Key Update, April 2018, Volume 14, Number 10

Key Update, April 2018

Volume 14, Number 10

“Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit,” The New York Times Reports; Readers Tell Their Stories

“Many who try to quit [antidepressants] say they cannot because of withdrawal symptoms they were never warned about,” writes Benedict Carey in The New York Times. “…Yet withdrawal has never been a focus of drug makers or government regulators, who felt antidepressants could not be addictive and did far more good than harm.” For the article, which includes links to more information, click here. For “Readers Tell Their Stories,” click here. At the same time, as reported in the July 2017 edition of the Key Update, a survey by Live & Learn Inc. of 250 long-term users of psychiatric medications who chose to discontinue the medications found that more than half succeeded in discontinuing usage, despite having little professional support while experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. Eighty-two percent of those who discontinued use reported being satisfied with their choice. For more information, click here. For “The Corruption of Evidence Based Medicine—Killing for Profit,” click here. [Editor’s note: For the free Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, click here.] 

Alternatives 2018 Early Bird Registration Deadline Has Been Extended! And You Can Still Nominate Keynote Speakers and Enter the Logo Design Contest!

If you have been kicking yourself for missing the Alternatives 2018 Early Bird registration deadline, you’re in luck: The deadline has been extended through May 23! To register, click here. Even better, there’s a Group Discount: If you register 10 people, you get one free registration! And would you like to see your design on the Alternatives 2018 T-Shirts and bags? Then enter the Alternatives 2018 Logo Design Competition! 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—deadline April 30—click here! (You must contact your nominee in advance to ensure that they are available on the scheduled dates.) The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery will host the conference July 29-August 3 at The Catholic University in Washington, DC. For more information, click here

“Understanding Cultural Inequalities for Mental Health Peer Specialists” Is Doors to Wellbeing’s April Webinar

On the last Tuesday of almost every month at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing hosts a free, one-hour webinar. “Understanding Cultural Inequalities for Mental Health Peer Specialists,” on April 24, “will focus on cultural inequalities, individual human rights, and how these topics intersect from the perspective of mental health peer specialists. This webinar will discuss strategies that are being used in Arlington County, Virginia. Participants will learn how to help peer clients understand cultural inequalities and how to navigate the mental health and criminal justice systems by understanding their rights and using self-advocacy.” For more information and to register, click here.

Protest Planned at the APA Annual Convention on May 6! Come to NYC to Make Your Voice Heard!

An array of human rights advocacy organizations and individual activists invite you to participate in the 2018 Protest of the American Psychiatric Association. When? Sunday, May 6, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Where? The Javits Center, 11th Avenue between West 36th and West 37th Streets, in New York City. Among the organizers are MindFreedom International and its affiliates in New York, Florida, and Ireland; The Network Against Psychiatric Assault; The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights; The Opal Project; and others. “The theme of the protest is #FirstDoNoHarm,” the organizers say. “We demand that psychiatry be held accountable to truth and science.” The speakers—all of whom have lived experience and have had psychiatric labels—include Dan Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.; Laura Delano; Dorothy Dundas; Nikomeh Anderson; and Jim Flannery; others will be announced when they are confirmed. You are also invited to participate in the next planning call, on April 29, 2018, at 4 p.m. ET: phone 218.339.7808, access code 5104044#. For more information, join the Facebook group (click here) and/or write

Virtual Forum on “Peer Support and Working with Peer Professionals” on April 26

On April 26 at 11:45 a.m. ET, the Center for Public Service Psychiatry, in collaboration with the American Association of Community Psychiatrists, will host a virtual 75-minute forum on “Peer Support and Working with Peer Professionals.” The learning objectives are to describe: “challenges that peer professionals encounter in mental health settings, specific ways in which peer professionals contribute to mental health services, obstacles to peers’ full integration into mental health teams, and approaches that can be taken by clinicians and team leaders to facilitate peer integration.” For more information, click here.

“Can You Get Mentally Healthier Simply by Willing It to Happen?” Researchers Say Yes

“In a study recently published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, researchers analyzed data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey of more than 2,500 people and found that rating your mental health as ‘good’ or ‘positive’—even if you meet the criteria for having a condition like depression— could mean you’ll have strong mental health down the road. And the coolest part? Those positive thinkers didn’t even need treatment to get those results. During the study, 62 percent of those who screened positive for depression or psychological distress said their mental health was good. Then, during a follow-up a year later, those individuals were 30 percent less likely to have a mental health problem than those who rated their state as ‘poor.’” For an article about the study, click here.

