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In the news...Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries Struggle with Changes
FDA Announces Changes in Drug Labeling
Advocacy Groups Say Streets Increasingly ‘Mean’ for Nation’s Homeless
Supreme Court Rules Prisoners May Sue States for Violating Disabilities Act
Study Helps Clinicians Identify People Who Have Treatment-Resistant Depression
Diet May Play a Role in Rise in Mental Illnesses
Student Sues University After Suspension Following Depression Treatment
Bipolar Disorder Is Unexpectedly Common in Teenagers
Mental Illness Is Extremely Costly for U.S. Businesses
Women More Likely to Inherit Depression than Men
New SAMHSA Publication Addresses Stigma for Older Adults
NMHA Publishes Spanish-Language Medicare Workbook
Literary Magazine Focuses on Disabilities
Oprah Show Seeks Guests with Mental Health Issues
Poetry and Essay Writing Contest Invites Submissions
Clearinghouse Consumer-Driven Services Directory
The Key Update, Volume 2 No. 8, February 2006
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NEWS AND REPORTS
Efforts continued throughout January to help thousands of low-income consumers of mental health services grapple with changes to Medicare that have prevented many from receiving medically necessary medications.
At least 24 states have provided emergency drug assistance, according to The New York Times. For its part, the Bush Administration has ordered prescription drug plans to provide a 30-day supply of regularly taken medications to low-income beneficiaries who either can’t access or can’t afford the medication under the new plan, the Times reported.
Consumers with questions or concerns about benefits may contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at 1-800-Medicare or http://www.cms.hhs.gov/. ***
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced new drug-labeling rules to take effect on June 30, 2006.
The federal agency says the new labels will be easier to read. They will feature a “highlights” box explaining a drug’s risks and benefits, and many of the legal warnings of the current labels will not appear. Also, diagrams of drugs’ chemical structures will be further back. The U.S. Surgeon General and the American Medical Association have expressed their expectations that patients will benefit from the simplification.
However, some consumer advocates have protested the changes on the grounds that they would potentially make it impossible for people harmed by FDA-approved drugs to seek a legal remedy. At least one watchdog group, Public Citizen, voiced fears that patients who don’t specifically ask for more detailed information will receive “inadequate” pamphlets.
Sources: The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/20/06
America’s homeless live with at increasing risk of criminalization and injury—or death—as a result of hate crimes, according to several recent reports.
“There’s open war on the homeless population,” said Michael Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless. The coalition collaborated with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty on a report released on January 11 that listed the cities that are “meanest” to homeless people.
The report came just before violence against homeless people entered the national spotlight when three Florida teen-agers were caught on video beating a homeless man with bats; they have been charged in the murder of a second homeless man.
The National Coalition for the Homeless has documented 386 attacks on homeless people in the past six years—156 of them fatal. Stoops noted that the number of incidents is likely much higher, because homeless people are often reluctant to report the violence to police.
At the same time, cities are increasingly passing laws making it illegal to beg, or to sit or lie in certain public spaces. Advocates argue that criminalizing homelessness merely exacerbates the problem.
Following is the list of “meanest” cities, in descending order: 1. Sarasota, Fla.; 2. Lawrence, Kans.; 3. Little Rock, Ark.; 4. Atlanta, Ga.; 5. Las Vegas, Nev.; 6. Dallas, Texas; 7. Houston, Texas; 8. San Juan, P.R.; 9. Santa Monica, Calif.; 10. Flagstaff, Ariz.; 11. San Francisco, Calif.; 12. Chicago, Ill.; 13. San Antonio, Texas; 14. New York City, N.Y.; 15. Austin, Texas; 16. Anchorage, Alaska; 17. Phoenix, Ariz.; 18. Los Angeles, Calif.; 19. St. Louis, Mo.; 20. Pittsburgh, Pa.
In a case with potential repercussions for people with mental illnesses, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on January 10 that a Georgia prison inmate who uses a wheelchair could sue the state for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.
