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The Key Update, Volume 11, Number 8 - February 2015

Advocates Launch Recovery Now! to Promote Hope and to Advocate for Helpful Mental Health Reforms 

A campaign to "address the crisis in our mental health service system and the personal crises faced daily by individuals and families in great distress" has been launched by several mental health advocacy organizations. The campaign, called Recovery Now!, "promotes the hope and promise that people can and do recover from even the most serious mental health conditions when they are provided a full array of both treatment and recovery supports." "Together we can shift our current climate of fear and despair to one of hopefulness and possibility," said Leah Harris, Recovery Now! campaign coordinator and director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, one of the founding organizations. Others include the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, Mental Health America, and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. For more information, click here.

Nominations Are Sought for SAMHSA's Voice Awards

SAMHSA's Voice Awards program "honors consumer/peer leaders and television and film professionals who educate the public about behavioral health. Through their work and personal stories of resilience, both groups of leaders demonstrate that people with mental and/or substance use disorders can and do recover and lead meaningful lives." To nominate a consumer/peer leader - nominations are due by March 13, 2015 - click here. To nominate a television or film production - nominations are due by March 27, 2015 - click here.

Two Websites Offer Resources and Information about Peer Support Services

Two websites, one of which was recently launched, offer resources and other information about peer support services. Most recently, the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community created Peer Support Resources "as a way to share resources with those interested in understanding, implementing or working in peer-to-peer support roles (particularly those that exist within mental health services and/or that are intended for individuals who are [experiencing] or have experienced trauma, emotional distress, psychiatric diagnosis and other significant life challenges." The site's URL is http://www.psresources.info/. In addition, Disability Research Right to Know, http://www.bu.edu/drrk/, created by Boston University's Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, offers research syntheses and information tools on several subjects, including peer services (click here). 

New Crisis Text Line is a 24/7 Hotline for Teens and Others

For those who would rather text than phone, Crisis Text Line offers round-the-clock help via text. Those who text to 741741 get an automatic reply welcoming them to the service and explaining the ground rules. Their message is then routed to a trained counselor, one of up to 50 who are available at any given time. The system, created by DoSomething.org, receives an average of 15,000 texts a day, The New Yorker reported. According to a recent study, texting may aid mental health recovery better than smartphone apps. That said, the Huffington Post recently ran a story on "8 Ways To Use Your [Smart] Phone To Benefit Your Mental Health," which included information about the Crisis Text Line as well as apps - some free, others not -that might be helpful. 

"The State of Sentencing 2014" Highlights Some Prison Reforms; 
"Incarceration's Front Door" Addresses the Misuse of Jails 
Two free recent reports on the criminal justice system provide some good news and some bad news. While the U.S. still has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, at least 30 states and the District of Columbia have taken steps to incorporate some reforms, a new survey reports. "The policy changes highlighted in this report represent approaches that lawmakers can consider to address state sentencing policy and collateral consequences," according to the Sentencing Project, a national non-profit engaged in criminal justice research and advocacy, which published the report. "The State of Sentencing 2014: Developments in Policy and Practice" includes a little good news about reforms involving prisoners with mental health conditions. For example, California's AB 1468 established "a three-year reentry pilot program that offers intensive case management to address homelessness, joblessness, mental disorders, and developmental disabilities." Such programs are vital: A 2006 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that "more than half of all prison and jail inmates, including 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners and 64 percent of local jail inmates, were found to have a mental health problem." In a related story, the Vera Institute of Justice has just released a report entitled "Incarceration's Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America." "For the disproportionately high number of those who enter jails from minority communities, or who suffer from mental illness, addiction, and homelessness, time spent in jail exacerbates already difficult conditions and puts many on a cycle of incarceration from which it is extremely difficult to break free," the report notes.

Alternatives 2014 Plenary Session Videos Are Available!

