Mental Health

Menstuff® has compiled information and books on the issue of mental health.

Not to be confused with the 2006 movie Shortbus. Source:

Kelly Thomas, the 2012 version of Rodney King vs. the Police

Newsbytes - recent mental health news

Free Hugs

90% of men who die by suicide have a
diagnosable mental health issue at the time of death.

46.3% had an intimate partner problem
31.6% had a problem with alcohol
24.3% had a physical health problem
27.5% had a financikal problem
29.6% had a job problem
62.9% had a current depressed mood

Trauma (ACEs)
Rumination And How It Affects Your Life
It’s not about mental illness: The big lie that always follows mass shootings by white males
Some people need medication for their mental health. These selfies show that's perfectly OK
Kelly Thomas video a turning point for mental health care?
Is It Time to Confront Your Demons?
Passivity and the Male Psyche Part I
The Eroding (Ok, Eroded) Masculinity of the American Male
Which personality type do you fit into?
Study Links Cat Litter Box to Increased Suicide Risk in Women
Dispelling the Myths
Warning Signs
Bipolar Disorder
Mental Health Timeline
Life Coach
Re-evaluation Counseling (Co-Counseling)
Reparative (Corrective), Ex-Gay
Men's Group-Facilitated
Men's Group Self-Facilitated

Journals - on Emotional Abuse and Trauma
20 Point Head Inspection
Resources for College Students
Related Issues:
Online Depression Screening Test , Alzheimer'sAutism, Depression, Suicide, Suicide Teen, Suicide Prevention, Suicide Firearms

Dispelling the Myths

The National Mental Health Awareness Campaign is dedicated to reducing the stigma associated with mental illnesses of all kinds in America. Fear and shame thrive in dark corners. What follows are some very popular myths, along with the facts to debunk them. Our purpose here is to shed some light -- and urge people to seek treatment.

Kids & Adolescents:

Myth: Teenagers don't suffer from "real" mental illnesses; they are just moody.
Fact: One in ten children and adolescents suffer from mental illness.

Myth: Talk about suicide is an idle threat that need not be taken seriously.
Fact: 90% (or more) of all suicide victims have a mental illness and/or a substance abuse problem. For people ages 15 to 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.

Myth: Childhood mental health problems are really the result of poor parenting, and lack of discipline in the home.
Fact: Mental illnesses are often inherited from one generation to another, and generally have little or nothing to do with parenting.

"Just snap out of it."

Myth: Mental illness are not real, and cannot be treated.
Fact: According to the U.S. Surgeon General, mental disorders are as easy to diagnose as asthma, diabetes, and cancer. Treatments are effective 60% to 80% of the time!!

Myth: We're good people. Mental illness doesn't happen to me and my family.
Fact: One in five Americans will suffer at some point from a mental health problem. These Americans are from ALL backgrounds.

Depression -- "It's just the blues."

Myth: Depression is a normal part of life (aka the "blues") that can be overcome without seeking treatment.
Fact: Depression is a real, treatable illness that effects 19 million adult Americans every year. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States -- over back problems, heart disease and liver failure.

Myth: Depression is a normal and expected part of aging.
Fact: Five million older Americans suffer from clinical depression; whereas seniors comprise 13% of the population, they account for 20% of all suicides.

"I can't afford mental health care"

Myth: Private health insurance routinely does not cover mental health services.
Fact: Well over 90% of companies with health insurance cover some mental health care, but often in discriminatory ways.

Violence & Mental Illness

Myth: Stay away from people with mental illness because they're violent.
Fact: Virtually every study shows that persons with mental disorders are no more violent than other Americans, assuming that they don't abuse alcohol or illegal drugs, and are receiving treatment.


Myth: A homeless person suffering from mental illness has little chance of recovery.
Fact: Homelessness can be significantly decreased when people with untreated mental illnesses are connected to case management, supported housing, and related services.

There Is Hope

Myth: There is no hope for people with mental illness.
Fact: Mental illnesses are successfully treated at a much higher rate than other chronic health conditions.

Warning Signs

Changes in feelings such as fear and anger are a normal part of life. In fact, learning about your own mood changes, like what triggers them and when, is important to knowing who you are.