Virtual Event on Supporting Underrepresented College Students Experiencing or at Risk of Serious Mental Health Conditions or Substance Use Disorders; and Bazelon Offers Free Fact Sheet on Rights

On April 26 at 2 p.m. ET, SAMHSA’s Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Strategy (BRSS TACS) invites you to join national leaders in a one-hour conversation about treatment and recovery supports for the approximately 1.8 million of the nation’s college students who meet the medical criteria for substance misuse or dependence, and the increasing numbers of students who report high levels of anxiety, hopelessness, and other symptoms of a mental health condition.  Presenters will review data on the prevalence of serious mental health and substance use conditions among college students, highlight an array of collegiate recovery support models to help these students, and discuss opportunities for colleges and communities to provide recovery support services to help at-risk students. To register, click here. And for “Campus Mental Health: Frequently Asked Questions,” from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, which covers the legal rights of students with mental health challenges, click here.

You Are Invited to Apply to Make a Presentation at the ISPS-US 17th Annual Meeting, 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.” The deadline for the call for proposals is May 21, 2018. For conference information and a link to the call for proposals, click here.

Free Resource Guide for Parents of Students with Disabilities

The Community for Accredited Online Schools offers a free online “Resource Guide for Parents of Students with Disabilities.” “Students with disabilities face unique challenges, and there are laws in place to ensure that school districts give them the assistance they need,” according to the guide. “To determine if these needs are being met, parents should familiarize themselves with the laws and know their rights if their children aren’t being given the protections they’re entitled to. In this guide, readers will find information about the rights of students who have disabilities and what schools are required to provide so they have equal opportunity for academic success.” For the free guide, click here. In a related story, for the proceedings from the Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research 2018 State of the Science conference, click here.

Presentations from 2017 HHS Federal Partners Integrated Care Meeting

“Now available, presentations from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 2017 virtual meeting, ‘State of the Art: Research, Models, Promising Practices, and Sustaining Integrated Care.’ National experts from HHS and federal grantees spoke about best practices in primary and behavioral care integration, including presentations on key topics such as models of integrated care, key findings from the research community, examples of diverse grantee practices regarding service delivery, and resources to support and build integrated systems of care. To watch the presentations, click here.

Thanks, Jacek Haciak

MHA Offers Free “May Is Mental Health Month” Toolkit; SAMHSA Also Offers Free May Materials

Mental Health America writes: “Since 1949, Mental Health America and our affiliates across the country have led the observance of May Is Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings. We welcome other organizations to join us in spreading the word that mental health is something everyone should care about by using the May Is Mental Health Month toolkit materials and conducting awareness activities.” To download the free toolkit, click here. For more information about May Is Mental Health Month, from SAMHSA, click here.

AAPD’s April Newsletter Includes a Rich Variety of Resources and Action Alerts

The April edition of the AAPD newsletter, Disability Download, includes a wide array of useful information, including resources such as the National Disability Voter Registration Week (July 16-20) Toolkit, scholarship opportunities, action alerts, and conference announcements! For the AAPD newsletter, click here.

Free “Bikeshare Intervention: Improving Wellness and Community Access” Manual and Webinar

The Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion just published a manual called “Bikeshare Intervention: Improving Wellness and Community Access.” To download the free 64-page manual, click here. The TU Collaborative writes: “On May 3, 2018, at 1pm EST, we will host a [free] webinar to discuss bike programming and ways to encourage [people] to ride for health and transportation. This webinar will outline the benefits of bike programming and how to design and run a similar bike program in your community.” To sign up for the webinar, click here.

National Stepping Up Day of Action Planned for May 16

“Stepping Up was launched in May 2015 to address the prevalence of people who have mental [health conditions] in jails and provide counties with resources to create sustainable, data-driven plans to impact this crisis…On May 16, 2018, Stepping Up is hosting a national Day of Action, during which counties are encouraged to hold an event or participate in local activities to share with constituents the progress they have made toward reducing the number of people who have mental illnesses in their jails, raise public awareness and understanding of this important issue, and emphasize their commitment to creating data-driven, systems-level changes to policy and practice to achieve their Stepping Up goals…More details and a toolkit to help you plan your Day of Action are available at” For more information, click here.

