The Key Update, Volume 13, Number 2 -- August 2016

Key Update, August 2016

 Volume 13, Number 2


Action Alert: Urge Your Senators to Support S. 2680 Without Amendments or Changes!

 Please contact your U.S. Senators by this Friday, September 2, and urge them to support S. 2680 (the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016) without amendments or changes. H.R. 2646 (the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016) recently passed the House of Representatives nearly unanimously. The Senate bill is better than the House bill and it is important that it pass “as is,” according to the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR). NCMHR notes that, among its provisions—and unlike H.R. 2646—S. 2680 does not expand forced treatment; includes representation of people with lived experience; does not mention “anosognosia”; incorporates mental health recovery language throughout the bill; and calls for better education about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rather than providing a path to relaxing HIPAA confidentiality protections, as does H.R. 2646. Numerous other disability rights advocacy organizations support S. 2680. These include the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (click here), the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (click here), and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (click here). For more about what is wrong with mandated outpatient treatment (also known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment or Involuntary Outpatient Commitment), see “Forced Mental Health Treatment Will Not Prevent Violent Tragedies,” by Phyllis Solomon, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania (click here). For information about how to contact your Senators, click here. (For the most recent text of S. 2680 that is available online, click here and then scroll down past Sec. 608 of the version that is largely crossed out until you get to the clean text.)


“National Restraint Data Are Riddled with Errors,” Report Says

Although seclusion and restraint are now understood to be traumatizing and only to be used as a last resort “when less-restrictive measures have failed and safety is at severe risk” (to quote the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), restraint is actually used much more frequently, a recent exposé by MedPage Today/VICE News asserts. However, because of the many problems and inconsistencies with the data, it seems to be impossible to tell what is really going on. According to the MedPage Today article, the latest figures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), covering 2014, indicate that the national average is 0.41 hours of restraint per 1,000 patient hours. Meanwhile, MedPage Today reports that the “restraint rates shifted drastically across hospitals nationwide from the last six months of 2013 to the full 2014 data, ranging from decreases of 800 hours for every 1,000 (Park Ridge Health in North Carolina) to increases of 60 hours for every 1,000 (Frisbee Memorial Hospital in New Hampshire). And CMS now says these [figures] are likely wrong.” For the article, click here. For SAMHSA’s Alternatives to Seclusion and Restraint, click here.

Thanks, Val Marsh @valncmhr

Hillary Clinton Releases Her Mental Health Agenda

On August 29, Hillary Clinton released her “comprehensive plan to support Americans living with mental health problems and illnessesby integrating our healthcare systems and finally putting the treatment of mental health on par with that of physical health.” The plan includes progressive statements about the importance of peer support to recovery, and promises “a full range of housing and employment support for individuals with mental health problems, to help them lead independent and productive lives.” It also includes increasing crisis intervention training for police officers, and expanding funding for the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program. (It is not perfect, and you are invited to form your own judgment. However, as Voltaire said, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”) To read Hillary’s plan, click here. (Note: We will share Donald Trump’s mental health platform as soon as it is available.)

Updated Directory of Peer Specialist Certification and Training Programs Is Available for Free

“As of July 2016, 41 states and the District of Columbia have established programs to train and certify peer specialists and two states are in the process of developing and/or implementing a program,” according to a newly revised directory published by the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health and the University of Texas at Austin. The directory—Peer Specialist Certification and Training Programs, National Overview 2016—continues: “A review…is needed so that states developing training/certification programs may look to those that are more established for advice and guidance, while established programs may benefit from understanding the similarities and differences between existing programs. This information may also be useful to policymakers and program developers as they create the infrastructure necessary to support the peer specialist workforce to remain relevant and financially sustainable in a changing healthcare environment.” To download the free document, click here.

Locked Wards Are “No Safer,” New Study Reports

Locked inpatient wards do not reduce suicide attempts or unauthorized absence among individuals with mental health conditions, according to a 15-year observational study of some 145,000 people in 21 German psychiatric hospitals from 1998 to 2012. “In fact, a locked-door policy probably imposes a more oppressive atmosphere, which could reduce the effectiveness of treatments, resulting in longer stays in hospital,” said the lead author of the study, published online in Lancet Psychiatry. “The practice may even lend motivation for patients to abscond.” For more information, click here.

