Prescribing antipsychotics to Medicaid kids - Report shows significant quality-of-care concerns

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A disturbing report was just released by the Office of Inspector General, raising serious quality of care concerns about prescribing anti-psychotics to Medicaid-enrolled children. The report revealed that children on Medicaid in five states were being prescribed antipsychotic drugs for too long at too young an age. The report, which reviewed Medicaid claims for a sampling of hundreds of children from New York, California, Florida, Illinois and Texas from 2011, identified “quality of care concerns” in 67 percent of the claims for antipsychotic drugs prescribed to children.

Roughly 17 percent of the claims were for children too young to take the drugs and in 41 percent of claims, the drugs prescribed were the wrong treatment, the report found. Reviewers also found that in 53 percent of the claims, children's use of the drugs was poorly monitored, 34 percent of the children were taking the drugs for too long, and 37 percent of the claims showed children were mixing too many different kinds of drugs.

Forum on promoting children's cognitive, affective, and behavioral health workshop

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The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) Forum on Promoting Children’s Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Health will hold a Workshop on Opportunities to Promote Children’s Behavioral Health: Health Care Reform and Beyond. This workshop will explore how healthcare reform, broadly considered, can provide opportunities and support innovations to promote children’s behavioral health and sustain them over time. The workshop format is designed to stimulate discussion among experts, forum members and the workshop audience, and to enhance the likelihood of collaborations going forward. 

The Workshop will be held on April 1-2, 2015, in room 100 of the National Academies Keck Center (500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC). Registration is now open for those who wish to attend in person or join by webcast. We welcome your participation in the workshop and kindly request you forward this information to interested parties. 

Setting sail: Launch of the CREST.BD Bipolar Wellness Centre

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The CREST.BD network ( will launch its new online 'Bipolar Wellness Centre' on World Bipolar Day, March 30th 2015. Produced with research funding from the Canadian government, the website - and the cutting edge evidence and tools on quality of life (QoL) and self-management of BD it houses - have been in preparation for over two years. Within the Bipolar Wellness Centre are a number of unique interactive features, such as a sophisticated QoL Tool, videos showing concrete examples of BD self-management in action, 14 expert webinars on different QoL domains, a 'Living Library' and resources for healthcare providers. The QoL Tool allows people with BD to measure their QoL over time, and provides them with tailored information on self-management strategies that reflect their personal QoL profile.

In this webinar, Dr. Erin Michalak, Leader of CREST.BD, will:  

  • Describe the importance of QoL assessment and supported self-management in people with bipolar disorder
  • Introduce CREST.BD's QoL Tool, designed to support QoL assessment in people with bipolar disorder 
  • Introduce CREST.BD's Bipolar Wellness Centre, designed to support evidence-informed self-management in people with bipolar disorder 

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

Dr. Erin Michalak
erin michalakDr. Erin Michalak is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Her background is in psychology, with a PhD awarded from the University of Wales College of Medicine in the United Kingdom. Her research interests are in bipolar disorder, quality of life, knowledge translation, self-management, e-health, seasonal and nonseasonal depression, and assessment scales for mood disorders. Dr. Michalak's research has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation, amongst others. She is the founder and leader of the 'Collaborative RESearch Team for the study of psychosocial issues in Bipolar Disorder' (CREST.BD,, a CIHR-funded Canadian network designed to foster psychosocial research and knowledge translation in BD.  She has published over 80 scientific articles and several books and book chapters. She lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, where she is an avid mushroom hunter and breeder of Giant Schnauzers.

Thanks to our friends at the International Bipolar Foundation for sharing this information.

CSAP seeks National Advisory Council members

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SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) is seeking to fill member vacancies for its National Advisory Council. Of the council's 12 voting members, 9 shall be from among the leading representatives of the health disciplines relevant to the activities of CSAP. A total of three members shall be from the public, to include leaders in the fields of public policy, public relations, law, health policy economics, or management.

Interested in being appointed to the council? Submit your resume and a short biography by April 10, 2015, to Matthew J. Aumen, Designated Federal Officer, using one of the following methods:

On Losing My Darling Natalie - Doris Fuller

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fullersI lost my darling daughter Natalie to terminal mental illness last weekend.  She killed herself one month short of her 29th birthday by stepping in front of a train in Baltimore.    

Natalie and I wrote a book together when she was 16: Promise You Won’t Freak Out: A Teenager Tells Her Mother the Truth About: Boys, Booze, Body Piercing, and Other Touchy Topics (and Mom Responds). The idea of a teenager telling the truth about her secrets was such a startling concept that we were feature-page headliners in about two dozen newspapers nationwide, went on TV coast to coast including one of the morning shows, got paid to give speeches. The Oprah Show called. 

In the book, we used a device to signal whenever a wild turn was about to take place in the teen/parenting life: And then…. In the introduction, I defined an And then …. moment as “one of those critical junctures when my cheerful sense that all was right in the world collided with inescapable proof that it wasn’t.”

The book was published the week before Natalie finished high school to great reviews. Amazon named it the best parenting book of 2004. It was nominated for a national prize. It was translated into Lithuanian and Chinese. 

And then….

At 22, starting the second half of her senior year of college, Natalie had a psychotic break nobody saw coming. She went in the span of weeks from being a dazzling young adult with the world at her feet to a psych ward patient with an arrest record. 