Webinar: “The Value of a Peer Workforce in the Homelessness System”

On May 23 at 1 p.m. ET, SAMHSA’s Homeless and Housing Resource Network will host a 75-minute webinar on “The Value of a Peer Workforce in the Homelessness System.” SAMHSA writes: “The May 23 webinar will feature three members of the peer workforce talking about their experiences working in the homelessness system, along with the transformative roles peers play in supporting housing and reducing homelessness…It is immensely valuable for individuals with mental and/or substance use disorders who are experiencing homelessness to receive support from someone who has walked in their shoes.” For more information and to register, click here.

Gentrification May Be Bad for Your Mental Health

“Gentrification can be hazardous to your health, according to a team of New York City researchers. Their recently published study finds that hospitalization rates for mental illness—including schizophrenia and mood disorders—are two times as high in displaced people versus those who remain in their neighborhood. It is one of the first U.S. studies to quantify the hidden mental health consequences of gentrification. According to the conclusions of a recently published study, ‘These findings suggest negative impacts of displacement on healthcare access and mental health, particularly among adults living in urban areas and with a history of frequent emergency department visits or hospitalizations.’” For the story, with a link to the study, click here.

Does the Way the Media Report on Suicide Have an Impact on Suicide Rates? A Researcher Says Yes

A study of the impact of a bridge barrier that limited access to one particular way to die by suicide found that “[i]n the long run, barriers can reduce suicide rates,” according to a report by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). The study also found that “[n]egative media coverage related to suicide can increase suicide rates,” and that “[h]opeful messages in the media can help reduce suicide rates.” For an article about the study, click here. [Editor’s Note: For “The Gun Lobby Is Hindering Suicide Prevention,” in which the AFSP is criticized for its partnership with the gun lobby (reprinted from the March 2018 edition of the Key Update), click here. For the AFSP’s position on this issue, click here.]

Police and Firefighters Are More Likely to Die by Suicide than in the Line of Duty, Researchers Say

“A white paper commissioned by the [Ruderman Family] Foundation has revealed that first responders (policemen and firefighters) are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. In 2017, there were at least 103 firefighter suicides—which the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance estimates may be only 40 percent of the total number—and 140 police officer suicides. In contrast, 93 firefighters and 129 police officers died in the line of duty…The white paper also goes on to lay out several barriers that prevent first responders from accessing necessary mental health services to help them cope with trauma…Additionally, of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States, approximately 3%-5% have suicide prevention training programs.” For more information and to download the report, click here.

P&A/CAP Annual Conference in Baltimore June 18-21

The National Disability Rights Network conference will be held in Baltimore June 18-21, 2018. “Each year P&A staff, board members, PAIMI Council members, colleagues, disability advocates, attorneys and our federal partners gather together for a week of intense training, hard work, collaboration….and a bit of fun!” For more information, click here.

Remembering Tragedy, Celebrating Resilience: Coping with Disaster Anniversaries

“Anniversaries of traumatic events are a time for remembrance and reflection and to celebrate the resilience of a community,” SAMHSA writes. “They also can revive feelings of unease, anxiety, and sadness among disaster survivors. Even the anticipation of the anniversary may cause some people to worry about how they will react when the day arrives. The following resources offer insights and practical tips for supporting survivors, responders, and others affected by natural and human-caused disasters and their anniversaries.” For the resources, click here.

“Measures for Justice” Seeks to Support Criminal Justice Reform; U.S. Sentencing Commission Issues Report on 2017 Federal Sentencing Statistics

“Missing data is at the core of a national crisis,” writes Amy Bach of Measures for Justice in The New York Times. “With nearly 5 percent of the planet’s population and almost a quarter of its prison population, the [U.S.] has invested a tremendous amount of money in the corrections system without the statistics necessary to tell us whether that money is actually reducing crime, improving fairness or lessening recidivism.” Measures for Justice aims to assess and compare the performance of the entire U.S. criminal justice system. For The New York Times article, click here. At the same time, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has issued a report on 2017 federal sentencing statistics. “These reports examine federal sentencing statistics from each judicial district, the districts within each judicial circuit, and the districts within each state. Each report compares the statistics from the respective district, circuit, or state to the nation as a whole.” For the report, published in April 2018, click here. (Editor’s note: Someone once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” This quote has been attributed to both Mark Twain and Benjamin Disraeli. However, whoever said it or wrote it did so in a different era.)

