The Key Update, Volume 12, Number 11 - May 2016

Key Update, May 2016

Volume 12, Number 11

“New and Expanded Medical Definitions Create More Patients” (and a Lucrative Drug Market)

A May 22, 2016, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article shone a spotlight on the pharmaceutical industry’s aggressive marketing strategy to try to create a demand for their products. Listing “intermittent explosive disorder,” “binge-eating disorder” and “low testosterone” among other diagnoses, Illness Inflation: A Watchdog Report notes, “None of these conditions was considered part of mainstream medicine just 20 years ago.” The drugs sold to treat these newly defined conditions “often carry serious health risks,” the report adds. For more, click here. In a related story, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns of new, albeit rare, impulse-control problems associated with the mental health drug aripiprazole (Abilify, Abilify Maintena, Aristada). “[C]ompulsive or uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, and have sex have been reported….These uncontrollable urges were reported to have stopped when the medicine was discontinued or the dose was reduced.” For more, click here. To see another related story—Another Study Finds Link Between Pharma Money and Brand-name Prescribing—click here. And to see Failure to Report: A STAT Investigation, about how “prestigious medical research institutions have flagrantly violated a federal law requiring public reporting of study results, depriving patients and doctors of complete data to gauge the safety and benefits of treatments,” click here. (Note: The STAT investigation was included in the December 2015 edition of the Key Update.) 

Doors to Wellbeing Offers a Spring Webinar Series; the May Webinar Is Today at 2 p.m. ET!

The Doors to Wellbeing National Consumer Technical Assistance Center has been offering a Spring webinar series. In April, the topic was Workforce Integration: Why It Matters. On May 31 at 2 p.m. ET, the topic will be Peer Support with Veterans—Shoulder to Shoulder. And on June 28, the topic will be Invasion or Innovation: Peers in the Workforce. For more information, to view the archived April webinar and/or to register for the May and June Webinars, click here.


NIMH Seeks Feedback on “The State of Mental Illness Research and NIMH’s Role”

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is soliciting comments from the general public on “the state of mental illness research and NIMH's role in the development of this research. Your feedback will be used in developing briefing materials that will represent the full diversity of perspectives on mental illness research for the incoming NIMH director. Please provide comments by June 30, 2016. NIMH welcomes feedback from investigators, investigator-sponsors, clinicians, advocates, and any other stakeholders...” For more information and to submit your comments, click here.

Thanks, @LaurenSpiro

Deadline to Submit a Workshop Proposal at Alternatives 2016 Has Been Extended to June 3!

The deadline to submit proposals for workshop presentations at Alternatives 2016 (#AltCon16) has been extended to June 3! For more information and to submit a proposal, click here. The conference, organized by Peerlink National Technical Assistance Center (@PeerlinkTA), will be held at the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego, California, from September 19 to 23. For more information about the conference, including hotel and travel, click here.

New Parenting with a Disability Toolkit Is Available from the NCD

On May 5, 2016, the National Council on Disability (NCD) and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation released Parenting with a Disability: Know Your Rights Toolkit. “Currently, 35 states include disability as grounds for termination of parental rights….In every state, the presence of a disability can be arbitrarily used when determining the ‘best’ interests of a child.” The new toolkit builds on NCD’s 2012 report, Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children. To download both the new toolkit and the enhanced 2012 report, click here.

BRSS TACS First Friday Will Cover Recovery-Oriented Crisis Response

On June 3, 2016, at 12 p.m. ET, BRSS TACS (Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy) will host a free teleconference about Recovery-Oriented Crisis Response. “First Fridays with BRSS TACS is a free monthly opportunity to meet with nationally recognized leaders to discuss recovery-related topics in an open and informal setting.” Join BRSS TACS on June 3 to learn more about this important subject and to submit your questions to presenters Oryx Cohen, chief operating officer of the National Empowerment Center Technical Assistance Center, and Phillip Valentine, executive director of the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery. For more information and to register, click here.

Have You Taken Antidepressant or Antipsychotic Medication? Then Please See Below.

Internationally known researcher Dr. John Read is seeking your responses to an anonymous online survey gathering information on people’s experiences taking antidepressant and antipsychotic medication. “The information you share in the survey will be combined with the data provided by other participants and used to produce academic research articles that publicize the results,” according to the survey introduction. Dr. Read is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS); a professor at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia; and the editor of the ISPS journal Psychosis. For an article about this and other such studies, click here. To participate in Dr. Read’s new survey, click here.

To Observe Gun Violence Awareness Day, #WearOrange on June 2

On June 2—National Gun Violence Awareness Day—wear orange. “Wear Orange was created to make it easier for people to show their support for common sense solutions that will save lives,” the organizers explain on the website. The annual event began in remembrance of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old who was shot and killed a week after she marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade.  Her friends chose orange to remember her “because that’s what hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.” The organizers write: “What started in a south side high school to celebrate Hadiya has turned into a nationwide movement to honor all lives cut short by gun violence. Wear Orange is also a celebration of life—and a call to action to help save lives from gunfire.” For more information, click here.

SAMHSA Voice Award Deadline Has Been Extended to June 3

SAMHSA writes: “The deadline for submitting [Voice Award] family/consumer/peer leader nominations has been extended until Friday, June 3, 2016.” To submit a nomination, click here.

