Tackling opioid abuse and addiction in the Medicaid program

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Opioid abuse and addiction are on the rise, seriously impacting families and communities across the country. The consequences of opioid abuse have raised the interest of state Medicaid programs in tackling this complex problem. The National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) is teaming up with the National Council for Behavioral Health to host a discussion of this problem, and the potential solutions state Medicaid programs may employ to prevent and reduce opioid abuse and overdose. 

  • Tackling Opioid Abuse and Addiction in the Medicaid Program
  • Date: Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EST
  • Presenters: Kathleen Nolan, Director of State Programs, National Association of Medicaid Directors; Joe Parks, Missouri Medicaid Director; William Halsey, Director of Integrated Care for Connecticut Medicaid 
  • Register for free at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8440168278046177793

Beyond Diagnosis: A Message of Hope" with Lizabeth Schuch

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Another great webinar from our colleagues at the International Bipolar Foundation. Reserve your seat today. These webinars fill up quickly!

Lizabeth D. Schuch, Author of More Than Bipolar: A Memoir of Acceptance and Hope will speak candidly about her journey with bipolar disorder and how she has been able to live well with an illness that can be so devastating at times. Diagnosed at age 17, Lizabeth offers 30 years' experience with this mood disorder and insight into its management. Along with a brief reading from her memoir, she will share  the wisdom attained to break the hold of the stigma, shame, and fear surrounding this illness as well as the life lessons of acceptance, understanding, and maturity necessary to not only live well with bipolar, but to also move beyond limitations when we identify ourselves as the illness. By sharing her experiences openly, she equips others who are directly affected by this misunderstood illness, as well as those who love and care about them. Her message is one of hope and that a healthy, happy, and productive life with bipolar may indeed be a part of the diagnostic picture.    

  • "Beyond Diagnosis: A Message of Hope" with Lizabeth Schuch 
  • February 11th, 2015 at 9:00 am PST.
  • Space is limited, reserve your webinar seat now

About the presenter
lizabeth schuchLizabeth D. Schuch earned a bachelor's degree in sociology with a minor in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. Formerly a pharmaceutical sales representative, she is pursuing her passion to support others with mental health and substance use issues as the Wellness and Recovery Manager for a community behavioral healthcare agency. She is on the Board of Directors of the National Capital Area Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). Her publishing credits include "bp Magazine" and guest blogs on www.bipolarhappens.com. She is a requested speaker and panelist, and her memoir received the Editor's Choice and Rising Star awards from iUniverse.  Lizabeth lives with her husband in the Washington, DC area. 

Parenting with the brain in mind: Why brain science matters to parents

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Hey Network faithful, check out this upcoming webinar from our friends at ZeroPoint Leadership. Time to "get your brain on."

Parenting with the Brain in Mind: Why Brain Science Matters to Parents
While the parent-child relationship can be an intensely rewarding experience, it can also generate high levels of stress that can lead to patterns of interactions that do not promote healthy child development. As a result, parents feel frustrated and powerless. This can compromise the parenting experience and cause ruptures in the parent-child relationship. Fortunately, innovative research in neuroscience help parents improve their understanding of healthy caregiving so that they can create a more open, healthy, and loving relationship with their children that facilitates social and emotional development. Parents who understand how their child’s brain works are better able to keep cool during challenging interactions and stay engaged with their child to help them develop higher levels of resilience. This webinar offers insights for how parents can use research in brain science to stay connected and engaged during conflict, communicate more effectively with their child, and improve the quality of day-to-day parent-child interactions.

Healthy People 2020 Progress Review: Social Determinants of Health and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health

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To be more effective, public health, health care, and prevention practitioners must understand the cultural context of their unique community and possess the skills and desire to work in those contexts. Cultural competence, the ability of an individual or organization to interact effectively with people of different cultures and backgrounds to produce positive change, is a key component to achieving the Healthy People 2020 goal of reducing health disparities and achieving health equity. This Progress Review webinar will highlight the importance of social determinants of health and cultural competence in working with LGBT and diverse populations to eliminate health disparities and achieve health equity.

This webinar will feature Senior HHS officials. Additionally, presenters from a community-based organization will share their experience in offering culturally competent care.

