Key Update, February 2018, Volume 14, Number 8

Key Update, February 2018

Volume 14, Number 8

Peers Can Help Others with Mental Health Conditions Manage Their Physical Health, Research Shows

A randomized study of 400 individuals with serious mental health conditions and at least one long-term general medical condition has found that those involved in the Health And Recovery Peer (HARP) program, a self-management program for general medical conditions led by certified peer specialists, achieved better results than those in the “business as usual” group. According to the study, published online by Psychiatric Services on February 1, 2018, the HARP program was associated with improved physical and mental health-related quality of life. This suggests the potential benefits of more widely disseminating peer-led disease self-management for people with mental health conditions. For more information, click here.

Thanks, @HarveyRosenthal

Webinar on “Redefining Risk in Peer Support Relationships” This Friday, February 16, at 12 p.m. ET

The InterNational Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS) and Optum are sponsoring a one-hour webinar on “Redefining Risk in Peer Support Relationships” on February 16 at noon ET. The presenter is Chris Hansen, director of Intentional Peer Support (IPS). The webinar will be interactive and will include a demonstration role play. At the appointed time, click here to join the meeting. The meeting number (access code) is 642 950 604; the password is optum. Or you can join by phone: 763.957.6300.

Alternatives 2018 Is the People’s Alternatives! Don’t Miss Your Opportunity to Present a Workshop!

Applications for workshop presentations at Alternatives 2018 are now being accepted! For more than 30 years, the Alternatives conference has been organized and hosted by peers for peers (people with lived experience of the behavioral health system, emotional distress/crisis, trauma, or substance use/addiction). The conference is famous for offering the latest and best information in the peer recovery movement, and provides an invaluable opportunity for peers to network with and learn from one another. “This will be a ‘people’s Alternatives,’ funded entirely through registration fees and donations. We will be ‘on our own’ again, connecting to the roots of our movement,” said a representative of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR). The NCMHR is organizing this year’s conference, July 29-August 3 at The Catholic University in Washington, DC; the theme is “On Our Own: Transforming the Future Together.” For the Call for Presentations and an online submission link, registration information, and other important details, click here. To go directly to the Call for Presentations page, click here. The deadline for submitting proposals is March 16, 2018. (Last month’s Key Update included a later date in error; we apologize!) Want to help plan the conference? Fill out the Alternatives Planning Interest Form, available here. Questions? Write Follow @AltCon_2018 on Twitter; the hashtag is #Alternatives2018. For the Alternatives 2018 Facebook page, click here.

New, Free Online Platform Helps Mental Health Advocates Connect with Each Other

“ICI Connect is a simple, free online platform that is designed to help people who are asking questions or thinking critically about the mental health system find and connect with each other in person,” according to the ICI Connect web page. “After creating basic profiles, members can search by location and/or interest for other members who live nearby in order to connect, share information, spark new friendships or collaborations, provide mutual support or advocacy, organize public learning events or groups, set up crisis networks, or begin to build grassroots community alternatives to the mental health system.” For more information and to connect, click here. For more about the Inner Compass Initiative, click here:

NARPA Invites Workshop Proposals for Its Annual Rights Conference

The National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA) is seeking workshop proposals that address strategies, ideas, programs, and emerging practices that support and promote NARPA’s mission and commitment to individual rights, liberty, freedom, and dignity. The conference will be held September 26-29, 2018, at the Holiday Inn Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. The proposal deadline is February 28, 2018; selected presenters will be notified via e-mail by April 15. For more information, including possible topic areas, and for the application for presentations, click here. Questions? Write or call 256.650.6311. Electronic submissions via are preferred, or mail proposals to NARPA, P.O. Box 855, Huntsville, AL 35804.

SAMHSA’s VOICE Awards Are Seeking Nominations

“The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Voice Awards program honors people in recovery and their family members who are improving the lives of people with mental [health conditions] and substance use disorders in communities across the country. The awards program also recognizes television and film productions that educate the public about behavioral health, and showcase that recovery is real and possible through treatment and recovery supports. In 2018, the Voice Awards will pay special attention to individuals and entertainment productions that are raising awareness about serious mental [health conditions] and opioid use disorders. All nominations are due by Friday, March 16…There is no limit to the number of nominations an individual can submit, and self-nominations are welcome.” For more information or to make a nomination, click here.

