The Key Update, Volume 13, Number 8 -- February 2017

Key Update, February 2017

Volume 13, Number 8

Free Webinar on How State Advocates Can Help Save Federal Health and Safety Net Programs

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is organizing a one-hour webinar on February 24 at 3 p.m. ET “to review the threats to Medicaid and provide guidance on how state advocates can defend the program against these threats.” The threats include the proposal to change the structure and financing of Medicaid by implementing a per capita cap which, similar to a block grant, would make deep cuts in federal Medicaid funds for states. “CBPP staff will also provide a brief overview of the other threats to federal health and safety net programs and the tentative timing for how these threats might play out.” The webinar is off the record and not open to the press. “It is geared primarily toward state-based advocates who are interested in, or already working on, federal health and safety net programs.” To register, click here. For questions, contact CBPP state strategies manager Deborah Swerdlow at

Thanks, Ray Bridge

Free Webinar: A Future for Early Intervention in Psychosis Services?

On February 24, at 1 p.m. ET, the National Empowerment Center is sponsoring a free, 90-minute webinar -- A Future for Early Intervention? Lessons Learned and the Potential Transformation of Specialized Early Psychosis Services -- that “will explore contemporary practices in specialized early psychosis services with an emphasis on service gaps in the areas of trauma, ethnic/racial disparities/cultural humility, and peer support. The presenters will cover current practice innovations and describe an agenda for increased peer leadership and transformative change within early intervention.” For more information and to register, click here.

Deadline for BRSS TACS Capacity Building Opportunity Extended to February 24 at 8 p.m. ET

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS) are offering the Capacity Building Opportunity, “a free intensive technical assistance opportunity for peer-run organizations (PROs), recovery community organizations (RCOs), and family-run organizations. Up to 25 PROs/RCOs/family-run organizations will be selected to receive individualized consultation, training, and peer-to-peer support over a six-month period in one of five areas: Partnering with State Systems to Advance Recovery; Advancing the Peer and Family Support Workforce; Building Capacity to Support Peer and Family Services; Sustaining Recovery in Educational Settings; and Supporting Re-entry.” For more information on eligibility and to apply, click here. Questions?  Email or call 781.247.1711.

Thanks, Judene Shelley

Free Training Opportunity in Collaborative Leadership Series: “Working Across the Divides”

The STAR Center is offering a free training opportunity to help people improve their collaborative leadership facilitator skills. “Up to 20 people will be chosen through an application process to learn and implement facilitation and leadership strategies in group problem solving, creating inclusive and safe spaces, participatory decision making and consensus building, designing meeting agenda and process, engaging conflict, and harnessing group memory.” Six virtual 90-minute training sessions will be followed by six months of “implementation, communication and evaluation,” including coaching by the STAR Center staff and consultants. Preference will be given to individuals in Region 2 (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and Region 6 (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas). Applications are due by March 3. For more information, including application instructions, click here.

Free Webinar Covers Creating and Sustaining a Peer Specialist Support Group

Doors to Wellbeing continues its monthly webinar series with Creating and Sustaining a Peer Specialist Support Group, on March 28 at 2 p.m. ET. The webinar will examine the particular challenges and barriers that certified peer specialists and other “peer workers/volunteers” face, and ways they can support each other. Also, on February 28 at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing will host a webinar entitled Creativity Becomes You, presented by Gayle Bluebird and Meghan Caughey. (The February webinar was promoted in the January Key Update.) For details and to register for either or both webinars, click here.

AAPD Offers 2017 Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship

“The Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship, managed by Rooted in Rights and AAPD, provides the opportunity for an individual with a disability to learn and apply skills in digital media storytelling, and to connect with media professionals to prepare participants for advanced careers in media production, journalism, online advocacy, or digital design. The project combines hands-on training on cutting edge technologies with a strong foundation in developing the individual’s voice and using story-driven videos in advocacy.” Applications are due by March 15. For details, including eligibility requirements, click here.

Alternatives 2017 Call for Presentations Due March 17!

The National Empowerment Center writes: "The Alternatives 2017 Conference Committee, which includes consumer/survivor/peer leaders across the nation, is seeking proposals for presentations. We invite everyone to consider becoming a presenter. First-time presenters are especially welcome. Learning from each other is a clear example of self help, mutual support, and the principles of recovery in action!" The conference theme is Building Healing Communities Together; the conference will be held in Boston August 18-21. For the call for presentations, click here.