  • Webinar: Healthy People 2020 Progress Review: Social Determinants of Health and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health
  • Date & time: February 5, 2015 – 12:30 to 2:00 pm ET
  • Register Now 

Talk Health Insurance to Me partners with Comedy Central

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The talkhealthinsurancetome.org campaign also aired two new videos on Comedy Central’s television channel and website. These short, sharable videos take a humorous look at the cost of not having health insurance by showing how coverage can help consumers save money by paying for the costs of unexpected accidents. Overall, this cutting-edge campaign is designed to resonate with consumers in fun and innovative ways, as well as reach consumers on multiple platforms and in multiple languages.

The danger of hiding who you are

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Morgana Bailey has been hiding her true self for 16 years. In a brave talk, she utters four words that might not seem like a big deal to some, but to her have been paralyzing. Why speak up? Because she’s realized that her silence has personal, professional and societal consequences. In front of an audience of her co-workers, she reflects on what it means to fear the judgement of others, and how it makes us judge ourselves.

New Webinar Series - Suicide Prevention: An Action Plan to Save Lives

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In February 2014, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Research Prioritization Task Force (RPTF) released A Prioritized Research Agenda for Suicide Prevention: An Action Plan to Save Lives, which outlines the research areas that show the most promise in helping to reduce the rates of suicide attempts and deaths in the next 5-10 years.

The Prioritized Research Agenda is organized around six key questions, each of which will be addressed in a series of webinars sponsored by the National Council for Behavioral Health in collaboration with the Action Alliance and the National Institute of Mental Health.

  • January 29 — Why do people become suicidal?
  • February 24 — How can we better detect/predict suicide risk?
  • April 2 — What interventions prevent suicidal behavior?
  • April 29 — What are the most effective services to treat and prevent suicidal behavior?
  • May 27 — What suicide interventions outside of health care settings reduce risk?
  • June 24 — What research infrastructure do we need to reduce suicidal behavior?

Click here for more information

The Paul G. Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Prize

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Overview of Contest:
The stories of those who have attempted suicide or experienced persistent suicidal ideation have, for too long, remained untold. Due to stigma and taboo, the world has been denied important educational narratives. The purpose of the Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Prize is to encourage the publication of these stories of survival, hope, recovery, and renewal.

Guiding Rule:
All entries must be related to the 1st person experience of suicidal ideation or a suicide attempt. Entries may be co-authored. Word limit is 2,500.

Writers must hold the personal copyright of the submission. At the time of the submission, a one-time copyright transmission to the American Association of Suicidology will need to be signed.

The inaugural deadline of this annual contest will be February 28, 2015. Only the first 100 submissions will be considered.

The judges for this contest shall consist of professional writers and members of the American Association of Suicidology as determined by the Association. Entries will be blinded so that judges will not be aware of the names of the writer during the judging process.

Award Made:
The contest winners will be announced at the annual conference of the American Association of Suicidology each April.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three entries. Honorable mentions may also be awarded at the judges' discretion.

  • 1st: $1,500 + plaque
  • 2nd: $1,000 + certificate
  • 3rd: $500 + certificate
  • Honorable mentions: Certificate only

All submissions, especially winners, may be utilized by AAS in print or web-based media.

Contest Rules:

  • All entries must be related to the personal experience of suicidal thoughts, feelings or attempts.
  • All entries - prose or poetry shall be submitted as PDF or Microsoft Word files, accompanied by the entry form on the AAS website.
  • Must be written in English
  • Co-authored creations may be entered only once. The prize will be split among the co-authors and one certificate will be awarded with all co-authors' names on it.
  • Entry constitutes a waiver of copyright restrictions on reprinting or reproducing entries by the American Association of Suicidology or others in its newsletters, blog site, publications, or online courses for the purpose of circulating entries to interested parties and the world. The intention is to share these stories as widely as possible.
  • Award certificates and checks are made out to the individuals, not organizations or publishers.

Learn more here.

The PAX Good Behavior Game is changing classroom culture and fostering lasting life skills

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Michele Howard's class of 28 fourth-graders at Pinewood Intermediate School in Mohonasen has been focused and working independently at their desks for nearly 10 minutes, until someone starts talking to a neighbor. "That's a Spleem, cubby team," says Howard, making a hash mark on the white board.

