Key Update, October 2018, Volume 15, Number 4

Key Update, October 2018

Volume 15, Number 4

The National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse is now affiliated with the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion!




Uber Will Offer Free Rides to the Polls on Election Day

“On November 6, 2018, Uber will offer U.S. riders the ability to quickly find their polling place and also book a free ride. Lyft is similarly offering half-priced and free rides to polling places on Election Day. ‘Decisions get made by those who show up,’” Uber ‘s CEO wrote. For more, click here.

Thanks, Yvonne Smith

Bazelon Center Offers Updated Voter’s Rights Guide in Time for 2018 Midterm Elections

The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law urges everyone to register to vote—and then to vote!—in the 2018 midterm elections. “People with mental disabilities represent millions of the U.S. population and their voices should be heard, especially for this year’s midterm elections,” said Jennifer Mathis, director of policy and legal advocacy for the Bazelon Center. For more information about Bazelon’s updated 60-page voter’s guide—Vote. It’s Your Right. A Guide to the Voting Rights of People with Mental Disabilities—as well as a link to the guide, click here. For voter registration deadlines in every state (some of which have passed), click here.

“Flooding the World with Psychiatric Drugs Could Boost the Burden of Mental Disorders”

An article published online on Oct. 22, 2018, warns of the risk of increasing the use of psychiatric medications. Citing a recent report by the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development that called for an effort to “reduce the cost and improve the supply of effective psychotropic drugs for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders,” Robert Nikkel (Oregon’s commissioner for mental health and addictions from 2003 to 2008 and currently a noted author, teacher, and advocate) and acclaimed investigative journalist and author Robert Whitaker write: “While reducing the burden of mental disorders is certainly a laudable goal, we believe that implementing this plan will increase the global burden of mental disorders rather than decrease it.” For the STAT story, click here. (Note: In a summary of his book Anatomy of an Epidemic, Robert Whitaker wrote: “There is evidence that psychiatric medications may be helpful over the short-term, and there are some people who fare well on the drugs long term…” For the entire summary, click here. In addition, readers of the Key Update have noted that it is dangerous to overemphasize the role of medications in poor outcomes for people with psychiatric diagnoses when the social determinants of mental health (click here) affect people so profoundly. For more, see “Cross-national clinical and functional remission rates: Worldwide Schizophrenia Outpatient Health Outcomes (W-SOHO) study” click here.)

Thanks, Jacek Haciak

“Antidepressant Withdrawal Lasts Longer and Is More Severe Than We Thought”

Scientists in the UK, reviewing research comprising the experiences of around 5,000 people, “found that current guidelines vastly underestimated the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms; and, what’s more, they miss the rate at which people would experience severe symptoms,” according to a recent article in Care2. A summary of the research (in press) on the website of Addictive Behaviors notes: “More than half (56%) of people who attempt to come off antidepressants experience withdrawal effects. Nearly half (46%) of people experiencing withdrawal effects describe them as severe. It is not uncommon for the withdrawal effects to last for several weeks or months. Current UK and USA Guidelines underestimate the severity and duration of antidepressant withdrawal, with significant clinical implications.” For more, click here. For another article about the same study, click here.

“Reanalysis of STAR*D Study Suggests Overestimation of Antidepressant Efficacy”

A new study by researchers at Harvard Medical school “reanalyzes primary outcome data from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study. Results of the study, published in Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, suggest inflation of antidepressant efficacy both in the STAR*D trial reports and in conventional clinical trials.” For more, click here.

Thanks, Jacek Haciak

Survey of “Secondary Traumatic Stress in Peer Advocates” Seeks Respondents

“Fielding Graduate University is conducting research on secondary traumatic stress (STS) in peer advocates,” writes researcher Ellie Peskosky, M.S. “We hope to add to the literature to allow for better support for…peer advocates to reduce STS. If you are a peer advocate and are 18 years or older, you may participate in the online study. Participation is voluntary and there is an opportunity to enter into a raffle at the completion of the study for the chance to win one of five $100 gift cards.” Questions? Please contact or her supervisor, Dr. Kristine Jacquin, at To participate or to learn more, click here.

