The Key Update, May 2018, Volume 14, Number 11

Key Update, May 2018

Volume 14, Number 11

Alternatives 2018 to Host Its First Hill Day!

Located in our nation’s capital, this year’s “people’s Alternatives”—July 29-August 3 at The Catholic University in Washington, DC—offers an exceptional opportunity for advocacy. To take advantage of this opportunity, the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, which is hosting the conference, is holding a pre-conference advocacy training day on July 30, followed by the conference’s first Hill Day, on July 31. “On Monday, we will agree on several primary objectives of our movement for social justice, and we will provide coaching and logistical support on how to convince legislators and their staff,” the organizers write. “On Tuesday, we will put it all into practice!” In addition, there will be more than 70 exciting workshops on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday! For the complete list of workshops, click here. Don’t miss the chance to attend! Early Bird registration has been extended through May 23! Award nominations are due June 30: To nominate someone, click here. For registration information and other important details, click here. Questions? Write Follow @AltCon_2018 on Twitter; the hashtag is #Alternatives2018. For the Alternatives 2018 Facebook page, click here.

“Is Shock Therapy Making a Comeback?”

On May 13, 2018, “60 Minutes” on CBS-TV aired a segment about electroconvulsive treatment (ECT): shock treatment. The segment only presented one side of the debate about the serious risks and potential benefits of this controversial procedure; it largely focused on individuals who felt that they had benefited from ECT, and on a psychiatrist who works at the National Institute of Mental Health, who recommends it. The psychiatrist is also working on an alternative to ECT: Magnetic Seizure Therapy. (“60 Minutes” correspondent Anderson Cooper gamely tried it out on the show.) In one of the few allusions to the possible dangers of ECT, the show noted that “[o]ne study in 2015 that compared ECT and the magnetic treatment found that ‘ECT-induced acute memory disruption…is absent after MST.” For the “60 Minutes” segment on ECT, click here. For testimony about the dangers of ECT by Daniel B. Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., presented to the FDA in 2011, click here. For information about “Doctors of Deception: What They Don’t Want You to Know About Shock Treatment”—called “brilliant analysis” by the International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicineclick here.

“Ask Me Anything” Employment Webinar, Hosted by National Resource Center on Employment, on May 16

On May 16, 2018, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, in a free, online, interactive webinar, employment expert Lou Orslene, co-director of the Job Accommodation Network, will answer questions related to disclosure and accommodations. “For example, you could ask: When do I need to disclose to an employer that I need an accommodation? How do I disclose? Verbally? In writing? Who do I disclose to at work? What mental health accommodations do employers typically approve? How do I know if a company is progressive and will respond positively to my disclosure?” For more information or to register, click here.

“Empowering Youth as Mental Health Peer Specialists” Is Doors to Wellbeing’s May Webinar

On the last Tuesday of almost every month at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing hosts a free, one-hour webinar. In “Empowering Youth as Mental Health Peer Specialists,” on May 29, “you will hear from leaders in the youth movement about how to engage youth as mental health peer specialists.” The presenters will also “explore the history and development of the youth-to-youth peer support movement led by transitional age youth (TAY) leaders from around the country. Participants will be offered interactive activities that are appropriate for mental health peer specialists to use with youth and young adults, as well as ideas for implementing innovative approaches into various youth peer support programs. This webinar will include a preview of the Peer Generation Curriculum developed by the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery.” For more information and to register, click here.

Free Webinar: “Reconnecting with the Earth for Personal and Global Healing”

“We are at a pivotal time in human history. Please join the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) and the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS) in the first in a series of webinars where we explore the relationship between ecology, how we relate to one another and the Earth, and healing from crisis. We have gathered experts from around the globe, including indigenous peoples, to speak to this topic, share best practices, and propose some solutions to the very complex problems we face.” Date: June 8, 2018. Time: 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET. To register, 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

“Mental Health Care on College Campuses Is Broken—This Group Aims to Change That”

“…By training peers—students who have experienced mental [health conditions] themselves—to help students access resources, Project LETS is creating student networks of support and advocacy, rather than relying on already unreliable campus services or expensive and inaccessible off-campus aid. With 10 college chapters across the country, Project LETS aims to make it easier for students with mental-health issues to get the help they need.” For the article, click here. In a related story, for “Planning Ahead for Your Mental Health Care as You Transition to College” (via the CAFÉ TA Center), click here.

“Should We Bring Back Asylums?” Airs on Public Radio

On May 2, 2018, WNPR in Connecticut aired a debate about whether asylums should play a role in the mental health service continuum. “Should we bring back institutions to care for the seriously mentally ill (sic) who otherwise bounce between emergency rooms, prison, and the streets? Some think so. Others fear a return of the abuses that led to their destruction. Today, we talk about the history and future of asylums and a person who spent time in one and doesn't want to go back.” Joseph Rogers, founder and executive director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse and a guest on the show, opposes the return of asylums. “The thing that we find that helps,” Rogers said, “and what we do here in Pennsylvania…[is] outreach in the community, working with people where they’re at, not forcing them into treatment, finding ways to engage.” To listen to the archived broadcast, click here.

