Key Update, March 2018, Volume 14, Number 9

Key Update, March 2018

Volume 14, Number 9

Psychiatric Labels Can Do More Harm than Good, Researchers Say

Labeling people with psychiatric diagnoses can lead to less effective treatments, according to researchers at the University of Bath in the UK. Tagging people with conditions such as schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, which could exacerbate symptoms and impede recovery. Such labels can lead professionals to “wrongly judge a book by its cover”—offering treatments based on diagnoses without considering someone’s specific needs. The lead researcher urged treatment providers “to be extremely cautious both in the use of diagnostic labels to describe a patient and mindful of the influence that such labels can have on their own clinical judgments.” For more information, including a description of the research, click here.

Enter the Alternatives 2018 Logo Contest! And/or Nominate Keynote Speakers! And the Workshop Application Deadline Has Been Extended!

The Alternatives 2018 Planning Committee is offering two great opportunities: Design the official logo and/or nominate keynote speakers! (And the workshop application deadline has been extended to March 21!) Would you like to see your design on the Alternatives 2018 T-Shirts and bags? Then enter the Alternatives 2018 Logo Design Competition! Your creation should convey the conference theme, “On Our Own: Transforming the Future Together,” and include the name of the conference: Alternatives 2018. The winner will be acknowledged at the conference and will receive one free registration, currently a $295 value (at the Early Bird rate)! Submit your design to by April 30, 2018. For more information, click here. And do you know someone who would make a great keynote speaker? To nominate that person, click here! (You must contact your nominee in advance to ensure that they are available on the scheduled dates to attend the conference.) The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery will host the conference July 29-August 3 at The Catholic University in Washington, DC. For the Call for Presentations (deadline extended to March 21!) and an online submission link, registration information, and other important details, click here

PCORI Is Accepting Applications for 2018 Advisory Panels

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is accepting applications for its 2018 advisory panels. Applications and third-party nominations are due March 30 by 5 p.m. ET. To find out which panels are seeking applications, how to submit an application, the review and selection process, and how to apply, click here. Consumers United for Evidence-Based Healthcare (CUE) offers resources to help people understand what is expected of advisory panel members and how to communicate effectively on the panels. For the CUE resources, click here.

SAMHSA-sponsored Webinar on “Diversion & Access to Mental Health Services in Prisons & Jails" on March 20!

A free SAMHSA-sponsored webinar, “Diversion and Access to Mental Health Services in Prisons and Jails,” developed by the National Disability Rights Network, will take place March 20, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. ET. The webinar description reads in part: “Recently there has been an increased focus on diversion of individuals with mental illness to community services rather than incarceration. One part of this webinar will discuss this change in focus and ways systems have changed to accommodate diversion.  In addition, while we have seen increased access to mental health services in prisons and jails, there are still times where problems occur...A second part of this webinar will focus on processes that police departments can have in place to address these problems, how advocates can be involved, and ways to improve the system.” To register, click here.

SAMHSA Solicits Applications for Statewide Consumer Network Grants

SAMHSA has issued a request for proposals for statewide consumer network grants. “The goals of the SCN [Statewide Consumer Network] Program are [to] improve quality of and access to statewide peer support and recovery-oriented, integrated, and coordinated treatment, services, and supports; emphasize and build statewide consumer leadership within consumer-operated organizations and in the community; [and] build capacity and sustainability of statewide consumer networks.” Up to nine grants will be awarded. “Eligibility is limited to domestic public and private non-profit entities, tribes, and Urban Indian organizations that are mental health consumer-operated organizations for at least two years and are not operating under the umbrella of another organization.” The deadline to apply is April 23, 2018. For more information, click here

The TU Collaborative Offers a Free Toolkit for “Promoting Participation in Community Life”

The Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion is offering a new publication entitled “Jump-Starting Community Inclusion: A Toolkit for Promoting Participation in Community Life.” “This toolkit contains 66 practical first steps that community mental health providers can take to more effectively support their service recipients’ participation in everyday community life,” the TU Collaborative writes. “This compendium of simple strategies—drawn from 15 years of research and training activities…—focuses on policy changes, programming shifts, and practice innovations that can quickly give new life and relevance to your agency’s operations.  The Toolkit offers a set of do-able strategies, along with links to over 100 publications and products to support your work.” To download the toolkit, click here. To register for a webinar about the toolkit on April 12 at 1 p.m. ET, click here.

