The Key Update, Volume 13, Number 12 - June 2017

Key Update, June 2017

Volume 13, Number 12

Action Alert: If You Don’t Like the Senate Health Care Bill, Contact Your Senators

On June 22, the U.S. Senate released the Better Care Reconciliation Act, its version of the American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives in May. Among its other provisions, the bill includes deep cuts to Medicaid, which would harm millions of vulnerable Americans if the bill is passed. Senate leaders are pushing for a vote before July 4 (although, at this writing, it appears that there are not enough votes to pass the bill). For an article in U.S. News & World Report about the potential impact of the bill, click here. For an additional analysis of the bill by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, click here. For your senators’ contact information, click here. For advocacy tips, click here.

UN Human Rights Expert Calls for Paradigm Shift in Mental Health Care

A United Nations (UN) expert on the right to health has called for reform of a mental health system built on outdated attitudes. “I am calling on States to move away from traditional practices and thinking, and enable a long overdue shift to a rights-based approach,” said Dainius Pūras, a medical doctor with expertise on mental health, child health, and public health policies, who is the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to health. “There is now unequivocal evidence of the failures of a system that relies too heavily on the biomedical model of mental health services, including the front-line and excessive use of psychotropic medicines, and yet these models persist,” he said. In his report, Pūras warns that power and decision-making in mental health are concentrated in the hands of “biomedical gatekeepers,” particularly those representing biological psychiatry. According to a UN press release, “These gatekeepers, supported by the pharmaceutical industry, maintain this power by adhering to two outdated concepts: that people experiencing mental distress and diagnosed with ‘mental disorders’ are dangerous, and that biomedical interventions are medically necessary in many cases. These concepts perpetuate stigma and discrimination, as well as the practices of coercion that remain widely accepted in mental health systems today.” Pūras called for a ‘paradigm shift’ to ensure compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” For the press release, click here. For the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, click here.

TU Collaborative to Host Webinar to Help People Record Their Stories Using New StoryCorps App

“Share Your Story: Beyond the Diagnosis,” a free hour-long webinar that will discuss how to use the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion’s new StoryCorps app to tell your story of “community participation,” will be held on June 27 at 1 p.m. ET. For more information and to register, click here. (Editor’s Note: The TU Collaborative’s StoryCorps app was described in the May 2017 edition of The Key Update.)

Webinar on “The Importance of Language” Offered by Doors to Wellbeing

On June 27 at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing will host a free webinar on “The Importance of Language.” “This webinar will provide examples of how your word choices can deeply impact your interactions and work with peers, especially in behavioral health settings,” Doors to Wellbeing writes. For more information and to register, click here.

National Behavioral Health Barometer Now Available from SAMHSA

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released the free Behavioral Health Barometer, United States, Volume 4. Topics addressed in the report include substance use, serious mental health conditions, serious thoughts of suicide, and behavioral health treatment. The barometer uses data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services and presents findings by age, gender, racial and ethnic categories, poverty status, and health insurance status. To download the free barometer, click here. For a TIME Magazine article about the barometer, click here.

“Self-Employment Starts With You” Survey Now Open!

If you are self-employed, live in the U.S., and have lived experience of a mental health condition, you are eligible for an online survey of self-employed individuals and small business owners who identify as having a psychiatric history or disability. The survey was designed with input from individuals who meet these criteria. It takes about 20 minutes to complete the survey, and you can leave and come back. “We hope the results of this study will expand employment options for those who aspire to work for themselves, and to improve sustainability and growth opportunities for existing enterprises,” Live & Learn founder Laysha Ostrow, Ph.D., writes. Each individual may only take the survey once. According to the website, "All respondents will have the opportunity to enter a raffle to win a $25 Visa check card. There will be one winner per week until [the survey deadline of] July 5, 2017." For more information or to participate, click here.

WHO Offers Free Package of Mental Health Training and Guidance Modules

As part of the QualityRights Initiative, the World Health Organization has developed a comprehensive package of training and guidance modules. "The modules can be used to build capacity among mental health practitioners; people with psychosocial, intellectual and cognitive disabilities; people using mental health services; families, care partners and other supporters; NGOs, DPOs, and others on how to implement a human rights and recovery approach in the area of mental health in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other international human rights standards." For the free modules, click here.

Thanks, Janet Paleo

Psychological Services Journal Solicits Manuscripts for Special Section on Peer Specialists

The editorial staff at the American Psychological Association Division 18 (Psychologists in Public Service) journal, Psychological Services, invites manuscripts for a special section on the impact peer specialists are having on the delivery of mental health and health services, and on outcomes in organized care settings. The deadline is October 1, 2017. “This special section will solicit and consider studies currently underway in a variety of areas of peer specialist service delivery,” according to the call for papers. For details and instructions, click here.