There are many situations, such as a divorce in the family or strained relationships with friends, that can cause emotional stress. Difficult situations may make you feel sad or "blue" for a while. That's different than having a mental health problem like depression. See for more information.

Young people suffering from depression often feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness and hopelessness for long periods. This depression may lead to suicidal feelings.

Certain experiences, thoughts, and feelings signal the presence of mental health problems or the need for help. The following signs are important to recognize:

It's not necessarily easy to spot these signs, or to figure out what they mean. Qualified mental health professionals are skilled in making an accurate diagnosis.

As a general rule: the longer the signs last, the more serious they are, and the more they interfere with daily life, the greater the chance that professional treatment is needed.

When dealing with mental health or emotional problems, it's important not to go at it alone.

First step: reach out to people you trust. Think of all the people you can turn to for support. These are people who are concerned about you and can help comfort you, who will listen to you and encourage you, and who can help arrange for treatment. In other words, find the caring people in your life who can help you. These people might include:

Research shows that males are more reluctant to look for help and receive it than females are. While some people may have difficulty reaching out to others they trust, taking this first step in getting help is important for everyone to do.

Some families have health insurance that helps them get the services they need from mental health professionals. Insurance may cover some of the cost of these services. Many insurance companies provide a list of licensed mental health professionals in your area.

Some people need medication for their mental health. These selfies show that's perfectly OK.

Because why should we be ashamed of what makes us well?

What do you do when you're not feeling well? Like really, really unwell — to the point where you don't want to (or can't) get out of bed.

You probably think "It's time to go to the doctor." And once you get that sweet, sweet pain- and fever-reducing prescription, you can barely contain yourself from skipping to the pharmacy (or maybe that's just me?).

Many of us wouldn't think twice about sharing the fact that we got a prescription to help us feel like our old selves again.

But when it comes to taking medication for mental illness, there's more social stigma involved. That's why blogger Erin Jones decided to post a selfie with her prescriptions for anxiety and antidepressant medication on Facebook: to show that there's no shame in getting the help we need.

The post spread like wildfire, and she teamed up with The Mighty to spark the hashtag #MedicatedAndMighty. Folks posted tweets and Instagram selfies (often with their medication or prescriptions) to fight the stigma around mental health meds.

Here's why this is so important: A look at 22 studies shows that one of the biggest obstacles to getting treatment and staying on medication is embarrassment and stigma.

If we remove unfair preconceptions about mental health treatment, more people will be able to live happier and healthier lives.

The popularity of #MedicatedAndMighty shows that people who take medication for mental health are far from alone.

In fact, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans take at least one mental health medication. That's more than 63 million people.

A quick look at the selfies brings home the reality that there is no "typical" person who takes mental health medication.

You can't tell whether someone takes medication for their anxiety just by looking at them. That's why this hashtag — and this movement — is so powerful. The decision to publicly share their status combats stereotypes on two levels: It shows there is no shame in having mental illness ... or taking medication for it.

Breaking the silence around mental health and medication is a win. By fighting stigma, we're encouraging people who struggle with mental illness to find the best way to get help.

The hashtag isn't about pushing everyone with a mental health issue to take medication. It is about fighting stigma and empowering people who take medication to be unapologetic and unashamed.

Because why should we be ashamed of doing what we need to be well?

Rumination And How It Affects Your Life

Learn How Rumination Exacerbates Your Stress Levels

Have you ever been stressed all day because you can’t stop thinking of something unfair that happened that morning? Or the previous week? This human tendency to obsess, trying to work things out in one's mind, is common. When these thoughts turn more negative and brooding, that's known as rumination.

Rumination is rather common--according to a poll on this site, roughly 95% of my readers find themselves in rumination mode either sometimes or often--but it can be harmful to physical and emotional wellbeing.