A timer goes off.  "Nice job. Only one Spleem," Howard says. "All the teams win." She pulls a card out of a blue lunch sack emblazoned with "Granny's Wacky Prizes" and reads it aloud: "Lie on the floor with your arms at your sides and try not to laugh while the teacher walks around the 'graveyard' and makes funny faces." The kids scramble to the floor, suppressing giggles. Once Howard makes it all the way around the room, she blows a harmonica. Dozens of hands shoot up making peace signs and the kids fly back to their desks and settle back to work in a matter of seconds.

The class is playing the PAX Good Behavior Game, an evidence-based classroom management program that is implemented by elementary school teachers. BOCES Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator Jen Russo piloted a training in June, and Education Support Services has since brought in a national trainer to prepare teachers in Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Mohanosen, Cohoes and Schenectady to begin implementing the program in their classrooms.

The success has been remarkable. “One of my teachers, with tears in her eyes, said ‘it’s saved my teaching career,’” said Russo. “She is a seasoned teacher, but with the volume of kids teachers have now, and the level of need those kids have, she was desperate. Teachers need help managing their classroom in a positive way.”

Russo works regularly in the same classroom and has seen the progress herself. She said before starting the Good Behavior Game, she was regularly stopping more than five times during a lesson to manage focus and behavior issues. “It’s frustrating,” said Russo. “It takes all your energy. They aren’t being naughty, but they’re antsy. They’re off task. They’re up moving around. I really couldn’t believe the changes I was observing. Now we can get through a lesson with no disruptions. The good behavior game harnesses classroom management strategies we’ve known all along, but it’s working better than anything we’ve seen.”

So what’s different? What makes the Good Behavior Game so effective?

"In some ways, the kids create it themselves," says Russo, "and it takes the onus off the individual, off the 'naughty kid.' It creates a classroom culture that fosters focus and good behavior, gives space for silliness and teaches self-control." 

In the Good Behavior Game, teachers and students work together to define classroom rules. The children create a word map of things they think they should see, hear, do and feel more or less of in their ideal classroom. Behaviors the class would benefit from, like offering compliments or following directions, are called PAX. Things that should happen less, like interrupting or name-calling, are called Spleems.

Throughout the day, teachers notice and identify PAX and Spleems often and accurately. The good behavior game is played a few times each day during regular lessons. Kids are divided into rotating PAX teams, and cooperatively work toward the goal of having fewer than three Spleems during the game period. At first the game may last just a few minutes. As the year progresses, the game is played for increasing lengths of time, gradually requiring teams to demonstrate fewer than three “Spleems” over a span of 30 or 40 minutes instead of three or four.

goodbehavior2During the game, individuals are not cited or punished for infractions. The whole team receives a Spleem for an unwanted behavior during the game period. The students work together to encourage PAX and limit Spleems.

Any team that has three or fewer Spleems at the end of a game earns a “Granny’s Wacky Prize.” These prizes are never material; they are simply fun, intrinsic rewards. Teams may win the chance to walk to the cafeteria backward or have a 10-second giggle fest or a 30-second dance party.

Before playing the game, Howard quickly reviewed expectations with her students and together they listed PAX behaviors and Spleems: Focus on your work. No wandering. No talking. No inappropriate noises. Do your work quietly at your desk. Look at the instructions on the board or raise your hand if you have a question. They were reminded that if all the teams win, Howard will add a letter to the word "recess" on the board. Each letter earns them three minutes of recess at the end of the day.

"They are more focused," Howard said, "less impulsive. They want to play. They're eager to play and to win the prizes. We've worked up to 20-minute games three times a day, and we're going to keep stretching that." Howard said the impact of the program extends beyond game time. At one point after the game was over, things got a little loud in the classroom and two hands shot up peace signs, the symbol for "PAX quiet." 

goodbehavior3"The kids are learning to self-regulate, and there is a sense of positive peer pressure that encourages PAX behavior."

Down the hall in Kerry Vumbaco's special education classroom, the kids were equally eager to play the PAX game. Vumbaco announced their English language arts sequencing lesson would be a PAX game, and one boy gasped, "sounds good!"

