The Key Update, Volume 12, Number 3, September 2015

Key Update, September 2015

Volume 12, Number 3


The Clearinghouse Doors Will Remain Open and the Key Update Will Continue Publication!


As of September 30, the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse will no longer be operating under a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. However, we are seeking new sources of funding and we are keeping our doors open, albeit in a simplified fashion; and we hope to continue publishing the Key Update every month, among other initiatives. Thanks, everyone, for your support over the last 29 years! Please direct all inquiries to Clearinghouse director Susan Rogers at


States That Aren’t Expanding Medicaid Could Harm Their Ability to Provide Mental Health Care


The 19 states that have declined to accept Medicaid expansion could be making it more difficult for themselves to provide services for individuals with mental health conditions because they are thereby turning down significant federal revenue, according to a recent report, available here. “If all the states undertook an expansion by 2020, health centers would have nearly $230 million in additional revenue,” reported Washington Health Policy Week in Review on August 18 (available here). “On top of that, the study found nationwide expansion could provide an estimated $11.3 million for mental health services and $1.6 million for substance abuse services that year.” As of September 1, 2015, the 19 states that have decided against Medicaid expansion are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. A map of all 50 states’ Medicaid expansion status is available here.


SAMHSA Offers Publications to Help Prevent, and Recover from, Suicide Attempts


September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has published two handbooks on the subject. The first, “A Journey Toward Health & Hope: Your Handbook for Recovery After a Suicide Attempt,” “is designed to help people who have attempted suicide take their first steps toward healing and recovery.” To download the free 40-page guide, click here. The second, “Promoting Emotional Health and Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for Senior Centers,” available here  – a companion to “Promoting Emotional Health and Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for Senior Living Communities” (available here) – “offers strategies senior centers can use to integrate suicide prevention into activities that support the well-being of older adults” and “describes activities that increase protective factors and explains how to recognize the warning signs of suicide.”


Free Guide to “Amazing Fundraising Appeals” Tells How to Inspire Donations


Network for Good is offering “How to Write Amazing Fundraising Appeals: A quick guide to inspiring more donations with a compelling message.” According to its introduction, “To raise more money online, you need a great appeal that grabs donors’ attention and inspires them to give. How do you create fundraising letters that stand out and get results? We’ve got you covered. This short guide will give you practical tips for focusing on the key things donors want to know, how to tell a compelling – and effective – story, crafting an irresistible call to action, and simple tactics for improving donor conversion and increasing your average gift size.” The 18-page guide is available for free download here. For Network for Good’s Free Fundraising Resources Library, click here.


Hotline Run by and for Transgender People Is Free


Trans Lifeline is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the well being of transgender people. “Trans Lifeline volunteers are ready to respond to whatever support needs members of our community might have,” according to the website: “This line is primarily for transgender people experiencing a crisis. This includes people who may be struggling with their gender identity and are not sure that they are transgender. While our goal is to prevent self harm, we welcome the call of any transgender person in need. We will do our very best to connect them with services that can help them meet that need. If you are not sure whether you should call or not, then please call us.” In the U.S., call 877.565.8860. In Canada, call 877.330.6366.


Disability Equality Index Survey Unveiled in Preparation for December 2015 Launch


The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) recently unveiled the second annual Disability Equality Index (DEI), a national, transparent, online benchmarking tool that offers businesses an opportunity to receive an objective score, on a scale of zero to 100, on their overall disability inclusion policies and practices. The inaugural DEI was successfully completed with 80 “Fortune 1,000 scope companies” earlier this year. The second annual DEI is scheduled to launch this December. “We have already heard from many companies that they are using their learnings from the inaugural DEI to improve their policies and procedures,” said chief DEI strategy officer Keith Wiedenkeller. For more information, click here.