The videos of the plenary sessions recorded at Alternatives 2014 are available for viewing! The speakers include the Hon. Patrick Kennedy, a former member of Congress and mental health advocate (Wednesday); as well as the nationally and internationally known mental health activists Gina Calhoun, Erme Maula and Sharon Wise (Thursday); Khatera Aslami-Tamplen, Leah Harris and Harvey Rosenthal (Friday); and youth activists Lacy Kendrick-Burk, Sean Campbell and Letty Elenes (Saturday). Also available is a video of the Friday awards luncheon. To view the videos, either Google MHASPtube or click here

Public Memoir Roundtable on "The Art of Slow Writing" on March 5 at 7 p.m. ET

The National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW) is sponsoring a roundtable on "The Art of Slow Writing" on March 5, 2015, at 7 p.m. ET. The roundtable features Louise DeSalvo, author of "Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives." Among the topics covered will be a series of techniques to facilitate the writing process. To sign up, click here. More than one study has shown that writing about yourself and your experiences can improve mood disorders and cure a variety of other ills, according to a recent blog in The New York Times. For the New York Times blog on "Writing Your Way to Happiness," click here. (Note: This New York Times blog was featured in the January 2015 Key Update.)

NARPA Issues Call for Proposals

The National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA) has issued a call for presentations for its 2015 conference, to be held at the Embassy Suites Washington, D.C., Convention Center August 20-23, 2015. The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2015. The application may be downloaded at http://www.narpa.org in pdf or doc format or directly in pdf format by clicking here.

Café TA Center Looks at Depression in the Workplace

"Recent surveys have determined that up to a quarter of American workers have experienced depression at some point, and nearly two-thirds have dealt with some kind of difficulty resulting from their mental health," the Café TA center writes. "Despite the prevalence of this issue, many employers fail to deal with it directly. Policies and procedures regarding workplace mental health are lacking, and managers are not trained in how to deal with their employees' issues.
In Focus 39: Depression in the Workplace, Café TAC looks at some of the recent statistics about workplace mental health, while also examining steps that employers can take to accommodate their workers, and things workers can do to maintain their mental wellness."

SAMHSA's New Report Tracks the Behavioral Health of the U.S.

"A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) illuminates important trends - many positive - in Americans' behavioral health, both nationally and on a state-by-state basis. SAMHSA's new report, the 'National Behavioral Health Barometer,' provides data about key aspects of behavioral healthcare issues affecting American communities, including rates of serious mental [health conditions], suicidal thoughts, substance use, underage drinking, and the percentages of those who seek treatment for these disorders. The Barometer shows this data at the national level, and for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia." To view and download copies of the national or any state "Behavioral Health Barometer" for free,click here.

New Resources from the Pathways Transition Training Partnership

Pathways RTC has made available the next three online modules in its training series for providers working with youth and young adults. These modules focus on increasing cultural awareness, fostering resilience and promoting cross-cultural and intergenerational relationships. The modules were prepared for The Technical Assistance Network for Children's Behavioral Health under contract between the University of Maryland and SAMHSA. To download the modules, click here

2015 Edition of Early Psychosis Intervention Projects National Directory Is Available

The Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) Center for Excellence, which has a research project with Pathways, and the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Healthcare recently published the second edition of the National Directory of Early Psychosis Intervention Programs. It contains updated contact and basic program information for 70 early psychosis intervention projects in 18 states.

Two New Initiatives Are Aimed at Justice Reform

Two new initiatives have been launched to promote justice reform. First, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have announced "an initial five-year, $75 million investment that seeks to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails. The Safety and Justice Challenge will support cities and counties across the country seeking to create fairer, more effective local justice systems that improve public safety, save taxpayer money, and lead to better social outcomes." For more information, click here. Second, unlikely allies from the left and the right have formed the bipartisan Coalition for Public Safety. "The coalition plans a multi-million dollar campaign on behalf of emerging proposals to reduce prison populations, overhaul sentencing, reduce recidivism and take on similar initiatives," The New York Times reports. The MacArthur Foundation is among the "core supporters" of the Coalition.