Two Upcoming Free Webinars Are Sponsored by SAMHSA

Two free SAMHSA-sponsored webinars are coming up in early June. “Peer Specialists and Police as Partners Preventing Behavioral Health Crises,” a Mental Health America webinar, will take place June 5, 2018, at 11:30 a.m. ET. For more information and to register, click here. And “Enhancing Recovery through Lived Experience,” hosted by NAMI, will take place on June 7, 2018, at 2 p.m. ET. For more information and to register, click here.

Thanks, Judene Shelley

“Cultural Confusion: The Shifting Line between Sane and ‘Unsane’”

In an article published by STAT on May 8, 2018, the author raises the question of where “sanity” ends and “mental illness” begins. She writes:  “It’s a shifting boundary, one based as much on culture as it is on our understanding of the brain and mental health…In the U.S., academics and the public have begun expressing concern that diagnostic categories like depression and anxiety are more and more often being used to organize and label ordinary behaviors and characteristics that are deemed socially undesirable. In their 2012 book, ‘The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder,’ Allan Horwitz and Jerome Wakefield assert that not being happy all the time has become depression, and worrying or feeling stressed is quickly labeled anxiety. Renowned Harvard psychologist Jerome Kagan recently joined the debate on ADHD, a diagnosis shared by 6.4 million children in the U.S, questioning whether the disorder is even ‘real.’” For the article, click here.

“Workshop on Women’s Mental Health across the Life Course through a Sex-Gender Lens”

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC, recently hosted a workshop that explored how environmental, sociocultural, behavioral, and biological factors affect women’s mental health across the life course and across different racial/ethnic groups. Presentations and archived video from the workshop are now available for viewing”: click here. For more information about this project, click here.

Applications for SAMHSA’s Recognition of Excellence in Wellness Are Now Due on June 22

SAMHSA’s Recognition of Excellence in Wellness “recognizes organizations and communities for their exemplary wellness efforts that improve the health and wellness of those living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. If your organization works to improve the health of individuals with mental and/or substance use disorders, [SAMHSA] encourage[s] you to apply for the 2018 Recognition of Excellence in Wellness! To learn more…stream our past honoree announcement webinars!” For the 2017 webinar, click here. For the 2016 webinar, click here. For more information and to apply, click here.

Vermont Psychiatric Survivors Seeks an Executive Director

“Vermont Psychiatric Survivors Inc. (VPS) seeks a dynamic, visionary Executive Director with proven experience in advocacy, financial management, and inspiring staff. The Executive Director is responsible for managing day-to-day operations to fulfill VPS’s mission...Candidates should have personal, lived experience of mental health issues/diagnosis and an understanding of the resulting losses and marginalization. Political advocacy, administrative, management, financial and budgeting experience and understanding of peer values and peer organizations are crucial. An ability to integrate conflicting perspectives, foster collaboration and inspire participation across diverse viewpoints and stakeholder interest is also essential. This is a full-time, exempt position with a salary between $50,000 and $60,000, plus benefits. Some travel required. To apply, send a cover letter, resume and references to by May 31, 2018.” For a complete job description, click here.

Many Older Adults Are Admitted to Psychiatric Hospitals Due to Alcohol or Drugs

About 10 percent to 15 percent of people don’t start to drink heavily until they are older in age, according to research—and the number of people with alcoholism who are also older adults is expected to rise as the senior population grows to 80 million by the year 2050, according to a guide on alcohol abuse among older adults. The guide notes that 20% is the rate at which older adults are admitted to psychiatric hospitals due to alcohol or drugs. For the guide, click here.

“Psychiatric Medication Withdrawal: Survivor Perspectives and Clinical Practice”

“New understandings of madness and medications support an emerging reconsideration of what constitutes the very definition of ‘health,’ where measuring the absence of disease symptoms gives way to a systems-based focus on self-management, social relationships, and adaptability.” For a link to the complete article, click here. For a related story, “Is Society or Psychiatry to Blame for the ‘Seriously Mentally Ill’ Dying 25 Years Prematurely?” (via @_innercompass), click here.

“Can Peer Health Coaches Boost Patient (sic) Engagement in Drug Recovery?”

