The Key Update, Volume 13, Number 9 - March 2017

Key Update, March 2017

Volume 13, Number 9

Cultivating Positive Emotions Can Boost the Immune System and Counter Depression, Research Confirms

More than one recent research study has confirmed what people already know—that cultivating a sunny disposition can improve your health and combat depression. In one study, a researcher at Northwestern University developed a list of eight skills to help people feel more positive. Participants were urged to learn at least three and practice one or more every day. The skills are (1) recognize a positive event every day; (2) “savor” the event and write it down or tell someone about it; (3) start a daily gratitude journal; (4) list a personal strength and how you used it; (5) set an achievable goal and keep track of your progress; (6) report a relatively small stress and make a list of ways to re-frame the event in a positive way; (7) recognize and practice small acts of kindness every day; and (8) practice mindfulness by focusing on the present, not the past or future. Predictably, the participants who practiced the skills did better than those in the control group. “None of this is rocket science,” the researcher said. For the story, click here.

SAMHSA Publishes New Guidelines for Successful Transition from Jail and Prison; Webinar Planned

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a new implementation guide, Successful Transition of People with Mental or Substance Use Disorders from Jail and Prison. SAMHSA writes that the resource provides “10 guidelines to effectively transition people with mental or substance use disorders from institutional correctional settings into the community, as well as examples of local implementation of successful strategies for managing this transition.” On April 20 at 2 p.m. ET, SAMHSA will host a 90-minute webinar on the key elements of the guide. The webinar will also provide examples of successful implementation of the guidelines in local jails. To download the free guide and to register for the free webinar, click here.

BRSS TACS Policy Academy Issues Call for Applications, Due April 7

The BRSS TACS (Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy) Policy Academy has released its 2017 Call for Applications. BRSS TACS writes: “This year’s theme is ‘Building a Strong Recovery-Oriented Workforce’ and it is open to all states, territories, and tribal entities; past participants are eligible.  Applications must be submitted by state, territorial, or tribal behavioral health entities and they are required to include diverse stakeholders as part of their team. If you work with state, territorial, or tribal governments, please share with them. Questions may be directed to Note: There is no funding attached to the Policy Academy this year; it is more of an intensive technical assistance opportunity. The deadline is April 7.” For the application, click here.

MHA Has Launched “First-Ever National Peer Specialist Certification”

On March 15, 2017, Mental Health America (MHA) announced its new MHA National Certified Peer Specialist (NCPS) credential. “Peer-initiated and conceived, the MHA NCPS credential recognizes peers with the lived experience, training, and job experience to work alongside health care teams,” MHA notes. “With MHA’s Center for Peer Support,” said Patrick Hendry, MHA vice president of peer advocacy, supports, and services, “our mission is to promote peer support in all aspects of health care; to provide access to the latest information on programs and evidence in peer support; to offer resources for peers; and to help grow and expand the peer workforce.” The MHA NCPS credential was developed in partnership with the Florida Certification Board, and piloted with national HMO Kaiser Permanente (KP). For the MHA press release, click here. For the MHA email announcement, which includes a link to a scholarship application and other details, click here. (At this writing, 40 scholarships of the original 100 offered are still available.)

A Growing Body of Evidence Supports the Effectiveness of Peer-run Crisis Respites

More and more research supports the effectiveness of peer-run crisis respites, which are run by people with lived experience of a mental health condition and offer a nonmedical, trauma-informed environment where people can live for a while during a mental health crisis. The Peer Respites Action and Evaluation website offers a number of studies on this topic, available for free download at this link. The National Empowerment Center also has information on this vital service (click here). For a Clearinghouse Key Assistance Report on peer-run crisis respites, click here.

Thanks, Lauren Spiro

SAMHSA-sponsored Webinar to Focus on Peer-run Crisis Respites

On April 26 at 2 p.m. ET, there will be a free 90-minute webinar sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on Peer-Run Respites: Effective Alternatives to Hospitals. SAMHSA writes: “Leaders of peer-run respites from around the country will provide an overview of peer-run respites and how they voluntarily engage people and offer a continuity of care which is often unavailable with traditional care and hospitalization. Success stories will be shared, along with reports from the latest research on peer-run respite effectiveness.” To register, click here.