Rumination Basics

Rumination is comprised of two separate variables -- reflection and brooding. The reflection part of rumination can actually be somewhat helpful -- reflecting on a problem can lead you to a solution. Also, reflecting on certain events can help you process strong emotions associated with the issue. However, rumination in general, and brooding in particular, are associated with less proactive behavior and more of a negative mood. Co-rumination, where you rehash a situation with friends until you’ve talked it to death, also brings more stress to both parties. In short, if you find yourself constantly replaying something in your mind and dwelling on the injustice of it all, thinking about what you should have said or done, without taking any corresponding action, you’re likely making yourself feel more stressed. And you are also likely experiencing some of the negative effects of rumination.

The Toll of Rumination

Rumination can be oddly irresistible, and can steal an hour of your attention before you even realize that you’re obsessing again.

In addition to dividing your attention, however, rumination has several negative effects.

For proven strategies on reducing rumination and effectively dealing with emotional stress, see this article on letting go of stress and anger, or scroll down for additional resources. If a strong tendency toward rumination persists, it could be indicative of a greater problem; a therapist may be helpful in helping you let go.

What situations seem to lead to rumination in you? How do you put the breaks on rumination once you find yourself in its holding pattern?


Byrd-Craven J, Geary DC, Rose AJ, Ponzi D. Co-ruminating increases stress hormone levels in women. Hormones and Behavior, March 2008.

Feldner MT, Leen-Feldner EW, Zvolensky MJ, Lejuez CW. Examining the association between rumination, negative affectivity, and negative affect induced by a paced auditory serial addition task. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, September 2006.

Key BL, Campbell TS, Bacon SL, Gerin W. The influence of trait and state rumination on cardiovascular recovery from a negative emotional stressor. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, March 2008.

Lo CS, Ho SM, Hollon SD. The effects of rumination and negative cognitive styles on depression: A mediation analysis. Behaviour Research and Therapy, April, 2008.

Selby EA, Anestis MD, Joiner TE. Understanding the relationship between emotional and behavioral dysregulation: Emotional cascades. Behaviour Research and Therapy, May 2008.

Part I: Passivity and the Male Psyche - John Lee

Passivity in men has been one of the least studied, discussed, and explained aspects of masculine psychology. Understanding passivity is an essential and important key to creating healthy relationships, increasing self-esteem and healing the bodies, minds, and spirits of men who are hurting or hurting others.

Passivity is a compulsion or learned tendency to live at half-speed which ultimately many men feeling their glass is half-empty and thus they half-heartedly committing to projects, plans and goals. Passive men are half in and half out of relationships. Passive men are more attached to not having what they think they want or desire, even though they protest loudly this is not so.

A client of mine, James, is 40 and a very successful real estate agent who earns a high six figure income. During a session he said, “I work all the time on my marriage. I’m in therapy, I read books and I regularly attend self-help workshops. No one can say I’m passive.” When asked about his marriage he quickly replied, “I want more physical contact, more touching, and yes, more sex, but I don’t get hardly any at all.”

James wants his wife, Brenda, to be more affectionate and yet he indulges in a whole host of behaviors that guarantees he won’t get this and actually gets him just the opposite of what he thinks and says he really wants.

I asked him to give me an example of his efforts to get affection from his wife, so I could see and show him his passivity and addiction to not having what he says he wants.

James said, “I go into the living room all the time and Brenda is on the couch watching television for hours on end. I say something like, ‘Can’t you turn that thing off for a little while? There’s nothing intelligent or worth watching on TV. I don’t know why you watch these silly shows.’ But she never agrees and I end up storming out of the room frustrated as usual.”

I jokingly said, “How’s that working for you?” Then I offered a suggestion. “Try sitting on the living room couch next to her; gently lifting her legs and placing them on your lap while you massage her feet, instead of shaming, criticizing, demeaning, and judging her. Then simply ask her what’s on that you two can watch together.”

He looked at me like I was speaking in a foreign tongue; in a way it was an unfamiliar language because it was the language of compassion and assertiveness. James looked a little dumbfounded before saying, “No, I have never even thought of it. It sounds so simple. I can see me doing that but I never would have thought to do so. I wonder why?” he said very seriously.

It was because of his passivity and his fears of rejection, abandonment and intimacy.