Tony Goodman argued that the state violated his civil rights when prison officials failed to accommodate his disability, by, among other things, failing to provide accessible shower and toilet facilities, and forcing him to spend 23 hours a day in a cell so narrow he couldn’t turn around in his wheelchair, according to Bazelon, which coordinated advocacy efforts on Goodman’s behalf.
“We are encouraged that the decision gives Congress more authority than the states have argued it has in this and other cases,” stated Ira Burnim, Bazelon’s legal director. He added, however, that the Court’s decision sheds little light on prospects for other plaintiffs who claim violations of the section of the ADA that bars discrimination in public services.
Sources: Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, http://www.bazelon.org/issues/disabilityrights/resources/goodman.htm
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has released the initial results of a new study whose goal is to assess the effectiveness of treatment for depression and to help the 70 percent of individuals who are not easily helped by medication.
Beyond judging safety and efficacy, the STAR*D (Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression) study is designed to measure practical outcomes, including how well the individual is actually functioning, even a year later.
NIMH reported that about a third of participants reached a remission or virtual absence of symptoms during the initial phase of the six-year study, with an additional 10 percent to 15 percent experiencing some improvement. Later phases will help determine successful treatments for the nearly two-thirds of those who were identified as treatment-resistant to a first medication in phase one.
Source: NIH [National Institutes of Health] News, 1/1/06
The rise in mental illnesses over the last half century seems to be tied to an increase in junk food consumption and a decrease in certain essential fats, vitamins, and minerals on the dinner tables of the industrialized world, according to reports by two British organizations.
Attention deficit disorder, depression, Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia can be blamed on what people are—and aren’t—eating, said the London-based Mental Health Foundation and Sustain: the Alliance for Better Food and Farming.
For example, people are eating 34 percent less vegetables and two-thirds less fish than they were 50 years ago. Both reports note that there is a higher incidence of depression in countries with low intakes of fish, which contains several kinds of acids that are believed to play a key role in mental health. In addition, less fresh food and more sugars and saturated fats may result in depression and memory problems.
Sources: Medical Research News, 1/17/06
A former student is suing George Washington (GW) University along with GW Hospital and eight university administrators after he was suspended from classes and barred from campus in response to his seeking treatment for depression. Jordan Nott claims that GW Hospital and his doctor there breached his confidentiality by revealing information about him to the university and to the director of the GW Counseling Center, and that the Counseling Center then shared information with the GW administration.
“The basic problem is that GWU is punishing students like Jordan who did exactly the right thing” by seeking treatment for their mental illness, Karen Bower of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, one of Nott’s attorneys, told the GW Hatchet, a student newspaper.
The GW Hatchet also reported that, while Nott was apparently required to sign papers waiving confidentiality before entering the hospital, according to the Washington City Paper he was not aware of the significance of the papers.
Bipolar disorder is more common among teenagers than had been previously believed. A study of 391 teenagers admitted to Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center in Providence, R.I., found that up to 20 percent of them had the thought disorder, which is characterized by extreme mood swings. Previous estimates indicated that only 1 percent of teenagers had it.
The authors of the study, reported in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology in December, suggest screening teenagers for bipolar disorder as soon as they are admitted to a psychiatric inpatient unit so that they can be appropriately treated.
In a related story, nearly one in 10 teenagers in the United States experienced major depression in 2005 and fewer than half received treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Sources: Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center news release,
A recent study has confirmed the immense toll that mental illnesses take on U.S. society. "It is now pretty much indisputable that depression and anxiety in the workplace are an enormous expense to employers in terms of health care costs and productivity," said Alan Langlieb, a psychiatrist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, lead author of the study.
According to estimates, depression cost the U.S. $83.1 billion in 2000; anxiety disorders cost $63.1 billion in 1998; these are the most recent years for which statistics are available.
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine, 11/10/05
Genetic factors play a more significant role in women’s risk of depression than they do for men, according to the authors of the largest ever study of depression in twins. The study, reported in the January issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that heritability of depression is 42 percent in women and about 29 percent in men. This data is based on a study of some 42,000 twins.