She rebounded quickly from that first episode and moved back home for the summer. She taught me how to like grilled tofu and make egg scrambles. She made the best salads of my life. She filled my house with her original art, her friends, her irrepressible spirit. Mental illness was not a theme. She returned to college in the fall. I saw her off with an emptier stomach but oh so much optimism.

And then….

Her second break was worse, the psychosis and hospitalization longer, the recovery harder to achieve, the medications more complicated, the resulting future not as bright. She rebounded again, even if more slowly, and eventually finished her bachelor of fine arts degree. Her state hospital psychiatrist and several hospitals drove 75 miles to come to her senior art show. It was a triumph for us all.

But, like far too many individuals and families and professionals who live with or around untreated severe mental illness, the And then’s continued. Although Natalie always responded to meds, she went off them repeatedly, each time falling into a longer free fall, hitting the ground harder, recovering slower. 

youngnatalieEventually, she came to believe she was treatment-resistant. Last November, she announced that if she was going to have psychotic symptoms whether she took meds or not, why take them?  She stopped, and her mind began its final, fatal unwinding. 

Natalie believed in treatment and recovery. She talks about it in our latest video – debuting at a New York City film festival March 19, where she was traveling to answer audience questions – which we produced to educate judges. She dreamed of being a peer counselor. She wanted to help others as she had been helped – until she became convinced she was beyond help.

In the days since Natalie’s death, I have been overwhelmed by the compassion and comfort of friends and strangers alike. Emails from the police officer in San Marcos, California, the former wife of a TV celebrity, public officials I’ve never met, parents I talk to regularly and parents whose names I’ve never seen, people from every corner of the mental health world, including the ones where the Treatment Advocacy Center is not popular. Their words make me so keenly aware that the pain I am feeling is but a drop in the ocean of pain that severe mental illness can produce. 

Natalie was the bravest person I ever knew, and her suicide doesn’t change that. The work to save other lives goes on. She wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way.

Reprinted with permission from Doris Fuller, Executive Director, Treatment Advocacy Center

Youth M.O.V.E. National & Georgetown launch community of practice for young adults

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Georgetown University's National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health and Youth M.O.V.E. National are excited to announce the launch of a Community of Practice to specifically support young professionals who are utilizing their personal lived experience in social systems in the workplace. 

This growing group of young professionals can find a national network to share ideas, build resources and find support, both personally and professionally.

A bit more about the Community of Practice follows:

Calling Young Professionals - Join us in the Launch of a Community of Practice for Young Adults Utilizing Lived Experience Professionally

  • Who: Young adults with lived systems experience who are using this experience in a professional capacity (whether your job requires lived experience or not!) - Youth Peer Support Specialist, Youth Coordinators, Youth Advocates and more!
  • What Join a Community of Practice designed to support peer-to-peer professional development by sharing our experiences (both personally and professionally) to support joint problem solving and exploration of strategies via shared learning and decision-making, all while fostering relationships.
  • Why: This Community extends across systems and geography, fostering virtual connections in a self-sustaining, peer led environment. Find support personally and professionally, help gather and develop resources and share ideas and best practices.

Save the Date:

Launch Call April 9 1:00 pm EDT
Click Here to Register 

You'll be invited to join in on the Practice Groups of your choosing:
Personal & Professional Self Development
Youth Peer Support
Youth Engagement Strategies
Leadership & Skill Building

Download the flyer

Announcing the 2015 Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice Certificate Program

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The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University‘s McCourt School of Public Policy is pleased to announce that the application window for the 2015 Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice Certificate Program is now open through May 15, 2015. The Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice Certificate Program, held August 3-7, 2015, is an intensive training designed to support local jurisdictions in their efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in their juvenile justice systems. The program is operated jointly by the Georgetown Center for Juvenile Justice Reform and the Center for Children's Law and Policy.

The primary goal of the certificate program is to help jurisdictions reduce overrepresentation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system through a data driven and research based approach. Through the examination of the key decision points in the juvenile justice system, the program’s curriculum provides participants a better understanding of the disparate treatment of youth of color may be experiencing as compared to white youth within the juvenile justice system. While the program will primarily address disparities in the juvenile justice system, it will also include a focus on the relationship between disproportionality in the juvenile justice system and disparate treatment in other child serving systems, including child welfare and education.  After completing the program, participants will be responsible for the development of a capstone project -- a set of actions each participant will design and undertake within their organization or community to initiate or continue collaborative efforts related to youth in custody.  

For more information, please visit the website where you will find detailed information about the program, including how to apply, tuition, and available subsidies for those with financial need.

Early team-based treatment for people with psychotic symptoms: The RAISE-Early Treatment Program experience

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This webinar hosted by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation on April 14 from 2:00-3:00 PM ET will feature Nina Schooler, Ph.D., of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, one of the NIMH (Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode) researchers. She will discuss how early psychosis clinics are employing methodologies developed for the NIMH RAISE research studies. 

Changing the story about mental health in America

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The Campaign to Change Direction is a nationwide effort to raise awareness around mental health in America. Spearheaded by Give an Hour and co-sponsored by SAMHSA, the campaign is designed to change the story of mental health across the nation by urging all Americans to learn the five signs that someone might be in distress. 

IACP releases publication on the effects of adolescent development on policing

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The IACP has just released a new resource brief for law enforcement titled,The Effects of Adolescent Development on Policing, which was developed with support from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The brief provides an overview of adolescent brain development, impact on youth/police communications, strategies to improve law enforcement interactions with youth, and tips to foster positive youth development.

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