By the way, he tried my suggestion the very next week. “We got up off the couch ten minutes after doing what you suggested. She looked at me and said ‘Who are you?’ Before I could answer she laughed and said, ‘Never mind, I like this,’ and we got up and got in bed and made love for the first time in a year.”

This same man devoted an exorbitant amount of time to reading about relationships and marital counseling. He said he worked all the time on his marriage. But in reality, he thought his wife had the problem and not him.

Passivity is difficult to identify because one of the greatest tricks a passive man plays on themselves goes something like this, “Look how hard I work. I work eighty hours a week and am the CEO of a large company. How can anyone label me as passive?” or “Look how much I work on myself, how can I be passive?” “Can’t you see I’m suffering? Isn’t that proof that I’m not attached to passivity?”

One of the main symptoms of passivity (we’ll go into many more later) is being out of balance in our personal and professional lives. The passive man’s creed is, “I’m bored,” or “I’m feeling overwhelmed”, and they think the world acts on them and moves them rather than being actors and movers.

It is important to note that passivity causes you to react rather than act, control rather than respond, manipulate rather than make, or self-destruct instead of create. The passivity I am discussing is NOT to be confused with passive/aggressive behaviors, timidity, shyness, apathy, or laziness. It is also not to be misconstrued as “surrendering” or “letting go,” “turning it over,” or “passive resistance.” All of these are very active processes that actually energize the ones doing so. The passivity that is being discussed here is more closely akin to “giving up,” “feeling defeated,” “settling for,” or feeling “unsatisfied.”

Passivity is a learned behavior; a reaction to life that can be unlearned. In part II of this article I will provide readers with concrete solutions to the passivity problem.


Blurb about John Lee. John has been a leader and author in men’s health issues for over a decade. Lee began his career as a professor at Austin Community College, the University of Alabama, and the University of Texas. He has written 18 self-help, psychology, recovery, creativity, or relationship non-fiction books that explore men’s health issues, like alcoholism and co-dependency. In addition to literature, Lee has advocated for the maintenance and improvement of men’s health in magazines, like Newsweek and on shows such as Oprah and 20/20. In 1986, Lee co-founded Primary, Emotional, Energy, Recovery (P.E.E.R.), a training program for counselors, social workers, and psychotherapists. Two years later, he founded and directed Austin’s Men’s Center, a counseling center that specializes in men’s issues. In the late 1980’s, he opened his own private practice in Austin, Texas specializing in men’s issues, relationships, adult children of alcoholics, and co-dependency. His latest two books, The Anger Solution and When the Buddha Met Bubba, are on sale now on More information about John Lee can be found on his web site and on his daily blog at

The Eroding (Ok, Eroded) Masculinity of the American Male - Luke Manley

When you reflect on what it means to be a Man, you probably think in much the same way as generations of men have before you. The tough Western cowboy, the dutiful soldier, or the heroic fireman. Chances are you don’t consider Adam Sandler’s Billy Madison, Seth McFarlane’s Peter Griffin, or any of the current crop of male TV sitcom characters to be pillars of Masculinity. Yet while the stoic, focused, and responsible male archetype has persisted for generations, it seems that at no other point in our history has the reality deviated so sharply from the ideal.

In a fascinating new novel, cultural historian Gary Cross explores the modern epidemic of man-boyhood that first infected parts of the WWII generation, spread most noticeably in the Boomer generation, and has now become a part of the cultural genome of the Gen X’ers and Millennials. Don’t believe it? Just take a look at the way men are overwhelmingly portrayed in the most popular TV shows and movies. Awkward, whiny characters stuck in a perpetual state of immaturity that in most cases must be dragged, kicking and screaming away from their toys and into adulthood. Toys that are indistinguishable from those in which they indulged ad nauseum during their teenage and college years. These man-boys view responsibility and formerly respectable activities such as excelling in a career, marriage, and raising a family as an albatross at best and at worst a curse to be avoided at all costs. Once resigned to this domestic purgatory, we nurture our portrayal as bumbling, beer-swilling, video-game-addicted, good-for-nothings. Consider the cultural icons of the older generations, such as Cary Grant, Robert Redford, Humphrey Bogart, and Paul Newman and compare it to today’s stars. Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Hugh Grant, and Russel Brand. Men whose characters celebrate and revel in their desire to avoid commitment and responsibility. Most frightening of all is that the statistics bear out this shift. Surely exacerbated by the current financial crisis, which has hit men especially hard, a staggering 55% of American men between 18 and 24 years old and 13% between 25 and 34 are currently living with their parents. This is compared to only 8% of women in the same situation. The average age for marriage has been climbing steadily over the years and now over 16 percent of men reach their early 40s without marrying, up from only 6% in 1980. What do the statistics say men are doing with all this extra time? Sadly, not working on their careers, but rather indulging in the same activities that they were unable to leave behind in college. For example, the average video game player was 18 years old a decade ago. Want to take a guess at the mean age now? If you guessed 33 you would be, sadly, correct.

