Key Update, March 2019, Volume 15, Number 9

Key Update, March 2019

Volume 15, Number 9

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                                                     


Free Manual on “Tackling Mental Health Prejudice and Discrimination” Is Hot Off the Virtual Press

The Temple University (TU) Collaborative on Community Inclusion and the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse have written and published “Tackling Mental Health Prejudice and Discrimination.” The free manual offers information on anti-prejudice and anti-discrimination initiatives that people with lived experience, particularly those involved in peer-run programs, have successfully implemented in the past. “The goal is to provide useful guidance for new peer-based efforts to tackle prejudice and discrimination.” For the manual, and links to other information from the TU Collaborative, click here.

Early Bird Registration Deadline Extended for Alternatives 2019 (Deadline: April 26)! And You Can Still Nominate a Keynote Speaker (Deadline: March 28)!

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), which will host Alternatives 2019—July 7-11 at The Catholic University in Washington, DC—is extending the deadline for Early Bird Registration to April 26! The Early Bird rate is $295 for the full conference, $95 for one day.  And the deadline for nominating a keynote speaker has been extended to March 28! 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 feature 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. The theme is “Standing Together, Celebrating Our Gifts, Raising Our Voices.” For more information, click here.

Free Webinar on “Benefits of Recovery Environments” on March 26

On the last Tuesday of almost every month at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing hosts a free, one-hour webinar. On March 26, 2019, Doors to Wellbeing will present “Benefits of Recovery Environments. “As mental health peer specialists, how do we create an environment that fosters recovery and growth? Ahmad Abojaradeh will discuss best practices for creating an environment for enhancing mental health and personal empowerment to make changes in one’s life.” The learning objectives are: “Recognize the foundations of recovery environments, list at least three steps to create an inclusive recovery environment, and identify at least three ways in which creating a recovery environment enhances workplace wellness.” To register, click here.

Free Interactive BRSS TACS Event on Engaging People from Latinx Communities in Treatment and Recovery Support Services

“Join this free, interactive Recovery LIVE! virtual event on Thursday, March 28 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET. SAMHSA’s Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS) invites you to be part of this conversation about providing culturally responsive services to individuals and families from Hispanic and Latino communities to improve engagement and retention. Presenters include Diliana DeJesús, Casa Esperanza, Inc.; Jamie Bailey, Project Vida/Recovery Alliance of El Paso; and Luis Rosales, Trilogy Recovery Community. Bring your questions and register today!”

Thanks, Judene Shelley.

Webinar on “How to Launch a Podcast That Makes a Difference” on March 28 at 3 p.m. ET

On March 28, p.m. at 3 p.m. ET, for the ticket price of just under $7, “Bo Hammond, CEO and founder of Tours for Humanity, a DC-based walking tour company, will teach the basics of launching a powerful podcast that can spread your message…Podcasts have quickly become one of the newest tools for delivering your message and expanding your support, but where does a company or an individual even begin to create one? How do you post it? Edit it? Market it? Get funding? This webinar seeks to answer all these questions and more.” For information and to register, click here.

Thanks, Fran Hazam.

“Experiences with Hospitalization” Survey Wants to Hear from You

“The purpose of this survey is to help us understand people's lived experience with voluntary and involuntary treatment because of suicidal thoughts. It was created by people with lived experience…We are planning to use this information to facilitate discussions with suicidologists and the suicide prevention community about the impact of the use of these interventions, particularly within marginalized populations. We feel the voice of people with lived experience with these interventions has not had adequate opportunity to be heard, and hope that by completing this survey anonymously, people who have been most impacted can find a safe way to share their experiences. Please note that this is not a research project.” For more information and/or to participate, click here.

Thanks, Leah Harris.

“28 Ways to Make the World Less Hostile to Mad, Neurodivergent, and Psychiatrically Disabled People”

In a recent piece in Radical Abolitionist, five authors who identify as “Mad, neurodivergent, and psychiatrically disabled people” (MNPD) suggest 28 ways to make the world less hostile to them and others like them. Among the suggestions: “Research the impact that coercive treatments and practices have had on MNPD individuals.” “Radically reconsider what constitutes expertise. If you believe that mental health professionals know more about a person’s experiences, wants, desires, and needs than that person themselves, examine some of the prejudices and biases that may be underlying this belief.” “Advocate for policies that increase the resources and social safety nets for MNPD people.” And 25 more! For the article, click here.