“Boston Medical Center (BMC) has launched a new program to improve patient (sic) engagement during opioid abuse recovery. The program, titled Project RECOVER (Referral, Engagement, Case management and Overdose preVention Education in Recovery), will use peer wellness coaches to help better engage [individuals] during the various aspects of substance abuse disorder treatment…Specifically, peer wellness coaches will be in charge of developing recovery plans, [individual] engagement, and addressing the social determinants of health, including housing and food security and child care.” For the article, click here. For three related stories: “Text Messaging Tool May Help Fight Opioid Epidemic,” click here. “More Than 4 Million People Left the Workforce Because of Opioid Addiction, According to Study,” click here. “Doctors Receive Opioid Training. Big Pharma Funds It. What Could Go Wrong?” (via Elizabeth R. Stone), click here.

“‘Failing Patients’: Baltimore Video Highlights Crisis of Emergency Psychiatric Care”

“A viral video from Baltimore is drawing attention to a crisis that’s unfolding in emergency rooms across the country: Surging numbers of [individuals] with psychiatric conditions aren’t receiving the care they need…Imamu Baraka's video, which has been viewed more than 3 million times, shows security guards walking away from a bus stop next to the emergency room of University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus. One is pushing an empty wheelchair. The woman they left there is wearing a thin yellow hospital gown and socks. ‘Wait, so you're just going to leave this lady out here with no clothes on?’ Baraka asks the guards. They continue walking away…” To listen to the archived NPR story, click here.

Thanks, Elizabeth R. Stone

“7 Webcomics about Mental Health We Can All Relate To”

“These artists have used webcomics as platforms to help connect with viewers to tell them that [mental health conditions]—whether depression, anxiety, addiction, or even everyday stress—can be difficult to deal with, as we often feel alone in our struggle to feel better. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many people who have experienced the same struggles you have, and some have even taken the time to share their stories—some funny, some sad—online. These artists have used webcomics as platforms to help connect with viewers to tell them that [mental health conditions]—though tough to handle—can be overcome, and life can get better through the power of perspective (among other things).” For the webcomics, click here.

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

Here is the May wrap-up of stories about the criminal justice system: For “Using the Americans with Disabilities Act to Reduce the Incarceration of People with Mental Illness,” click here. For “N.J. Bill Calls for Treatment over Jail Time for Criminal Defendants with Mental Illness,” click here. For “Deadly Force: Police and the Mentally Ill,” click here. For “Allegheny Co. Jail Partnership Continues to Be a Success,” click here (via Fran Hazam). For the “National Reentry Resource Center Funding and Training Opportunities,” click here. For “What Care for the Criminally Insane (sic) Can Teach Us about Mental Health Treatment,” click here. For “Big Jump Seen in Number of Inmates Prescribed Psychiatric Drugs in California,” click here. For “The Connecticut Experiment: Young brains are still evolving. One prison is trying to take advantage of that,” click here. For “‘Insane’” America’s 3 Largest Psychiatric Facilities Are Jails,” click here. For “Is There Such a Thing as ‘Good’ Prison Design?” click here. For “Report Finds San Diego Jails Are Failing Inmates with Mental Illness,” click here. For “More Criticism of Prison-Reform-Only Efforts, While Failing to Explain a Path Forward for Broader Federal Sentencing Reforms,” click here. For “Sentencing Reform Is Moving in the Wrong Direction,” click here. For “A New Approach to Incarceration in the U.S.: Responsibility,” click here. For “‘Human Frailty’ Is a Byproduct of Mass Incarceration,” click here. For “Solitary Injustice: Solitary Confinement in Virginia” (a 67-page report on “the negative impacts of solitary confinement as practiced in Virginia…and the State’s failure to exclude individuals with serious mental health problems from solitary confinement despite the existing law and science establishing the especially damaging impacts of isolation on this vulnerable group of people”), click here. For “Why Meek Mill’s Release Matters More Than You Think,” click here. For “How Over-Incarceration Is Driving a Push for Criminal Justice Reform,” click here. For “‘If We Let Everybody Go, There’d Be Nobody in Prison,’” click here. For “Jared Kushner’s Prison Reform Plan Has Some Glaring Flaws: Civil Rights Groups Are Not Impressed,” click here. For “The Cursed Island Before Rikers: Learning from the Story of Blackwell’s Island,” click here. For “LJAF Awards $4.1 Million for ‘Frequent Utilizer’ Initiative” (via Elizabeth Stone), click here. For “From Bondage to Bail Bonds: Putting a Price on Freedom in New Orleans,” click here.

“This Post Is For You, the You Who Might Feel Broken and As Though You Don’t Shine.”

“…You're not broken; you’re finding your feet. And you do shine! Your kindness, support and encouragement shine brighter than the twinkliest of stars. We appreciate you; thank you for being you.” For the rest of the message and the illustrated Instagram post, click here.


You Are Invited to Apply to Present 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.

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

The Clearinghouse Is No Longer Operating under a Grant from SAMHSA

The National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse is no longer operating under a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). However, for the time being we are continuing to publish our monthly e-newsletter (the Key Update) and answer queries by email and phone.

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. 11, May 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