Most interesting is that Mr. Cross traces the roots of much of this change back to the men of the Baby Boomer generation and their rejection of their father’s passive involvement in their childhood. These men brought about what in many ways was a sea change in the paternal-child relationship, making it acceptable for fathers to no longer be merely the disciplinarian, but take on roles that had always been traditionally reserved for women. They paved the way for the modern emotionally available, stay-at-home, soccer dads. However, in subsequent generations this laissez-faire approach to fatherhood appears to have caused an unintended confusion about the role of manhood. In the quest to dismantle the father-as-authoritarian and regain some of our boyhood to connect more with our kids, we have failed to produce a proper alternative role-model to which men can aspire. This ambiguousness has led to much of the current culture of men as the loveable, useless, lounge-about; dad as the easy-going playmate that flouts the rules as often as the kids.

Now don’t get me wrong, no one laughs harder at Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Happy Gilmore than I and there is nothing I look forward to more than playing a twilight game of hide-and-seek or having summer water-balloon battles with my kids. Yet there has to exist a healthy mix of 1950’s responsible disciplinarian and 2010’s lovable playmate (my vote is for Mike Brady or Cliff Huxtable). There is a dignity and nobility in the balance of softness and strength, a trait that our wives and girlfriends will surely appreciate and which our sons and daughters will benefit from and remember far more than how to beat Level 5 of Rock Band. I don’t need my kids to call me “Sir”, but I sure as heck don’t want them calling me “Dude”.


“Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity”. Gary Cross. 2010. Book Review:

Excerpt from “Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity. History News Network. George Mason University. 2008.

The Basement Boys: The making of modern immaturity. Newsweek. George F. Will. 2010.


Study Links Cat Litter Box to Increased Suicide Risk in Women

A common parasite that can lurk in the cat litter box may cause undetected brain changes in women that make them more prone to suicide, according to an international study.

Scientists have long known that pregnant women infected with the toxoplasma gondii parasite -- spread through cat feces, undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables -- could risk still birth or brain damage if transmitted to an unborn infant.

But a new study of more than 45,000 women in Denmark shows changes in their own brains after being infected by the common parasite.

The study, authored by University of Maryland School of Medicine psychiatrist and suicide neuroimmunology expert Dr. Teodor T. Postolache, was published online today in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The study found that women infected with T. gondii were one and a half times more likely to attempt suicide than those who were not infected. As the level of antibodies in the blood rose, so did the suicide risk. The relative risk was even higher for violent suicide attempts.

"We can't say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies," said Postolache, who is director of the university's Mood and Anxiety Program and is a senior consultant on suicide prevention.

"There is still a lot we don't know," he told "We need a larger cohort and need a better understanding of the vulnerabilities that certain people have to the parasite."

Suicide is a global public health problem. An estimated 10 million attempt suicide and 1 million are successful, according to Postlache's work.

More than 60 million men, women, and children in the United States carry the toxoplasma parasite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but very few have symptoms.

Toxoplasmosis is considered one of the "neglected parasitic infections," a group of five parasitic diseases that have been targeted by CDC for public health action.

About one-third of the world is exposed to T. gondii, and most never experience symptoms and therefore don't know they have been infected. When humans ingest the parasite, the organism spreads from the intestine to the muscles and the brain.

Previous research on rodents shows that the parasite can reside in multiple brain structures, including the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, which are responsible for emotional and behavioral regulation.