The study also found that certain genetic factors may affect one gender and not the other. For example, genes may alter the risk for depression in a woman’s response to cyclic sex hormones, particularly in the period after she gives birth.
However, while depression is "moderately heritable," genetic factors are "by no means overwhelming," said an author of the study.
Source: Virginia Commonwealth University, news release, 1/5/06 http://www.vcu.edu/uns/Releases/2006/jan/010506.html***
"Mentally Healthy Aging: A Report on Overcoming Stigma for Older Americans," summarizes the results of two older adult roundtables in which consumers and providers of mental health services, government officials, researchers, older adults and media representatives discussed mental health research on older adults and strategies to eliminate discrimination and stigma. The roundtables were held in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, respectively,
The report is available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Mental Health Information Center, 800-789-2647.
Source: Center for Mental Health Services Consumer Affairs E-News, 1/19/06***
"Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Workbook for Mental Health Consumers," now available in both Spanish and English from the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), includes basic information about the Medicare prescription drug benefit, tips to help people prepare for enrolling in a prescription drug plan, resources and worksheets that can help in enrollment and applying for financial assistance, questions to ask when comparing plans, and definitions of common terms.
To obtain the workbook, click on the NMHA Web site (see below) or call the NMHA Resource Center at 800-969-NMHA (6642), staffed by a bilingual information specialist.
Kaleidoscope Magazine invites submissions that examine the experiences of people who have disabilities. The semiannual publication accepts non-fiction, fiction, poetry, book reviews, and photography as well as artwork. According to its Web site, "The material chosen for Kaleidoscope challenges and overcomes stereotypical, patronizing, and sentimental attitudes about disability. Although content always focuses on a particular aspect of disability, writers with and without disabilities are welcome to submit their work."
See the Kaleidoscope Web site (below) for writer’s guidelines, deadlines and other information.
Producers at the Oprah Winfrey Show have issued a call for guests who suffer from mental illnesses including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia"and excluding unipolar depression"as well as a variety of personality and dissociative disorders.
Potential participants, who must be willing to appear on television, may submit their information at: https://www.oprah.com/plugger/templates/BeOnTheShow.jhtml?action=respond&plugId=176700002***
The National Mental Health Association (NMHA), in Alexandria, Virginia, is seeking a new President to manage the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit mental health organization, to work closely with 340 affiliates nationwide, to oversee a staff of 49 and an operating budget of approximately $7.5 million, and to develop the Association’s capacity to become a symbol of excellence. The new President will serve as the Association’s chief spokesperson and advocate at all opportunities, functioning as a major policy leader in the Mental Health movement. The new President will formulate and implement marketing strategies to raise the profile of the organization including implementing a major branding campaign that will place the Association at the center of the national dialogue around mental health.
The Association is seeking a highly skilled manager who is noted for strategic thinking and brings experience running an organization comparable in size and scope to NMHA. Additionally, the candidate must have a demonstrated commitment to and passion for mental health and human service administration. A college degree from an accredited four-year college or university is required. Contact: Bonnie Smith, NMHA, 2001 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311. Phone: 703-797-4314; Fax: 703-739-5917; E-mail: (preferred) firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) was established in 1909 by former psychiatric patient Clifford W. Beers, a Yale graduate and businessman who was hospitalized in a private Connecticut mental institution after suffering a breakdown due to the death of his brother. During his stays in various public and private institutions, Beers witnessed and was subjected to degrading treatment and mental and physical abuses by untrained, incompetent attendants. From these experiences, Beers set into motion a nationwide reform movement that took shape as the National Mental Health Association.
NMHA envisions a just, humane and healthy society in which all people are accorded respect, dignity, and the opportunity to achieve their full potential free from stigma and prejudice.