Vera Institute Releases Report on Women in Jails

 According to a new report from the Vera Institute of Justice, women in jail are the fastest growing correctional population in the U.S. The number of women in prison has increased 14-fold in 44 years, from under 8,000 in 1970 to nearly 110,000 in 2014. The report examines the “surprisingly little research” on women in jail, “explores how jail can deepen the societal disadvantages they face, and provides insight into what drives women’s incarceration and ways to reverse the trend.” For more information and to download a free copy of the report, Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform, click here. For an article in Marie Claire entitled “The Number of Women in Jail is Up 1,260%--What Are They Doing wrong?” click here.

Researchers Seek Peer Providers for Study on Job Satisfaction

Are you a peer provider working in a mental health setting? Researchers from the Department of Disability & Addiction Rehabilitation at the University of North Texas are conducting a confidential half-hour Internet survey to better understand your job satisfaction. You must be over age 18, living in the community, and employed either part time or full time as a peer provider. Participants will receive a $10 gift card. “Your participation may help to improve training programs and other services for peer providers,” the researchers say. Questions? Contact Jessica Brooks, Ph.D., 940.565.4938, To participate, click here.

Thanks, Jessica Wolf, Ph.D.

March and Rally to Close Rikers Island Planned for September 24 in NYC

On September 24 at 2 p.m., people will gather at a march and rally with the goal of shutting down Rikers Island, an infamous correctional facility in New York City. As The New York Times has editorialized, “The sensible thing to do with Rikers is to close it.” Just Leadership USA, which is organizing the event, is helmed by Glenn E. Martin, who served time on Rikers as well as several years in a state prison and has become a nationally known advocate for criminal justice reform. In a long interview published by The Atlantic, Martin said, “It seems like such an abomination for us to have this facility continue to operate.”  For details about the event, click here.

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

It’s not too soon to start planning to attend the Ninth Annual World Hearing Voices Congress, to 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. Stay tuned for more information by subscribing to our newsletter at Interested in sponsoring or underwriting this event? Email” In a related story, 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.”

Researchers Describe a “New Zero-Risk Treatment for Mania” 

A Norwegian study reported in Psychiatric Times notes that people who experience mania may benefit from darkness. More than 20 years ago, the National Institute of Mental Health found that, in a very small sample—one person—darkness was able to replace the need for medication as treatment for mania. Subsequently, researchers found that it is “blue light” that needs to be blocked in order to get the darkness effect. Wearing amber-colored safety glasses is one way to accomplish this. For the Psychiatric Times story, with links to more information, click here.

Reducing Incarceration by Rethinking America’s Approach to Violence

On August 23, The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) published Defining Violence: Reducing Incarceration by Rethinking America's Approach to Violence. “While the national conversation and policy reforms have focused on reducing the incarceration of people convicted of nonviolent offenses, just under half the people in prison have been convicted of a violent crime. In Defining Violence, JPI says it's impossible the U.S. will be able to lower its incarceration rate significantly without changing how the justice system treats violent crimes. Defining Violence surveys the current debate in state legislatures and Congress on criminal justice reform...” For more information and to download the free report and other documents, click here.    

Planning Continues for Alternatives 2016

Keynote speakers at Alternatives 2016, the 30th annual conference organized by and for individuals with mental health conditions, range from seasoned veterans to youth leaders. The speakers during Monday evening’s History Panel will be Mike Finkle, executive director of On Our Own of Maryland (the state where the first Alternatives conference was held, in 1985); Joseph Rogers, the founder and executive director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse, the first national technical assistance center serving the movement for social justice of individuals with psychiatric histories; and Sally Zinman, a founder of the California Network of Mental Health Clients (the first statewide consumer/survivor network) and currently executive director of the California Network of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations (CAMHPRO). For details about the other plenary session speakers, click here. For more information about the conference, to be held in San Diego September 19-23, click here.