Live & Learn Launches New Peer Respite Program Directory

Live & Learn Inc. has just launched its newly updated Program Directory. The Directory contains a listing of individual peer respites organized by state, with a “profile” of each peer respite. The profiles include a picture, map, information about staff training, guest eligibility, and links. Peer respites—operated and staffed by people with psychiatric histories and/or who have experienced trauma and/or extreme states—are voluntary, short-term residential programs that provide community-based, non-clinical crisis support. They operate 24 hours a day in a homelike environment. For the Directory, click here.

How WIOA Supports Employment and Training Programs, and How Social Enterprises Can Benefit

“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is the largest source of federal funding for workforce development activities in the United States,” writes REDFworkshop. Their learning guide includes information about WIOA’s predecessor, WIA (Workforce Investment Act of 1998), about WIOA and the changes it implemented, how funding flows from the federal to local level, and how social enterprises can benefit from WIOA funding. To learn more and to download the free guide, click here.

Thanks, @LayshaOstrow

“Video Game” Helps People with Auditory Hallucinations Control Their Voices

A small study by British researchers has found that people who hear voices can learn to control the voices by practicing with a “video game.” The researchers asked the dozen participants to use an MRI scanner to monitor and control the activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for auditory hallucinations, while devising techniques to move a cartoon rocket, floating in the sky, back down to earth. “If they were reducing brain activity in this brain region, then the rocket would move down with it,” said one researcher. Almost every one of the participants were able to devise techniques to control the rocket—and were subsequently able to use the same techniques to control their voices. Although the research is still in its early stages, “…the potential of a non-medical intervention to manage verbal hallucinations will offer hope to many,” said one mental health advocate. For an article about the study, click here. And for another approach to helping people who hear voices—avatar therapy—click here.

Thanks, Jacek Haciak

“Decisions in Recovery” Website and Handbook Aim to Help People with Opioid Use Issues

“Are you finding it difficult to stop using?” a SAMHSA website asks. “If you’ve thought about cutting down or stopping, this site can help. If you are using narcotics, prescription pain medications, heroin, or any other opioid drug, this site has information about some of your treatment options and ways to locate a provider who can help. You can also watch videos of people who have been where you are. They found a way to succeed in recovery and reclaim their lives. So can you.” For the website, click here. SAMHSA also offers a free, 68-page handbook called “Decisions in Recovery: Medications for Opioid Use Disorder,” available here.

“In Our Own Voice—African-American Stories of Oppression, Survival and Recovery in Mental Health Systems”

“ ‘In Our Own Voice: African-American Stories of Oppression, Survival and Recovery In Mental Health Systems’ is a revolutionary act of self-love and a demand for visibility for African-American psychiatric survivors,” writes the author, Vanessa Jackson. “As we listen to the voices of the men and women who shared their stories we will hear the profound pain caused by mentalism and discrimination in our most important relationships, including our relationships with mental health providers. This guide and the sharing and connections that I hope will emerge from its use, will provide us with an opportunity as survivors to own our wounding and recovery and offer our experiences as lessons to our community on survival and triumph.” To download the free 37-page publication, click here.

Thanks @Fred_Friedman

“Why Underlying Causes of Emotional Distress Are Often Unexplored”

In a podcast, Dr. Lucy Johnstone, a clinical psychologist and author, discusses “our reliance on the concept of diagnosis and how that doesn’t fit well with psychological or emotional distress, and how a predominantly biomedical view of [mental health issues] tends to lead to a purely medication-centered approach to mental health care.” Among the topics covered are “why a psychosocial approach to mental distress would reduce psychiatric prescribing,” and “that there is more and more evidence to suggest that, overall, psychiatric drugs lead to disability in the long term rather than fix any problem.” For more information and to listen to the podcast, click here.