“Do Antidepressants Work? A People’s Review of the Evidence”

In response to a new “meta-analysis” recently published in Lancet which purported to prove, “once and for all,” that “antidepressants work,” award-winning investigative journalist Robert Whitaker has published “Do Antidepressants Work? A People’s Review of the Evidence.” Whitaker writes: “Psychiatry relies on a particular slice of evidence—RCTs [randomized controlled trials] in a carefully selected group of patients—to support its ‘antidepressants work’ message. But a review of the evidence regarding their effectiveness in real-world patients, over both the short term and long term, tells a different story, and this is precisely the evidence most germane to patients.” To read more, click here. Another writer, published in Frontier Psychiatry, notes, “The strong reliance on industry-funded research results in an uncritical approval of antidepressants. Due to several flaws…the efficacy of antidepressants is systematically overestimated, and harm is systematically underestimated. Therefore, I conclude that antidepressants are largely ineffective and potentially harmful.” For the article, click here. For a third article on the same subject, click here.

British Psychologists Introduce the “Power Threat Meaning Framework”

The “Power Threat Meaning Framework” has been developed by leading British psychologists “as an alternative to more traditional models based on psychiatric diagnosis.” According to the British Psychological Society News, the Framework, which is rooted in the social determinants of mental health, has “important implications for social policy and the wider role of equality and social justice.” “The Power Threat Meaning Framework can be used as a way of helping people to create more hopeful narratives or stories about their lives and the difficulties they have faced or are still facing, instead of seeing themselves as blameworthy, weak, deficient or ‘mentally ill,’” said Dr. Lucy Johnstone, one of the lead authors. “…It also shows why those of us who do not have an obvious history of trauma or adversity can still struggle to find a sense of self-worth, meaning and identity.” For more information and to download the free materials, click here.

Thanks, @AnneCooke14

New York Times Covers Debate on Call for Building More “Asylums”

On March 5, 2018, The New York Times published “Trump Wants More Asylums—And Some Psychiatrists Agree,” which covered both sides of the debate. “When people are going back and forth from prisons to hospitals, that’s a sign they might have benefited from longer-term treatment options,” said Dominic Sisti of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. But Jennifer Mathis of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law took strong exception. “Locking people up long-term is no treatment at all. The idea that we could be going back to those days—we did this before, and it failed and failed badly—it’s crazy and discriminating,” she said. Joseph Rogers, founder and executive director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse, who has been locked up in state hospitals for up to six months at a time, said, “It is hard to describe the smell. I guess it is the smell of caged humans. Someone once told me that part of the smell comes from the medication everyone is on.” He added: “You’re told when to go to bed, where to go, what to eat and when. They take all your freedom away, and in my eyes they’re not placed where you get any help.” For the article, click here.

“Building a Strong Mental Health Peer Specialist Workforce” Is Doors to Wellbeing’s March Webinar

On the last Tuesday of almost every month at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing hosts a free, one-hour webinar. “Building a Strong Mental Health Peer Specialist Workforce,” on March 27, “will include an introduction to a successful internship program as well as examining the challenges and possible solutions for mental health peer specialist career development. It will also look at a unique initiative through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grants for mental health peer specialists.” For more information and to register, click here.

ICYMI, the Bazelon Center’s Webinar on Criminal Justice, the ADA & People with Mental Health Conditions Is Available

If you missed the Bazelon Center’s SAMHSA-sponsored webinar “Criminal Justice, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and People with Mental Illnesses,” which took place on February 26, 2018, you’re in luck! The recording, transcript and PowerPoint slides are now available! The webinar covered how mental health, criminal justice, and correctional programs can work together to meet ADA obligations and ensure an array of services that reduce the likelihood that people with mental health conditions will enter the criminal justice system. To view the webinar, click here.

The National Empowerment Center Has Launched a New Website

The National Empowerment Center writes that they “are pleased to launch what is hopefully a more contemporary website, logo, and look that is much more accessible and easy to navigate via smart phones.  Please take a look at” The new Featured Video section of the Home Page—you have to scroll down—offers a link to a five-minute “Introduction to Emotional CPR” video. Or you can access the video directly if you click here.

Free Report on a Survey of Attitudes toward Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Is Available

A recent survey of people’s attitudes toward direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising seems to report conflicting results. “The survey’s findings show that investment in DTC may be increasing but its effectiveness is decreasing,” the Executive Summary notes. “Pharma’s approach to DTC is also decoupled from patient needs, causing patients to disengage from traditional tactics and, in some cases, become actively hostile to the medium.” However, the survey later notes, “An overwhelming majority of respondents (76%) reported feeling positive or neutral on the question of whether DTC was helpful to them. Only 24% reported that they believed DTC to be harmful.” You can download the free 24-page publication and draw your own conclusions if you click here.