Free SAMHSA Webinar on First Episode Psychosis: Where to Begin Improving Your Practice?

On 4/19 at 1 p.m. ET, SAMHSA will host a free, one-hour webinar entitled A Primer on First Episode Psychosis: Where to Begin Improving Your Practice? This is the second webinar in SAMHSA’s Recovery to Practice series on recovery-oriented clinical treatment and support for transition-age youth. The featured presenter will be Lisa Dixon, MD, MPH, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, among her other positions. For details and to register, click here. In addition, the Clearinghouse hosted a 90-minute webinar on Peer Leadership in Early Intervention in Psychosis Services: From Program Development to Outcome Evaluation in 2015, presented by Nev Jones, Ph.D.; Irene Hurford, MD; and Berta Britz, MSW, CPS. To view the webinar, click here.  

Free Webinar on National Accreditation for Peer Specialists: How Canada Makes It Work

Doors to Wellbeing will host a free, one-hour webinar on National Accreditation for Peer Specialists:  How Canada Makes it Work on April 25 at 2 p.m. ET. This workshop will examine the Canadian Peer Support Certification process from start to completion, along with the internal organizational structure and supports needed for the process. The presenter will be Shaleen Jones, executive director of Peer Support Accreditation and Certification Canada. To register, click here.

Doctors Could Prescribe Houses to People Who Are Homeless under Radical Hawaii Bill

A state senator in Hawaii has introduced a bill that would classify homelessness as a medical condition, The Guardian reports. State Senator Josh Green, who is also a physician, said that he got the idea from his work in the emergency room, where he saw many people who were homeless seek treatment for basic medical issues at great expense but no real, long-term benefit. Daniel Cheng, an emergency room doctor in Honolulu, says that people whose wounds he treats often come back re-infected a week later. “Instead of paying for an antibiotic, let’s take that $5,000 visit and pay for housing,” Cheng told The Guardian. “We’d be way more ahead.” The Hawaiian House Committee on Human Services passed the measure with amendments on March 22. For the Guardian article, click here. For an update and a link to the bill, click here.

Thanks, Kevin Fitts

Online SOAR Training Provided for Staff who Help People Who Are Homeless or at Risk of Homelessness

SAMHSA is offering an online SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach Access and Recovery) training for staff. Its goal is to help staff assist individuals who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness and have a mental health condition, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder to apply for the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability programs. These programs are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). “The techniques taught in this course can improve the quality and completeness of any application for SSI/SSDI. Individuals who complete the course are encouraged to use what they learn to improve SSI/SSDI applications for themselves or others.” For more information, click here.

Publications Focus on Importance of Competitive Employment for People with Mental Health Conditions

Several publications by the Temple University (TU) Collaborative on Community Inclusion “outline opportunities not only for policy makers and program managers but also for direct service personnel and peer specialists to support individuals to establish and maintain fulfilling lives within their communities.” The publications include Creating Welcoming Mental Health Work Environments, A Practical Guide for People with Mental Health Conditions Who Want to Work, Employment Programming: Addressing Prevailing Barriers to Competitive Work, and The Past and Future Career Patterns of People with Serious Mental Illness. To download the free documents, click here.

SAMHSA Spotlight Series Highlights Approaches to Building Trauma-informed Communities

The SAMHSA Spotlight series “explores strategies for developing trauma-informed communities and discusses the consequences of trauma and adversity for clients,” SAMHSA writes. “A setting is trauma informed if the people in that setting realize the widespread prevalence of trauma, recognize the signs and symptoms, respond in an understanding and supportive manner, and resist doing further harm.” Included are reports on exemplary programs in Philadelphia; Kansas City, KS and MO; Worcester, MA; Tarpon Springs, FL; San Francisco; and Walla Walla, WA. For details and to download the free documents, click here.

