Children in the South Face Steepest Slope in Escaping Poverty

New Research, analyzing census data and other quantitative data sources, shows that children in the south face the steepest climb when attempting to escape poverty. The ability to move up the income ladder, otherwise known as income mobility, is a reliable measure of economic mobility or the ability to change one’s overall economic status. New research by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline, and Emmanuel Saez, sponsored by the University of California Berkeley and Harvard, looked at how tax expenditures affect inter-generational income mobility.

The main part of their research involved looking at the income of adults (30 or older)  in comparison to the income of their parents. The research paints a startling picture of trying to escape poverty and climbing the income ladder. When it comes to economic mobility, being born in the right part of the country definitely helps.

The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. These comparisons provide some of the most powerful evidence so far about the factors that seem to drive people’s chances of rising beyond the station of their birth, including education, family structure and the economic layout of metropolitan areas. Read full New York Times article


In southern Cities like Atlanta, a child born into a family in the 20th percentile ($25 K) or lower will on average will only climb to the 35th (42 K), and only 8 % of children at this level will ever be considered a top earner at $107 K or more. Atlanta though isn’t the worst place for income mobility, in the greater Eufaula area of Georgia a child only has a 2.7% of climbing from the bottom fifth to the top fifth of the income distribution. Georgia, Louisiana, and the Carolina’s have the lowest rates of income mobility.

The New York Times article includes interactive maps where you can view the income mobility rates for different areas and starting income levels, to see what the average earnings a child from that background will have by the time they reach 30.

So what does all this mean? It means that economically disadvantaged families in the south are less likely to escape the cycle of poverty than families in the midwest, northeast, or western parts of the country. Notable exceptions to this include the areas near:

  • Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo Michigan
  • Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Nome and Bethel, Alaska
  • Mission, South Dakota

View the Truth and Hope Poverty Tour of North Carolina video for more information.

Interview with Dr. Allen Frances on the DSM 5

Approximately a week ago, I wrote an article asking Will Clinical Social Workers Embrace the New DSM 5 in light of the National Institute of Mental Health withdrawing its support for the publication. Then, Dr. Allen Francis wrote an article making a case for social workers not to embrace the DSM 5.

Responses by social workers on different social media outlets varied, but one unifying question remained….Why now? Historically, social workers have not been included in the developmental process of the DSM by the American Psychiatric Association (M.D.’s) despite being the largest provider of mental health services. I decided to email Dr. Frances and asked if he was available to answer some follow-up questions about his article on social workers.

He responded, “Sure…Let’s have a telephone call today. The week is very busy”.  Dr. Frances spoke with me for almost a hour in order to help me relay the likely long term implications of the DSM V and why social workers being the largest stakeholders should be concerned too. This article is packed with resources because I independently verified every statement made by Dr. Frances in order for you to make your own assessment.

Before I dive into the interview with Dr. Frances, I would like to bring you up to speed with some background information on this not so new controversy.

What makes Dr. Allen Frances an authority on the DSM?

Dr. Allen Frances was chair for the DSM IV task force and the Department of Psychiatry at the Duke University School of Medicine, and he is currently a professor emeritus at Duke University. In late 2010, Dr. Frances did an in depth interview with Wired Magazine who had unlimited access to him as he reflected on almost two decades in the past when he authored the DSM IV. Here is an excerpt from Wired Magazine:

In its first official response to Frances, the APA diagnosed him with “pride of authorship” and pointed out that his royalty payments would end once the new edition was published—a fact that “should be considered when evaluating his critique and its timing.”

Frances, who claims he doesn’t care about the royalties (which amount, he says, to just 10 grand a year), also claims not to mind if the APA cites his faults. He just wishes they’d go after the right ones—the serious errors in the DSM-IV. “We made mistakes that had terrible consequences,” he says. Diagnoses of autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar disorder skyrocketed, and Frances thinks his manual inadvertently facilitated these epidemics—and, in the bargain, fostered an increasing tendency to chalk up life’s difficulties to mental illness and then treat them with psychiatric drugs.  Read Full Article

The article in Wired Magazine was indeed an eye opener. It discusses how an influential advocate for diagnosing children with bipolar disorder failed to disclose money received from the makers of the bipolar drug Resperdal. When viewed with a wider lens, it not really all that surprising considering the recent revelations on Attention Deficit Disorder as discussed in the New York Times.

History of Social Work Involvement with DSM

Back to the interview with Dr. Allen Frances, the first order of business was to gain some insight on the sudden outreach to the social work profession, and I didn’t anticipate learning something new. However, this was not the case.