Rat Study Showed Parasite Changes the Brain

A 2011 study on rats infected by the parasite showed that their fear of cats disappeared. Instead, the parts of their brains associated with sexual arousal were activated. Researchers theorized that the mind-manipulating T. gondii ensures that the parasite will reach and reproduce in the gut of a cat, which it depends upon for its survival.

"The parasite does actually alter the brain of its host," Stanford University study co-author Patrick House told last year. "The fact that a parasite can get into an organism, target its brain, stay there without killing the host and alter the circuitry of the brain -- we've seen this is insects and fungi, but it's the first time we've seen it in a mammalian host."

It was this and other research that led Postolache to investigate the relationship between the parasite and biological changes in the brain that might lead to suicide. He was also intrigued by studies on allergies and research that showed a connection between toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia.

"I was interested in the neuron aspects of suicide and intrigued by low-grade activation in patients who attempted suicide, as well as victims," he said. "Other studies had looked at the brain and suicide risk and impulsivity. The next question was, what could be the triggers that perpetuate this level of heightened activation in the brain?"

Postolache collaborated with Danish, German and Swedish researchers, using the Danish Cause of Death Register, which logs the causes of all deaths, including suicide. The Danish National Hospital Register was also a source of medical histories on those subjects.

They analyzed data from women who gave birth between 1992 and 1995 and whose babies were screened for T. gondii antibodies. It takes three months for antibodies to develop in babies, so when they were present, it meant their mothers had been infected.

The scientists then cross-checked the death registry to see if these women later killed themselves. They used psychiatric records to rule out women with histories of mental illness.

Postolache said there were limitations to the study and further research is needed, particularly with a larger subject group.

Dr. J. John Mann, a psychiatrist from Columbia University, said Postolache's research mirrors his work in the field of suicidal behavior.

"The relationship of the brain to the immune system is more complex than it may appear," said Mann. "The brain regulates the stress response system, which impacts the immune response."

Scientists already know that steroids like cortisone can affect the immune response. Some antibodies whose goal is to kill off cancer can also affect the brain. Oftentimes the first symptom of pancreatic cancer is depression, he said.

Research also shows that streptococcus bacteria can trigger obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in some children. Sydenham's chorea, the loss of motor control that can occur after acute rheumatic fever, may also be an immune response affecting the brain, according to Mann.

Maryland researcher Postolache suspects that some individuals have a predisposition to these neurological changes.

He speculates that the parasite may disrupt neurological pathways in those who are vulnerable, so that projections of fear and depression from the amygdala are not tempered or controlled by the "braking" function of the prefrontal cortex.

But, Postolache warns that even if a direct cause were found, no antibiotics for T. gondii yet exist and it could be a decade before effective vaccines or other agents that might stop the neurological damage are developed.

Right now, the most effective weapon against T. gondii is education about handwashing, the proper cooking of food, and not using a knife exposed to raw meat on cooked meat.

He also cautions against trendy food production techniques that let animals roam free. "The risk of infection could go up," he said, "and increase the rate of toxoplasmosis."

Which personality type do you fit into? 

Only one:


We each have our very own special and unique personality. It’s a major part of who we are as individuals and set us apart from others. While we’re all different in one way or another, all of the many personalities out there in the world can be boiled down to simply four main personality types. They are the following; intelligent, emotional, introvert, and extrovert. Which one are you!?

Extroverts are highly social, outgoing, and they tend to be quite vocal and outspoken. They like to keep busy and are always involved in any action going on around them. In comparison, introverts are more shy, quiet, and reserved. They prefer to observe the world around them and instead of being available and open, as extroverts often are, they keep more to themselves.

Those with intelligent personality types are rational and logical which is, generally speaking, the opposite of emotional types. Intelligent individuals think foremost with their heads, emotional people go with what their hearts tell them.

While you likely have an idea about which personality type you identify the strongest with, there may actually be a closer match! To gain a better understanding of how your brain is wired simply work through the following nine questions. This quiz comprehensively covers your thoughts, views, and responses to a range of situations and a variety of topics. The answers you provide will tell you whether or not you are the type of person you think you are, so click the “Let’s Play” button at the end of the article to begin and figure out exactly which personality type fits you best!