New Report Covers Criminal Justice Policy Reforms in 46 States in 2014-2015

 On May 26, 2016, the Vera Institute published Justice in Review: New Trends in Sentencing and Corrections 2014-2015. “In 2014 and 2015, 46 states enacted at least 201 bills, executive orders, and ballot initiatives to reform at least one aspect of their sentencing and corrections systems,” the Vera Institute writes. “[M]ost of the policy changes focused on three areas: creating or expanding opportunities to divert people”—especially individuals who have substance abuse or mental health conditions and/or who are homeless—“away from the criminal justice system; reducing prison populations by enacting sentencing reform, expanding opportunities for early release from prison, and reducing the number of people admitted to prison for violating the terms of their community supervision; and supporting reentry into the community from prison…this report serves as a practical guide for other state and federal policymakers looking to effect similar changes in criminal justice policy.” For more information and to download the free report, click here. Also available for free download is the American Friends Service Committee’s Inalienable Rights: Applying international human rights standards to the U.S. criminal justice system. For more information and to download a free copy, click here.

Newsletters of iNAPS and the Café TA Center Offer Many Resources

The newsletters of the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS) and the Café TA Center offer a variety of information on upcoming events (such as the tenth annual iNAPS conference, to be held in Philadelphia August 26-27—Early Bird Registration ends June 1!) as well as valuable resources! To download the iNAPS newsletter, click here. To download the Café TA Center newsletter, click here.

WFMH International Conference Seeks Workshop Proposals

 The World Federation for Mental Health International Conference, to be held October 17-19, 2016, in Cairns, Australia, has issued a call for abstracts. The deadline is June 17. For guidelines and details or to submit an abstract, click here.

Thanks, Janet Paleo

Bazelon, UMass Medical School Highlight Opportunities to Promote Employment for People with Mental Health Conditions

A new brief by UMass Medical School and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law outlines policy opportunities that can be leveraged to help people with psychiatric disabilities get and keep jobs, and recommendations to address current barriers to employment. For information about the authors’ recommendations and to download a free copy of Policy Opportunities for Promoting Employment for People with Psychiatric Disabilities, click here. For A Practical Guide for People with Mental Health Conditions Who Want to Work, published by the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion, click here. For additional Temple University Collaborative employment resources, click here.

U.S. DOE Urges Removal of Barriers Preventing People with Criminal Records from Pursuing Higher Education

On May 9, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) urged America’s colleges and universities to remove barriers that can prevent the estimated 70 million citizens with criminal records from pursuing higher education, including considering the chilling effect of inquiring early in the application process whether prospective students have ever been arrested. The Department made the recommendation in a new resource guide, Beyond the Box: Increasing Access to Higher Education for Justice-Involved Individuals, which encourages alternatives to inquiring about criminal histories during college admissions and provides recommendations to support a holistic review of applicants. “The college admissions process shouldn’t serve as a roadblock to opportunity, but should serve as a gateway to unlocking untapped potential of students,” U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said. For Beyond the Box, click here. For the DOE press release, click here. To read about someone who “found that once he attained a college education—he now holds four degrees, including a doctorate in education—he was able to overcome some of the obstacles that kept him unemployed and on the verge of returning to prison,” click here.

Webinar on Building the Foundation for Your Peer-Run Organization Is on June 15

Peerlink National Technical Assistance Center will host a free, one-hour webinar on Developing & Implementing Policies & Procedures: Building the Foundation for Your Peer-Run Organization on June 15, 2016, at 2 p.m. ET.  “It can be difficult to develop and implement policies for your peer-run organization while allowing peer workers flexibility to assist others in their recovery. This webinar will address establishing accountability, fidelity to models, and protections in and for your organization, peer workers, and those served.” To register, click here.

Quashed Report Warned of Prison Health Crisis

“A government report, blocked from publication a decade ago, presciently warned of an advancing, double-barreled health crisis of mental illness and substance abuse that has currently swamped the nation’s vast prison systems,” says a May 23rd article in USA Today. The report had “urged government and community leaders to formulate a treatment strategy for thousands of [individuals who had mental health or substance use conditions] that also would assist them after release or risk worsening public health care burdens.” It was blocked by officials of the George W. Bush administration, according to then-Surgeon General Richard Carmona. In 2014, USA Today noted that, based on Justice Department statistics, some 1.2 million individuals in state, local and federal custody reported some kind of mental health issue. This constituted 64 percent of people in local jails, 56 percent of people in state prisons and 45 percent of those in federal prisons. For the article, click here.

Thanks, @NYAPRS

“Beware of advice—even this.”

This brain-twisting guidance from acclaimed poet Carl Sandburg is just one piece of advice offered to writers on the @AdviceToWriters Twitter feed, highly recommended if you are a writer or aspire to be one. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “writer,” you may find the information useful. The concise, tweeted advice is available at greater length on the Advice to Writers website if you click here.

National Technical Assistance and Networking Teleconferences Are on Hiatus for Now

The National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse is no longer operating under a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Although we are keeping our doors open – including publishing our monthly e-newsletter, the Key Update – we are suspending our monthly national technical assistance and networking calls for the time being. We will keep you posted!

Consumer-Driven Services Directory

The Clearinghouse welcomes all programs in which consumers play a significant role in leadership and operation to apply for inclusion in its Directory of Consumer-Driven Services. The directory, accessible at, is searchable by location, type of organization, and targeted clientele, and serves as a free resource for consumers, program administrators and researchers. Apply online at, via fax at 215.636.6312, or by phone at 800.553.4KEY (4539). To receive an application by mail, write to or Susan Rogers, Clearinghouse, 1211 Chestnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

About The Key Update

The Key Update is the free monthly e-newsletter of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse. Volume 12, No. 11, May 2016, To subscribe, please send a message to: subscribe thekey. To unsubscribe, please send a message to: unsubscribe thekey. For content, reproduction or publication information, please contact Susan Rogers at or 800.553.4539 x3812, 267.507.3812 (direct). Follow Susan on Twitter at @SusanRogersMH