Public comments on Medicaid Managed Care due Monday; National Council releases template

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Sharing a time-sensitive announcement from our colleagues at the National Council ~

The public comment period for a new proposed rule on Medicaid managed care closes Monday, July 27. The National Council today released a template comment letter for member organizations and other stakeholders to draw from in submitting their own comments.

The proposed rule makes extensive updates to managed care plans operating under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This is the first major update to applicable regulations since 2003.

The National Council’s comments touch on key elements of the rule that will affect mental health and addiction treatment providers, including:

  • Clarifying the proposed exception to the IMD exclusion;
  • Bolstering network adequacy requirements for mental health and addiction providers;
  • Strengthening formulary requirements to protect patients’ access to medications;
  • Clarifying plans’ ability to provide health IT incentive payments to behavioral health providers;
  • And more.

For more information and to download the template comments, continue reading on Capitol Connector.

The man I used to be

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Here is one of my favorite songs from the musical, We Have Apples -

The Man I Used to Be
When Jane asks Bill, a former music professor with schizophrenia, why he thinks he has mental illness, this is his answer.

Triple P comes to North Carolina

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triplepProps to mental health leaders in North Carolina for creating an online portal for the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) that offers simple strategies on 17 core parenting skills to encourage positive behavior, and to help parents prevent and positively manage behavior challenges.  The online positive parenting program is suitable for parents of children up to 12 years of age.

  • Description of the Online Positive Parenting Program (Triple P Online - TPOL)
    “Triple P Online (TPOL) will introduce you to Triple P’s 17 core parenting skills – simple strategies to encourage positive behavior, and to prevent and manage misbehavior. TPOL is suitable for parents of children up to 12 years of age.”
  • NC Triple P Online Program is now available to North Carolina parents and caregivers in all 100 counties.
    Parents in 33 NC Counties have access to a Triple P Coordinator and community Triple P providers. Triple P provides universal messaging and ways to encourage positive child behavior for all parents, teens and adults who interact with or care for children from birth to 17 years of age. Additional community programs are available through presentations, parenting groups, and for individual families with children who may benefit from more intensive supports.
  • Learn more about the North Carolina online portal to Triple P here.  

For more information on how North Carolina is infusing Triple P into practice across the state, please contact Marshall Tyson, Manager Health & Wellness Children & Youth Branch, Division of Public Health 919-707-5640 or

Musical explores mental illness from inside the psych ward

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Hey Network faithful, show some love for Rachel Griffin and her amazing musical, "We Have Apples", that explores mental illness through "Jane", during her time on a psych ward.

  • Jane’s journey begins behind the psych ward doors researching her fellow patients and developing an unexpected connection with her psychiatrist, Dr. Williams. Using bits and pieces of wisdom from her interviews with four patients and her therapy sessions, Jane attempts to formulate a “map” to navigate the vast emotional landscape within her. Continually getting Jane off course is her depression, which is personified by female actor. “Depression” relentlessly attacks and mocks Jane to the point of utter exhaustion.

    Jane’s view of the patients as valuable and gifted teachers transforms them as well. As Jane and her crew question the behavior of certain staff members and notice weaknesses in the program, the line between the sane and the insane in the ward starts to become extremely blurry.

    During a break from the often cheesy and sometimes strange group activity sessions, Jane meets Dr. Williams’ son outside the hospital who is waiting for a ride from his father. Immediately taken with Jane and flustered by her confidence and beauty, Orion pretends to be an outpatient suffering from symptoms that sound strikingly similar to a Prozac commercial.

    Jane and Orion’s relationship becomes serious fast, but their deep bond is put to the test when the truth about Orion comes to light and tragedy strikes their community.

Watch the video and enjoy!

8 Tips for Parents of Children with Asperger’s Syndrome

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Feature website of the week - Durham Region Autism Services

8 Tips for Parents of Children with Asperger’s Syndrome
People with Asperger’s Syndrome have difficulty with the social aspects of life and often have inappropriate responses to social situations. One of the major problems for children with Asperger’s Syndrome is understanding social cues in a given situation. Parents often struggle trying to find the best ways to help their Asperger’s child; it takes time, patience, practice and compassion.

While many parents notice something unusual in their child quite early, most try to explain “unorthodox” behavior of their child by all possible reasons except for the most likely one. When the fact that something is wrong becomes obvious, parents bring their child for psychological assessment. Accepting the diagnosis is a very difficult step. Denial that your child has Asperger’s will not help, the sooner you  accept the reality, the better for  you or your child.

The following tips can be useful for parents of Asperger’s children:

  1. Do not coddle or shelter your child from any situation that might set him/her off. Exposing your child to social situations will allow opportunities for both of you to work through them. With your guidance and over time, your child will be able to learn what the appropriate behaviors are in various situations. In addition, learn what your child’s triggers are to better prepare yourself to diffuse or alter a possible meltdown or display of undesired behavior(s).

