It’s not about mental illness: The big lie that always follows mass shootings by white males

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Blaming "mental illness" is a cop-out -- and one that lets us avoid talking about race, guns, hatred and terrorism...

Arthur Chu, salon.com, 6-18-15
I get really really tired of hearing the phrase “mental illness” thrown around as a way to avoid saying other terms like “toxic masculinity,” “white supremacy,” “misogyny” or “racism.”

We barely know anything about the suspect in the Charleston, South Carolina, atrocity. We certainly don’t have testimony from a mental health professional responsible for his care that he suffered from any specific mental illness, or that he suffered from a mental illness at all.

We do have statistics showing that the vast majority of people who commit acts of violence do not have a diagnosis of mental illness and, conversely, people who have mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.

We know that the stigma of people who suffer from mental illness as scary, dangerous potential murderers hurts people every single day — it costs people relationships and jobs, it scares people away from seeking help who need it, it brings shame and fear down on the heads of people who already have it bad enough.


New book helps children cope with worry and anxiety

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justbreatheFor any child who feels anxious or worried when facing everyday life circumstances, this charming picture book, “Just Breathe”, helps children cope with the challenges by reminding them to take a moment to breathe and find one’s own inner calm. Annette Rivlin-­Gutman’s second book provides a positive and uplifting message, giving readers the sense that though they may have challenging moments, they can find their strength and serenity within.

“It’s the first day of school and I’m anxious to go. Will I like my new teacher? Make new friends or a foe? My mom says “Just breathe” so I deeply inhale. I slowly breathe out, let my body set sail.”

Told through the eyes of a child, the book’s beautiful illustrations and verse convey its essence in a realistic yet compassionate manner. Rivlin­-Gutman hopes her writing will also serve as a resource for adults working with children.

Says Dan Peters, Ph.D. licensed psychologist, co-­founder, and executive director of Summit Center and author of “From Worrier to Warrior: A Guide to Conquering Your Fears”:

  • “Just Breathe offers a timeless strategy for getting through virtually all of life's daily challenges. I highly recommend this book for any child (and adult) who worries, is sensitive, and has an active mind. Just Breathe will not only help your child handle daily adversity but also build self­ confidence.”

About the Author:
annetteAnnette Rivlin­-Gutman is a passionate, award-­winning writer and certified yoga instructor. A mother of two children, Annette drew upon her professional and personal experiences to write both of her children’s books, “Mommy Has to Stay in Bed” and “Just Breathe”. She is also a former teacher and seasoned video producer with a strong background in educational and children’s programming, including work with PBS, Mr. Rogers, and "Sesame Street".

Mental health advocates oppose Rep. Tim Murphy's Bill for promoting forced "treatment" over more effective and less expensive voluntary care

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WASHINGTON, June 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire

On June 4, Congressman Tim Murphy introduced legislation (HR 2646) designed to dismantle the federal mental health authority – the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – which has successfully promoted recovery and community inclusion for individuals with serious behavioral health conditions for 25 years, as called for by President Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. The bill would replace SAMHSA with a new Office headed by a politically appointed government official, controlled by Congress and robbing people of their civil rights through forced treatment and increased institutionalization.

The bill, a revised version of The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 3717), which failed to pass in 2013, "is based on a false connection between mental illness and violence," said Daniel Fisher, MD, PhD, of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition of 35 statewide and national organizations representing individuals with mental illnesses. Study after study shows that no such connection exists. In fact, individuals with mental illnesses are actually 11 times more likely to be victims of violence than is the general public.

Murphy's bill contains Orwellian examples of doublespeak, such as claiming that Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is a community-based alternative to institutionalization. "In reality," said NCMHR board member Joseph Rogers, "AOT is the opposite of a community-based alternative." AOT is more accurately called Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), under which someone with a serious mental health condition is court-mandated to follow a specific treatment plan, usually requiring medication and resulting in their institutionalization if they refuse. Any effectiveness of AOT/IOC is due to an increase in costly services, not coercion.  

Like HR 3717, HR 2646 would interfere with community inclusion by:

  • eliminating all consumer-run technical assistance and statewide networking grants because they would not fit the criteria for evidence-based services despite the fact that peer support is evidence-based;
  • requiring that all grants and contracts be approved by the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health in an overreach of Congressional authority;
  • narrowly restricting the activities of peer supporters, thus making peer services strictly an extension of clinical services at lower pay;
  • greatly increasing institutionalization by undoing the IMD (Institutions for Mental Diseases) exclusion, which prohibits the use of Medicaid financing of hospitals and nursing homes larger than 16 beds; and
  • greatly reducing confidentiality under HIPAA.

"We urge everyone to educate their legislators about why they should not support HR 2646," Dr. Fisher concluded.

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) works to ensure that consumer/survivors have a major voice in the development and implementation of health care, mental health, and social policies at the state and national levels, empowering people to recover and lead a full life in the community.

Are You Running for President?

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Okay all you fence-sitters. The National Journal is going to help you make a decision about whether or not you should be the next candidate to rule the free world...

  • Answer these questions and the Journal's super-advanced algorithm will determine if you’re a candidate for 2016.

GAO report - SAMHSA must do better on grant reporting

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From the GAO Report Summary - Highlights of GAO-15-405, a report to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives

Why GAO Did This Study
In 2013, SAMHSA estimated 43.8 million—or 18.5 percent—of adults in the United States suffered from a mental illness. SAMHSA, an agency within HHS, has various programs that aim to reduce the impact of mental illness through CMHS grants awarded to grantees that include states, territories, and nonprofit organizations.