The mission of the National Mental Health Association is to promote mental health, prevent mental disorders and achieve victory over mental illness through advocacy, education, research and service. NMHA advocates for public policies that promote mental health, consumer empowerment, and an integrated, comprehensive, and accessible system of care; educates the public about mental health and related illnesses; works toward developing a broad-based national mental health research agenda which includes basic research, services research and prevention research; facilitates and supports Mental Health Association (MHA) affiliate efforts to provide high quality, culturally competent mental health services and support; and enhances the resources and infrastructure necessary to support and advance the MHA mission.
The National Mental Health Association is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness. With more than 340 affiliates nationwide, NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans, especially the 54 million individuals with mental disorders. NMHA’s work has resulted in positive change, educating millions about mental illness and reducing barriers to treatment and services. As a result of these efforts, many Americans with mental disorders have sought care and now enjoy fulfilling, productive lives in their communities. NMHA advances policies and programs that promote wellness, prevention, and resiliency for adults and children. The organization promotes the full inclusion and involvement of consumers, family members, and diverse cultures. All objectives are undertaken so as to maximize the participation of consumers, family members, and other communities and to assure that all aspects of organizational functioning and initiatives are culturally and linguistically competent.
NMHA works with affiliates to strengthen the mental health movement through partnerships that build, support, and sustain a powerful network of healthy MHAs. The overarching goal of the national organization is to strengthen the MHA movement through technical assistance, multi-model communication, and mobilization of affiliate and national experts. Association goals for 2005-2006 include providing integrated and coordinated training and technical assistance that enhances the organizational, financial and program development of affiliates; leveraging field expertise through faculty, consultant, peer-to-peer and online vehicles; managing dues and re-affiliation processes, fairly and consistently; developing early identification/crisis intervention protocols for affiliates in need of assistance; ensuring relevancy of organization to affiliates; and expanding the MHA movement strategically.
A 31-member Board of Directors comprised of advocates, consumers and families of consumers, prominent mental health professionals, public officials, lawyers, medical doctors, researchers, private consultants, professors, and passionate mental health advocates governs the National Mental Health Association. This actively engaged Board is administered by a Board Chair, a Secretary-Treasurer, seven Vice-Chairs, and two Task-force Chairs. The President oversees the day-to-day operations of the institution, a staff of 49, and reports directly to the Board Chair. The President works closely with a senior staff which includes a Chief Operating Officer, an Executive Vice-President, and a Senior Vice-President for Public Affairs, a Chief Financial Officer & Vice-President for Administration, and a Senior Vice President for Marketing & Development. Each of the Mental Health Associations affiliated with NMHA elects it own Board of Directors and officers, conducts service programs independent of the Association, and maintains its own financial accounts.
The operating budget for 2006 is currently at $7.5 million with total net assets valued at $3.9 million. The Association’s primary sources of revenue are grants and contributions from foundations, government agencies, corporate industry, and membership dues received from affiliated organizations nationwide. The Board and staff are exploring new avenues to secure funds through unrestricted gifts from individuals, private and public grants, or unrestricted gifts from assorted corporate sponsors. The Association must have a leader with strong fiscal management skills who can develop and implement strategies for overall diversification of funds.
Several initiatives are currently underway that will substantially strengthen and reposition the organization. For the last several months, the board has developed a national branding campaign that will unify the organization and its affiliates in terms of work in the areas of policy, program and service. In May 2006, the national offices will relocate to office space that supports a strong and collegial work environment. The board is interested in working through various funding scenarios for the organization that will diversify funding; and finally, a comprehensive plan for the advocacy of key policy efforts will be developed and approved by the board.
Specific Role and Responsibilities
The new President and CEO of the National Mental Health Association will join a dynamic institution on the rise and builds on several key achievements in recent years, including implementing a new 5-year strategic plan, lobbying efforts coordinated with state and local affiliates in preventing threatened cuts to public mental health and Medicaid programs, and providing financial support and technical assistance to consumer-run community organizations in replicating existing successful programs.
