Key Update, February 2019, Volume 15, Number 8

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


TO CONTACT THE CLEARINGHOUSE: SELFHELPCLEARINGHOUSE@GMAIL.COM                                                 

TO CONTACT SUSAN ROGERS: SUSAN.ROGERS.ADVOCACY@GMAIL.COM                                                     


Registration Is Open for Alternatives 2019! Submit a Workshop Proposal! And Learn How You Can Get Involved!

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) will host Alternatives 2019—“Standing Together, Celebrating Our Gifts, Raising Our Voices”—at The Catholic University in Washington, DC, July 7-11! The Early Bird rate—$295 for the full conference, $95 for one day—will be available through March 30. The deadline for submitting a workshop proposal is March 20. And there are opportunities to participate in the planning! The NCMHR writes that the Alternatives Conference, now in its fourth decade, “is renowned for offering the latest and best information in the peer recovery movement, and a chance for peers to network with and learn from one another. Now the People's Alternatives once again, this conference is funded entirely through registration fees and donations.” Alternatives 2019 will include a two-day pre-conference, including advocacy training and a “Hill Day,” when peer advocates will meet, by appointment, with the staff of their U.S. senators and congressional representatives. For more information, click here.

FDA Panel Recommends Controversial Treatment for Depression; Prominent Psychiatrist Urges Caution

“In a move that may clear the way for the first new treatment in years for depression, an expert panel [recently] recommended that federal regulators approve a nasal spray that delivers the active ingredients of ketamine, a popular club drug in the 1980s and 1990s,” according to The New York Times. “The new drug…is aimed at people with severe depression, particularly those with suicidal thinking. The panel…was nearly unanimous in deciding that the drug’s benefits outweighed its risks…The federal agency has until March 4 to decide whether to approve the drug.” However, in 2016, Dr. Allen Frances, chair of the DSM-IV Task Force, critic of the DSM-V, and author of Saving Normal, wrote: “Ketamine is a classic case of commercial hype and exploitation racing far ahead of scientific proof.” On February 17, 2019, he tweeted: “#FDA is making tragic mistake prematurely approving #ketamine for #depression. Reminds me of its rush 20 yrs ago to OK #Oxycontin…FDA buys hype/misses risks/serves #pharma.” For the New York Times article, click here. For the article by Dr. Frances, click here. For a related article, “Prominent Psychiatrist Tells CNN Why Antidepressants Are So Dangerous,” click here.

What Is a Peer Support Specialist? Your Opinion Is Wanted

“On behalf of iNAPS [International Association of Peer Supporters], a national workgroup has developed a proposed definition for peer support specialist to submit for federal standard occupational classification through the U.S. Department of Labor,” iNAPS writes. “We are asking you to complete this short survey regarding the proposed definition...The proposed title, Peer Support Specialist, does not prevent the use of other job titles, such as Recovery Coach, Peer Bridger, Peer Navigator, etc.” To complete the survey, click here.

A New Approach to Supporting Social Workers Who Have a Mental Health Condition, by the TU Collaborative

Social workers with mental [health conditions] offer unique contributions to service delivery, but also face unique challenges,” according to a new article published in Social Work in Mental Health. “They must weigh the risks and benefits of disclosing their condition in the workplace and are more susceptible to burnout. Past efforts made by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) to support social workers with personal concerns have had limited success. This article sets forth a new approach to supporting these social workers which involves one-on-one peer support, peer education, advocacy opportunities, assistance with requests for job accommodations, a speaker’s bureau, and organizational consultation on peer issues within agencies.” For the article, click here.

“Peer Support Tied to Fewer Repeat Mental Health Hospitalizations,” Study Finds

“Adults who have been hospitalized for psychiatric problems may be less likely to be readmitted when they get support from other patients who went through similar experiences, a UK study suggests.” Reuters, reporting on a study published in The Lancet in August 2018, continued: “Researchers followed 441 patients for one year after they were discharged from the hospital. All of them received personal recovery workbooks to help them manage their own care. Half of them also received 10 sessions with a peer support worker with a history of mental illness. One year after they left the hospital, patients who received peer counseling were 34 percent less likely to have a repeat admission than people who didn’t get this type of support, the study found.” For the Reuters article, which includes a link to the Lancet study, click here.

“A Quick Guide to Research and Evidence on Peer Support” Is Available

“Peer Support: Evidence and Experience,” a free two-page brochure including definitions, history, and select references, is available for free download. The brochure, subtitled “A Quick Guide to Research and Evidence on Peer Support,” is authored by Rebecca Miller, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry; and Laura Van Tosh, a longtime activist in the movement for social justice of individuals with lived experience, and a consultant with Companis Seattle, which matches volunteer professionals with nonprofit agencies in need of staffing assistance. For the free brochure, click here.

Save the Date! NARPA Annual Rights Conference September 18-21 in Hartford, Connecticut

“For more than 30 years, NARPA [National Association for Rights Protection & Advocacy] has provided an educational conference with inspiring keynoters and outstanding workshops. We learn from each other and come together as a community committed to social justice for people with psychiatric labels & developmental disabilities.” For more information, click here.

“Listening to the Music You Love Will Make Your Brain Release More Dopamine, Study Finds”

“A new study has found that dopamine—a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in our cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning—plays a direct role in the reward experience induced by music. The new findings have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” For the article, click here.

