Defying Mental Illness

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Support your local innovator

Paul Komarek's project Mental Health Recovery Everywhere is a finalist in the Scattergood Foundation's 2014 Design Innovation Challenge. Please support this effort with your comments on the Scattergood foundation website and your Facebook Likes.
Mental Health Recovery Everywhere is an informal, nonclinical, social support network for people with mental illness or emotional distress. It serves the same function as AA for sober recovery, a social and nonclinical support experience with a book that supports deeper work, but it is strength-based, and not 12-step.
Show your support here.

Thank you for taking the time to review the challenge, and for supporting the work.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Defying Mental Illness 2014 Edition now available

Defying Mental Illness 2014 edition is now available in print and in all ebook formats, with special ebook pricing. A complete 350-page mental health recovery reference, formatted for smartphones and tablets.

It is a substantial update. Finally, there is a way to talk about and work through mental health issues using nonclinical terms. Churches and communities can use the tools of Defying Mental Illness to support people with mental health issues, and help people make progress in their lives.

Human development and social learning have emerged as key themes in the 2014 edition of Defying Mental Illness. Also in this edition:

  • Additional emphasis on trauma and its effects
  • Revised chapters on suicide prevention, violence, and crisis response
  • The Safe Zone System, a method for balancing safety with a person's need to extend their range and build capacity.
  • New material on informed consent and person-centered strength-based care
  • New material relating to disability through the lifespan
  • New material on addiction, addiction treatment, and addiction recovery programs
  • Nonclinical resources for addressing destructive thought patterns, and for discovering a person's key strengths
  • Brief comments about the transition currently underway in the U.S. healthcare system

The Defying Mental Illness website at includes helpful videos, downloadable worksheets, and links to additional resources.

Learn more about the thinking behind Defying Mental Illness 2014.

Where to purchase

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

For the first time, mental health recovery books for Texas prisoners

We are pleased to announce a new relationship with Texas Prison Bookstore.

Our readers are aware of the criminalization of people with mental illness. Poverty, trauma, substance abuse, mental illness, and school failure work together to create the notorious "school to prison pipeline."

What can we do to help people rebuild their lives?

Stress and trauma reduce a person’s “executive functioning” – the type of cognitive capacity that lets us figure out what to do when the path is unclear – as well as “social connectedness” and capacity for emotional self-regulation. The challenge of recovery and re-entry involves restoring these capacities.

Defying Mental Illness delivers information about what people are facing, plus tools and strategies to help people make progress in their lives.

We want to make our books available to people in correctional facilities across the US. If you know of a book distributor that serves this population, please send an email to:

paul.komarek (at)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Defying Mental Illness authors are bloggers too

Over the course of the past year we have been blogging pretty steadily.

Our blog Redesigning Mental Illness is our shot at social innovation. What can change the experience of mental illness in America? We think ordinary people can rediscover their capacity to support mental and emotional health. We've also been writing about the connection between gun violence and mental health. Some of this writing has found its way into the 2013 edition of Defying Mental Illness.

Recently we've launched a new blog called Grassroots Educator. Here we focus on the educators in American society who never send out report cards. Think about child care workers, afterschool program workers, mentors, adult education workers, workforce development program instructors. What can we do to help kids and adults achieve success in life? Our first posts focused on justice systems in schools. We think the answer to bullying is not a set of rules or an assembly program -- it's a commitment to justice within schools and communities.

And then there is the so-called microblogging -- for updates on mental health, education and social justice issues follow @pkomarek on Twitter.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A new interview and feature on our 2013 update

Lorna d'Entremont of Special Needs Book Review has the most comprehensive set of books to help parents and teachers support the needs of children with disabilities. We are happy to support her work. There's a new review of our 2013 update on her site, along with an interview about our project.
This new edition has 240 pages; therefore, it is a major update aimed at creating  a social support for people with mental health concerns. Like their first edition, their updated edition is an excellent resource to help families and friends support their loved one through mental illness, to recovery, and for some, to a thriving life. It is also a great self-help book and my copy of their first edition of Defying Mental Illness is in the hands of a friend with bipolar disorder.
Defying Mental Illness is a guide book to recovery from mental illness. It is simply written for all families, friends or the individuals themselves who are looking for advice about the steps to take when mental illness is taking all they have… zest for life, relationships, friendships, career, and a happy childhood and school years.
Read the complete new review here: