Key Update, April 2019, Volume 15, Number 10

Key Update, April 2019

Volume 15, Number 10

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


Honor Peer Leaders in Your Community at Alternatives 2019! (Early Bird Registration Deadline Extended to May 15!)

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), which will host Alternatives 2019—July 7-11 at The Catholic University in Washington, DC—has extended Early Bird Registration to May 15! The Early Bird rate is $295 for the full conference, $95 for one day.  And you have until May 3 to nominate a deserving peer leader for one of six different awards! Are you curious about the conference? The workshop titles have just been posted on the website! Alternatives 2019 will also 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, including links to the award nomination form and the workshop titles, click here.

Five-Week “Treating Trauma Master Series” Features Expert Advice

In each one-hour session of the Treating Trauma Master Series—sponsored by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine—“the experts unpack the most important ideas, strategies, and applications for treating trauma. When you register for free, you can tune into the scheduled broadcasts every Wednesday and Thursday. (New modules are broadcast multiple times each Wednesday and Thursday, from April 17 through May 16.) You can join any time during the run of the series—each module is a stand-alone session.” (“Gold Subscribers” pay $197 for “downloads of each module to watch at any time…and more.”) For more information and to register for free, click here. For more about NICABM, click here.

Courtesy of Amy Smith

CDC EPIC Webinar on April 24 at 1 p.m. ET: “Cultural Competence in Preparedness Planning”

“When a disaster strikes a community, it affects people of various cultural backgrounds—sometimes disproportionately. Cultural competency can help public health communicators reduce this disparity,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) writes. The presenter “will discuss why cultural competency matters during emergencies, the potential consequences of being culturally incompetent, and resources to help build your understanding.” For more information and a link to join the webinar, click here. And for “Helping People with Mental Health Conditions Prepare for Disasters,” a publication of the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion and the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse, click here.

Courtesy of Lynn Keltz

Free Virtual Event: Increasing Access to Treatment and Recovery Supports for People with Disabilities

Join this free, interactive Recovery LIVE! virtual event on Thursday, April 25, from 2:00 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 how organizations and service providers can engage and support people with disabilities.  Specific focus will be devoted to individuals seeking treatment and recovery support services for serious mental health conditions or substance use disorders. Presenters include John de Miranda, National Association on Alcohol, Drugs and Disabilities; Anastasia Edmonston, Maryland Behavioral Health Administration’s Federal Traumatic Brain Injury State Partnership Grant; and Sterling Johnson, Legal Science. Bring your questions and, to register, click here!

Courtesy of Judene Shelley

Free Webinar: A Learning Session for Youth and Young Adult Leaders
On April 25 at 2 p.m. ET, the STAR Center will host a free online learning session for youth and young adult leaders with lived experience in the behavioral health system. “Are you an active youth leader in your organization or community? Are you looking for ways to step up your game? This session will focus on strategies to turn your leadership into action with the introduction of action and strategy tools.” The presenter is Johanna Bergan, executive director of Youth Move National. For more information and to register, click here.

Free Webinar: “Reconnecting with the Earth for Personal and Global Healing, Part II: The Calling”

On April 25, 2019, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET, Oryx Cohen of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery will moderate Part II of a webinar series that “explores ways of healing for our bodies, minds, and spirits and weaves connections for repair—not only on the personal, but also on a larger global and environmental scale. Through efforts showcased in the webinar series, a supportive infrastructure is emerging, and very much needed for resilience, empowerment, connection to the earth, and sustainable wellness in our communities.” For more information and to register, click here.

CSGJC Publishes Free Framework to Improve Police-Mental Health Collaborations

“Police-Mental Health Collaborations: A Framework for Implementing Effective Law Enforcement Responses for People Who Have Mental Health Needs,” published by the Council of State Governments Justice Center in April 2019, is “intended to help jurisdictions advance comprehensive, agency-wide responses to people who have mental illnesses…The framework is organized around six main questions that law enforcement executives should consider to be successful in implementing or improving police-mental health collaborations (PMHCs) in their jurisdiction.” For more information and to download the free 24-page publication, click here. (For more about the criminal justice system, in which many people with mental health conditions are incarcerated, see the criminal justice digest, below.)

Have You Been Harmed by Psychiatry? Share Your Story by April 30 as Part of the 2019 APA Protest.

“Share your story as part of the 2019 protest of the American Psychiatric Association on May 18, 2019. We’re collecting videos of people's experience with involuntary treatment, coercion, psychiatric abuse, courts, forced drugging, electroshock, insulin coma, outpatient committals, and more. Submit your three-minute video by April 30 to be included.” Sponsors include the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, MindFreedom International, and the Network Against Psychiatric Assault. For more information and/or to submit your video, click here.

“Five Myths About Psychology: No, Talking About Difficult Things Isn’t Always Helpful.”

“Psychological discoveries continue to sharpen and refine our understanding of human suffering and of the human condition more broadly. Nonetheless, many myths about psychology persist,” according to a recent column in the Washington Post. For example, the author writes, “…About 10 percent of psychotherapy patients get worse during treatment, and only about half get better. One reason: Many therapists do not use evidence-based techniques and procedures shown to be effective in clinical trials.” Another myth challenged by the author involves the role of medication in treatment for mental health issues. For more about these two myths and the others that the author has identified, click here.   

Free Webinar on “Understanding Trauma and Post-Traumatic Growth” on April 30

On the last Tuesday of almost every month at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing hosts a free, one-hour webinar. On April 30, 2019, the topic will be “Understanding Trauma and Post-Traumatic Growth.” “Trauma can have a serious impact on our mental health and wellbeing, but many trauma survivors also report positive growth as a result of their experiences,” Doors to Wellbeing writes. “This webinar will explore the impact of trauma and post-traumatic growth (PTG) and how peer specialists can use the research on PTG in their own recovery and work with others.” To register, click here.

Mental Health America Offers Free “May Is Mental Health Month” Toolkit

“In 2019,” Mental Health America writes, “we are expanding upon last year’s theme of #4Mind4Body and taking it to the next level, as we explore the topics of animal companionships (including pets and support animals), spirituality, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections as ways to boost mental health and general wellness.” For more information and to download the free toolkit (available after you provide your name, address, and email address), click here.

If You Have Experienced Psychosis, “Psychosis Beyond the Box” Wants to Hear From You.

“Psychosis Beyond the Box” seeks to gather anonymous descriptions of “aspects of psychosis that are often neglected, such as felt presences, visual or quasi-visual experiences, and alterations of space, time or distance,” as well as strategies to help with any distressing or challenging aspects of the experiences. The narratives will be compiled and shared in early psychosis programs and other service settings across the U.S. A major aim of the project—which is not a research project—is “to validate the diverse range of things people with psychosis experience, and help people, especially young adults experiencing psychosis for the first time, feel less alone and isolated (in these experiences).” For more information about the project, based at the University of South Florida, or to share your story, click here. Questions? Write to Nev Jones ( or

Nutritional Psychiatrists Counsel People Toward Achieving Better Mental Health

The field of nutritional psychiatry focuses on helping people eat better to help ease their depression and anxiety, The New York Times reports. According to a researcher at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, “‘Our imaging studies show that the brains of people who follow a Mediterranean-style diet typically look younger, have larger volumes and are more metabolically active than people who eat a more typical Western diet.’” People are advised to “cut out processed foods, minimize meat and dairy and eat more whole foods like fatty fish, vegetables and whole grains and legumes to cut the risk of developing degenerative brain diseases associated with aging.” At the same time, “a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School cautions that a plant-only diet may carry some risks…[and that] strict vegetarians and vegans may have somewhat higher rates of depression and eating disorders than those who eat a more varied diet. Those on a meat-free diet may also need to take supplements to provide missing nutrients.” For the article, click here.

Save the Date! NARMH Conference in Santa Fe, NM, August 26-29, 2019

The 2019 National Association for Rural Mental Health (NARMH) annual conference will be held in Santa Fe, N.M., August 26-29, 2019. The conference will focus on “Surviving to Thriving, Workforce Issues, Innovations in Service Delivery, Dilemmas in Addressing Trauma, Rural and Frontier Workforce Development Strategies, Embracing the Reality of Behavioral Health in Rural Communities—Struggles, Responses and Successes, Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders and Other Topics.” For more information and/or to register, click here.

A Growing Number of Video Games Tackle Mental Health Issues, The New York Times Reports

“[A]s a cultural conversation around mental health grows louder, makers of [video game] content are responding,” according to a recent article in The New York Times. “Some makers are now developing games to explicitly promote better mental health.” A game called Celeste “explored depression and anxiety through a protagonist who had to avoid physical and emotional obstacles. In 2017’s fantasy action-adventure video game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a young Celtic warrior deals with psychosis. Other games in recent years, including Night in the Woods and Pry, have delved into self-identity, anger issues and post-traumatic stress disorder. All followed the 2013 interactive fiction game Depression Quest, which asked players to step into the shoes of a character living with depression.” To read the article, click here.

Prejudice Against Voice Hearers Varies, Depending on an Array of Factors, Researchers Find

According to a new study, the prejudice associated with the experience of hearing voices “depends upon what the voice is saying and perceptions about the cause of the voice.” “One hundred forty-three nonclinical participants were presented with vignettes describing people who heard voices that were attributed to either ‘God’ or ‘Abraham Lincoln’ and were described as either complimentary/encouraging or insulting/ threatening. For each vignette, participants were asked about the likelihood that the voice-hearer had schizophrenia or mental illness…Stigma was measured by perceived dangerousness and desire for social distance.” The researchers—including individuals with lived experience—write, “This research suggests that public causal models of voice-hearing experiences vary substantially depending upon the specific contents of the voice (positive, negative, religious, nonreligious) and characteristics of the perceiver (religious vs. nonreligious) and that these variations affect stigma reactions.” For the study, published in Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal in April 2019, click here.