  2. Be clear in your explanations of expected and/or desired behaviors when the situations arise. Do not expect that your child should know how to behave in different social situations and settings. Walk them through (thoroughly, but with the use of age-appropriate language) appropriate behaviors as well as emotional responses in accordance with the given social situations. You will have to repeat your explanations, but with time, your child should have a better understanding of the social skills necessary to achieve positive social interactions in diverse situations.

  3. Embrace your child’s passion, creativity, humor and energy when he/she exhibits it. With so much attention on changing your child’s behavior, you have to remember to celebrate the amazing traits of his/her personality. Children will notice the negative attention they are receiving as well as how much work they need to do to be able to enjoy a social life. Use every opportunity to admire your child for the qualities that make them special, talented and loveable. You may forget how important positive reinforcement is when you’re preoccupied with anxiety over the next Asperger’s instance.

  4. Your goal should always be to diffuse the situation. Going head to head with your child will never yield constructive results. If your child has an outburst in any social setting, do not yell at them because that will only make it worse. For example, if you are in a restaurant and the waitress gives your child the wrong meal, don’t yell at your child to stop screaming, crying, banging on the table or for whatever reaction he/she has in response. Ask your child to come with you and take a walk. After you’ve been successful in helping your child regain composure, have a discussion to convey to one another your child’s thoughts and emotions throughout that particular experience. Use this teachable moment to work through your child’s emotions together while coming up with different ways that they can handle a similar situation (or even the same one) in the future.

  5. Since you can’t be with your child all the time, give him/her helpful hints (even if you have to repeat them) by voicing them or leaving little notes in his/her lunchbox, pockets or notebook. For example, when your child goes to lunch and goes to pay the individual at the register, wrap a note around the money to remind him/her to say “thank you”. The types of notes you leave will obviously vary, but the idea is to help remind your child what to do when he/she struggles in a certain social situation.

  6. Provide your child with positive feedback whenever possible. If you see that your child has displayed a desirable behavior whether on his/her own or as an effort to improve on a social skill, praise your child. For example, your child gives his/her last cookie to his/her sibling; make sure you compliment your child with something along the lines of “It was so nice of you to give your last cookie to your sister. I know you really wanted it, but look how happy you made her by giving it to her”. Behaviors that are rewarding for a child will increase the likelihood that those same behaviors will be repeated in the future.

  7. Create a “safe word” or special phrase between you and your child to use to communicate that he/she is having trouble with or is confused by a situation. This “safe word” or special phrase will allow only the parent and child to know what’s going on, which protects a child’s feelings and avoids any possible humiliation that may occur. In addition, it will enable the parent and child to work together to successfully deal with the social situation/setting in the moment.

  8. Try to work with your child to improve both verbal and nonverbal communication. For example, while speaking with your child, continuously remind them to maintain eye contact. Explain to your child that maintaining eye contact will not only show that he/she is interested in the social interaction with the other person, but help them to detect facial expressions and possible hints about how that person feels in the moment. Since children with Asperger’s have an incredibly difficult time picking up social cues, this will take a lot of time and the ability to do this will vary between children. However, do not give up on this tip, no matter how challenging it may be.

Always remember that children don’t wish this upon themselves; Asperger’s is not their fault. As stressful, frustrating and draining as times can be, you have to remain calm without ever blaming your child. With guidance, patience, compassion and love, parents and their children can successfully live with Asperger’s… together.


Durham Region Autism Services is a non-profit organization dedicated to community education on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and supporting individuals and families affected by ASD in Durham Region, Ontario. They organize school and community events, provide training for educational staff, and setup special programs and support groups for children and youth with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Our goal is to ensure that people with autism have the opportunity to reach their full potential and live with dignity. Durham Region Autism Services is run by volunteers only.

Important House hearing on preventing violence this Wednesday

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Preventing Violence: Evidence-Based Programs and Policies to Promote Positive Youth Development
July 22, 2015
1-3:30pm, Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2237

 Though always present, the topic of violence has been particularly salient of late given several uprisings in major cities that are indicative of serious underlying problems.  What it not as often discussed are evidence-based practices and policies to prevent these problems (see op-ed and op-ed). The National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives (NPSC; see first attachment) will host a briefing with nationally recognized experts on violence prevention and positive youth development. The meeting will focus on individual-level and environmental factors that influence development and increase propensity for youth violence.  Strategies will then be discussed for short-term and longer range reduction in violence.  These strategies can save taxpayer dollars while strengthening individuals, families, and communities. There will be discussion about Youth PROMISE Act (YPA) legislation for helping youth to develop into healthy and successful adults. Co-Sponsor Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott will present on this bipartisan prevention-related legislation.