Thanks, Stephanie Jamison.

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin Seek Participants for Depression Study

Trinity College Dublin researchers write: “We are a team of psychologists at Trinity College Dublin who are trying to better understand depression. We are interested in using language to predict the occurrence of depression early. Our hope is that in doing so we can one day be able to help doctors provide treatments earlier and maybe even prevent depression altogether. In order to participate, you must be at least 18 years old, have had a Twitter account for at least one year, [and] have at least 500 Tweets. Interested in participating? Learn more by clicking. If not, thanks for taking the time to read about our research.” For the “continue” link to more information, click here.

“FDA Approves First Drug for Postpartum Depression,” NY Times Reports; But Some Experts Question Its Use

The first drug to treat postpartum depression was recently approved by the FDA, The New York Times reports. The reportedly fast-acting drug, called brexanolone—a 60-hour infusion which requires a stay in a certified medical center—will be expensive; “insurers said this week that they are evaluating the drug,” according to the story in the Times. A more-accessible pill “is showing promise in its clinical trials.” For the article, click here. However, in “PostPartum Depression: Is Brexanalone the Answer,” in Mad In America, the author, a holistic women’s health psychiatrist, paints a less optimistic picture: “In September of 2017, brexanolone failed its clinical trial as a treatment for super-refractory status epilepticus, but just two months later, the drug was being touted as a cure for postpartum depression, gaining fast-track status from the FDA. That’s despite the fact that the more trials were conducted, and the larger the sample of women they tested became, the less statistical significance the drug’s effect showed… compared to an ordinary placebo.” For the Mad In America article, click here. And, in an opinion piece in the Times, the authors write: “It’s worth pointing out that the Zulresso study was small, involving 247 women, and that the drug maker was involved in its design and interpretation…we fear that Zulresso [the brand name for brexanalone] is just a stopgap, and yet another instance of pathologizing a very sane reaction to our very insane culture….More research is needed before we can be sure that this is not just the latest in a long line of drugs offered to women as a quick fix of middling efficacy, with the potential for unexpected side effects.” For the op ed, click here.

Raise the Minimum Wage and Decrease Suicide, a New Study Reports

A “new study shows that increases in state minimum wages have been associated with decreases in suicide rates in recent years,” according to the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. The authors of the study, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, “studied retrospective data for all 50 states to determine the relationship between changes in state minimum wages and suicide rates between 2006 and 2016...With 432,000 reported deaths by suicide in the time period, the team found that a one-dollar increase in the real minimum wage was associated on average with a 1.9 percent decrease in the annual state suicide rate, or nearly 8,000 fewer deaths by suicide…[T]his recent study shows how reversing increases in suicide deaths requires more than improved access to health care. Policy makers must consider poor social, economic, housing and labor conditions and their impacts on suicide rates.” For the article, click here.

Thanks, Bethany Lilly.

“Mental Health Apps Lean on Bots and Unlicensed Therapists.” Are They Effective?

“Mental health care services are going through a quiet revolution, fueled in part by the widely acknowledged problem of access to therapists and other licensed professionals,” according to a recent article in Nature. This revolution includes mental health “apps” that offer help that may be provided by people who are not licensed. For example, Sibly, based in San Francisco, uses smartphone instant messaging provided by four to six unlicensed “coaches.” But some experts question whether such new online services “will actually have a positive impact, or whether offering mental health care without involving licensed therapists has the potential to cause real harm. ‘Is the technology being used to just reduce the quality of mental healthcare? I think that’s a concern,’ says John Torous, director of the digital psychiatry division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.” At the same time, there is a growing body of evidence for the effectiveness of peer support, i.e., support by people who have lived experience of the mental health system but may not have any formal training (click here). For the Nature article, click here.