Special Double Issue of Journal Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology Is Available for Free Download

Nev Jones, Ph.D., writes: “I'm thrilled to announce that a massive double special issue of the journal Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology on service user/survivor research is now out…It features the work of leading emerging and established voices from around the world. The journal’s format includes formal exchanges, so for each ‘lead article’ there are two commentaries by different researchers/activists and then a response from the original author.” Dr. Jones guest-edited the issue with British survivor researcher Jayasree Kalathil, Ph.D. To download all of the articles for free, click here

SAMHSA Promotes National Prevention Week, May 14-20, 2017

SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week (NPW) “is an annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, mental and/or substance use disorders.” The theme for NPW 2017 is “Making Every Day Count.” The goals are “to involve communities in raising awareness of behavioral health issues and in implementing prevention strategies, to foster partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health, and to promote and disseminate quality behavioral health resources and publications.” To learn more, click here.

Pioneering Activist Judi Chamberlin’s Papers Are Available Online

Pioneering mental health activist Judi Chamberlin’s papers are now available for free online! They are housed as part of the Special Collections & University Archives of the UMass Amherst Libraries. The website notes: “An important record of the development of the psychiatric survivors’ movement from its earliest days, the Chamberlin Papers include rich correspondence between Chamberlin, fellow activists, survivors, and medical professionals; record of her work with the Mental Patients’ Liberation Front [which she helped found in 1971] and other rights organizations, conferences and meetings; and her efforts to build the movement internationally.” For free access to the archive, click here.

Thanks, Dan Fisher

April 24 Is Deadline for SAMHSA Voice Awards Nominations, Focused on Military and Veterans

Nominations are due by April 24 for SAMHSA’s 2017 Voice Awards, which are “putting the spotlight on individuals and entertainment productions that provide hope and support to those past and present service members who have faced mental health and addiction challenges.” The Awards “honor people in recovery and their family members who are community champions seeking to improve the lives of people with mental illnesses and addictions. The Voice Awards also recognize television and film productions that educate the public about behavioral health and showcase that recovery is real and possible.” For more information and the nomination forms, click here.

In a Groundbreaking Initiative, Norway Promotes Medication-Free Psychiatric Treatment

The Norwegian Ministry of Health has ordered its four regional health authorities to pioneer medication-free treatment. Award-winning journalist Robert Whitaker reports: “The title—medication-free treatment—does not precisely capture the nature of the care provided here. This is a ward for psychiatric patients who do not want to take psychiatric medications, or who want help tapering from such drugs. The governing principle on this ward, which has six beds, is that patients should have the right to choose their treatment, and that care should be organized around that choice.” Whitaker quotes Merete Astrup, director of the medication-free unit: “We were used to saying to patients, ‘This is what is best for you.’ But we are now saying to them, ‘What do you really want?’” For Whitaker’s report, click here.

NOS Magazine, “a Publication for the Neurodiversity Community,” Seeks Submissions

NOS Magazine, whose website banner reads “Neurodiversity Culture + Representation,” is seeking submissions, with preference given to “people who identify as a part of the neurodiversity community and/or who are neurodivergent in some fashion…to ensure that this publication is a voice of the community.” Articles should be commentary or news reports about popular culture, current events, history, and other larger topics. The editors add, “Please do not send personal narratives about self-acceptance or what it is like to [live with a disability].” For editorial guidelines and information about how to submit articles, click here.

Thanks, Elizabeth R. Stone

Hilarious World of Depression Podcast Features Comedians Who Have Dealt with Depression

"The Hilarious World of Depression is a series of frank, moving, and, yes, funny conversations with top comedians who have dealt with [depression], hosted by veteran humorist and public radio host John Moe. Join guests such as Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Richter, and Jen Kirkman to learn how they’ve dealt with depression and managed to laugh along the way….[I]t is a chance to gain some insight, have a few laughs, and realize that people with depression are not alone and that together, we can all feel a bit better.” For the podcast, click here.

Alternatives 2017 Early Bird Registration Is Available Through April 20!

The early bird registration rate of $375 for Alternatives 2017 is available through April 20! The conference theme is Building Healing Communities Together. The conference, organized by the National Empowerment Center, will be held in Boston August 18-21. For the registration brochure, which includes a link to online registration, 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. 9, March 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