Research Debunks the Existence of “Depression Genes”

A “new University of Colorado Boulder study assessing genetic and survey data from 620,000 individuals found that the 18 most highly studied candidate genes for depression are actually no more associated with it than randomly chosen genes,” according to an article in MDLinx Internal Medicine. “‘This study confirms that efforts to find a single gene or handful of genes which determine depression are doomed to fail,’” said the lead author. “‘We are not saying that depression is not heritable at all. It is,’” said a second researcher. “‘What we are saying is that depression is influenced by many, many variants, and individually each of those has a minuscule effect.’” The researchers “set out to see if any of the genes, or gene variants, were associated with depression either alone or when combined with an environmental factor like childhood trauma or socioeconomic diversity.” “‘It's like in “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” There’s just nothing there,’” said the second researcher. For the article about the study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, click here.

Courtesy of Fran Hazam

“Psychosis: What Is It?” A Free Course and a Free Book Try to Answer This Question

A brief course sponsored by Integrative Mental Health for You (IMHU)—“a not-for-profit online resource for exploring effective options to optimize wellness”—is aimed at “anyone with lived experience and their loved ones, and trained therapists who want to explore new viewpoints.” IMHU writes: “Watch a variety of compelling videos, read select articles, and rethink extreme states, how to label and navigate them. Listen to reflections of those with lived experience as well as qualified support people who evaluate the risks of anti-psychotics and conventional care.” For more information, click here.

Courtesy of Lauren Spiro

“Can We Get Better at Forgetting?” The Answer Is Yes.

“Some things aren’t worth remembering,” The New York Times writes. “Science is slowly working out how we might let that stuff go…A new study, published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience, suggests that some things can be intentionally relegated to oblivion…To intentionally forget is to remember differently, on purpose…[I]ntentional forgetting also may be an ability that can be practiced and deliberately strengthened.” This is because “activating a memory also makes it temporarily fragile and vulnerable to change. This is where intentional forgetting comes in. It’s less about erasing than editing: incrementally revising, refocusing and potentially dimming the central incident of the memory.” For the New York Times article, click here.

The April 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 April 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 “He’s Living With Severe Mental Illness. Should He Face the Death Penalty? A South Dakota case reflects the national debate on whether execution should be banned for the mentally ill,” click here. For “National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction,” click here. For “The National Registry of Exonerations: Exonerations in 2018,” click here. For “Introducing News Inside: The Marshall Project launches a print publication that will be distributed in prisons and jails,” click here. For “The Everyday Brutality of America’s Prisons,” click here. For “[Canadian] government ordered to pay $20M for placing mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement,” click here. For “New Orleans Wants to Make Its Notorious Jail Bigger: Activists Say the Sheriff Is Trying to Add Jail Beds Under the Guise of Mental Health Treatment,” click here. For “Prison Arts Programs Produce Change That No Audit Can Measure,” click here. For “Who Belongs in Prison? A truly just system must do more than protect the rights of the innocent; it must also respect the humanity of the guilty,” click here. For “John Jay’s Prisoner Reentry Institute Maps [New York] State Prison Education Programs,” click here. For “21 more studies showing racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” click here. For “Massachusetts Mental Health Court Serves As Alternative To Jail time,” click here. For “SC inmate’s baby died in toilet: Lawsuits allege rampant medical neglect in prisons,” click here. For “Meet the Grown-Ups Keeping Kids Out of Prison: The Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice will help guide towns, cities, and states on how to close youth prisons for good,” click here. For “Five years on, Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project is going strong,” click here. For “Making musical connections at Sing-Sing Prison,” click here. For “If Prisons Don’t Work, What Will? The Democratic presidential candidates should look at what a growing number of prosecutors are doing to end mass incarceration,” click here. For “A Unique Approach to Career-Focused Prison Reentry Programming,” click here. For “My jail stopped using solitary confinement. Here’s why,” click here. For “A Father’s Story: How Shoplifting Led to My Son Spending 7 Months in Solitary,” click here. For “Addressing mental health in criminal justice system requires training, systemic changes, visiting professor says,” click here. For “These Men Are Fighting to Abolish the Death Penalty—From Death Row,” click here. For “When ‘Violent Offenders’ Commit Non-Violent Crimes,” click here. For “Inside America’s Block Box: A Rare Look at the Violence of Incarceration: Would we fix our prisons if we could see what happens inside them?,” click here. For “Designing in Prison: Part Three,” click here. For “German-Style Program at a Connecticut Maximum Security Prison Emphasizes Rehab for Inmates,” click here. For “Six Necessary Principles for Successful Decarceration,” click here. For “Promoting a New Direction for Youth Justice: Strategies to Fund a Community-Based Continuum of Care and Opportunity,” click here. For “Criminal Justice Legislation Means Nothing Without Follow-Through: Sentencing disparities and felon disenfranchisement can end on paper, but the stigmatization that comes with incarceration remains,” click here. For “Psychological Restorative Solutions, P.C., Presents T.A.S.T.E.,” click here. For “Even Very Short Jail Sentences Drive People Away from Voting,” click here.


“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

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.

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. 10, April 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