Key Update, January 2019, Volume 15, Number 7

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


Psychiatric Hospitals with Safety Violations Still Get Accreditation,” WSJ Reports

“More than 100 psychiatric hospitals are still fully accredited by the Joint Commission, despite significant safety violations, including care lapses associated with patient deaths and abuse, a database investigation by The Wall Street Journal found. The nonprofit accrediting organization revoked or denied full accreditation to less than 1 percent of psychiatric hospitals it reviewed in fiscal year 2014 and 2015, according to the most recent federal data available. About 16 percent of those hospitals each year (about 140 institutions) operated with such severe safety violations that they jeopardized their federal funding, state inspectors found. But troubled hospitals use their continued accreditation to attract new patients, even after some facilities lost Medicare funding due to ongoing safety incidents. For the WSJ article, click here. For another article about the WSJ report, click here.

FDA Reclassifies ECT Equipment into Lower-Risk Category Despite Controversy about ECT’s Risks

Despite a decades-long effort by mental health advocates to prevent the FDA from reclassifying the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) device, as well as information from prominent researchers about the dangers of this controversial treatment (see below), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reclassified ECT equipment “for use in treating catatonia or a severe major depressive episode associated with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder in patients age 13 years and older who are treatment-resistant or who require a rapid response due to the severity of their psychiatric or medical condition” from Class III to Class II. The order became effective on December 26, 2018. Class III medical devices “present potential unreasonable risk of illness or injury”; only 10 percent of medical devices fall under this category. Class II medical devices (43 percent of devices) are considered to pose a lesser risk (click here). For the Federal Register announcement, click here. For critical praise for “Doctors of Deception: What They Don’t Want You to Know About Shock Treatment,” click here. For “Electroconvulsive Therapy Being Used on Teens in NHS Trusts”—in which Dr. Joanna Moncrieff of University College London says, “We just don't have enough research on what ECT does to the brain and the developing brain in younger people. We know it can cause permanent memory loss, so it suggests it may do permanent damage”—click here. For testimony by Daniel B. Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., about the damaging impact of ECT, click here. For an article in Neuropsychopharmacology by Harold Sackeim, Ph.D., a proponent of ECT, in which he nevertheless concludes, “this study provides the first evidence in a large, prospective sample that adverse cognitive effects can persist for an extended period, and that they characterize routine treatment with ECT in community settings,” click here.

National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems Is Launched

The Administration for Community Living and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have announced the launch of the National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems (NCAPPS). “The goal of NCAPPS is to promote systems change that makes person-centered principles…a reality in the lives of people who require services and supports across the lifespan…Activities will include providing technical assistance to states, tribes, and territories; establishing communities of practice to promote best practices; hosting educational webinars; and creating a national clearinghouse of resources to support person-centered practice. NCAPPS will be administered by the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI).” For details, click here.

Parents with Mental Health Conditions Are 8 Times as Likely as Parents without Mental Health Conditions to Have Contact with Child Protective Services, National Survey Shows

A national survey of 42,761 adults recently published in Psychiatric Services found that parents with a serious mental health condition “were approximately eight times more likely to have CPS [Child Protective Services] contact and 26 times more likely to have a change in living arrangements compared with parents without a serious mental [health condition]. Even when the analysis was limited to parents who had CPS contact, [these] parents were at greater risk of custody loss compared with parents without [a] mental [health condition]….Efforts to reduce CPS involvement would likely reduce stress and enhance recovery and mental health for parents and their children.” For the abstract, click here. For “Preventing Custody Loss: Suggestions for Parents with Psychiatric Disabilities,” published by the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion, click here.

Mental Health First Aid Australia Seeks Research Participants to Update MHFA Guidelines

Mental Health First Aid Australia is inviting people from Australia, UK, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, New Zealand, Sweden, and the USA who have expertise in the field of psychosis to participate in research whose goal is to update the Mental Health First Aid guidelines for psychosis, which were last updated in 2008. Invited participants include people with lived experience of psychosis, people who have cared for or provided significant support to someone with psychosis, and professionals with research, education, or clinical experience related to psychosis. For more information, click here.