Thanks, Judene Shelley

Free Webinar on “Recovery Dialogues: An Avenue for Culture Change in Psychiatric Hospitals”

On Oct. 25, 2018, at 2 p.m. ET, the National Empowerment Center (NEC) will host a free, 90-minute webinar covering “how mental health peer leaders are partnering with hospitals through Recovery Dialogues in an attempt to shift the culture and enhance recovery. The webinar will feature the National Empowerment Center's work with the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health over the past few years.” The NEC writes: “Participants will learn the basics of Recovery Dialogues and how they were implemented at the hospital, including challenges, successes, and tips for doing the same in your state. The webinar will be interactive and include audience participation, as we would like the webinar to serve as an example of an online Recovery Dialogue in action.” For more information and to register, click here.

Lancet Commission Outlines “Blueprint for Action to Promote Mental Wellbeing”

Ten years after the 2007 Lancet series on global mental health, which sought to transform the way policy makers thought about global health, a Lancet Commission “proposes that the global mental agenda should be expanded from a focus on reducing the treatment gap to improving the mental health of whole populations and reducing the global burden of mental disorders by addressing gaps in prevention and quality of care. The Commission outlines a blueprint for action to promote mental wellbeing, prevent mental health problems, and enable recovery from mental disorders.” For more information and the Lancet reports, click here. For “Report: World Support for Mental Health Care Is ‘Pitifully Small,’” published by NPR, click here. (Note: Please also see “Flooding the World with Psychiatric Drugs Could Boost the Burden of Mental Disorders,” above, or click here.)

Thanks, Elizabeth R. Stone

Do You Hear Voices? OurVoicesRaised Wants Your Story!, “a collective of people who have found support through the Hearing Voices Movement,” is conducting “a research project investigating Hearing Voices Groups in the United States. We’re interested in gaining a better understanding of how Hearing Voices groups work and what essential elements of hearing voices groups make them effective for people who hear voices, see visions or have other unusual or extreme experiences…This project is committed to sharing its findings with the community that has generated them (and beyond), and to create opportunities for the hearing voices community to expand its work in new ways.” Gail Hornstein, a psychology professor at Mount Holyoke and author of Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness, is principal investigator. For more information and/or to participate, click here.

Lancet Plans to Include People with Lived Experience in the Peer Review Process

Lancet Psychiatry, working with the McPin Foundation in London, is launching a peer review process involving people with lived experience of mental health services—starting with 10 such individuals who have received services in the UK but “with bigger ambitions to extend the scheme worldwide.” “If psychiatry is to remain relevant and achieve the ambitions for psychiatrists to ‘stand up for the rights, dignity, and inclusion of people with mental disorders,’ then psychiatrists must recognize that service user experiential and first-hand knowledge is legitimate,” according to a challenging response to last year’s WPA-Lancet Psychiatry Commission on the Future of Psychiatry. The program is starting small, recruiting 10 people who have used mental health services in the UK as “lay reviewers.” Applications will be accepted through Oct. 19, 2018. The Lancet will review the program a year after it is in operation. For more, click here.

Thanks, Elizabeth R. Stone

Two-thirds of People Diagnosed with Schizophrenia Do Not Improve on Antipsychotic Medications, Researchers Write

“A new analysis of antipsychotic treatment of schizophrenia (published in Schizophrenia Bulletin) has found that two-thirds of patients treated this way do not experience symptom remission,” Mad In America reports. The researchers “reported finding that ‘The overall percentage of no symptomatic remission was 66.9%’—meaning that only about a third of people with schizophrenia experienced full improvement on antipsychotic medications. 19.8% of the patients in the study did not experience any improvement at all after taking antipsychotic drugs…” For the Mad In America article, which includes a link to the Schizophrenia Bulletin abstract, click here. (The abstract notes: “Nonresponse and nonremission percentages were notably high. Nevertheless, the patients in our analysis could represent a negative selection since they came from short-term RCTs [randomized controlled trials] and could have been treated before study inclusion; thus, further response may not have been observed. Observational studies on this important question are needed.”)

