The Key Update, Volume 12, Number 9--March 2016

Key Update, March 2016

Volume 12, Number 9

Sign the Petition—And Submit a Comment—to keep the ECT Device in Class III!

It’s not too late to sign the MindFreedom International petition to stop the Food and Drug Administration from “down-classifying the shock device to a Class II device.” Please sign here! And you only have until March 28 to submit a comment on the FDA website, at this link. ECT is a controversial procedure that even proponents admit can cause adverse cognitive effects [that] can persist for an extended period, and that they characterize routine treatment with ECT in community settings.” The device is currently in Class III. For information about the three classes, click here. For testimony by Daniel B. Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., in 2011, the last time the FDA threatened to reclassify the equipment, click here. For information about Doctors of Deception: What They Don’t Want You to Know about Shock Treatment, which the International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine called “brilliant analysis,” click here. For additional information, click here. Again, to comment, click here. To sign the petition, click here.

Webinar on Welcoming Work Environments Presented by TU Collaborative on March 29

The Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion invites you to participate in a free, hour-long webinar on March 29 at 2 p.m. ET. The webinar will focus on “strategies for creating more welcoming work environments within mental health agencies for staff members with mental health conditions.” For details and to register, click here.

BRSS TACS First Friday in April Will Cover The ACA and Outreach in Frontier States

On April 1, 2016, at 12 p.m. ET, BRSS TACS (Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy) will host a free teleconference about The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Outreach in Frontier States. “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 April 1 to hear about the ACA and outreach in frontier states, and to submit your questions to presenter Sue Bergeson, vice president of consumer affairs, OptumHealth. For more information and to register, click here.

March Newsletter of the TU Collaborative on Community Inclusion Focuses on Criminal Justice Issues

Reintegration of individuals with mental illnesses into community life following incarceration is the focus of the latest edition of the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion newsletter. Included are links to a monograph entitled Returning to the Community: Reentry Barriers following Incarceration among Individuals with Serious Mental Illnesses, an infographic that details the results of a study on the community participation patterns of individuals with serious mental health conditions after their release from jail compared to a control group, and much more! For the newsletter, click here.

SAMHSA Seeks Applications for Its 2016 Voice Awards

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is seeking nominations for its 2016 Voice Awards. This year, “the Voice Awards will focus on the role that family support—between parents, children, spouses/partners, siblings, and other close family relationships—plays in inspiring hope and resilience for people experiencing a mental and/or substance use disorder….Special consideration will be given to consumer/peer leaders who promote partnerships with family members as an essential part of recovery [and] to film and television productions that portray the positive impact that family members can have on their loved one’s path to recovery.” Nominations are due by April 22, 2016. For more information, click here.

New Website Is a Place to Learn About Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Information

ParityTrack “aims to be the central site for mental health and substance use disorder parity information and to offer an exclusive look at parity issues.” It works to help people understand their rights under the federal and state parity laws and to “feel empowered to exercise those rights.” The website—sponsored by a variety of organizations, including the Kennedy Forum and the Scattergood Foundation—includes three main sections: Parity Reports, Know Your Rights, and Get Support. The site is available here.

Webinar on Community Inclusion Policy Development Will Discuss Two New Publications

A webinar co-sponsored by Mental Health America and the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion, on April 4 at 1 p.m. ET, will discuss two new publications: Behavioral health Managed Care Entities: Important Partnerships in Promoting Community Inclusion, available here, and Community Participation and Inclusion: Shifting Perspectives on Quality Measures, available here. To register, click here.

Free Telephone Support Group for Parents with Mental Health Challenges

Child and Family Connections Inc. is hosting a free, weekly, telephone or web-based Parent Support Group for parents with mental health conditions anywhere in the U.S. “It is hosted by an experienced and caring parent and behavioral health professional with lived experience who gently guides the discussion in a healing and supportive direction with a people-first, recovery-centric approach,” according to the agency’s website. “Parents may join the call as frequently or infrequently as they’d like and may choose to remain anonymous or to introduce themselves. No registration or commitment is required, but for many parents, the group becomes a vital part of their support system and a consistent part of their lives.” The hour-long calls take place Wednesdays with Elizabeth at 6 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. CT, 4 p.m. MT, 3 p.m. ET; and Saturdays with Sue at 4 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. CT, 2 p.m. MT, 1 p.m. PT. The toll-free number is 888.601.3515 or log on by clicking here. For more information, click here.

SAMHSA Publication on Practicing Recovery Available for Free Download

This month, SAMHSA published Practicing Recovery: Implementing and Measuring a Recovery Orientation, by Larry Davidson, Ph.D. This four-page document describes “several tools have been developed to help agencies and practitioners learn about the profound changes required to implement recovery-oriented practices.” “Recovery-oriented practices move beyond the conventional policies and structures of most behavioral health agencies, necessitating a transformation of behavioral health services,” Davidson writes. “This transformation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2005), will require ‘profound change—not at the margins of a system, but at its very core.’” To download the free document, click here.

New Publication Documents the Unfair Impact of the Criminal Justice System on LGBT People

A 180-page report entitled Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBT People is available for free download. “The report documents how pervasive stigma and discrimination, biased enforcement of laws, and discriminatory policing strategies mean that LGBT people are disproportionately likely to interact with law enforcement and to have their lives criminalized. LGBT people are also treated unfairly once they enter the system; the report shows how they overrepresented in jails and prisons and face abuse while incarcerated. Finally, the report sheds light on the fact that LGBT people face unique and considerable challenges in the struggle to rebuild their lives after experiences with law enforcement—and particularly after time spent in a correctional facility.”  For more information and to download the free report, authored by the Movement Advancement Project and the Center for American Progress in partnership with the Advancement Project, Forward Together, and Just Leadership USA, click here.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Change Leadership Programs Are Seeking Applicants

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is looking for clinicians, researchers, doctoral students, community leaders and professionals to apply for one of four new, funded leadership opportunities to build a Culture of Health in America. Applications are due on April 19, 2016. For details, including about an information webinar to be held on March 30 at 12 p.m. ET, click here.