Save the Date! Alternatives 2019 to Be Held in Washington, DC, July 7-11!

Mark your calendars! Alternatives 2019 will be held at The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C., July 7-11, 2019! The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, which is organizing and sponsoring the event, writes: Last year we returned to our roots: We held Alternatives 2018 at a university for the first time in decades, without relying on federal funding, the way our movement for social justice first began… Alternatives 2019 will include a two-day pre-conference, July 8 and 9, with advocacy training on Monday and a ‘Hill Day’ on Tuesday, when peer advocates will meet, by appointment, with the staff of their U.S. senators and congressional representatives. Now more than ever, it is important for us to participate in the national debate.” For the conference announcement, which includes additional information, click here.

“‘Circles’ Could Offer Promising Outcomes After Incarceration for People with Serious Mental [Health Conditions]”

To address the special needs of people with mental health conditions and a criminal justice history, the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion has devised a program that would support these individuals after they are released. The program involves creating “circles of support and accountability”: a regular group session in which friends, neighbors, and/or peers—i.e., others with mental health conditions who have been incarcerated—get together to talk about the challenges they face after prison. They might talk about how someone can find a job, build or rebuild relationships, or become involved in community activities. Group members then agree to help the person achieve a specific goal, which might be as simple as accompanying him or her to an event he or she wants to attend. For the article, click here. For more about the criminal justice system, in which many people with mental health conditions are incarcerated, see the monthly digest, below.

“Psychosis 365” Video Podcast Is Available for Free!

You can watch and listen to “Psychosis 365—Voices, Visions, and Other Realities”—for free! The daily video podcasts for the first seven days of January are by Matt Ball, who describes his own experiences with psychosis and mentions how connections can be key to restoring balance; Noel Hunter—“Trauma is real, discrimination is real, oppression is real... just because people are suffering with these doesn't mean they have a brain disease”; Oryx Cohen, who “talks about how understanding the meaning behind our experiences is a way of being less distressed by them”; Laura, who “talks about the value of her lived experience, the value of the voices and her communication with them”; Ross, who “talks about his experiences of being labelled”; Louisa Dent Pearce, who “talks about how psychosis is a normal part of spiritual evolution for many people”; and Debra Lampshire, who “talks about psychosis as a normal response to extreme anxiety or distress.” And there’s much more! For the video podcasts, a project of HUMANE Clinic in Adelaide, Australia, click here.

“Child Abuse Linked to Risk of Suicide in Later Life”

“Children who experience physical, sexual, and emotional abuse or neglect are at least two to three times more likely to attempt suicide in later life, according to the largest research review carried out of the topic,” Medical Xpress recently reported. “The analysis of 68 studies by psychologists at the University of Manchester and University of South Wales revealed that suicide attempts were: three times more likely for people who experienced sexual abuse as a child; two and a half times more likely for people who experienced physical abuse as a child; [and] two and a half times more likely for people who experienced emotional abuse or neglect as a child.” The research team leader noted, “Around one adult in every three has experienced abuse as a child.” For the article, click here. For the video of Billy Joel’s “You’re Only Human (Second Wind),” which is aimed at preventing youth suicide, click here.

“Abandoning Restraint and Seclusion Has Unexpected Benefits, Study Finds”

“When a large service provider for people with developmental disabilities decided to move away from using restraint and seclusion, a new study finds safety improved and costs went down,” Disability Scoop recently reported. “Over a 12-year period, restraints decreased 99 percent and seclusion was eliminated at the Virginia-based Grafton Integrated Health Network, which serves more than 3,200 people with intellectual, developmental and psychiatric disabilities in residential and community-based settings. At the same time, the provider saw a 64 percent decline in client-induced staff injury and an estimated savings of $16 million in associated costs from overtime, turnover and workers’ compensation. Clients, meanwhile, were far more likely to achieve mastery in their goals.” For the article, click here. For more about seclusion and restraint, click here.