We have conducted five previous prevention-related briefings (Interventions across Policy AreasScaling-up ImplementationJuvenile Justice Reform; Science to Policy; and Economics of Prevention). This session should be of value to legislators, staffers, administrators, researchers, evaluators, educators, practitioners, advocates, and funders. 


Brief Opening Remarks: Representative Tony Cardenas  (CA-29): Co-Chair of the Crime Prevention and Youth Development Caucus

Welcome by Moderator: Dr. Diana Fishbein, C. Eugene Bennett Chair of Prevention Research at The Penn State University and Director of NPSC.

Framing the Briefing: Dr. Rebecca Vivrette (University of Maryland School of Medicine)

Panel One: Violence: Its origins, prevalence, and effects
Dr. Kristin Anderson Moore
(Senior Scholar, Child Trends): Preventing Violence:  Understanding and Addressing the Determinants of Violence in the United States.

Dr. Peter Scharf (Professor LSU School of Public Health and the Institute for Public Health and Justice): The Social Ecology of Youth Violence: Implications for evidence-based community crime prevention. 

Panel Two: Violence: Prevention via evidence-based programs
Dr. Michael Greene
 (Senior Fellow, Rutgers School of Criminal Justice): Evidence-Based prevention strategies, positive youth development and community youth organizing.

Dr. Thomas Simon  (Deputy Associate Director for Science, Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC): Longer-term solutions & prevention: A public health approach. 

Youth PROMISE Act: Legislation to prevent violence and promote productive youth development: Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott  (VA-03) Co-Sponsor

For more information, contact Dr. Neil Wollman, Co-Director of NPSC and Senior Fellow, Bentley 260-568-0116 

Building an evidence base for effective psychiatric inpatient care and alternative services for suicide prevention

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NIMH, NIDA, SAMHSA, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are seeking information on approaches to better understand: 1) what components of inpatient care are safe and effective in reducing suicide risk for various populations; 2) what are effective alternatives to inpatient care (e.g., telephone counseling, home visits, intensive day/residential treatment, types of respite care) and how they can be broadly implemented; and 3) what type of research designs could compare inpatient interventions with alternative approaches in a safe, acceptable, and fair manner. While a number of interventions for suicide attempters have been effective and even replicated, the effectiveness of inpatient care interventions or alternative approaches in reducing later morbidity (e.g., suicide attempts) and mortality (e.g., suicide deaths) remains a question for many U.S. healthcare systems. Testing the effectiveness of inpatient or alternative approaches is critical for suicidal patients as few empirically-based practices exist for acute care interventions and their follow-up care.

This RFI is intended to seek information about current practices and solicit perspectives on the need for empirical research from stakeholders who are associated with relevant systems of care (e.g., state commissioners, healthcare administrators, insurers, providers, patients, suicide attempt survivors, and family members), and who play a role in the provision of interventions for individuals at acute risk for suicide, as well as researchers focused on such interventions and services research.

Coping with stigma & discrimination: How I became a stronger mental health advocate

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The International Bipolar Foundation is out with another great webinar. Be sure to put it on your calendar!

Emily Wu Truong will share her personal experiences facing stigma & discrimination after coming out with her story of mental health issues. Most recently, in recognition of March as Women's History Month, Emily was selected for the 2015 Woman of the Year Award for Senator Ed Hernandez's 22nd Senate District. Emily has become a role model, demonstrating self-initiative and an indomitable will, delivering her message that with help, there is hope.

About the Speaker
emilyEmily Wu Truong is an emerging leader for mental health awareness, known as the "Lady in Green." She is a Motivational Speaker & Mental Health Advocate, holding a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology & Social Behavior from UC Irvine. As an outspoken advocate, Emily was elected as Chair of the Asian Coalition and serves on the Client & Family Leadership Committee for the Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) in Sacramento. As a motivational speaker, Emily has been invited to speak at USC, UCLA, UC Irvine, & Raytheon. She is best known for her speeches "Believing in Me: My Journey to Finding My Self-Worth" and "Breaking Down the Walls of Perfectionism." 

Mental Health: Yours, Mine and Ours

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Check out this new video from the Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) at the University of Minnesota. In a clear and concise way, Cari Michaels, MPH, helps us understand the importance of addressing the challenge of improving children's mental health through a public health framework.

  • "The term 'mental health' is often misunderstood in our society. Many people think it means the same as 'mental illness,' or they think it’s the exact opposite of mental illness. But the meaning of 'mental health' is more complex than these popular views indicate."

If you are meeting with your congressional representatives any time soon to discuss mental health reform, share this video in advance of your meeting and encourage them to watch it.

Imagine - looking at mental health through a public health lens. Who woulda thunk it?

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