Thanks, @AnneCook14

SAMHSA’s “Spring Training” Covers Sleep’s Impact on People with Mental Health Conditions

As part of its Program to Achieve Wellness, SAMHSA is hosting three one-hour webinars, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET, on the importance of sleep and how to get more of it. “Creating Environments for a Good Night’s Sleep” is on March 7 (click here to register); “The Intersection of Chronic Pain, Serious Mental Illness, and Trauma on Sleep…and What to Do About It” is on March 14 (click here to register); and “Putting It All Together: Sleep Habits, Rituals, and Routines for Health and Wellness” is on March 21 (click here to register). Also, according to a 2017 study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, “Sleep deprivation is an effective anti-depressant for nearly half of depressed patients.” For more information, click here.

Free VOICE Award-Winning Comedy Documentary

Until March 1, 2018, you can get a free copy of “Cracking Up,” the VOICE Award-winning documentary about Stand Up For Mental Health (SUFMH), which teaches stand-up comedy to people with mental health conditions as a way of building confidence and fighting prejudice and discrimination. SUFMH was founded by award-winning counselor and stand-up comic David Granirer, who himself has depression. For more information about how to get your free copy, and to see a preview, click here. To watch dozens of SUFMH comics “find the funny side of their recovery journeys,” click here. “These vid[eo]s are a great source of laughter and inspiration for anyone dealing with a mental health issue,” Granirer said.

Radio Podcast Provides Information on Harm Reduction to Help People with Substance Use Issues

On February 4, 2018, “In Your Right Mind” (a radio show available on demand at aired a program on how harm reduction can help people with substance use conditions. According to the Harm Reduction Coalition, “Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of strategies, from safer use, to managed use, to abstinence, to meet drug users ‘where they’re at,’ addressing conditions of use along with the use itself.” To listen to the radio show, click here. For more information about harm reduction, click here.

Memoir Magazine Accepts Unsolicited Submissions Year-Round

Do you have a story to tell? Memoir Magazine wants to hear from you! "Memoir Magazine is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity for all persons regardless of race, sex, color, religion, creed, national origin or ancestry, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and disability. All writers are encouraged to submit." For more information, including guidelines, and to submit your story, click here.

International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence

Therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) is an interdisciplinary field of philosophy and practice that examines the therapeutic and anti-therapeutic properties of laws and public policies, legal and dispute resolution systems, and legal institutions. TJ values psychologically healthy outcomes in legal disputes and transactions, without claiming exclusivity in terms of policy objectives. The International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence (ISTJ) is a non-profit, learned organization dedicated to advancing TJ by supporting legal and interdisciplinary scholarship; identifying and promoting best professional and judicial practices; sponsoring conferences, workshops, and seminars; engaging in continuing professional education and public education activities; and hosting and participating in print, electronic, social media platforms. For more information, click here.

Librarians Get Trained to Help People with Mental Health Conditions

Because libraries have become a kind of refuge for individuals with mental health conditions who are homeless, about 35 librarians in California have completed a course on how to respond to signs of a mental health or substance use condition, a Pittsburgh TV station has reported. The library hopes to train at least 50 librarians by 2019. “There’s kind of a good way and bad way to handle any situation, and the more tools we give our staff, the better off they’re going to be able to keep things positive,” said Christie Hamm, manager of youth and literacy services at the Sacramento Public Library. To watch the video, click here.

Johnson & Johnson Is Using the Prospect of Jail Time to Market an Antipsychotic Drug

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson recently received FDA approval to promote “an unusual benefit” of an antipsychotic medication delivered by a monthly injection: “The medication, the FDA concluded, could potentially keep people with schizophrenia out of prison or jail.” Although a study of a potential side effect of the medication, Invega Sustenna—generic name paliperidone palmitate—indicated that the risk of tardive dyskinesia is low (click here), it is worth noting that this is the same company Steven Brill reported on in “America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker: Over the course of 20 years, Johnson & Johnson created a powerful drug [Risperdal], promoted it illegally to children and the elderly, covered up the side effects and made billions of dollars” (click here). For the Marshall Project story about Invega Sustenna, click here.