Guide to Alternative and Complementary Treatments for Mental Health Conditions Is Released

The International Guide to the World of Alternative Mental Health has compiled and publicly released "Codex Alternus: A Research Collection of Alternative and Complementary Treatments for Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Associated Drug-induced Side Effects." "The document includes hundreds of pages citing research and providing summaries of non-pharmacological treatments ranging from nutrient and herbal interventions to mind-body therapies and psychotherapeutic techniques," Mad in America reports. The guide includes the following disclaimer. "This paper is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of health care practitioners." For the guide, click here.

Mental Health Advocate Locates Man Who Prevented His Suicide 12 Years Earlier

When Mark Henick was 15 years old, he was standing on an overpass ready to jump to his death when a stranger appeared and started to talk him out of it, ultimately pulling him back to safety. Twelve years later, Henick launched a campaign to find that concerned stranger who had set him on track to "a happy and fulfilled life," Henick said. He now works as a mental health advocate and "I really owe it all to that couple of minutes with that stranger." Through Twitter, he was able to find the stranger, Mike Richey, and they have made plans to meet. Henick said that Richey's actions made him realize that he could be "the person who reaches out."

Next National TA and Networking Teleconference Is Monday, March 16, at 1 p.m. ET;
The Call on April 20 Will Feature a Presentation on Career Development for Certified Peer Specialists

The next monthly national technical assistance and networking teleconference of the National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse will be on Monday, March 16, 2015, at 1 p.m. ET, noon CT, 11 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT, 8 a.m. in Hawaii. The call-in number is 866-906-0123; the pass code is 5037195#. The purpose of the calls is for peer movement activists from around the U.S. to get together, share information, and "network." Join us! If you have a topic or topics you would like to see discussed on this call, please write to Susan Rogers srogers@mhasp.org with the word "Agenda" in the subject line. In addition, if you plan to participate, even if you don't want to suggest an agenda item it would be helpful if you would email Susan Rogers atsrogers@mhasp.org; this will make it easier to provide the participants with teleconference minutes. Thanks! If you would like a copy of any of the available minutes, please write tosrogers@mhasp.org with the word "Minutes" in the subject line. (The calls are held on the third Monday of the month except when that is a holiday, such as in January and February, in which case they are held on the fourth Monday.)
The call on April 20 at 1 p.m. ET, noon CT, 11 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT, 8 a.m. in Hawaii will feature a presentation on career development for certified peer specialists followed by a discussion: Thousands of trained and certified behavioral health peer workers are now employed across the country in most states with Medicaid reimbursement. Efforts are also underway to develop national peer worker standards. As this new peer workforce grows, it's essential to identify and create peer career development and promotion opportunities so that certified peer workers earn salaries consistent with their skills and are able to move ahead in their careers. Accomplishing this will require numerous strategies, including enabling certified peer workers to obtain academic credit and educational credentials. During our April 20th call, Jessica Wolf, founder of the Facebook Group "Education Pays! Peer Career Development," will facilitate a discussion on individual and systemic peer career development strategies. We hope you will join us! 

The presenter, Jessica Wolf, Ph.D., is principal of Decision Solutions, a behavioral health workforce consulting practice emphasizing peer education, training, and employment. She is also an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale University. Her extensive administrative and educational experience includes 16 years as coordinator of the Housatonic Community College MERGE Mental Health Certificate Program. She has personal and family experience of mental health conditions.

Consumer-Driven Services Directory

The Clearinghouse welcomes all programs in which consumers play a significant role in leadership and operation to apply for inclusion in its Directory of Consumer-Driven Services. The directory, accessible at http://www.cdsdirectory.org, is searchable by location, type of organization, and targeted clientele, and serves as a free resource for consumers, program administrators and researchers. Apply online at http://www.cdsdirectory.org/database/cds.php, via fax at 215-636-6312, or by phone at 800-553-4KEY (4539). To receive an application by mail, write toinfo@cdsdirectory.org or NMHCSH Clearinghouse, 1211 Chestnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19107. 

About The Key Update

The Key Update is the free monthly e-newsletter of the National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse. Volume 11, No. 8, February 2015, http://www.mhselfhelp.org. For content, reproduction or publication information, please contact Susan Rogers at srogers@mhasp.org or 800-553-4539 x3812, 267-507-3812 (direct).