Kelly Thomas video a turning point for mental health care?

Mental health care advocates hope the video of police beating the homeless man, who later died, will spark systemic reforms in treatment of the mentally ill, even in this era of funding deficiencies.

33:33 7:56 10:36 20:08

"I sleep in trash cans."

It is a minute and 45 seconds into the security camera video. Kelly Thomas, 37, jaws with police officers at a Fullerton bus depot, his arms crossed over his bare chest, his backpack double-strapped. It is the night of July 5, 2011, about 8:30. It's still 80 degrees outside. A few pedestrians wander by. A car passes. There is no indication that the lives of every person on the tape are about to change.

"You planning on going to sleep pretty soon?" one officer asks.

"I'd like to," Thomas replies.

But another officer, Manuel Ramos, isn't done. "It seems like every day we have to talk to you about something," Ramos says, twirling his baton. "Do you enjoy it?"

It is a critical moment — 2:12 on the video. From that point forward, the exchange spirals out of control. At 15:47, Thomas receives the first blow from a baton. At 17:29, officers pile on top of Thomas, who screams: "I can't breathe!" At 21:25, blood gurgles in Thomas' throat. At 21:49, he shrieks: "Daddy! Daddy!" At 22:36 come his last words: "Help me! Help me!"

This week, after the tape was played for the first time in court, it exploded in the public consciousness — one YouTube version had been viewed 91 times each minute — and became an instant touchstone for those who advocate for a more robust and effective mental health system.

Advocates for the mentally ill said they viewed the recording, the centerpiece of the prosecution's case against two officers accused in Thomas' death, as something akin to their Rodney King video.

In the case of the King video, civic activists felt they had a record, at long last, of something they'd been trying to articulate for years: that the relationship between African Americans and Los Angeles police was fundamentally broken. Similarly, advocates for the mentally ill say they now have a record of a scattershot, chronically underfunded mental health system. This is what it looks like, they said, when schizophrenics fend for themselves on the streets, when their only interface with the government is with haplessly unprepared police officers.

"I think I'm a fairly strong woman. I've seen a lot of tragedy over the years. But I am reeling," said Carla Jacobs, a veteran Southern California mental health activist, shortly after watching the recording.

The tape, she noted, will be picked apart during the legal proceedings. Some will argue, she said, that Thomas should have been more respectful, and worked harder to follow instructions. Others will argue that the officers should have received better training. None of that, she contended, will matter in the end.

"As far as I'm concerned, the blame — the guilt — is on the mental health system that left Kelly out on the street and didn't provide him with the treatment that could have prevented this horror," she said. "I hope we can develop a collective memory and recognize the tragedy that we have caused."

In interviews, advocates said the beating death and its recording could fuel meaningful reform — in mental health funding; in the use of coordinated, "wrap-around" social services; in persuading wary or defiant patients to consent to treatment; and, in particular, in the training of police officers to defuse encounters with the mentally ill.

"It is my personal crusade to change the way police officers deal with the mentally ill," said Thomas' father, Ron Thomas.

Kelly Thomas suffered brain injuries, shattered facial bones, broken ribs and a crushed thorax. He was taken off life support by his family and died five days after his beating.

Ramos, 38, is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter; a second officer, Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 40, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and using excessive force. Ramos faces a life prison term; Cicinelli could be sentenced to four years in prison. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The black-and-white recording, lifted from a city surveillance camera, was played in public for the first time Monday at a preliminary hearing to determine whether the case should go to trial.

The recording was not equipped with sound, but authorities paired it with audio recordings lifted from devices attached to some of the officers' uniforms. On the recording, Ramos is seen pulling on latex gloves — and can be heard telling Thomas that he is "getting ready to f— you up." Cicinelli can be seen striking Thomas — and heard telling a colleague: "I just smashed his face to hell."

"The audio is what is key," Ron Thomas said. "Without the audio the brutality isn't as devastating."

*    *    *

I can do something else besides stuff a ball through a hoop. My biggest resource is my mind. - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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