MePlusMe Is an Online Intervention to Help Students in Higher Education Who Need Support

Psychological and study skill difficulties can challenge students in higher education (HE) as well as institutions of higher education and their support services, according to the International Journal of Mental Health Systems. “Alternative means of support, such as online interventions, have been identified as cost-effective and efficient ways to provide inclusive support to HE students, removing many of the barriers to help-seeking as well as promoting mental health and well-being.” One such intervention, MePlusMe, “is an online multimedia system that addresses the psychological and educational needs of higher education students…Responses from almost a thousand students across the UK showed that the system was well-received and confirmed that there is a need for this kind of support.” For this case study of MePlusMe, click here.

Thanks, Elizabeth R. Stone

Free Webinar on “Community Inclusion and the Critical Role of Peers” on October 30

On the last Tuesday of almost every month at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing hosts a free, one-hour webinar. On October 30, the topic will be “Community Inclusion and the Critical Role of Peers.” Doors to Wellbeing writes: “Exciting new research suggests that increased community participation is related to improved physical, cognitive and mental health and wellbeing. This webinar will provide mental health peer specialists and their allies a foundational understanding of the relationship between community participation and recovery and wellbeing. It will also explore the key role that mental health peer specialists can play in supporting increased community participation.” The presenter will be Mark Salzer, Ph.D., director of the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion. For more information and to register, click here.

Forbes Suggests Ways that Employers Can “Ditch Disability Bias in the Workplace”

Forbes recently noted that, according to a study by Scope—a British nonprofit that calls itself the “disability equality charity”—“people living with disabilities report that they fear telling their bosses about a mental health issue because they will be seen as weak or incompetent.” And “[a] mere 12 percent of U.S. companies have reached the Department of Labor target of 7 percent disability representation.” Among the advice to employers is to “acknowledge that disability rights are civil rights. Find opportunities to celebrate, not ‘comply with,’ the Americans with Disabilities Act.” The article also suggests consulting the 2018 Disability Equality Index (available here). For the Forbes article, click here.

Hugs May Protect Against Conflict-related Distress, Researchers Say

“A new study reveals receiving a hug on a day when you experience interpersonal conflict can be a buffer against negative mood and distress,” according to, writing about a Carnegie Mellon University study. According to the article, “The researchers interviewed 404 adult men and women every night for 14 consecutive days about their conflicts, hug receipt, and positive and negative moods. Receiving a hug on the day of conflict was concurrently associated with a smaller decrease in positive emotions and a smaller increase in negative emotions. The effects of hugs may have lingered too, as interviewees reported a continued attenuation of negative mood the next day.” For more, including a link to the study, published Oct. 3, 2018, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, click here.

“How a Bench and a Team of Grandmothers Can Tackle Depression”

In Zimbabwe—with more than 16 million people and only 12 psychiatrists—an innovative program, replicated in other countries, is helping people experiencing depression. More than 400 grandmothers have been trained in “evidence-based talk therapy, which they deliver for free in more than 70 communities in Zimbabwe,” the BBC reports. “In 2017 alone, the Friendship Bench, as the program is called, helped over 30,000 people there. The method has been empirically vetted and [has] been expanded to countries beyond, including the U.S.” According to prominent Zimbabwean psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, the program “can serve as a blueprint for any community, city or country interested in bringing affordable, accessible and highly effective mental health services to its residents”: “As Chibanda puts it: ‘Imagine if we could create a global network of grandmothers in every major city in the world.’” For the BBC article, click here. For more about the Friendship Bench, click here.

Hey, “Stigma Watch”! Let’s Needle The Argyle Sweater Cartoonist!

Scott Hilburn, who draws The Argyle Sweater—which appears to be heavily influenced by Gary Larson’s The Far Side—recently published a drawing (click here) with the caption “Did you get plain or nuts?” in which he depicts M&Ms as little “nuts” in straitjackets. If you feel so inclined, you can contact the distributor, Andrews McMeel Syndication (click here) to express your thoughts about the cartoon.