The Arts Help People Heal from Trauma, Mental Health Conditions, and Other Challenges

Two recent stories are a powerful testament to the healing power of the arts. “Jacksonville [Florida] advocates: arts, peer support crucial to help mentally ill (sic)” reports on “TheStudio:Jax, which will be Jacksonville’s first arts-based peer support center for mental health wellness…It will focus on providing meaningful activity, escape from isolation and to encourage advocacy and volunteerism in a community of peers, according to Jeanine Hoff and Carmen Joyce, the respective founders of Where is the Sunshine and I Still Matter,” both of whom are peer supporters. For the article, via @JudgeWren, click here. The second story is a first-person video about the Creative Vision Factory (CVF), in Delaware, in which Michael Solomon talks about finding CVF when he was struggling after his wife’s death. In his powerful monologue, he talks about being asked to take the lead on a CFV mural project and all that that entails: “It’s a really good feeling to know that I can give back.” For the video, via @CI_Salzer, click here.

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

Here is the April wrap-up of stories about the criminal justice system: For “A ‘Hellish World’: The Mental Health Crisis Overwhelming America’s Prisons,” click here. For “Prisons and Jails Are Not a Mental Health System,” click here. For “Short Book Excerpt: Prisons Are the New Asylums,” click here. For “ABA launches clemency information clearinghouse for death penalty cases,” click here. For “Shutter Island: At Rikers, People with Mental Illness Fall Through the Cracks Over and Over Again,” click here. For “Rikers Island jail complex could be closed by 2024,” click here. For “A Lesson from Camden: Fixing Jails and Health Care Together,” click here. For “Integrated Health Care and Criminal Justice Data: Lessons from Camden, New Jersey,” click here. For “Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform 2017,” click here. For “If I hadn’t called [911], he would be here,” click here. For “Philly to close crumbling House of Correction as jail population declines,” click here. For “Rikers Doesn’t Put Teens in Solitary. Other New York Jails Do,” click here. For “When Bail Feels Less Like Freedom, More Like Extortion,” click here. For “How to Keep Innocent People Out of Prison: Limit Mistaken IDs,” click here. For the “Second Chance Act Statewide Recidivism Reduction Program,” click here. For “Second Chance Act Grantees: Highlights and Successes,” click here. For “The Epidemic of Wrongful Convictions in America,” click here. For “The high cost of taking away prisoners’ (sic) Medicaid coverage,” click here. For “Vague Criminality and Mass Incarceration: Will Dimaya End the Insanity?” click here. For “The Formerly Incarcerated (sic) Are Becoming Opioid-Overdose First Responders,” click here. For “Inside a Private Prison: Blood, Suicide and Poorly Paid Guards,” click here. For “The Uncertain Fate of College in Prison,” click here. For “Churches Take on Prison Reform, Remembering That Jesus Was a Convict (sic),” click here. For “‘Smarter Justice,’ Bail Reforms Make Headway Across U.S., Advocates Say,” click here. For “California’s Prison Education System Is Yielding Impressive Results,” click here. For “Beyond ‘law and order’: Criminal justice reform looks like a winning issue in 2018,” click here. For “Instead of focusing on Starbucks, Philly politicians should look to fix police practices,” click here. For the most recent edition of the Council of State Governments Justice Center’s Justice Reinvestment Roundup newsletter, click here. For the most recent edition of the National Reentry Resource Center newsletter, click here. For “How businesses can help reduce recidivism,” click here. For “Cascade of Overturned Cases May Emerge in Wake of Philly DA’s ‘Bad Cop’ List,” click here.

“Sometimes, my mind can be a dark and scary place…

…But then my friends show up with flashlights and help me to build a blanket fort. There’s this really horrible side of depression which makes us pause before we reach out for help. So even if we’re lucky enough to have friends who rock up and make a blanket fort with us, we may never let them know that they’re needed. At the same time, we know that we wouldn’t hesitate to help someone who was in need; after all, we’d hate to think of someone else going through the pain we’re going through. Asking for support when we need it, whoever that support may be from (friends, family, GP, The Samaritans) is absolutely not a sign of weakness. When we’ve recovered, recuperated and recharged, we’ll give again too.” To see this on Instagram, 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. 10, April 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