Clutter Is Bad for You, Researchers Say

Clutter increases your stress and cortisol levels, according to DePaul University researchers, who also noted that procrastination is closely tied to clutter. As The New York Times, writing about the 2017 study, recently reported: “The findings add to a growing body of evidence that clutter can negatively impact mental well-being, particularly among women.” An earlier study, by researchers at the University of Southern California, recommended that people who want to declutter take a “hands-off approach.” “Have somebody else hold [the item] and say, ‘Do you need this?’ Once you touch the item, you are less likely to get rid of it.” For the New York Times article, click here. For Times subscribers, the article includes a link to The Tidy Home Challenge: “Our subscriber-exclusive program will help you organize your home, step by step and room by room,” the Times promises. For 15 de-cluttering tips from tidying expert Marie Kondo, click here.

NACBHDD 2019 Legislative and Policy Conference to Be Held in Washington, DC, March 4-6

The 2019 Legislative and Policy Conference of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors (NACBHDD) will be held in Washington, DC, March 4-6, 2019. The conference theme is “Taking Stock of Key Developments.” Topics include “Progress on Medicaid and Affordable Care Act Update,” “National Response to the Opioid Epidemic,” “Solving Workforce Issues at the State Level,” “Key Developments in the Medicaid Program,” “State Brain Drain,” “Update on Federal Mental Health and Substance Use Initiatives,” “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Training for Providers,” and “Discussion of 2019 NACBHDD Legislative Agenda,” as well as a Hill Day. NACBHDD executive director Ron Manderscheid, Ph.D., writes: “…Assistant Secretary Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz will be joining us for the latest on SAMHSA and its programs. NACBHDD has arranged a block of sleeping rooms at the Cosmos Club [2121 Massachusetts Avenue, NW] for the nights of March 3-5. Reservations can be made by calling 202-387-7783 and identifying the NACBHDD room block.” To register, click here.

Mental Health Cartoons Take a Light Approach to a Serious Topic

For some “[c]artoons and comics that show mental health problems with sensitivity, honesty and humour,” click here.

Doctors in Shetland, Scotland, Can Now Prescribe Nature to Their Patients

Doctors in Shetland, Scotland, are now authorized to prescribe nature  to their patients. “It's thought to be the first program of its kind in the U.K., and seeks to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and increase happiness for those with diabetes, a mental [health condition], stress, heart disease, and more,” Big Think reports. “If you spend 90 minutes of your day outside in a wooded area, there will be a decrease of activity in the part of your brain typically associated with depression. Spending time in nature not only reduces blood pressure, anxiety, and increases happiness, but it reduces aggression [and] ADHD symptoms, [and] improves pain control, the immune system,” and more. For the article, click here. For a related story, “It’s Official: Spending Time Outside Is Good for You,” click here.