Survey of Best and Worst States for Workers with Disabilities Is Published


A survey of the best and worst states for workers with disabilities was published this month by Respectability USA, a nonprofit advocacy group. The survey, available here, reported that individuals with disabilities in some states are twice as likely to be employed as their counterparts in other states. Nationwide, approximately 70 percent of people with disabilities are unemployed. According to the survey, based on 2013 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, North Dakota leads the nation in creating more job opportunities for individuals with disabilities; 52 percent of its 34,800 working-age people with disabilities are employed. Rounding out the list of the best 10 states are (in rank order) Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Utah, Colorado, and New Hampshire. “The states with the consistently lowest workforce participation rates are West Virginia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama and Arizona. When taking into consideration the gap between the employment rate of people with disabilities and those without disabilities, Maine and Vermont are added to the list, with Maine coming in dead last in the country.” For more information, click here.


SAMHSA Offers Behavioral Health Disaster Response Mobile App


“In a disaster, it’s essential that behavioral health responders have the resources they need – when and where they need them,” SAMHSA writes. “The SAMHSA Disaster App makes it easy to provide quality support to survivors. Users can navigate pre-deployment preparation, on-the-ground assistance, post-deployment resources, and more – at the touch of a button from the home screen. Users also can share resources, like tips for helping survivors cope, and find local behavioral health services. And self-care support for responders is available at all stages of deployment.” The SAMHSA Behavioral Health Disaster Response App received a Silver Mobile Web Health Award from the National Health Information Center. For more information, click here.


Vera Institute Creates Website That Aims to End Abuse Against Individuals with Disabilities


This month, the Vera Institute of Justice announced its launch of what it calls “the first website exclusively dedicated to ending abuse against people with disabilities.” The website aims to raise awareness of the enormity of the problem: “In 2013 alone, 1.3 million violent crimes were committed against people with disabilities,” who are three times more likely than people without disabilities to be the targets of violence. The site’s guidance and resources are also aimed at “enhancing services for people with disabilities who have been victimized, fostering accountability for those responsible for these crimes, strengthening prevention efforts, and increasing research on the issue and evaluation of potential solutions. It features a first-of-its-kind interactive and searchable map of all of the people, programs, and projects across the country working in this area, as well as the best practice materials each project has created.” For more information and a link to the End Abuse website, click here.


You Are Invited to Contribute a Selfie to an Anti-Stigma/-Discrimination Video!


You are invited to participate in a video whose goal is “to show that we may have these [mental health] diagnoses but we are also people with full lives who do and are so much more!” writes composer/lyricist/librettist Rachel Griffin. The video will illustrate a selection from Griffin’s musical-in-progress, “We Have Apples” (click here), which will highlight the discrimination and stigma associated with mental health conditions as well as the lack of high-quality and accessible health care. Griffin, who also has lived experience of a mental health condition, writes, “Take a picture of yourself holding a sign that says something you accomplished or something you are proud of in your life. Examples: ‘I graduated college.’ ‘I’m a mother.’ ‘I’m an artist.’ ‘I’m married to the love of my life!’ ‘I’m a volunteer.’ ‘I’m an advocate.’ ‘I’m a sister.’ If you want (but you don’t have to), you can take another photo of yourself with a sign saying your diagnosis: ‘I have anxiety.’ ‘I have depression.’ ‘I have bipolar disorder.’” The video will accompany a selection from the musical entitled “I’m Different” (click here). This is the second such video Griffin has created. The first video, “I’m an Apple, Too” (click here), offered positive messages from individuals with mental health conditions and their supporters to others who may be struggling. Send your selfies to


Mental Health America Creates Petition to Combat Stigmatizing Halloween Costumes; Advocates Succeed in Getting Rid of “Dorothea Dix Psych Ward” Costume


