life. He speaks with a certain humility about how assumptions he made early in his career, or even while head of the National Institute for Mental Health, have changed as he has spent time with families and people with lived experience. His eyes were further opened to the challenges in our communities as he toured the state on a listening tour in behalf of California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom.

He speaks with eloquence about the profoundly simple idea (yet hard to implement or fund in our current system) to focus on People, Place and Purpose to support an individual’s recovery from their mental illness.

Dr. Insel joined our delegation in September 2019 when we attended the international mental health conference in Trieste Italy and he shares some memories from that experience.

Additional links and resources:

Thomas Insel, the ‘Nation’s Psychiatrist,’ Takes Stock, With Frustration - The New York Times (

Additional articles from his website:

Press — Thomas Insel, MD (

Finally, Dr. Insel is part of a team that has created a new information source MindSite News.
From their Mission Statement:

MindSite News is a new nonprofit, nonpartisan digital journalism organization dedicated to reporting on mental health in America, exposing rampant policy failures and spotlighting efforts to solve them. We seek to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the workings and failings of the U.S. mental health system and to impact that system through our reporting, making it more equitable, effective, transparent and humane in its care for individuals and families struggling with mental illness.


03/28/22 • 63 min

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Savanah Walseth is a student at Loyola Law School and was most recently a program manager for the L.A. County Department of Health “Housing for Health” Program. At a young age, she is guided by both lessons learned “in the trenches” given her experience in homeless outreach and engagement for People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), but also in programmatic work managing the COVID response in L.A. County. During the past two years, she was managing the county’s response involving testing, street medicine, outbreak management and contact tracing among the homeless population. Savanah is a graduate of Reed College in Portland.

The topic of this podcast interview is drawn from a paper written by Savanah for a Mental Disability Law Seminar in late 2021. The paper is entitled: Grave Disability: Seeking Restructure through New Definitions.

This interview will provide a basic primer on the California law that governs involuntary hospitalization, the definition of grave disability and conservatorships, the Lanterman Petris Short Act, passed in 1967. We will touch upon the fact that this type of conservatorship differs from the widely publicized conservatorship that Britney Spears was subjected to for nearly 14 years. That is called a probate conservatorship. This 2021 article from CalMatters does a good job distinguishing between the two types of conservatorships.

Savanah’s goal in her law career is to be a civil rights litigator – focusing upon housing and disability rights, especially in the intersections of homelessness and mental health.


03/20/22 • 57 min

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Lee Davis is currently the chair of the Alameda County Mental Health Advisory Board. In her official bio, she indicates that she is a Civil Engineer and Journeyman Electrician by profession. She comes to her work on the Advisory Board as a woman with lived experience of a mood disorder.

In this interview, we explore three themes about which Lee is passionate:

1. The case for involuntary treatment

2. The lack of capacity in our so-called continuum of care

3. Her assertion that the failure to invest in the requisite infrastructure to treat people and promote their recovery is morally wrong and socially debilitating

In addition, we explore Lee’s extraordinary life journey, about which she writes with remarkable vulnerability in her blogs.

Being Bipolar. Maybe it is my unisex name. Maybe it is... | by Lee Andrea Davis | Medium

The Continuum of Consciousness; a Bipolar woman’s perspective on Delusions | by Lee Andrea Davis | Medium

Other organizations she references in this interview:

Alameda County Families Advocating for the Seriously Mentally Ill

Articles about the February 2022 sleep-in organized by FASMI with which Lee was involved.

Families of the Mentally Ill Call for Better Treatment Not Better Jails in Alameda County – CBS San Francisco (

Oakland: Protesters sleep on sidewalk, demand mental health care (

Link to the annual report for the Alameda County Mental Health Advisory Board


03/12/22 • 53 min

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Mark Gale’s credentials for this interview are unparalleled.
He serves as the Criminal Justice Chair of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Los Angeles County. Mark also represents NAMI on the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Mental Health Advisory Board, serves as a member of the Permanent Steering Committee of the Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR), the Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative (ATI), and the Men’s Central Jail Closure Workgroup in the pursuit of L.A. County’s Care First, Jail Last strategy. Additionally, he leads the NAMI Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) partnership with law enforcement in Los Angeles County.
In addition to his extensive volunteer and leadership work with NAMI, Mark was one of the four co-hosts/editors of the LPS Reform Rask Force II. This was a four year-long effort to identify important recommendations to reforming our LPS mental health statutes and protocols that were detailed in the report entitled “Separate and Not Equal.”

He is also father of a son with a serious mental illness.
Reports, articles and resources referenced in this interview:

Front page article in L.A. Times on day of interview
'You can't get out': Mentally ill languish in California jails without trial or treatment (

October 2021 JFA Institute Report on COVID-19 and Reduced Jail Population Cost Savings Estimate, Men’s Central Jail Closure Fiscal Analysis, and Closure Population Projections
Excellent book, Crazy by Pete Earley.
Article about the new LA County USC Restorative Villages and the individual IMD buildings.
Council of State Governments Stepping Up Initiative

Podcast references in this interview:

Interview with Jackie Lacey re/ the Blueprint for Change in L.A. County.
Interview with Alex Briscoe re/ the complicated public mental health funding paradigm
Support this podcast through Heart Forward LA. This project is 100 percent supported through your donations. With gratitude!

09/26/22 • 80 min

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How many episodes does Heart Forward Conversations from the Heart have?

Heart Forward Conversations from the Heart currently has 38 episodes available.

What topics does Heart Forward Conversations from the Heart cover?

The podcast is about Health & Fitness, Mental Health and Podcasts.

What is the most popular episode on Heart Forward Conversations from the Heart?

The episode title 'Does the American mental health system stand the test of a human rights framework? A Conversation with Dr. Soumitra Pathare' is the most popular.

What is the average episode length on Heart Forward Conversations from the Heart?

The average episode length on Heart Forward Conversations from the Heart is 53 minutes.

How often are episodes of Heart Forward Conversations from the Heart released?

Episodes of Heart Forward Conversations from the Heart are typically released every 8 days, 6 hours.

When was the first episode of Heart Forward Conversations from the Heart?

The first episode of Heart Forward Conversations from the Heart was released on Sep 25, 2020.

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