“5 Key Ways Crafting Heals Us”

Crafting can heal us, according to an article in Psych Central: “It doesn’t matter which craft we engage in. As long as we are doing something creative with our hands, we begin to heal our minds.” The article lists “five common ways that crafting heals us: Crafting distracts the mind, it feels good to be productive, crafting builds self-esteem, crafting offers community, [and] crafting stirs the imagination.” For the article, click here. And, in a related story, for “The Creative Art of Quilting: This art form is good for your health, helps you stay connected and provides purpose,” click here.

Thanks, Surviving Spirit Newsletter

“Can Green Space Reduce Risk of Schizophrenia?”

Mother Nature Network recently reported on a Danish study in which “researchers used satellite images of green spaces in Denmark captured between 1985 and 2013. These maps were compared with data from the country’s national registers for people born between 1985 and 2003 and whether or not those people developed schizophrenia. Their results…found that of the 943,027 people in the study, 7,509 of them were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Furthermore, those who lived in the areas with the least amount of green space faced a 1.52-fold increased risk of developing schizophrenia compared to those who lived in areas with the most green space.” The results were published in Schizophrenia Research (click here). For the Mother Nature Network story, click here.

The October 2018 Digest of Articles about the Criminal Justice System, in Which Many Individuals with Mental Health Conditions Are Incarcerated (and the Key Update continues after this Digest)

Here is the October wrap-up of stories about the criminal justice system. (Note: Some of the titles and other language are not politically correct but are reproduced as written.) For “21 Best Books on Prison, Incarceration, and the Justice System,” click here. For “Prison psychiatry chief’s report accuses state of misleading court on mental health care,” click here. For “Starting a dialogue over incarcerating the mentally ill,” click here. For “Where Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Measures Are on the 2018 Ballot,” click here. For “To Fight Mass Incarceration We Need to Decriminalize Trauma: At Homeboy Industries, career, education, and mental-health services are creating a way out of poverty and violence,” click here. For “How to Leak Stories to the Marshall Project: Your guide to becoming a source,” click here. For “More Than 4,000 Prisoners with Serious Mental Illness Are Held in Solitary Confinement, Study Finds,” click here. For “The Incalculable Costs of Mass Incarceration: Prisons carry enormous, perhaps impossible to measure social costs—but when assessing the system fiscally, reformers should focus on staffing salaries instead of the number of incarcerated people,” click here. For “Carceral State Project: Project seeks to grant ‘U’ degrees inside prison,” click here. For “Cruel and Usual: The History of Lethal Injection,” click here. For “More Women Are Behind Bars Now. One Prison Wants to Change That: Connecticut’s WORTH program uses therapy, classes and mentoring to try to keep women from coming back,” click here. For “Frozen in Time: What Older People Face After Prison,” click here. For “Convicts Seeking to Clear Their Records Find More Prosecutors Willing to Help,” click here. For “Five Things You Didn’t Know About Clearing Your Record: A primer on the complicated road to expungement,” click here. For “How People on the Outside Can Support the Political Work of People on the Inside,” click here. For “Why Are So Many Pa. Prison Inmates Committing Suicide?” click here. For “Incarcerated Pennsylvanians now have to pay $150 to read. We should all be outraged.” click here. For “Washington state ends ‘racially biased’ death penalty,” click here. For “Rethinking Prison, From the Inside Out,” click here. For “Cash Bail Yields a New Casualty: A Texas jail suicide involving a woman who couldn’t make bail in a shoplifting case highlights the plight of pretrial detainees with mental illness,” click here.


International Survey on Antipsychotic Medication Withdrawal Seeks Respondents

“Have you taken antipsychotic medication (such as Zyprexa, Seroquel, Abilify, Risperdal, Haldol, Geodon, Stelazine, and others), for any condition or diagnosis, with or without other medications? And did you ever stop taking antipsychotics, or try to stop taking them? Are you 18 years or older? If yes, you can take this survey about antipsychotic withdrawal and attempts to withdraw, including if you stopped taking them completely or if you tried to come off and still take them. The survey aims to improve mental health services by better understanding medication withdrawal. Lead researcher is Will Hall, a therapist and Ph.D. student who has himself taken antipsychotics. Service users/survivors/consumers from around the world also gave input. The study is sponsored by Maastricht University in the Netherlands; co-sponsors include the International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal. Questions? Please contact”  For more information or to take the survey, click on

“NSF Wants to Know What You Think It Should Fund”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is about to launch a contest called the NSF 2026 Idea Machine. According to a recent article in Science, “On August 31, NSF will begin accepting online entries for the contest. Anyone can submit an idea—from individual scientists to professional societies to a high school science class…The only real restriction is that the idea must be something NSF could support. So no proposals to cure cancer, or send astronauts to Mars.” The contest will close on October 26, 2018. The winners will be announced next summer. For more information and to enter, click here.