Dr. Frances went on to tell me about Social Worker Janet B. Williams who was the text editor on the DSM III. Additionally, he also notes that she has been the only social worker ever to be included in the DSM development process. Currently, Janet Williams is the Vice President of Global Science at MedAvante. As stated in a 2011 PRNewswire Press Release, “MedAvante solutions help sponsors achieve enhanced assay sensitivity for increased drug effect and reduced trial failure rates, enabling them to bring better drugs to market faster.”

Dr. Frances acknowledged that social workers have not been represented in the development process despite being the largest provider of mental health services. However, he did state, “Social Workers have a huge stake in improving care for the really sick and should not be distracted by the expansions of the DSM V.”

DSM 5 Impact on Consumers 

Dr. Frances expressed concerns for military service men and women being overly diagnosed with PTSD in lieu of allowing time for transitional services. Dr. Frances gives another example of how unemployment causes depression which is the result of environmental factors and not a mental illness.

Once someone regains employment and the situational stressors have abated, should this individual retain the label of a psychiatric disorder for seeking counseling as a coping mechanism? Do practitioners really want to label someone as a major depressive because they are unemployed or have been diagnosed with Cancer? Here is a video where Dr. Frances goes more in depth on the potential problems this will cause:


Unintended Consequences of DSM V

Dr. Frances stated one of the major issues with the DSM series is that its primary authors are research academics who are making suggestions and recommendations based on controlled research studies conducted in University clinics which are not helpful in everyday practice. By expanding the DSM 5 to cover challenges of everyday living, it will mislabel medical illness as a psychiatric disorder.

Dr. Frances also stated it will continue to foster an environment that diverts attention and resources away from the severely mentally ill and uninsured. As an example, Dr. Frances referenced the 1 million inmates in prison as a result of an undiagnosed and untreated mental health disorders due to poor resources and health care. Apparently, the Bureau of Justice Statistics agrees with him, and you can view their report here.

Dr. Frances quotes President Obama when he stated, “It’s easier to get a gun than an outpatient appointment.” Although gun control was not apart of our discussion, it should be noted that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is using its powerful lobbying efforts to change mental health thresholds and reporting laws in all 50 states.

Couple this type of legislation with over diagnosis by mental health professionals, the outcomes for children and families could be devastating. The New York Times does a great job of summarizing the presenting issues with current NRA proposals in an article entitled, The Focus on Mental Health Laws to Curb Violence is Unfair, Some Say. You can also view this video of Dr. Allen Frances speaking on the over diagnosis of mental illness:


Common Misconceptions About the DSM V

The interview with Dr. Allen Frances gave me an opportunity to ask him for clarification on some of the concerns expressed by social workers and their reasons for embracing the anticipated DSM 5. I made of a list of the main key points that he wanted Social Workers to know:

  • The DSM is a copyrighted manual by the APA with no official authority with public or private health insurers.
  • The ICD Codes are the only required codes necessary for billing mental health services. He states these codes are free of charge from the government with accompany resources and guides available. Here is the link found on CMS.Gov.
  • The APA is motivated by earnings for publishing a new manual to cover budgetary shortfalls.
  • Unless your institution demands use of the DSM V, Don’t buy it, don’t use it, and don’t teach it.

“The ICD is the global standard in diagnostic classification for health reporting and clinical applications for all medical diagnoses, including mental health and behavioral disorders. The United States will be one of the last industrialized countries to adopt the ICD-10, even though it was published in 1990.

Every member state of the World Health Assembly is expected to report morbidity and mortality statistics to the World Health Organization (WHO) using the ICD codes, but countries are allowed to modify the ICD for use within their own country.” ~Practice Central

Dr. Frances provided his twitter feed where he disseminates information on his current projects. He also stated to tweet your questions, comments, and concerns to @AllenFrancesMD as seen above.


Dr. Frances states that he believes there should be a government arm similar to the FDA to help regulate, provide guidance for mental health providers, and make recommendations for public policy. He believes it should be comprised of an interdisciplinary team of psychiatry, social workers, and public health in order to create a holistic approach to treatment and diagnoses. Dr. Frances stated the APA should no longer have a monopoly on mental health especially with increasing influence from drug companies manifesting in their policies.

Also View:
Dr. Francis Op-ED in the New York Post
Don’t Buy it, Don’t Use it~Mother Jones
Find Him on Huffington Post

Hollywood Celebrity Angelina Jolie Discloses Double Mastectomy

Angelina Jolie

Mega star actress, Angelina Jolie,  sent shock waves through the media when her op-ed disclosing a double mastectomy was published in the New York Times on May 14, 2013. Jolie discusses how her family history and the loss of her mother to cancer played a huge role in her taking preventative measures to increase the odds of longevity for her children.