Thanks, Fran Hazam

2017 Report Counters Prejudice about People Who Use Drugs

The Global Commission on Drug Policy has issued a free 44-page report entitled “The World Drug (Perception) Problem.” “For too long, drugs have been considered as substances that must be avoided at all cost; people who use drugs have been rejected by society and perceived as asocial, depraved or deviant,” the Foreword states. Adding that “[g]overnments waste great amounts of public money on repression rather than financing efficient prevention, treatment and harm reduction measures,” it continues: “Prejudices and fears surrounding drugs are expressed in stigmatizing language, stigmatization leads to social discrimination and repressive laws, and prohibition validates fears and prejudices. This vicious cycle must be broken.” To download the free report, click here. For a state-by-state overview of opioid prescribing guidelines, click here.

French Documentary Portrays People in a Psychiatric Institution Asking for Their Freedom

“12 Days studies the hearings that anyone involuntarily institutionalized in a mental hospital in France is entitled to after twelve days of treatment,” the Village Voice writes. “[M]ost of them [are] trying to project calmness and certainty. By the end of their interviews, however, many are swallowing back outrage. They have lives to get back to, jobs and kids and cats.” For an article about the documentary, click here. For the trailer (in French), click here.

Excellent AFSP Article Debunking the Myth of Violence Is Undercut by AFSP’s Connection with NRA

On March 7, 2018, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) published an excellent article entitled “Debunking the Myth of Violence and Mental Illness.” “…it must be pointed out that the linkage between mass violence and mental illness is a red herring—misleading and grossly distorted,” the AFSP’s chief medical officer writes. The article, which includes many good resources, makes a number of important points, such as that “[s]tudies have found that of all violent acts in the U.S., less than five percent of violence in the U.S. is attributable to mental illness,” and that “[p]eople with mental health conditions are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence.” For the article, click here. However, a story published on December 26, 2017, in The New York Times—“The Gun Lobby Is Hindering Suicide Prevention”—shows the AFSP in a different light. The latter story reveals a connection between the AFSP and the National Shooting Sports Foundation—a gun industry trade association—that the AFSP is spinning as an educational partnership. However, according to the writer, after the AFSP announced the partnership, “AFSP staff told the board that volunteers who wanted to talk about the documented higher risk for suicide deaths for those who keep firearms in the home had to keep quiet about gun control…” For that article, click here. At the same time, a Reuters press release, “Strict state gun laws linked to fewer suicides and murders,” makes the importance of gun control to suicide prevention (and prevention of homicides) clear. For the press release, click here.

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

Here is the March wrap-up of stories about the criminal justice system: For “The State of Justice Reform 2017” by the Vera Institute, click here. For “Dwindling Oversight Heightens Concern over Medical, Mental Health Care for Inmates,” click here. For “How iPads Changed a Police Force’s Response to Mental Illness,” click here. For the Brennan Center’s “Charging Inmates Perpetuates Mass Incarceration,” click here. For “A Revolution of Values in the U.S. Criminal Justice System,” published by the Center for American Progress, click here. For “How much do incarcerated people earn in each state,” by the Prison Policy Initiative, click here. For the recent Juvenile Justice Roundup published by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, click here. For “North Dakota Launches Recovery Services Program,” click here. For “Anxiety for People in Prison: A Self-Help Guide,” a 30-page manual published by the National Health Service Foundation Trust in the U.K., click here. For “Mass incarceration: The whole pie (2018)—Can it really be true that most people in jail are being held before trial?...” click here. For “Philadelphia’s New Top Prosecutor Is Rolling Out Wild, Unprecedented Criminal Justice Reforms,” click here. For “Radically Reforming America’s Parole and Probation Systems,” published by NPR’s “The Takeaway,” click here. For the National Reentry Resource Center’s “Reentry and Employment Roundup,” click here. For “Heated floors and pillow-top mattresses…in prison,” click here. For “How Lenders Are Turning Low-Level Courts into Dickensian ‘Debt Collection Mills,’” click here. For “Back to Nothing: Prisoner Reentry and the ‘Virtual City’ of the Disenfranchised,” click here. For “Inside the Deadly World of Private Prisoner Transport,” click here. For “The Treatment Industrial Complex: As California transitions away from mass incarceration, a notorious private prison company has landed a multimillion-dollar state contract to provide inmate reentry services,” click here. For “New tool helps juvenile lifers navigate reentry to a dramatically different world,” click here.

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. 9, March 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