Researchers Find That Drum Circles Might Improve Mental Health

According to Effects of Group Drumming Interventions on Anxiety, Depression, Social Resilience and Inflammatory Immune Response among Mental Health Service Users, published on March 14, 2016, in PLoS One, “10 weeks of group drumming provided significant benefits for a group of people who had sought help for mental health issues. What’s more, the improvements persisted for at least three months after the sessions concluded.” As an article in Pacific Standard Magazine reported about group drumming, “Researchers in London have found evidence of a surprisingly effective treatment for anxiety and depression, one that even alters the inflammatory immune responses that may underlie these disorders.” For the Pacific Standard article and a link to the study, click here.

Thanks, Jeff Friedman @JMFriedman

EVER-Changing World, Fourth International Conference, to Be Held June 8-9, 2016

For the first time, the Experts Conference, held in the Netherlands for the past three years, will take place in the United States, at the College of Saint Rose, in Albany, New York, on June 8-9. The conference focus has expanded “to explore the role of the peer support movement in diverse countries as well as for those who come to the U.S. and Europe as refugees and immigrants. Speakers include those working in mental health, peer support, and/or with refugees and immigrants in Europe, Africa and the United States.” For more information and to register, click here.

Chartbook on Health Care for Blacks Documents Disparities in Care, Including Mental Health Care

In February, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, operating under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, published its 98-page Chartbook on Health Care for Blacks, a 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report. The report paints a grim picture of the health care provided to African-Americans: two of its findings were that “Blacks receive [a] poorer quality of care, especially on measures of…person centeredness and care coordination” and “[s]uicide prevention and mental health care for Blacks is worsening, with many disparities and no reductions in disparities over time.” To download a free copy, click here.

Free Online Curriculum for Primary Care Providers Working in Mental Health Settings

A free online course entitled Primary Care Providers Working in Mental Health Settings: Improving Health Status in Persons with Mental Illness has been made available by the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions and the Addiction Technology Transfer Center. The goal is to acquaint primary care providers  with the importance of creating access to primary care within behavioral health settings, strategies for recognizing the physical signs of behavioral health concerns (and vice versa) and to maximize their role on the care team. For more information and to register, click here. (Continuing education credits are available for a small fee.)

VA Announces Additional Steps to Reduce Veteran Suicide

On March 8, 2016, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced new steps to reduce veteran suicide. The steps follow a February 2 Summit, Preventing Veteran Suicide – A Call to Action. “We know that every day, approximately 22 veterans take their lives,” said VA under secretary for health Dr. David Shulkin. “We must and will do more, and this Summit, coupled with recent announcements about improvements to enhance and accelerate progress at the Veterans Crisis Line, shows that our work and commitment must continue.” For information about the VA’s plans, click here.

Can Getting Excited Help People Handle Anxiety?

A recent article in The Atlantic indicates that, instead of suggesting that people calm down, telling them to get more excited might be more helpful for people dealing with anxiety. Research on a technique called “anxious reappraisal” indicates that, because anxiety and excitement have more in common than anxiety and calmness, it’s easier for most people to move from “charged-up, negative feelings to “charged-up, positive ones” than it would be to get to the “charged-up, positive” place from a calm position. This was demonstrated by a study published in 2014 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, also reported in The Atlantic. For more, click here.

Alternatives 2016 Will Take Place September 21-25 in San Diego!

Alternatives 2016 (#AltCon16), organized by Peerlink National Technical Assistance Center (@PeerlinkTA) from September 21 to 25, will be held at the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego, California! Check the Peerlink website for more information as it becomes available:

The next two items were included in February but are still relevant:

Comments Are Sought until March 31 on Draft Competencies for Whole Health Peer Specialists

Mental Health America is seeking comments on its draft core competencies for Whole Health Peer Specialists, who promote physical as well as emotional wellness. The certification “is designed to build upon and enhance traditional peer specialist training and core competencies … and add the additional competencies necessary to enable peers to work alongside any other health care team(s),” such as in emergency rooms and with private practitioners, including primary care physicians, according to Mental Health America (MHA). “Whole Health Peer Specialist is not a new classification,” said Patrick Hendry, MHA’s vice president of consumer advocacy. “What is new is that this is the first national certification, it takes peer support to new levels of skills and knowledge, and it is oriented to preparing people to work in the private sector.” The core competencies, published on February 15, are available here. To provide feedback, fill out MHA’s online survey—available here— by March 31, 2016. For additional information, click here.

“Healing Voices” Documentary to Have Global Premiere on April 29, 2016

“Healing Voices,” a “new feature-length documentary which explores the experiences commonly labeled as ‘psychosis’ through the real-life stories of individuals working to overcome extreme mental states and integrate these experiences into their lives in meaningful ways,” will have its global premiere on April 29, 2016. “The film follows three subjects – Oryx, Jen, Dan – over a period of nearly five years and features interviews with notable personalities, including Robert Whitaker, Dr. Bruce Levine, Will Hall, Marius Romme, and others.” For more information and to see the trailer, click on the following link: The film makers are planning a “One Night, One Voice” global event to mark the VOD (Video-On-Demand) release of the movie. Click here for information about screening packages. For additional information about licensing or tax-deductible donations, click here or contact


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. 9, March 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