The Key Update, Volume 13, Number 7 -- January 2017

Key Update, January 2017

Volume 13, Number 7

Up to 1.5M People with Disabilities Fail to Claim Valuable Earned Income Tax Credit

Special rules allow many adults with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); but as many as 1.5 million people with disabilities miss out because they fail to file a tax return, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The EITC is a federal income tax credit for workers who earned $53,505 or less in 2016 and meet other eligibility requirements. Those who can claim the credit could pay less federal tax, pay no tax or even get a tax refund. (The EITC could put up to $6,269 into a taxpayer’s pocket.) While many non-filers fall below the income threshold requiring them to file, the only way to receive this credit is to file a return and claim EITC. Use the EITC Assistant, on, to determine eligibility and estimate the amount of credit. (Tax refunds are not counted as income for determining eligibility for any federally funded benefit program.) For more information, click here.

Thanks @AJFrench2013

Teenager Creates International Peer-to-Peer Suicide Prevention Site

After reading about the youth suicide clusters in Palo Alto, California, a 17-year-old in nearby Los Altos has created, an international “platform for all teens to come together in a positive environment.” “We focus on teen mental health & harnessing peer connections as a source of strength,” the website says. Among the topics covered in videos by teens are “Battling Depression,” “From Social Anxiety to Freedom,” “Coping with Stress” and “Well-Being Strategies.” In addition, there is a resource page featuring mental health experts. For more information, click here. In a related story, offers crisis support for teens. For the story, click here.

Free Issue Brief on Supported Education (SEd) Is Now Online

A free issue brief, Supported Education (SEd): State of the Practice, is available from Transitions Research and Training Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Transitions RTC partnered with RTI International to conduct the Feasibility Study for Demonstration of Supported Education to Promote Educational Attainment and Employment among Individuals with Serious Mental Illness (available here). This project “examined the state of the science of current SEd programs in the U.S., identified key considerations that can be used to design studies to validate SEd as an evidence-based practice, compiled evidence on SEd programs; identified gaps in the knowledge base about SEd, and looked at possible approaches for addressing unanswered questions about SEd.” To download the free issue brief, click here.

Doors to Wellbeing Continues Its Monthly Webinar Series on the Last Tuesdays of January and February

On January 31 at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing will host a free webinar on How to Ask for a Raise: The Peer Support Compensation Survey. (Note: This webinar was promoted in the December 2016 Key Update.The webinar presenters, Allen Daniels and Peter Ashenden, were two of the authors of a National Survey of Compensation Among Peer Support Specialists, published in January 2016. For the survey, click here. Then, on February 28 at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing will host a webinar entitled Creativity Becomes You, presented by Gayle Bluebird. The description reads, in part: “Peers will discover multiple ways to become a creative peer specialist. Not limited to art and artistic activities, though an important part, it involves how you dress, how you communicate, and how to be a natural YOU as a creative peer specialist. Lots of ideas of tools you can use...” For details and to register for either or both webinars, click here

Groundbreaking Report on Impact of Solitary Confinement on Individuals with Physical Disabilities

The ACLU has just released Caged In: Solitary Confinement’s Devastating Harm on Prisoners with Physical Disabilities. This report provides a first-ever national ACLU account of the suffering that individuals with physical disabilities experience in solitary confinement. The ACLU writes: “Solitary confinement is a punishing environment that endangers the well-being of people with physical disabilities and often violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The report’s revelations about the particular harms of solitary on people with physical disabilities shows the urgent need for far better accounting of the problems they face and the development of solutions to those problems.” To download the free report, click here. For a related story, "Punished Twice: Prisons Basically Ignore the Americans with Disabilities Act...," click here. For "Mentally Ill Inmates Face Solitary Confinement in R.I. Prisons," click here. For “Colorado must stop using jails for people in mental health crisis, panel says,” click here.

TU Collaborative Issues Call for Papers for 2017 Summer Institute

The Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion has issued the Call for Papers for its 2017 Summer Institute, in Philadelphia, July 24-25. “The Institute seeks 15-minute presentations—which will be grouped in 90-minute panel discussions on similar themes—that focus on research findings and effective strategies to confront the degree to which individuals with mental health conditions struggle to move beyond their engagement in mental health-sponsored activities and toward individual participation in those aspects of life that are important to them.” The deadline for submission is March 15. For details, click here.

Free Webinar on Social Security Work Incentives to Be Sponsored by Peerlink on February 15

Social Security Work Incentives: A Path to Employment, Recovery and Self-Sufficiency!—a free webinar sponsored by Peerlink National Technical Assistance Center—will take place on February 15 at 2 p.m. ET. “This webinar will focus on tools created specifically to help providers start the conversation about employment with the people they serve,” Peerlink writes. “We will also provide specific concrete details about Social Security’s work incentive programs and ways to combat the myth that people with psychiatric disabilities can't or shouldn't work.” The presenter will be Kristin Lupfer, project director of the SAMHSA SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery) Technical Assistance Center at Policy Research Associates, Inc. For details and to register, click here.