Mental Health America has launched a petition to “Tell Retailers: ‘Gone Mental’ Halloween costumes are offensive and stigmatizing. “Costumes such as ‘Gone Mental’ serve only to perpetuate stigma and discrimination” against individuals with mental health conditions, said MHA spokesperson Casey Dillon. “Costumes like Gone Mental,’ ‘Happy Hill Asylum,’ and ‘Psycho Ward’ contribute only to stereotypes and misunderstandings that all individuals living with mental health conditions are violent and scary,” she said. “In fact, people living with mental health conditions are more likely than those without to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators.” Such stereotypes discourage people from seeking help, she continued. To read more and to sign the petition, click here. At the same time, advocates have succeeded in getting stores in North Carolina to remove a blood-spattered Halloween costume labeled “Dorothea Dix Psych Ward.” Dorothea Dix Hospital, named after the 19th century reformer who tried to improve conditions for individuals with mental health conditions, opened in 1856 in Raleigh, North Carolina, and closed in 2012. To read more, click here.


Thanks, Keris Myrick (@KerisWithaK) and Martha Brock (@StarGazerNC3)


Bard Prison Initiative Participants Beat Harvard Undergrads in Debate


Debaters who are serving time for violent crimes trounced Harvard undergraduates in a recent contest held at a maximum-security prison in the Catskills. This was in spite of the fact that the winning team, participants in a rigorous Bard College program for incarcerated individuals, had to argue a resolution they did not support: “Public schools in the United States should have the ability to deny enrollment to undocumented students.” The Bard team was further hampered by its inability to use the Internet for research and the fact that requested books and articles can take weeks to arrive. “Their academic ability is impressive,” said a veteran judge, noting that no bias was involved in the decision as the judges have to adhere to specific standards. After the event, a Bard debater expressed his gratitude for the college program. “They make us believe in ourselves,” he said. To read more, click here.


Thanks, @pdxlawgrrrl


Advocates Topple Billboard Falsely Linking Mental Health Conditions and Gun Violence


A relentless effort by a coalition largely comprising individuals diagnosed with mental health conditions convinced the upscale apparel designer Kenneth Cole to remove a billboard in New York City perpetuating the myth that links “mental illness” with violence. The billboard, in the shadow of Riverside Church, read: "Over 40M Americans suffer from mental illness. Some can access care…All can access guns. –KennethCole #GunReform #AreYouPuttingUsOn.” Responding to a week-long campaign of emails, voicemails, and tweets, the Kenneth Cole organization sent an email which read in part: "In hindsight, we were overly ambitious with our attempt to address two complex issues in a medium designed for brevity, and regret any confusion it has caused. The billboard on the West Side Highway will be replaced…” The billboard has since been taken down. “It was our collective effort that effected this change,” said Doris Schwartz, MA, LCSW-R, chief operating officer of the Mental Health Association of Westchester, who launched the campaign against the billboard after she spotted it on the Henry Hudson Parkway on September 2. The American Psychiatric Association was an ally in this initiative. To read more, click here.


 “Banned Books Week” Celebrates the Freedom to Read!


September 27 to October 3, 2015, is Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. It highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week supports the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. BBW began in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. To support Banned Books Week, stay informed: Help local schools and libraries support free and open access to books; speak out: Write letters to the editor, your public library and your local school principal supporting the freedom to read; and exercise your rights! Check out or re-read a favorite banned book. Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association: read more here.


Alternatives 2015 Announces Completes Keynote Speaker Lineup!

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, to be held October 14-18 in Memphis, Tennessee – has announced its final keynote speaker: Vanessa Frias, communications and training specialist for Youth M.O.V.E Oregon and an advocate for youth voice. She says “her favorite part of being a young adult leader is giving hope back to those young people who are lost just as she once was.” For bios of all nine keynote speakers, click here. To view an inspirational video about the goals and themes of the conference, click here. To register, click here. This year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provided a limited number of scholarships, which were awarded on the basis of nominations from the field. For ideas about other ways to obtain funding to attend the conference, click here.


National Technical Assistance and Networking Teleconferences Are on Hiatus for Now


As of September 30, the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse will no longer be operating under a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. For this reason, we are suspending our monthly national technical assistance and networking calls for the time being. However, the five SAMHSA-funded national consumer and consumer supporter technical assistance centers may begin hosting such teleconferences. 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. 3, September 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