“Teenagers Say Depression and Anxiety are Major Issues Among Their Peers,” New York Times Reports

A Pew Research Center survey of 920 teenagers aged 13 to 17 “found that 70 percent of teenagers saw mental health as a big issue. Fewer teenagers cited bullying, drug addiction or gangs as major problems; those from low-income households were more likely to do so,” according to a recent story in The New York Times. For the story, click here. A related Times story—“As Students Struggle with Stress and Depression, Colleges Act as Counselors”—notes that “[m]ore than 60 percent of college students said they had experienced ‘overwhelming anxiety’ in the past year, according to a 2018 report from the American College Health Association. Over 40 percent said they felt so depressed they had difficulty functioning.” For that story, click here.

“Exploring Alternate Pathways to Voice-Hearing”

In a new study published in Schizophrenia Bulletin the authors “suggest that trauma can play a major role in some hallucinations, a minor role in many, or no role in other hallucinations. They write that ‘there is enough evidence to conclude that trauma is a significant risk factor for psychosis and for voice-hearing in particular. Yet the finding that trauma increases the risk for hallucinations and for psychosis is quite different from the claim that trauma is necessary for either to occur.’” For an article about the study in Mad In America, , click here.

“Comics Can Help You Understand Mental Health!”

“Art can be a way to explain to your loved ones what you are feeling, and if you do not have the emotional energy needed to enter a big conversation, maybe directing them to some comics could help! Not only can art help to destigmatize mental illnesses, but it can also lend a hand to those who may be struggling,” writes the author of this article, which includes examples of mental health-related comics. Among the artists featured are Charles Schulz, Allie Brosh, and Gemma Correll. For the article, click here

“The Impact of Isolation” on Mental Health Is Explored by NPR

“Humans are social animals, equipped with brains hard-wired to connect with those around us,” according to a podcast on NPR about “The Impact of Isolation.” “We rely on relationships for safety and survival, as well as love and fulfillment. And when we’re deprived of those connections, we suffer—both psychologically and physically. On this episode, we explore what happens to our health and our minds when we’re faced with isolation. We hear stories about dealing with the isolation of solitary confinement, medical quarantine, and even the lonely journey to another planet.” To listen, click here.

“Conversations About Intimacy and Sexuality: A Training Toolkit” Is Offered Free by TU Collaborative

The latest newsletter of the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion offers a link to its groundbreaking publication “Conversations About Intimacy and Sexuality: A Training Toolkit Using Motivational Interviewing.” “Forming intimate relationships and expressing sexuality can be challenging for anyone, including people with mental health conditions. This toolkit contains information related to preparing direct service personnel for discussions on topics of intimacy and sexuality with persons with mental health conditions. Informed by the Motivational Interviewing technique, this toolkit includes experiential exercises with instructions, evaluation forms, hyperlinks to resources, and references to be used by trainers.” For the newsletter,  click here.

“For Valentine’s Day, Try Being Nice to Yourself,” The New York Times Advises

Although Valentine’s Day 2019 has come and gone, this New York Times article offers some advice without an expiration date: “Numerous studies have shown that self-compassion is strongly linked to overall well-being. Practicing self-compassion can reduce depression, stress, performance anxiety and body dissatisfaction. It can lead to increases in happiness, self-confidence and even immune function.” For the article, click here.

The February 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 February 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 “Mentally Ill Prisoners Are Held Past Release Dates, Lawsuit Claims,” click here. For “The Safety Net Is Broken: How Police Became Mental Health First Responders,” click here. For “Costly, ineffective, cruel: How Oregon snares mentally ill people charged with low-level crimes,” click here. For “Mother sues Texas Prisons after ‘egregious’ failure to prevent son’s suicide,” click here. For “No one should have to lose a son the way I lost my son,” click here. For “Report: Public Defender Represents 1,200 Clients in One Year,” click here. For “‘I’m Going to Die Here,’ She Told the Guards. They Didn’t Listen,” click here. For “Jail or Bail? There’s a New Option,” click here. For “Most Inmates with Mental Illness Still Wait for Decent Care,” click here. For “In landmark move, L.A. County will replace Men’s Central Jail with mental health hospital for inmates,” click here. For “Psychiatric Patients Need Hospital Beds, Not Jail Cells,” click here. For “Opinion—Alabama executions: strictly a Christian affair,” click here. For “John Jay’s PRI Advocates to Expand Alternative-to-Incarceration and Reentry Services in New York State,” click here. For “State of Phone Justice: Local jails, state prisons and private phone providers,” click here. For “Psychiatry on Death Row: Interviews From the Inside,” click here. For “How the Federal Government Undermines Prison Education,” click here. For “Finding College by Way of Prison,” click here. For “Prisons Across the U.S. Are Quietly Building Databases of Incarcerated People’s Voice Prints,” click here. For “The Supreme Court Just Struck a Huge, Unanimous Blow Against Policing for Profit,” click here. For “Do Jails Kill People?” click here. For “For Cops, Stress May Be the Biggest Danger. This City Is Trying New Ways to Improve Their Mental Health,” click here. For “Barbaric and Excessive: Two Books on Punishment in the United States,” click here. For “When Going to Jail Means Giving Up the Meds That Saved Your Life: How the Americans with Disabilities Act could change the way the nation’s jails and prisons treat addiction,” 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.

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.

New 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. 8, February 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