Thanks, Elizabeth R. Stone

ACLU Publishes New Report on the Benefits of Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Job Seekers; Also See Free Webinar by National Reentry Resource Center and Free CSGJC Newsletter

The ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice & Equality recently issued a free report on the benefits of hiring people who were formerly in jail or prison. The report, Back to Business: How Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Job Seekers Benefits Your Company, “lays out how, by reducing barriers to employment and implementing fair hiring practices, companies can better provide employment opportunities to formerly incarcerated people to the benefit of all.” For more information and to download the free report, click here. In a related story, on June 29 at 2 p.m. ET, the National Reentry Resource Center is hosting a free webinar called “Engaging Employers—A Sectoral Approach to Employment for People with Criminal Records.” For more information and to register, click here. In another related story, the Council of State Governments Justice Center newsletter is available for free if you click here. 

Ninth Annual World Hearing Voices Congress to Be Held in Boston August 16-18, 2017

The Ninth Annual World Hearing Voices Congress will be held at Boston University August 16-18, 2017! “The Hearing Voices Movement will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary on U.S. soil!...Topics range from groups, personal testimony, and voice dialogue, to research, artistic endeavor and more! The Hearing Voices Movement consists of over 30 national networks from around the world joined by shared goals and values, including a fundamental belief that…hearing voices is not, in itself, an indication of illness [click here].” In fact, it may not be experienced as auditory at all, according to a study by Drs. Nev Jones and Tanya Luhrmann: click here. “All are welcome, with a special invitation extended to fellow voice hearers.” For more information about the conference and to register, click here. In case you missed it, in August 2016 The New York Times recently gave respectful coverage to the Hearing Voices Network as well as Open Dialogue in “An Alternative Form of Mental Health Care Gains a Foothold.” (Note: This item appeared in the January 2017 and August 2016 editions of the Key Update.)

Alternatives 2017 Announces Lineup of Keynote Speakers

Alternatives 2017 has announced its keynote speakers: a diverse group of individuals ranging from longtime activists to youth leaders, who will cover a variety of important topics. The conference, whose theme is Building Healing Communities Together, will be held in Boston from August 18 to 21. To learn more about the speakers and the conference, organized by the National Empowerment Center, click here.

11 California Counties Adopt Mobile App to Give People with Criminal Justice Histories a Fresh Start

A mobile app called Clear My Record “helps people reduce or dismiss nonviolent convictions by submitting crime information to public defenders, streamlining a process that can take months and multiple visits to a county courthouse,” KQED reports. “The app launched one year ago in San Francisco and now operates in 11 California counties. Nearly 2,000 Californians have reduced or cleared a criminal record using the platform…‘Failure to secure sustainable employment and housing is a key reason that people re-enter prison,’” said attorney Jenny Montoya Tansey, director of safety and justice for Code for America, which developed the app. For more information, click here.

Respondents Sought for Survey to Compare Sports Programs to Peer Support Programs

Corinna West, a member of the 1996 Olympic Judo team and an award-winning social justice movement activist, has founded a business to do sports for resilience. She writes, “Do you run a sports program or peer support program? Can you take a survey to help Poetry for Personal Power compare sports programs to mental health peer support programs? Or help circulate the following survey?” For the survey, click here.

LinkedIn Group on Employing People with Psychiatric Disabilities Invites Members

Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation writes: “If you are a person in recovery, employer, or supporter of people with psychiatric disabilities, we invite you to join the Center’s new LinkedIn group. For more information or to join, please visit our LinkedIn page” by clicking here.

Whether Religion Helps Mental Health May Depend on Someone’s Relationship with God

A recent study by Baylor University researchers indicates that, although prayer in itself may not improve psychological well-being, “for people who had a certain type of relationship with God, prayer did seem to have some benefits,” according to a Psych Central blog. The operative factor was a “secure attachment to God”; such an attachment also led to increased optimism, but not higher self-esteem or greater life satisfaction, the researchers reported. Another Baylor study found that, for people who had secure attachments to God, feeling that God forgave them improved their sense of well-being.  The same was not true for people who had insecure attachments to God. In short, it’s complicated. For the article and links to the studies, click here.

“20 Comics That Capture Life with Anxiety and Depression”

“At GoComics, creators share their struggles with anxiety, depression, and more with an aim to relate to readers who may be going through the same thing. Sometimes it’s with a laugh; other times it’s with a poignant character moment…” For “relatable comics that can aid your own awareness,” click here.

Disclaimer: The Clearinghouse does not necessarily endorse the opinions and opportunities included in the Key Update.

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.

About The Key Update

The Key Update is the free monthly e-newsletter of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse. Volume 13, No. 12, June 2017, 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 -- please note that this is a new email address -- or 800.553.4539 x3812, 267.507.3812 (direct). Follow Susan on Twitter at @SusanRogersMH