Study Says “Being Transgender Is Not a Mental Disorder”

Although some influential sources continue to categorize being transgender as a mental disorder, a new study has found that “the social rejection and violence that many transgender people experience appear to be the primary source of their mental distress, as opposed to the distress being solely the result of being transgender,” Time magazine reports. “Stigma associated with both mental disorder and transgender identity has contributed to the precarious legal status, human rights violations and barriers to appropriate care among transgender people,” said the study’s author, quoted in Time. The study, involving interviews with 250 transgender people, was published in Lancet Psychiatry in July. For the Time article, click here. For an article in The New York Times entitled “Transgender on the Force,” about New York City police officers, click here.

Thanks, STAR Center @ConsumerStar

Baltimore Police Department Cited for Unreasonable Force Against People with Mental Health Conditions

In a report that is harshly critical of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division cited the Department for using “unreasonable force against individuals with a mental health disability and those in crisis.” On page 80 of the 164-page report, it said that the BPD “fails to make reasonable modifications when interacting with individuals with mental health disabilities.” To download a free copy of the report, published on August 10, click here.

SAMHSA Sponsors Free Webinar for Peer Recovery Coaches Helping People Who Have Opiod Use Disorders

On September 9, 2016, at noon ET, SAMHSA will sponsor a free 90-minute webinar called “What Peer Recovery Coaches Need to Know about Medication-Assisted Recovery for People with Opioid Use Disorders.” For more information and to register, click here.

A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising Is Available

UnderDeveloped—A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising “reveals that many nonprofit organizations are stuck in a vicious cycle that threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed…The question is how do nonprofits break the cycle and begin laying the groundwork for sustainable fundraising success.” For this free 36-page document, which includes suggested solutions (beginning on page 23), click here. For another document on the same subject, Fundraising Bright Spots: Strategies and Inspiration from Social Change Organizations Raising Money from Individual Donors, click here.

Lobotomy Files: Forgotten Soldiers Is a Special Report by the WSJ

“The U.S. lobotomized some 2,000 veterans.” So begins a special report by The Wall Street Journal. It continues: “The U.S. government lobotomized roughly 2,000 mentally ill veterans—and likely hundreds more—during and after World War II, according to a cache of forgotten memos, letters and government reports unearthed by The Wall Street Journal. Besieged by psychologically damaged troops returning from the battlefields of North Africa, Europe and the Pacific, the Veterans Administration performed the brain-altering operation on former servicemen it diagnosed as depressives, psychotics and schizophrenics, and occasionally on people identified as homosexuals.” For the report, click here.

Researchers Seek Study Participants Who Live With, or Care for Someone With, Tardive Dyskinesia

The Tardive Dyskinesia Group writes: “We are looking for people who live with tardive dyskinesia or loved ones who care for someone with tardive dyskinesia. We are looking for 25+ people to provide information and talk about their experiences with this movement disorder. It will be a 3-part study with a professional opinion research company. Compensation may be available for full completion. Please email us at or message us at or call 703.398.3713 and leave us a message.”

Thanks, NYAPRS E-News

NYAPRS 34th Annual Conference to Be Held September 14-16

The 2016 annual conference of the New York Association for Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) will be held September 14-16, 2016, at the Hudson Valley Resort & Spa in Kerhonkson, N.Y. The theme is “Advancing Whole Health & Healthy Communities: The Pathway to Population Health.” To register and for more information, click here.

Save the Date! March for Dignity & Change in Mental Health in Washington, DC, October 10!

Join the march against the dehumanization of, and discrimination and prejudice against, people living with mental health conditions on October 10 in Washington, DC. To learn more, see


Gun Violence Archive Provides Information about Gun-Related Violence in the U.S.

The Gun Violence Archive (GVA) is a not-for-profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States. GVA will collect and check for accuracy, comprehensive information about gun-related violence in the U.S. and then post and disseminate it online at

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 13, No. 2, August 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