The opinion pieces also acknowledges how this life extending preventive measure was an option afforded to her only because of her financial means. Angelina’s disclosure brings to light the health care disparities many low income and uninsured women face in obtaining treatment and preventative care.

She also discloses the financial cost of the testing necessary to determine if she was at risk. The test itself was $3,000 which does not include the actual cost for the double mastectomy procedure and the reconstructive surgery. Many advocates for cancer screening and early education feel Angelina Jolie’s opinion piece will help efforts to educate young women on cancer risks and the importance of preventive care.

According to the New York Times, Angelina Jolie stated,

MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.

We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer andovarian cancer.

My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.

Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.

Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex. Read Full Article

For information on treatment and preventative care covered by Medicaid and Medicare, you can visit . The American Cancer Society is also an excellent resource to gain insight and access to information on cancer statistics, treatment, and preventative care. Below, you can view and download the latest cancer statistics.

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Mayor Bloomberg’s Fight Against Obesity

by Kyle Jones

Obesity difference

During the summer of 2012, Mayor Bloomberg from New York attempted  to ban establishments from serving sugary soda larger than a 16oz cup to fight against obesity. According to the New York Times,  opponents of the law is calling Mayor Bloomberg’s ban arbitrary and capricious, and a New York State judge agreed with them. An injunction was issued one day before the law was to take effect.

This case raises an important issue such as governmental intervention in American’s health decisions. Many will argue that the government has no place in trying to regulate American’s health decisions. In other words, these people are advocates of individual responsibility for regulating health decisions.

So how can we take individual responsibility for regulating our food and drink intake? For one, watch what you eat. Doctors and health specialists around the country are seeking better dieting programs and encouraging people to watch what they eat and especially where their food is made from. Most big name companies which offer the many food products you see at your local food mart aren’t always properly treated. Some of the foods contain various chemicals and other substances which are harmful to your health.

One way to eating healthy is by buying your food from local farmers at farmers markets. The food they provide are  freshly grown and have less chemicals. Plus, it’s always a great deed to help out your fellow citizens who grow their own food and your food. Also, properly cook your food. Most of us are ignorant to the details of how food is being transported. So to diminish the possibility of words or other infections entering your body, make sure your food thoroughly.

Our bodies have its own mechanisms to fighting obesity; whether you’re awake or asleep. Your body is constantly feeding itself and using what you store to keep itself going. To help this process you need to implement constant movement in your lifestyle. Try to walk more to local areas, ride your bike, or run around your house a couple of times. Any bit of motion which does not involve sitting in a car can aid you into losing a couple of pounds.

Water helps obesityWhat I notice most people do not do is drink the recommended amount of water everyday. Most of the time I witness people drink juice, ice teas, sports drinks, and soda. Ingesting those liquids do not aide your body in replenishing itself. Our bodies are almost made entirely of water so ingesting the recommended amount keeps your body functioning normally.  The cells in your body are made of water and the dissolving property of water allows your cells to use the essentials during biological processes.

The last method I would like to mention is a substance which most people have never heard of. It is considered the tree of life and it provide everything you need. It is called the Moringa Oleifera tree. It is a tropical plant grown in usually semiarid, tropical, and subtropical areas. So why haven’t you heard it before? Maybe because of its INCREDIBLE health benefits which can supplement what you receive from milk, bananas, carrots, and oranges! According to Moringa Benefits, the tree, its roots, and its leaves all grant abundant nutritional value. You receive all of the following from this tree in one serving:

  • 125% daily value of Calcium
  • 61% daily value of Magnesium
  • 41% daily value of Potassium
  • 71% daily value of Iron
  • 272% daily value of Vitamin A
  • 22% daily value of Vitamin C

Moringa superfoodWith the above facts in mind, would you classify this tree as the tree of life?  If you are a skeptic, take the time to Google,  YouTube, or  whatever search method you want to find out the facts. You will be surprised by how many testimonials and videos are out their describing this amazing tree and its brilliant properties.

One problem though is the lack of abundance in the United States. If you live in hot and/or dry climate regions you can order the seeds yourself and grow them! They also sell capsules of crushed dried Moringa leaves on the Vitamin Shoppe website. They come in a bottle of about 60 capsules. So within 2 months compare how you felt now to then and notice the difference. I promise you’ll get what you paid for!

Mayor Bloomberg isn’t the only one who finds the obesity rate in our country a problem. It takes more than someone to tell you to get up and take care of yourself. You must be willing to motivate yourself into becoming a better individual. Take these methods, put your trust in them, and be the person you wish to see.

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