The new President will lead this organization collegially in a manner consistent with the mission and vision of NMHA, and will develop the talents and skills of the Association effectively. This official will inspire and solicit support from a wide spectrum of people from different social and cultural backgrounds, and have interpersonal skills that inspire trust and confidence.
This official serves as the leader and chief spokesperson for the National Mental Health Association. The specific responsibilities of the new President are to determine and direct the master strategic plan for the Association, identify and implement the fiscal goals to ensure financial viability, define the short- and long-term strategic programs, administer the objectives and policies of the Association, ensure Association’s compliance with all legal and statutory requirements, support and maintain community relations, and encourage diversity and equal opportunity.
The President advocates for NMHA at all opportunities, functioning as a policy leader in the Mental Health Association movement throughout the United States. This official represents NMHA, its programs and policy positions before a wide array of audiences, including but not limited to members of the MHA affiliates, representatives of other organizations in and outside of the mental health field, current and potential donors, the media, and public officials nationwide. The President collaborates with leaders in the public and private sectors at the local, state, national, and international level in all areas related to NMHA’s mission. The President works with state and local affiliates and with international, national, statewide, and local associated groups for networking and for collaborative opportunities. Frequently, NMHA collaborates with federal agencies, foundations, corporations and other institutions to establish premiere programs. The President will engender a sense of urgency for the institution to strive for innovation, justice, equity and diversity. The President will work to position the Association as a successful competitor in the national market as well as a premier non-profit organization.
The President acts as the principal development and budget official for the organization and implements fiscal goals to ensure financial viability of the Association. The President plans, develops, and implements strategies for generating funds and resources for the Association. This official maintains an awareness of external funding opportunities and plans with the staff and Board for future long-term funding sustainability.
The President evaluates project management and oversees budgets of funded projects. The President plans and implements comprehensive resource development programs that target all appropriate components of private and public sector funding and establishes appropriate mechanisms to report and measure their success.
The NHMA President directs all NMHA activities and supervises a senior management team in a collegial manner. The President ensures that the institution maintains a competent staff and a cohesive workplace, motivates senior staff to high levels of service, innovation, and collaboration, encouraging staff development and striving for staff diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity. The President designs, establishes, and maintains an organizational structure and staffing to effectively accomplish the mission, vision, strategic plan, goals and objectives of the Association. The President recruits, employs, trains, supervises, and evaluates senior staff. The President reviews and approves the internal organization of the Association’s functions through departmentalization and delegation of duties and establishes formal means of accountability. The President actively seeks to diversify staff in all selection and promotional opportunities; communicating program objectives to staff; establishing and maintaining a bias-free work environment; and providing opportunities for staff to obtain further training and expertise which will enhance the likelihood of upward mobility.Other duties of the President include:
The new President is expected to accomplish the following major objectives over the next 12-18 months:
The new President should possess the following qualifications:
The new President should possess the following characteristics:
Salary and other compensation will be negotiated and will be competitive with similar positions commensurate to qualifications and experience.
Please forward a resume (or curriculum vitae) and appropriate material
The Pennsylvania Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services (PAPSRS) has announced its first annual poetry and essay writing contest. Anyone is eligible to enter. Winners of the $100 first prize and the $50 second prize will also have the opportunity to read their poem or essay at the PAPSRS conference, to be held April 4-6 in State College, Pa. Send submissions to PAPSRS, P.O. Box 8071, Philadelphia, PA 19101 by March 17, 2006.
The National Mental Health Consumer Self-Help Clearinghouse Directory of Consumer-Driven Services is available at: http://www.cdsdirectory.org/. The directory includes programs in which mental health consumers play a significant role in leadership and operation.
Searchable by location, type of program, and/or targeted clientele, the directory aims to provide a resource for interested parties including consumers, program administrators, and researchers.
All consumer-driven programs are invited to apply for inclusion at www.cdsdirectory.org/contact. To receive application materials by mail, write to email@example.com or NMHCSH Clearinghouse, 1211 Chestnut St., Suite 1207, Philadelphia, PA 19107.***
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