The Key Update, Volume 14, Number 2 - August 2017

Key Update, August 2017

Volume 14, Number 2

New Federal Committee on “Serious Mental Illness” to Hold First Meeting August 31; Public Can Join Online or By Phone

On August 16, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the names of the 14 public members who will serve on its new committee—the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC)—which was established by the 21st Century Cures Act. The ISMICC comprises senior leaders from 10 federal agencies, along with 14 non-federal public members, who represent a range of experience and opinions. Public access to the committee’s first meeting, on August 31, 2017, will be available by webcast and phone. For the HHS press release, which includes the names of the 14 public members and instructions for listening to the meeting by phone, click here. Through August 24, ISMICC accepted comments from the public. The Department of Health and Human Services writes: "Interested persons may present data, information, or views, orally or in writing, on issues pending before the committee. Email written statements to Ms. Pamela Foote, the Designated Federal Officer (DFO), at , or call the DFO at 240-276-1279 on or before August 24, 2017." 

Deadline Extended to August 31 to Comment on Some SAMHSA Core Competencies; Slides Available from Webinar on Improving Law Enforcement Responses to People with Behavioral Health Conditions

“The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), through SAMHSA’s GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation, recently convened a group of peer leaders to develop a draft set of core competencies for individuals providing peer support in criminal justice settings,” the GAINS Center writes. “SAMHSA would like the public to review and comment on each of the draft core competencies. We are particularly interested is getting responses from individuals providing peer support in criminal justice settings, supervisors, and those responsible for program implementation and evaluation.” For the draft core competencies, click here. For the public comment form, click here. The deadline has been extended to August 31, 2017. And the GAINS Center recently hosted a free webinar on Strategies for Improving Law Enforcement Responses to People with Behavioral Health Conditions. For the webinar slides, click here(Note: In an unrelated but relevant story, for a publication entitled Reentry and Renewal: A Review of Peer-run Organizations That Serve Individuals with Behavioral Health Conditions and Criminal Justice Involvement, click here.) 

August 29: Webinar on Adding Lived Experience to Research to Be Offered by Doors to Wellbeing

On August 29, 2017, at 2 p.m. ET, Doors to Wellbeing will host a free webinar entitled Can I Get the Recipe? Adding Lived Experience to Research. The workshop will be presented by Laysha Ostrow, PhD, CEO of Live & Learn, Inc. The objectives of the presentation are to provide participants with real-life examples of research that supports the value of peer workers, to highlight the importance of lived experience in research, and to relate research approaches to documenting knowledge about peer support. To register, click here.

August 31 Is Int’l Overdose Awareness Day; NSC Calls States’ Prevention Procedures Inadequate

August 31 is annual International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD). It aims to raise awareness that overdose deaths are preventable, and reduce the prejudice associated with such deaths. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends for those who have died or been permanently injured due to a drug overdose. For more, click here. At the same time, a report from the National Safety Council—Safety First: A State-by-State Report—says “no state goes far enough to protect its residents from the leading causes of preventable deaths and injuries, commonly known as ‘accidents’…It offers a bird's-eye view of safety policies and legislation that can help us reduce preventable deaths from things like distracted driving, prescription painkillers and falls.” For the report, click here.

There Are Two Important Conferences in September!

September 2017 will see two great conferences! The first, organized by the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA), will be held in Portland, Maine, September 6-9. For a full schedule, including several exciting keynote speakers, and two workshops by prominent rights expert Susan Stefan, JD, visit the NARPA website: Next will be the conference of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS), September 13-15 in Kerhonkson, New York. NYAPRS writes that the conference “features a timely program packed with over 60 workshops that help attendees to best address themes relating to advances in peer support, health, healing and recovery, empowerment and advocacy, cultural competence, community inclusion, healthcare integration, criminal justice reforms and trauma-informed approaches,” and more! To review the “near-final” program, click here. For more information and to register, click here.

AAPD Newsletter Includes Call for Nominations for Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards

The August 15th edition of the AAPD’s Disability Download includes a call for applications for the 2018 AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards, which recognize “outstanding emerging leaders with disabilities who exemplify leadership, advocacy, and dedication to the broader cross-disability community. Two individuals will each receive $2,500 in recognition of their outstanding contributions and $7,500 to further a new or existing initiative that increases the political and economic power of people with disabilities. Applications are due by October 2, 2017.” For more about the awards and to download the application, click here. For the AAPD newsletter, click here.

A New Website on “Self-Direction” in Mental Health Has Been Launched

The Human Services Research Institute and two partners—Applied Self-Direction and the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services—have launched a new website: Mental Health Self-Direction: Choice, Recovery, Independence. “For many, the current publicly funded mental health system isn’t working,” the partners write. “But a growing body of evidence shows that a new model—self-direction, or self-directed care—can help people avoid the cycle of hospitalization and achieve better outcomes.” For more, visit the website:

Survey Seeks People Diagnosed with Schizophrenia Who Have Taken Atypical Antipsychotics

Mental Health America writes: Pillar Patient Advocates LLC is seeking individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia who have taken atypical antipsychotic medications “to participate in a survey designed to understand how negative effects of the medication have affected their physical and mental functioning and their overall quality of life.” The survey is sponsored by pharmaceutical manufacturers Otsuka and Lundbeck. To find out if you are eligible, click here. Participants who complete the 15-minute survey will receive a $40 Amazon gift card. Questions? Contact Linda Pelligra at 908.698.1038 or The deadline is October 9, 2017, or as soon as 120 individuals complete the survey, Ms. Pelligra says. 

