The Key Update, Volume 12, Number 2 - August 2015

U.S. Government Upholds the Rights of Parents with Disabilities

This month, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services issued a document warning that the government would not tolerate discrimination against individuals with disabilities who have children or would like to start a family. “This guidance will help ensure that parents and prospective parents are not discriminatorily deprived of custody of their children, or denied the opportunity to adopt or serve as foster parents, because of stereotypes and unfounded assumptions about persons with disabilities, which we have seen in our complaints,” said Jocelyn Samuels, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, quoted in Disability Scoop. An 18-page document, available here, offers guidance to child welfare agencies and courts throughout the U.S. about how to safeguard parents’ legal rights while protecting children.


“Career Development for Peer Support Workers” Is Topic of BRSS TACS’ September “First Friday”

On Sept. 4, 2015, at noon ET, BRSS TACS – Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy – will host an hour-long webinar on “Career Development for Peer Support Workers.” 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. The presenters will be Tanya Stevens of the New York Association for Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services and Neil Campbell of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse. No registration is required but for more information, click here. Or, on Sept. 4 before the event, click here, choose “Enter as a Guest” and type in your name. You can get audio through your computer speakers and closed captioning will be available. 


CDC Sponsors #VetoViolence to Honor Suicide Prevention Month

In recognition of September as Suicide Prevention Month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is sponsoring a social media campaign. The federal agency is encouraging people to use the hashtag #VetoViolence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and “compose six words and take a photo or create a unique image that promotes an action that supports people and helps prevent suicide, educates others about how to save lives, or honors National Suicide Prevention Month.” Among the messages posted on Twitter are “Your story does NOT end here,” “Stay connected with coworkers & friends,” and “Volunteer to give hope and support.” For more information about the CDC campaign, click here. For more information about World Suicide Prevention Day – Sept. 10 – click here.


Have You Experienced Psychosis? Tell Your “Work and School Story” Online!

The Stanford University-based Voices Outside project is gathering “work and school stories” from people who have experienced psychosis and consider themselves “successful,” on their own terms. According to the Voices Outside website, “Working adults and graduate/professional students with psychosis are more or less invisible…Instead, the message that most of the public hears – and that those with lived experience and their family members all too often come to believe – is that psychosis and success are incompatible. We want to change this.” The goal is to inspire young people (and others). “Once we have a ‘critical mass’ of profiles, we’ll post them publicly in a searchable database and disseminate as widely as possible….Profiles will include helpful and concrete information about individuals’ use of accommodations, experiences of disclosure and other forms of ‘career impact’ and/or challenges.” The survey can be filled out anonymously or not. To participate, click here. For the project flyer, click here. Raw versions of the first 60 stories are posted here.

Thanks, @viscidula (Nev Jones)


“U.S. Police Killed Someone in Mental or Emotional Crisis Every 36 Hours This Year, Report Says”

In the first six months of 2015, the Washington Post tracked “every fatal police shooting in the country” – 462 in all – and found that, during that period, “police killed someone in mental or emotional crisis every 36 hours,” according to a Time magazine article about the Post’s research. “In most cases, police were called not because of a crime but by a concerned bystander or loved one,” the Time magazine story noted. The executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum told the Post, “We have to get American police to rethink how they handle encounters with the mentally ill. Training has to change.” For the Post’s report, click here.


Web Page Offers Criminal Justice Statistics and Other Pertinent Information

The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency has launched a web page that offers numerous links to information about the criminal justice system. A few of the links are Pennsylvania-specific; the rest are to a broad array of national justice organizations, sources of crime data, agencies that are part of the U.S. Department of Justice, and other organizations. For the web page (, click here.


SAMHSA Publishes Cultural Competency Toolkit

“Cultural Competence in Mental Health Peer-run Programs and Self-help Groups” has been published by SAMHSA to help peer-run programs and self-help groups assess and enhance their own cultural competency. “It contains sample surveys and action plans to determine if programs are meeting the needs of individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds and groups.” The toolkit, prepared by the NAMI STAR Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago, is available here.


Two Sept. 11 Webinars Will Cover C/S/X Movement History and Peer Support in State Prisons, Respectively

Mark your calendars for two webinars on the same date but at different times! On Sept. 11, at noon, iNAPS is hosting a free webinar on the history of the movement for social justice of individuals with lived experience. The hour-long webinar, made possible by the support of Optum, will feature two longtime movement leaders: Gayle Bluebird and Sally Zinman.  At this writing, access information was unavailable; check here for more information as the date approaches. Then, at 3 p.m., SAMHSA’s GAINS Center and the Association of State Correctional Administrators are hosting the second of their two-part webinar series focusing on peer support in state correctional facilities. “Attendees will learn about the innovative use of peers and successful collaborations between correctional facilities and peer-operated programs in providing a wide array of reentry services,” they write. The first webinar, on August 20, highlighted three exemplary programs. The second, on Sept. 11, will focus on how to develop, implement, fund, sustain and expand peer reentry programs and services in state correctional facilities. For more information and to register, click here.