More Evidence Confirms That Gun Access Is the Major Cause of Gun Violence

“Despite the public, political, and media narrative that mental health is at the root of gun violence, evidence is lacking to infer a causal link,” according to a recently published article. The data were from a longitudinal study in Texas; the 663 participants had an average age of 22 and were 61.7 percent female. “…individuals who had gun access were 18.15 times and individuals with high hostility were 3.51 times more likely to have threatened someone with a gun, after controlling for demographic factors and prior mental health treatment…Counter to public beliefs, the majority of mental health symptoms examined were not related to gun violence. Instead, access to firearms was the primary culprit. The findings have important implications for gun control policy efforts.” For the abstract, click here.

A Peer Specialist Training Manual in Spanish Can Expand Such Training to the Latinx Community

A training manual entitled “Peer2peer: Curso de formación professional” is available to help train peer support specialists whose preferred language is Spanish. For the free 180-page manual, click here.

Thanks, Maria Ostheimer.

The Atlantic Calls BS on Psychiatry in “Psychiatry’s Incurable Hubris”

“The biology of mental illness is still a mystery, but practitioners don’t want to admit it.” This is the teaser on an article in the April 2019 edition of The Atlantic, which calls into question the science behind psychiatry. Reviewing a new book—Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness—the article’s author notes: “…it’s a tale of promising roads that turned out to be dead ends, of treatments that seemed miraculous in their day but barbaric in retrospect, of public-health policies that were born in hope but destined for disaster.” For the article, click here.

You Have a Right to See Your Medical Records but Not Your Psychotherapist’s Notes

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “The Privacy Rule gives you, with few exceptions, the right to inspect, review, and receive a copy of your medical records and billing records that are held by health plans and health care providers covered by the Privacy Rule.” However, “[y]ou do not have the right to access a provider’s psychotherapy notes. Psychotherapy notes are notes that a mental health professional takes during a conversation with a patient. They are kept separate from the patient’s medical and billing records. HIPAA also does not allow the provider to make most disclosures about psychotherapy notes about you without your authorization.” For more, click here.

“6 Reasons Why Comics Can Improve Mental Health”

“Comics have the power to improve mental health and here are six reasons why: 1. They have relatable characters. 2. Comics are inspirational. 3. Comics help to build relationships. 4. Cosplaying is awesome. 5. Graphic novels will encourage you to read. 6. You’ll be exposed to a different way of thinking.” For more, click here.

The March 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 March 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 “The Jail Health-Care Crisis,” click here. For “Critical Voices on Criminal Justice: Essays from Directly Affected Authors,” click here. For “It’s Official: First Jail Accredited As A Mental Health Facility. Need Help? Get Arrested! Outrageous!” click here. For “The insanity defense isn’t available in every state. It should be,” click here. For “‘Medicare for All’ Is Missing a Vital Group: The Incarcerated,” click here. For “Two recent opinions by Justice Clarence Thomas should alarm us all,” click here. For “NYPD’s Mental-Illness Response Breakdown,” click here. For “Reimagining Prison with Frank Gehry: Prison as college campus. Prison as wellness center. Prison as monastery,” click here. For “It’s reasonable to want to rid the world of evil. But the death penalty can’t do that,” click here. For “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019,” click here. For “Seriously Ill Federal Prisoners Freed As Compassionate Release Law Takes Effect,” click here. For “Companies pledge to hire more applicants with criminal backgrounds,” click here. For “Philly probation violators are finally getting real hearings. Many are being released,” click here. For “RESCALED aims to thoroughly reform detention as a form of punishment in Europe. All prisons should be replaced by detention houses…embedded in their immediate environment and community,” click here. For “Why Reimagining Prison for Young Adults Matters,” click here. For “ACLU disputes Corrections’ solitary confinement numbers,” click here. For “Without access to credit, ex-cons may return to lives of crime,” click here. For “After 40 years in solitary, activist Albert Woodfox tells his story of survival,” click here. For “Building Justice/Impact Justice,” click here. For “The Case for Expunging Criminal Records,” click here. For “After 21 years in prison, an ex-offender has a job—and a better future,” 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.

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

What Is a Peer Support Specialist? Your Opinion Is Wanted

“On behalf of iNAPS, 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.

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

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.

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. 9, March 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