Are You a Leader with a Criminal Justice History? “Leading with Conviction” Training May Be for You

JustLeadershipUSA, an advocacy organization of individuals with criminal justice histories who work to reform the criminal justice system, invites applications for Leading with Conviction (LwC), “an advanced leadership training for formerly incarcerated, mid-senior-level leaders with a specific and proven track record in advocacy and community organizing…LwC trainings benefit leaders by introducing them to the people and practices closely linked to successful community and regional criminal justice advocacy efforts, enabling them to take on greater challenges and to generate quantifiable impact in their work.” The deadline to apply is September 15, 2017. For more information, click here. For a link to the application form, click here. In a related story, JustLeadershipUSA recently published a free 93-page report entitled Leading with Conviction: The Transformative Role of Formerly Incarcerated Leaders in Reducing Mass Incarceration, available for download here.

Antipsychotics “Have Limited Efficacy” in Reducing Symptoms in People with Long-Term Psychosis

According a meta-analysis of 167 clinical trials, recently published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, only 23 percent of individuals experiencing an “acute exacerbation” of psychotic symptoms had a “good response” to an antipsychotic, compared to 14 percent on placebo. Another 51 percent experienced at least a “minimal” response, compared to 30 percent on placebo. (A “good response” was defined as at least a 50 percent symptom reduction; a “minimal response” was at least a 20 percent reduction.) According to a blog on the Mad In America site, “…the authors noted that critics of antipsychotics have questioned whether these drugs do more harm than good, and thus the reason for further assessment of their effectiveness in clinical studies.” According to the blog, “Studies of all antipsychotics were included, except clozapine, which the researchers explain was due to it being ‘a more efficacious drug, and so pooling it with other compounds would not have been appropriate.’” For more, click here. (Note: This study is unrelated to the research described below.)

People Diagnosed with Schizophrenia Work More Effectively When Not on Anti-Psychotic Medication

A recent 20-year study of 139 individuals diagnosed with psychosis reports that, although antipsychotics were helpful during acute hospitalizations, people who had not been prescribed antipsychotics “had significantly better work functioning than those who were,” according to a Mad In America blog. In addition, “…our research has indicated a significantly higher rate of periods of recovery for [individuals] with schizophrenia who have gone off antipsychotics for prolonged intervals,” the authors write. For more about the study, which was published in Psychiatry Research, click here. (The July 2017 Key Update featured the Psychiatric Medication Discontinuation/Reduction Study, which is unrelated but relevant. For more about the study, click here.) 

New DOJ Report Notes Statistics on Mental Health Problems Reported in Prisons and Jails 2011-12

According to a June 2017 document by the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, about one in seven individuals incarcerated in state and federal prisons (14 percent) and one in four people in jails (26 percent) “reported experiences that met the threshold for serious psychological distress in the 30 days prior to a survey that was conducted between February 2011 and May 2012. Similarly,” the report continues, “37 percent of [people in prison] and 44 percent of [people in jail] had been told in the past by a mental health professional that they had a mental disorder.” For the free 16-page report, click here. For an additional DOJ report published in June 2017—Drug Use, Dependence, and Abuse Among State Prisoners and Jail Inmates, 2007-2009click here.

Face to Face Initiative Challenges Elected Officials to Meet with Those Closest to the Justice System

“Governors from across the country and on both sides of the aisle took action [recently] to help launch the Face to Face initiative, a national call to action encouraging policymakers to personally engage with the people who are closest to the correctional system,” writes the Council of State Governments Justice Center. The Face to Face initiative—#MeetFacetoFace—challenges all elected officials to participate in a public activity through which they can interact with people who are, or who have been, incarcerated; corrections officers; survivors of crime; and others who have firsthand experience with the criminal justice system. The sponsors include the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Reentry Resource Center, JustLeadershipUSA, and other criminal justice reform organizations. For more, click here.

NPR Story About Nurses’ Lack of Knowledge of Postpartum Health Risks Targets Medical (Not Emotional) Risks

A recent survey of 372 postpartum nurses around the U.S.—which has the highest maternal death rate among affluent nations—found that many of the nurses lacked knowledge about the risks that women face after childbirth, according to a recent NPR story. The study, published in MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, focused on such symptoms as “painful swelling, headaches, heavy bleeding and breathing problems that could indicate potentially life-threatening complications,” NPR reported. But NPR made no mention of the emotional risks associated with childbirth. At the same time, The Washington Post recently published an article about the spectrum of psychological distress—from depression to psychosis—that new mothers may experience, and some of the steps that have been taken to help women experiencing such symptoms. For the NPR story, click here. For the Washington Post article, click here.

Thanks, J Rock Johnson

Virtual Reality May Help People Conquer Fears and PTSD

“Exposure therapy” through “virtual reality” may help people overcome their fears, according to a recent article in The New York Times. A new firm called Limbix is offering exposure therapy through Daydream View, the Google headset that operates together with a smartphone. “It provides exposure in a way that patients feel safe,” Dr. Dawn Jewell, a Colorado psychologist, told the Times. According to the article, “the service recreates outdoor locations by tapping into another Google product, Street View, a vast online database of photos that delivers panoramic scenes of roadways and other locations around the world.” For the New YorkTimes article, 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 14, No. 2, August 2017, If you find it of interest, you can check the following link at the end of every month, where each new issue is posted: /the-key-update-latest/ 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