Pioneering Antipsychotic Medication Study Focuses on Individuals’ Experiences

A new study, Experiencing Antipsychotic Medication: From First Prescriptions to Attempted Discontinuation, reports on the firsthand experiences of 144 individuals taking such medications as Seroquel, Olanzapine, Risperidone, Geodon, Haldol or Abilify. The researcher, at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, writes: “…what is one person’s life‐saving relief or useful tool is another’s personal burden, nightmare or hell…The results support an argument for informed choice and improved supports for those who would prefer not to take antipsychotics continuously in the long-term.” Mental health advocate, author and counselor Will Hall writes: “While the majority of people still taking antipsychotics said the medications improved their quality of life, the majority of those not taking them said medications [had] made their life worse….The study shows that for all participants, quality of life was far more determined by non-medication factors such as working, going to school, coping, and having social support than it was by whether or not someone was taking antipsychotics.” For Hall’s article about the research, which includes a link to the study, click here.

Deadline Approaches for Workshop Proposals for 2017 NARPA Conference

The 2017 Annual Rights Conference of the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy will be held September 6-9 in Portland, Maine, at the Holiday Inn by the Bay. The workshop proposal deadline is February 15, 2017. NARPA “is seeking proposals which address strategies, ideas, programs, and emerging practices that support and promote NARPA’s mission and commitment to individual rights, liberty, freedom, and dignity.” For possible topic areas, guidelines, and the application, click here. (Note: This item originally appeared in the November 2016 edition of the Key Update.)

Copeland Center to Host WRAP Around the World in Sacramento June 5-7

The Copeland Center will host its 2017 WRAP Around the World Conference in Sacramento, California, June 5-7. The Center invites “WRAP facilitators and others from systems of care around the world to share emerging practices around the Wellness Recovery Action Plan. Network, build skills, learn about current research and innovative programs, and be part of the community!” Early bird rates are in effect until February 28. For the Call for Papers, click here. For details and to register, click here.

MHA Announces Open Call for Nominations to Its Board of Directors

Mental Health America (MHA) has issued an open call for nominations (including self-nominations) for its 2017 board of directors class (June 2017 to June 2020). Responsibilities include “attendance at quarterly in-person meetings (including the annual conference), as well as regular electronic communication and active participation on at least one committee….Board positions require a time and energy commitment that should not be underestimated. Candidates are urged to consider personal priorities for the three-year term as well as ways to contribute to the development of the organization. To nominate yourself or another individual, complete the nomination webform (click here) by February 10, 2017.” (Password: MHAboard2017.) “You may nominate as many people as you like. We encourage you to discuss your nomination with the candidate prior to submission.” Questions? Contact Sachin Doshi at

Gun Violence Should Be Treated as a Public Health Crisis, According to New Research

“Every year in the U.S., more than 30,000 people die from things related to guns,” according to a recent NPR piece. “Yet, the funding for research on gun violence lags far behind other leading causes of death,” according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. For the NPR article, including a link to the study, click here. In a related story, “The Hidden Gun Epidemic: Suicides,” The New York Times recently wrote about the Gun Shop Project, whose goal is suicide prevention. The connection between suicide and easy gun access demands far greater attention than it has gotten,” according to the Times editorial, available if you click here. And The Guardian recently offered a geographical analysis of the incidence of gun violence. For that story—“Want to Fix Gun Violence in America? Go Local”—which reports that poverty-stricken neighborhoods containing just 1.5 percent of the U.S. population saw 26 percent of America’s gun homicides in 2015, click here.

NARMH to Host 2017 Annual Conference in San Diego September 6-8

The National Association for Rural Mental Health will host its 2017 annual conference in San Diego September 6-8. NARMH writes that its conference “provides great information and networking opportunities regarding all aspects of rural practice, research and policy.” The theme of this year’s conference is Exploring What Works: Caring for the Country. For more information, click here.

Resources Available from Two Recent Webinars on Helping Individuals with Behavioral Health Conditions and Criminal Justice Involvement Re-enter the Community

On January 19, the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse and the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion hosted a webinar on Peer-run Organizations Serving People with Behavioral Health Conditions and Criminal Justice Involvement. To download a PDF of the PowerPoint slides, click here. To download Reentry and Renewal, the associated free report that highlights a dozen exemplary peer-run programs that serve individuals with both behavioral health conditions and criminal justice backgrounds, click here. Then, on January 24, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration presented Peer Support and Reentry: Criminal Justice Series Webinar 2, featuring Peerstar, which provides mental health recovery, certified peer support services, and forensic peer support services in many Pennsylvania counties. For a recording of the SAMHSA webinar, 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, 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 August 2016 edition of 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. 7, January 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 or 800.553.4539 x3812, 267.507.3812 (direct). Follow Susan on Twitter at @SusanRogersMH