The February 2018 Digest of Articles about the Criminal Justice System, in Which Many Individuals with Mental Health Conditions Are Incarcerated

Here is the February wrap-up of stories about the criminal justice system: For the most recent newsletter of the National Reentry Resource Center Reentry and Employment Roundup, click here. For “Nation’s Leading Corrections Administrators Call for 50% Reduction of People on Probation & Parole to Save Money and Increase Public Safety,” a Columbia University Justice Lab press release which includes links to two new reports, click here. For the Council of State Governments Justice Center Juvenile Justice Roundup (including “Assessments Often Miss Mental Health Issues for Youth on Probation”), click here. For “Helping Moms, Dads & Kids Come Home: Eliminating Barriers to Housing for People with Criminal Records,” click here. For “Redemption for Offenders and Victims,” click here. For “National Prison Rate Continues to Decline Amid Sentencing, Re-Entry Reforms,” click here. For “How Mass Incarceration Harms U.S. Health, in Five Charts,” click here. For a selection of the Vera Institute’s “favorite justice-related podcasts, books, documentaries, and social media influencers from 2017,”click here. For “Kids in psych center say staff sexually, physically abused them. Why didn’t officials listen?” click here. For “California's mentally ill inmate population keeps growing. And state money isn't enough to meet needs, lawmaker says,” click here. For “Grand jury clears Cleveland cops in Tanisha Anderson’s death…who died while being arrested during a mental health episode in 2014,” click here. For “Is Life in Solitary Inhumane? Lawsuit Seeks to End ‘Death Row’ in Pennsylvania,” click here. For “The Effects of Pretrial Detention on Conviction, Future Crime, and Employment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Judges”—Spoiler Alert: “Pretrial detention has no net effect on future crime, but decreases formal sector employment and the receipt of employment- and tax-related government benefits. These results are consistent with (i) pretrial detention weakening defendants’ bargaining positions during plea negotiations and (ii) a criminal conviction lowering defendants’ prospects in the formal labor market”—click here.

ICYMI: From the January 2018 Edition of the Key Update (Still Relevant)

 Recovery to Practice to Host Final Webinar (as Part of a Four-Part Series)

The remaining webinar in the four-part Recovery-Oriented Cognitive Therapy (CT-R) Webinar Series will take place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET on February 21 (“Implementation of CT-R Across a System, Lessons of Success.” The previous three sessions were held on January 3, January 7, and February 7, respectively. “While this is a four-part series, you may attend one or all of the sessions. Registration will be necessary for each session,” the organizers write. For more information and to register, click here.

Doors to Wellbeing’s Monthly Webinar Series Continues

On the last Tuesday of almost every month at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing hosts a free webinar. The learning objectives for “Building Community Support Groups for Improved Mental Health,” on February 27, are “to outline steps to create a community support group for mental health and wellness, to identify key leadership roles in the community to support efforts to create support groups, and to explore the benefits of healthy relationships created through support groups.” For more information and to register, click here.

Two Upcoming SAMHSA-sponsored Webinars Cover the ADA and Self-Direction, Respectively

On February 26 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law will present Criminal Justice, the Americans with Disabilities Act and People with Mental Illnesses. For more information and to register, click here. And on February 27 at 2 p.m. ET, the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery will present Self-Direction through Personalized Budgeting. For more information and to register, click here.

Thanks, Judene Shelley

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

National Technical Assistance and Networking Teleconferences Are on Hiatus for Now

The National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse is no longer operating under a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Although we are keeping our doors open—including publishing our monthly e-newsletter, the Key Update—we are suspending our monthly national technical assistance and networking calls for the time being. We will keep you posted.

About The Key Update

The Key Update is the free monthly e-newsletter of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse. Volume 14, No. 8, February 2018, If you find it of interest, you can check the following link at the end of every month, where each new issue is posted: For content, reproduction or publication information, please contact Susan Rogers at – please note that this is a new email address – or 800.553.4539 x3812, 267.507.3812 (direct). Follow Susan on Twitter at @SusanRogersMH