Thanks, Elizabeth R. Stone

Did You Write Poetry While You Were in Jail or Prison? If So…

Incarceration Nations Network is seeking submissions for an international collection of poetry by incarcerated writers around the world, to be published by Akashic Press. Selected poets will be compensated for their work. All poetry must have been written during incarceration. Submit work along with a short bio and the name and country of the prison in which you were incarcerated to Deadline: October 30, 2018. (Editor’s note: Although there is nothing about this poetry collection on the Incarceration Nations Network website or the Akashic Press website, Professor Baz Dreisinger has confirmed that submissions for the collection are being sought. When she was asked why Akashic Books indicates that they are “not accepting print submissions at this time, as our small staff is overwhelmed with work on our current release schedule and forthcoming titles,” Professor Dreisinger said the poetry collection is one of their forthcoming titles.)

New Virtual Group Is Launched to Advance Peer Research Capacity, Leadership, and Involvement

Nev Jones, Ph.D., and Emily Cutler, a doctoral candidate, have launched a new listserv dedicated to building research capacity, leadership, and involvement among peers, survivors, and service users.  Dr. Jones, assistant professor, Department of Mental Health Law & Policy, University of South Florida, was part of the team that developed “User/Survivor Leadership & Capacity Building in Research: White Paper on Promoting Engagement Practices in Peer Evaluation/Research (PEPPER),” published by the Lived Experience Research Network. For the white paper, click here. Anyone interested in joining the virtual group can email Nev at

National Dialogues on Behavioral Health to Be Held in New Orleans Oct. 28-31

The National Dialogues on Behavioral Health—“the oldest ongoing annual conference on mental health and substance abuse in the United States,” its organizers say—will take place in New Orleans October 28-31, 2018. Its theme: Reinventing the Behavioral Health Workforce: Implementing Innovative Solutions. “The purpose of the conference is to bring experts, administrators, providers, consumers, family members and advocates together to discuss the cutting edge in the topic of interest with a focus on implementation and ‘how to do it.’ A distinctive feature is the opportunity for extended dialogue and interaction among the participants.” For more information and/or to register, click here.

The ISPS-US 17th Annual Meeting Will Take Place in Philadelphia!

The U.S. Chapter of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS_US) is holding its 17th annual meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown in Philadelphia November 9-11, 2018! The conference theme is “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Wholeness in Extreme States.” For conference information, click here.

First International Trauma Summit to Be Hosted by the World Federation for Mental Health

The World Federation for Mental Health is hosting the First International Trauma Summit in Houston November 28-30, 2018. “Natural disasters and violence facing the world today are occurring at a pace which far surpasses the resources and people mobilized to deal with the health and mental health effects of the trauma,” the WFMH writes. “It is time that there be a global conversation to develop policies and best practices for governments and Non-Governmental Agencies (NGOs) to minimize the cost in health and productivity...We will start the conversation and come up with a Call to Action to begin the process of healing for our world. As global citizens, we will unite to begin developing guidelines and build awareness of the cost we are all paying by ignoring the role governments and other global entities can play in minimizing trauma and its effects.” For more information or to register, click here.

Thanks, Janet Paleo

Disclaimer: The Clearinghouse does not necessarily endorse the opinions and opportunities included in the Key Update.

About The Key Update

The National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse is now affiliated with the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion!

The Key Update is the free monthly e-newsletter of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse. Volume 15, No. 4, October 2018. For content, reproduction or publication information, please contact Susan Rogers at (and please note that this is a new email address). Follow Susan on Twitter at @SusanRogersMH