The College Experience for Individuals with Mental Health Conditions Is the Subject of Three Publications

The Café TA Center and the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion are offering publications focusing on the college experience. In its latest Focus newsletter, the Café TA Center examines the phenomenon of “suicide clusters” in college and university communities, and how they might be prevented. “A ‘postvention’ plan can make all the difference,” they write. “Postvention: How Colleges and Universities Can React to Suicide Clusters” is available here. In two related publications, the TU Collaborative on Community Inclusion offers “A Practical Guide for People with Disabilities Who Want to Go to College,” available here, and “How People with Psychiatric Disabilities Can Make the Most of Their College Experience,” available here.


SAMHSA to Sponsor Webinar on “Financing Care Transitions for Individuals at Risk for Suicide”

On Sept. 16, 2015, at 12:30 p.m. ET, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will sponsor a 90-minute webinar on “potential financing mechanisms for post-discharge care services aimed at individuals who are at risk of suicide.”  SAMHSA writes: “The speakers will discuss current financing models as well as expected changes that will alter the national health services payment landscape. The discussion will focus on three case studies – an accountable care organization, a behavioral health plan, and a county-led crisis program – as examples of innovative financial models that support services for individuals in crisis. The audience will have an opportunity to participate and ask questions during the webcast.” To register, click here


Peer Advocates Plan Monument to Memorialize Individuals Who Died in Delaware State Hospital

Around the U.S., there have been ongoing efforts – almost always spearheaded by advocates with lived experience of a mental health condition – to restore names to the numbered graves of those who died in psychiatric institutions. Most recently, the Delaware Consumer Recovery Coalition (DCRC) has unveiled plans to build a monument to the hundreds of individuals who were buried in unnamed graves at the former Delaware State Hospital. “Just being able to put the names of the people who have passed away and are now buried in a place that's recognizable is very significant to bring dignity to the people buried here,” said DCRC director Bryce Hewlett. The monument, which will list all the names of those buried in the hospital’s cemetery, is scheduled to be unveiled next spring. Donations to help fund the monument are being accepted at For more information, click here. For information about several other such initiatives, click here. For information on OptumHealth’s “Recovered Dignity” traveling exhibit, click here.


Four Upcoming Webinars Will Focus on Youth with Mental Health Conditions

Four webinars, in September and October 2015, will deal with youth with mental health conditions. Three are sponsored by Transitions RTC and the Center on Transition Innovations (CTI) of Virginia Commonwealth University; one is sponsored by Pathways RTC. The three CTI webinars are on the following topics: “Overview: What are the challenges for youth with psychiatric disabilities as they transition to adulthood?” (Sept. 17, 2015); “Needs and supports for pursuing postsecondary education and training for youth with psychiatric disabilities” (Oct. 1, 2015); and “Research-based employment supports for youth with chronic mental health disabilities” (Oct. 8, 2015). All three will begin at 3 p.m. ET, and all will be presented by Maryann Davis, “an internationally recognized expert on services for transition-age youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions.” For more information and to register for the CTI webinars, click here. The Pathways RTC webinar, on Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. ET, will cover “Family Support for Transition-Aged [14-29] Youth.” For more information and to register, click here.

Alternatives 2015 Announces Keynote Speakers!

Peerlink National Technical Assistance Center, which is organizing Alternatives 2015 – the 29th annual national conference organized by and for individuals with lived experience of a mental health condition – has announced eight of the nine keynote speakers (click here)! Meanwhile, the organizers write that scholarships from SAMHSA are never guaranteed and haven't been announced yet for 2015. “We encourage everyone to utilize local partnerships, fundraising and other strategies for conference attendance. Updates regarding the availability of any scholarships with pertinent information will be posted here, and announced on Facebook and [the] Peerlink website!” For funding suggestions, click here. To register for the conference, click here.


Two New Resources Will Help Faith Leaders Better Understand Mental Health Issues

The American Psychiatric Association Foundation has produced two new resources to help faith leaders better understand mental illness and treatment, and better help individuals and families in their congregations who are facing mental health challenges. The Foundation now offers a 20-page booklet, “Mental Health: A Guide for Faith Leaders,” and a companion two-page “Quick Reference on Mental Health for Faith Leaders.” For further information and to download the two documents, click here. In addition, the Clearinghouse recently researched and wrote a guide entitled “Developing Welcoming Religious Communities:  Inspiring Examples of Faith-Based Initiatives to Help Individuals with Mental Health Conditions Participate Fully in the Life of Religious Congregations,” published in collaboration with the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion.


Ever Been Suicidal? “Now Matters Now” Wants to Help!

“Have you had suicidal thoughts? Problems that felt unsolvable? You are in excellent company – we’ve been there. Here we offer strategies to survive and build more manageable and meaningful lives….” So reads the home page of Now Matters Now, a website that promotes Dialectical Behavior Therapy, developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, the creator of DBT and a person with lived experience, who is a member of the Now Matters Now team. Sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the website is available at


Next National Technical Assistance and Networking Teleconference Will Be Held on September 21

On Monday, September 21, 2015 – at 1 p.m. ET, noon CT, 11 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT, 7 a.m. in Hawaii – the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse will host its monthly one-hour national technical assistance and networking teleconference. The call-in number is 866-906-0123; the pass code is 5037195#. If you would like to suggest an agenda item, please write to Susan Rogers at with the word “Agenda” in the subject line. Join us! Again, the call-in number is 866-906-0123; the pass code is 5037195#.


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 NMHCSH 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. 2, August 2015, 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