Vumbaco has been using the Good Behavior Game with her class since the beginning of the year. The kids start their day by writing "Tootles," or compliments to their classmates recognizing PAX behavior. Posters hanging from the ceiling list the class-identified PAX and Spleems.

"It really is wonderful," said Vumbaco. "It's very easy, and it works for all levels of students. I have one student who has very high needs. He is non-verbal, and was always tapping on desks, touching people's things. Now if I say 'PAX hands,' he stops immediately."

Asked to demonstrate, the student stands up from his desk and clasps his hands behind his back with a beaming smile.

goodbehavior4The Good Behavior game was created by Kansas fourth-grade teacher Murial Saunders in 1967 and further developed with graduate student Harriet Barrish and co-founder of applied-behavior analysis, Professor Montrose Wolfe.

Today the game kits, training and support – which include a Facebook page and website of resources and ideas from a community of participating teachers – are produced by the PAXIS Institute. Founded by Denis Embry, a graduate student with the game’s original authors, the PAXIS Institute encourages collaboration between social science research and prevention practice.

Since 1999, the revamped PAX Good Behavior Game has been implemented in classrooms in 32 states, four Canadian provinces and, more recently, Ireland and England.

“I look forward to seeing what our own data shows after the pilot year,” says Russo, “but anecdotally it has been extremely well-received by teachers and the research on the game’s impact is stunning. We’ve had a lot of curricula that focus on long-term life skills, but this is something that has an immediate impact in the classroom and a long-term impact that endures well beyond the game’s target age range.”

Decades of longitudinal research and a study by Johns Hopkins University demonstrated that exposure to a single year of the Good Behavior Game in grade 1 correlated to increased graduation and college attendance rates and decreased instances of drug and alcohol abuse, violent and criminal behavior, jail time, suicide and antisocial personality disorders.

More immediately, teachers who have fully implemented the good behavior game have seen 60 to 90 more minutes of instructional time – time that was previously spent managing behavior — a 30 to 60 percent reduction in behavior referrals, and a 20 to 30 percent reduction in special education referrals. “This research has been vetted and well-reviewed by the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices,” said Education Support Services Deputy Director Laura Combs.

The registry is maintained by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and provides a searchable database that both categorizes information about substance abuse and mental health prevention programs and reviews and rates the methods and outcomes of scientific studies examining the efficacy of prevention programs.

“In some cases grant-funded programs require that prevention strategies be on the National Registry,” said Combs. “With the registry, you have a wealth of independent research giving evidence of the program’s benefits, and a review of the validity of that evidence.”

While quantifying the benefits of any prevention program is an abstract process, the PAX Good Behavior Game is currently identified as the single most cost-effective prevention strategy by multiple independent sources, including the Washington State Institute for Public Policy and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Classroom kits cost $300, and the value of the equivalent of 14 to 26 days of instructional time regained over a school year alone was estimated at up to $30,000.

“We started this program in June, and we just keep getting more and more requests for it as teachers see it in action,” said Russo. “In Mohonasen, our goal was four classrooms to start, but we’re up to 12 now, and hopeful it will take off in all of them.”

The program is catching on as the teachers themselves spread the word about their successes. In the hall, Mrs. O'Brien-Neal shared that her class played a PAX game while trying to "beat the timer" and pack up their things as quickly as possible at the end of the day, which has been a particularly chaotic and stressful time in her class.

"It often takes them 15 minutes to pack up," said O'Brien-Neal. "They focused and did it in under two minutes. It was amazing."

According to Russo, the Good Behavior Game can be introduced at any point during the year, and teachers can elect to use as little or as much of the program as they choose.

“It pairs phenomenally with building-wide programs like Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) or Second Step,” said Combs. “Once building is up and running with it, it is going to make a difference. It’s going to change the climate and culture.”

Outreach and Enrollment Strategies in Latino Communities

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Don't miss this important webinar on outreach and enrollment strategies in Latino communities.

  • January 29, 2015, 2:00-3:30 pm ET 
  • A vast majority of uninsured Latino children, an estimated 1.7 million, are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, but not enrolled. Closing the coverage gap for these children requires unique, culturally-competent outreach strategies to connect eligible families with health coverage. This Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign webinar will feature experts discussing the challenges and opportunities to conduct outreach and enrollment in the Latino community. 
  • Register here!
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