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The Key Update, Volume 2 No. 9, March 2006
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The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is seeking people to serve as voting members on committees reviewing research grant applications. These public reviewers provide written comments (typically one to three paragraphs) on the applications’ strengths and weaknesses and vote at review meetings, usually in the Washington, D.C., area or by teleconference.
Qualified applicants must have experience with mental disorders, either firsthand or as a family member, caregiver, supporter, practitioner, payer, policy maker, and/or research participant; and/or have performed community service involving the interests of people with mental disorders, such as serving on mental health boards or committees or being involved with relevant publications.
Applicants should e-mail Annette Mayberry at email@example.com by May 1, 2006, including a resume and a brief letter highlighting their area(s) of interest and history of involvement with mental health issues. A Public Reviewer Workshop will be held June 22, 2006, in the Washington, D.C., area; those who are invited to attend will receive expenses and a $200 honorarium. Invitations will be extended by May 24, 2006.
Source: CMHS (Center for Mental Health Services) E-News, 1/26/06, Vol. 06-05* * *
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Resource Center to Address Discrimination and Stigma Associated with Mental Illness (ADS Center) is offering three trainings:
All the calls take place from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET).
* * *
The U.S. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA), formerly IAPSRS (International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services), is offering a teleconference to provide an overview of how peer support is funded in several states, standards to assure best practices, and ideas on how to advocate for peer support services. The training will take place on Wednesday, March 22, 2006, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
The call is intended for providers seeking to develop or improve peer-provided services, state mental health directors, consumer affairs officers, Medicaid and mental health staff interested in peer services, and managed care providers. The presenters are nationally known consumer advocates Dr. Ed Knight, vice president for recovery, rehabilitation and mutual support for ValueOptions, a managed behavioral health care organization; Larry Belcher, manager for consumer affairs in Phoenix Ariz., and the founder of CONTAC, one of the three consumer-run national technical assistance centers; and Peter Ashenden, executive director of the Mental Health Empowerment Project in New York State.
USPRA members pay $149, non-members $185. For more information, contact Ev Bussema at 410-789-7054 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Mental Health E-News, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services* * *
NEWS AND REPORTS
Connecticut has announced plans for a statewide, electronic medical records system that will make patients’ records available 24/7. The new initiative, eHealth Connecticut, is expected to speed communication among physicians, help reduce prescription errors, and save money by informing doctors about medical tests that patients have already undergone.
“It will let doctors and hospitals communicate more rapidly, more effectively, in real time,” Connecticut governor M. Jodi Rell told the Associated Press. “That’s what we want, not two-day-old information or having to send somebody back for a different test.”
The initiative follows a 2004 executive order by the Bush administration, calling for the conversion from paper to electronic medical records within a decade. Massachusetts, West Virginia and Indiana are among states that are working on initiatives similar to Connecticut’s.
The program will include privacy safeguards already in place for financial records statewide, according to a member of the coalition that developed the program.
Two computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) packages that help people combat depression and anxiety have won the approval of the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), an independent organization that provides national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health.
On February 22, NICE announced that research has established that the two programs – Beating the Blues and FearFighter – are effective enough to be routinely prescribed; it declined to endorse two other computerized programs based on a lack of evidence.
CBT is a short-term treatment protocol that is intended to help people redirect destructive thoughts and habits and learn healthier ways of addressing their problems.
Online therapy is building an evidence base. For example, a study published last year in the British Journal of Psychiatry reported that computerized CBT can be as effective as in-person therapy for the treatment of mild to moderate depression.
In addition, online therapy may be much less expensive than seeing a therapist: A spokesman for FearFighter – a 10-session program for people who have panic, anxiety or phobias, which encourages them to defuse their fears by facing them -- says that the program costs about 25 percent of what a course of treatment with a therapist would amount to.
Source: The Times Online
New York State’s new licensing law for mental health professionals now requires licensing of all mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychoanalysts and creative arts therapists. Mental health counselors and social workers have worked for nearly three decades to pass the law, which took effect January 1, 2006; they expect it to protect the public from unqualified practitioners and provide the practitioners with more credibility, according to The Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y. Only California and Nevada do not have similar laws, The Gazette reports.
Among licensing requirements are a master’s degree in counseling, passing a state certification exam, a one-year supervised internship or practicum, and 3,000 hours of post-master’s training. Longtime counselors who meet certain requirements can be grandfathered in.
According to the American Counseling Association, the next step is to gain recognition from the insurance industry. “We can also expect that acquiring recognition from the insurance industry will be a lengthy and sometimes frustrating task,” according to the Web site of the New York Mental Health Counselors Association.