More Older Adults Are Taking Multiple Psychiatric Medications, Researchers Report

According to a recent report in The New York Times, “The number of retirement-age Americans taking at least three psychiatric drugs more than doubled between 2004 and 2013, even though almost half of them had no mental health diagnosis on record…The new analysis, based on data from doctors’ office visits, suggests that inappropriate prescribing to older people is more common than previously thought.” The research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine. For the Times story, click here. At the same time, has reviewed the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, published by the Icarus Project and the Freedom Center. For the review, which includes a link to download the guide for free, click here.

Thanks, @OryxCohen and @LaurenSpiro

Peer Specialist Database Launched by Doors to Wellbeing

Doors to Wellbeing has launched a Peer Specialist Database to help people find out how to become a peer specialist in every state. For the free database, which Doors to Wellbeing has said it plans to continuously update, click here. In addition, the 2016 national edition (last revised in January 2017) of Peer Specialist Training and Certification Programs, published by the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health and the University of Texas at Austin, is available for free download here.

ASAN Publishes Affordable Care Act Toolkit for Self-Advocates, Available for Free Download

The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) has just published a free, 15-page guide to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It has three parts: “A Self-Advocate’s Guide to the Affordable Care Act,” “What’s the Problem with Repeal and Delay?” and “The Affordable Care Act: What Can I Do?” ASAN writes: “The Affordable Care Act Toolkit for Self-Advocates explains in plain language all the different pieces of the ACA, what the proposed changes are, and what the impact of repealing it would be.” To download the free toolkit, click here.

Thanks, Elizabeth R. Stone

Report Reveals Wide Range of State Law Enforcement Training Standards on Mental Health and De-Escalation

The Council of State Governments Justice Center recently released The Variability in Law Enforcement State Standards: A 42-State Survey on Mental Health and Crisis De-escalation Training. This survey report, completed in partnership with the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, revealed that while nearly all states have law enforcement training standards on mental health and crisis de-escalation, the required training hours, topics, and teaching methods differ widely. For instance, survey respondents reported that training on mental health and de-escalation topics ranged from two hours to 40 hours for recruits or new officers. For more information and to download the free report, click here.

Clean Slate Clearinghouse, with Re-entry Resources for People with Criminal Justice Histories, to Be Launched This Year

The Clean Slate Clearinghouse (NCSC), to be launched in 2017, will be a resource for advocates of people with criminal justice involvement who have no legal expertise, as well as policy analysts, policy makers, lawyers and lawmakers. “It will provide state-by-state rules of clearing, correcting or expunging criminal records.” The goal is to make it easier for people to find decent jobs, housing, and otherwise re-integrate into society. The Council of State Governments Justice Center will partner with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, the National Juvenile Defender Center, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities on the NCSC. For more information, click here. For “How ‘Collateral Consequences’ Complicate Life after Prison,” click here.

New Toolkit to Support Behavioral Health Treatment Agencies in Integrating Peer Providers

A new toolkit, published by the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS), is designed to help behavioral health care providers successfully integrate peer staff into their service settings. The four modules cover, respectively, “Preparing the Organizational Culture,” ‘Recruiting and Hiring Peer Staff,” “Service Delivery,” and “Supervision and Retention.” DBHIDS writes: “The Peer Support Toolkit incorporates many of the promising practices and resources that have emerged during the last decade of Philadelphia’s recovery-focused system transformation effort. Tools in this kit are designed to help agencies to recruit, retain, and effectively deploy people in recovery in a variety of peer support roles. The resources and information provided are relevant for executive leadership along with supervisors and peer staff.” For details and to download the free toolkit, click here.

Good Posture May Help Relieve Symptoms of Depression, New Study Says

Sitting up straight and standing up straight can help alleviate symptoms of depression, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Auckland. “This preliminary study suggests that adopting an upright posture may increase positive affect, reduce fatigue, and decrease self-focus in people with mild-to-moderate depression,” the researchers wrote. Sixty-one participants were randomly assigned to either an upright-posture group or a usual-posture group; those asked to maintain good posture were given specific instructions for tasks to complete. The study appears in the March issue of the Journal of Behavior therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. For more information, click here.

Broken Light Offers an Online Gallery for Photographers with Mental Health Conditions and Others

"Broken Light Collective is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to create safe and accepting environments where photographers of all levels who are affected by mental health challenges can display their work, as well as inspire one another to keep going and keep creating...You are invited to create art for the site or come visit whenever you may be feeling low, hopeless, or just need something positive on which to focus...If you have a mental health challenge yourself, or have friends or family who do, then you qualify to be a contributor. You may also contribute if you are someone who helps other people who may be struggling...See the submission tab for details.” For the gallery and other information, click here.

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. 8, February 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