The January 2019 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 January 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 “St. Paul Police Expanding New Mental Health Unit,” click here. For “US Sentencing Commission introduces big new report on ‘Intra-City Differences in Federal Sentencing Practices,’” click here. For “Locked Up for Three Decades Without a Trial: A New York City Man has been shuffled between Rikers Island and mental hospitals for 32 years,” click here. For “Prisons are housing mental health patients who’ve committed no crimes,” click here. For “An Atlas of American Gun Violence. Five Years. More than 150,000 Shootings. How Has Gun Violence Marked Your Corner of the Country?” click here. For “Prison Food Is Making U.S. Inmates Disproportionately Sick,” click here. For “How Solitary Confinement Drove a Young Inmate to the Brink of Insanity,” click here. For “Out from the Holocaust: Germany reckoned with its past to build a better justice system. America should too,” click here. For “Rethinking Incarceration: What needs to be done to end our half-century long incarceration nightmare?” click here. For “‘Punishment Without Crime’ Highlights the Injustice of America’s Misdemeanor System,” click here. For “113 million adults in America have had an immediate family member incarcerated and, right now, 6.5 million adults have an immediate family member currently incarcerated in jail or prison,” click here. For “Jazmine Barnes Case Shows How Trauma Can Affect Memory,” click here. For “Congressional report: Misconduct by federal prison leaders ‘ignore’ and ‘covered up’ on a regular basis,” click here. For “For years, L.A. prosecutors failed to disclose misconduct by police witnesses. Now the D.A.’s office is trying to change that,” click here. For “The Supreme Court Said No More Life Without Parole for Kids. Why Is Antonio Espree One of the Few to Get Out of Prison?” click here. For “Chicago’s Jail Is One of the Country’s Biggest Mental Health Care Providers. Here’s a Look Inside,” click here. For “Why today’s criminal justice reform efforts won’t end mass incarceration,” click here. For “Illinois Agrees to Federal Oversight of Troubled Prison Health Care System,” click here. For “American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project Year End 2018” articles, click here. For “Cops Charged with Manslaughter After Two Mental-Health Patients Were Left to Drown in Sheriff’s Van During Hurricane Florence,” click here. For “A Road to Ending Mass Incarceration?” click here. For “Sent to a Hospital, But Locked in Prison,” click here. For “‘Ignored to Death’ in the Bexar County Jail: Janice Dotson-Stephen’s death is another tragic example of how bad the criminal justice system is at dealing with mentally ill people who enter it,” click here. For “U-M student podcast helps former prisoners tell their stories,” click here. For “We Are Witnesses,” by the Marshall Project, click here. For “Ex-Inmate Describes Nine Years in Georgia Solitary Unit—‘I’ve Seen People Go Crazy,’” click here. For “Inmates battling addiction get an unlikely ally: a puppy,” click here. For “Bad forensic science is putting innocent people in prison,” click here. For “From A Cell To A Home: Newly Released Inmates Matched With Welcoming Hosts,” click here. For “The FBI Says Its Photo Analysis Is Scientific Evidence. Scientists Disagree,” click here. For “A Funder Helps L.A. Use the Arts to Advance Juvenile Justice Reform,” click here. For a recent newsletter of the National Reentry Resource Center, click here.


2019 NARMH Conference Invites You to Submit a Proposal

The National Association for Rural Mental Health (NARMH) is inviting you to submit a proposal to present at the 2019 annual NARMH conference, August 26-29 in Santa Fe, New Mexico! The theme is “From Surviving to Thriving: Embracing Connections.” For more information, and/or to submit a proposal (deadline “February 1, 2019, or until the agenda is filled”), click here.

Should the HIPAA Rules Be Loosened? Your Opinion Is Wanted.

Do you think the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Rules, which protect individuals’ privacy and security, should be relaxed? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), wants to know. “[I]n recent years, OCR has heard calls to revisit aspects of the Rules that may limit or discourage information sharing needed for coordinated care or to facilitate the transformation to value-based health care,” OCR writes. So do you think that any of the Rules “may present obstacles to these goals without meaningfully contributing to the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI) and/or patients’ ability to exercise their rights with respect to their PHI”? One example OCR offers is “facilitating parental involvement in care.” Another is “Changing the current requirement for certain providers to make a good faith effort to obtain an acknowledgment of receipt of the Notice of Privacy Practices.” Public comments are due by February 11, 2019. For details and for the comment link, click here.

Thanks, Elizabeth R. Stone

UK Researcher, Together with World Dignity Project, Seeks Your Input on “Patient Experience”

If you “have ever consulted a medical professional about a mental health or psychological issue,” you are invited to participate in “a study about the patient experience relating to mental health.” The researcher, Claire Brooks, writes: “The results of this study will be used to open up important discussions with Mental Health Professionals about how to create dignity in patient experience, relating to mental health. The study asks you to tell me about two patient experiences relating to mental health. You can tell your story in writing online or by posting a 2-3 minute video from your mobile phone. We will also ask for your own opinions on how the patient experience can ensure dignity...” For more information and/or to participate, click here.

Thanks, Global Mental Health Peer Network Newsletter, via Elizabeth R. Stone

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

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.

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

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. 7, January 2019. 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