The Mental Health Association of New York State did not push for the licensing requirements because the group is mainly concerned with easing access to mental health services, The Gazette also reported.
Source: The Gazette (Schenectady, N.Y.)
People who are homeless in New York City die at twice the rate of their fellow New Yorkers, according to a study recently released by the city’s Department of Homeless Services and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The research, based on data collected by the two agencies, found that AIDS and substance abuse were key causes of the higher mortality rate, The New York Times reported.
The study, which surveyed more than 100,000 adults who had spent at least one night in a homeless shelter between 2001 and 2003, is fueling New York City’s efforts to improve medical treatment of homeless people. Plans include substance abuse treatment programs inside homeless shelters, as well as expanded HIV testing, including rapid-results testing, within the shelter system.
Source: The New York Times, 1/31/06* * *
A two-year study has found that older adults with depression benefited from having a treatment team composed of both primary and mental health care professionals. The Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., studied IMPACT (Improving Mood Promoting Access to Collaborative Care Treatment), which used computers to track each participant’s needs and treatment, including talk therapy and antidepressant medication.
The study involved more than 1,800 people over 60 years of age, all of whom had been diagnosed with depression. It determined that IMPACT participants had less depression, better physical health and functioning, and a better quality of life in general than the control group.
The findings were published in the British Medical Journal in January 2006.
Sources: Kaiser Permanente, news release, 1/20/06
A federal lawsuit filed on February 6 by the Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (OPA) and the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law alleges that Connecticut is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by isolating, segregating, and institutionalizing more than 200 people with mental illnesses in three nursing homes. The plaintiffs are asking that the court order state agencies to create appropriate community-based residential alternatives for the nursing home residents.
Bazelon attorney Karen Bower told Mental Health Weekly (MHW) that similar situations prevail nationwide, and cited New York, New Jersey and Ohio as three other states that “warehouse” people who have mental illnesses in nursing homes. “It’s really a tragic waste of life,” she said. “They’re not getting all the services they need to lead independent lives in the community.”
Noting that the cost of nursing home beds is five times that of community living arrangements, the state’s Lieutenant Governor, Kevin Sullivan, said he was pleased about the lawsuit. MHW reports that state officials are hoping to receive a Medicaid waiver to support community-based services for nursing home residents.
Source: Mental Health Weekly, 2/13/06* * *
Nearly $13 million that was supposed to follow the patients from two North Carolina state hospitals into the community as a result of downsizing may instead be used to support new state hospital construction, mental health advocates and care providers fear.
The advocates assert that the state’s plan for mental health reform may be foiled because, according to the North Carolina budget director, the state is not authorized to use the money saved from downsizing to fund community mental health services. This comes on the heels of a previous proposal that suggests cutting $28 million in funding in the coming fiscal year from the local management entities, or LMEs, which are charged with creating and managing a network of local mental health service providers.
Carol Duncan-Clayton, who heads the North Carolina Council of Community Programs, comprising community mental health services, told the Citizen-Times that the plan is “in conflict with the intent of reform, which was to build community services. We’re really angered over this.”
Sen. Martin Nesbitt, co-chair of the Mental Health Legislative Oversight Committee, said his committee intends to press the state Legislature to increase the mental health system budget.
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times, 2/23/06
Promotional materials (e.g., wallet cards and brochures) for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (1-888-628-9454 for Spanish-speaking callers), the only federally funded hotline for suicide prevention and intervention, can be downloaded from the following link: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/campaign. Organizations can also link from their Web sites to the Lifeline site: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
People in emotional distress or suicidal crisis can call the Lifeline 24/7 to talk in English or Spanish with a trained crisis worker. For technical assistance in customizing the promotional materials with your organization’s logo and contact information, contact the Lifeline Communications Team at 1-800-790-2647 or email@example.com***
A consensus statement issued in February by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) lists 10 principles necessary for mental health recovery. SAMHSA’s “10 Fundamental Components of Recovery” indicate that the process must be:
The consensus statement was developed with the aid of more than a hundred stakeholders, including mental health consumers, families, providers, advocates, researchers, managed care organizations, and state and local public officials.
The National Consensus Statement on Mental Health Recovery is available at SAMHSA's National Mental Health Information Center, http://www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov, or 1-800-789-2647.* * *
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/contact, via fax at 215-636-6312, or by phone at 800-553-4KEY (4539). To receive an application by mail, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or NMHCSH Clearinghouse, 1211 Chestnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19107.***
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