GAO was asked to provide information on CMHS’s oversight of mental health grant programs. This report identifies

  • CMHS’s criteria for awarding grants to grantees, and how CMHS documents the application of these criteria;
  • the types of information CMHS uses to oversee its grantees; and
  • the steps CMHS takes to demonstrate how its grant programs further the achievement of SAMHSA’s goals.

GAO reviewed information related to CMHS grants management; reviewed grant documentation from fiscal years 2012 and 2013 for a nongeneralizable selection of 16 grantees within 5 grant programs: the MHBG, PAIMI, and 3 selected discretionary grant programs that GAO selected based on factors such as size of award and type of grantee; and interviewed SAMHSA officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that the Administrator of SAMHSA direct CMHS to take steps, such as developing additional program-specific guidance, to ensure that it consistently and completely documents both the application of criteria when awarding grants to grantees, and its ongoing oversight of grantees once grants are awarded. HHS concurred with this recommendation.

Representative Tonko Statement on H.R. 2646

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Representative Tonko Statement on H.R. 2646

While I appreciate Chairman Murphy’s dedicated passion and continued efforts to improve care for persons struggling with mental illness, I do not support this bill as currently written.

I am supportive of many of the goals articulated by Chairman Murphy’s legislation, including increased funding for mental health research, new disclosure requirements for MHPAEA investigations, and extension of incentives for behavioral health information technology. In addition, although I am still reviewing the details, I appreciate his inclusion of a new grant program to focus on early childhood mental health intervention and treatment in schools.

However, in order to fund these new programs, the legislation would make drastic cuts to many current, effective SAMHSA programs, including over $100 million in cuts to critical substance abuse treatment and prevention programs at a time when we are facing a nationwide opioid overdose epidemic, and a 43 percent cut to the Minority Fellowship Program, which helps to increase the representation of minorities in the behavioral health workforce. I am always willing to examine ways we can find smart savings by eliminating specific outdated or ineffective programs, but I do not support the indiscriminate approach that this legislation takes.

In addition, I am perplexed by the provisions surrounding the Medicaid IMD exclusion and the Medicare mental health 190-day inpatient limit. Language in this bill implies that these policies cannot go into effect unless CMS certifies that they will not result in any net spending. Both of these policies have been evaluated numerous times by budget analysts and would clearly imply billions of dollars in increased federal spending. Because of the ‘no-increased spending’ clause, it is unclear how these policies would ever be implemented under this legislation.

I agree with Chairman Murphy that it is time to reexamine the Medicaid IMD exclusion and the Medicare 190-day inpatient limit, but changes to these policies won’t actually occur until we admit that they cost money and work to make the necessary investment. I plan to introduce legislation tackling both of these issues soon.

I continue to have concerns with of a number of privacy and civil liberties provisions in the bill. This legislation continues to coerce states into adopting more permissive forced treatment laws by linking those provisions to mental health block grant funding. In addition, the HIPAA provisions contained in H.R. 2646 still strike the wrong balance and could deter individuals from voluntarily seeking needed care. Finally, while I have announced my intention to work with Chairman Murphy on issues surrounding 42 CFR Part 2, I do not support the specific language on this provision included in his legislation because it amends the ‘non-applicability’ portion of the statute and could be misinterpreted as too broad.

I hope to continue to work with Chairman Murphy to address some of the concerns I have outlined with this current legislation so that we can pass real and meaningful reform in order to best help countless individuals and families in need.

Matsui brings rationality and common sense to the HIPAA conversation

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Big time props to Representative Doris Matsui for her level-headed approach to addressing the challenge many families face when trying to share information with providers who are treating their adult child who may be living at home. CMHNetwork Advisory Council member, Lisa Lambert, writes extensively about this issue and has pointed out that often the communication roadblock is that the provider doesn't fully understand what HIPAA regulations do and do not allow. The result of that lack of understanding on the part of the provider is often a quick turn to the default mode of "HIPAA won't allow us to do that."

We were thrilled to read Representative Matsui's bill that provides much needed clarifying language around HIPAA regulations. Most important, the bill provides $30 million over seven years to create model training programs for educating health care providers on what health information can be shared and in which scenarios. Thank you, Representative Matsui!

Both Matsui's bill and Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson’s (D-TX) Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) will be reviewed in a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health hearing on Tuesday.

Thank you Representative Matsui!

Protecting America's Children - Evidence Based Practices

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Focusing on the early intervention of behavioral and emotional problems protects children from serious consequences including isolation, substance use, suicidal thinking, dropping out of school, and homelessness. Our panelists will discuss evidenced based practices for children with serious emotional disturbances that have been proven effective in protecting children including the PAX Good Behavior Game, Parents as Teachers and the Texas Youth Suicide Prevention Project. The webinar will address an overview of each program, guidance on the effective implementation of these practices, and a discussion on the challenges of early intervention for children and youth.

  • Protecting America's Children - Evidence Based Practices
    Wednesday, June 17, 2015 3:00:00 PM EDT - 4:30:00 PM EDT
  • Register Now

'Prevention science' can improve Baltimore's future

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Op-ed by Diana H. Fishbein, The Baltimore Sun, June 11, 2015

Similar to Hurricane Katrina, when the nation's attention turned to the abject poverty in the South, the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray has unveiled the deep-seated and longstanding neglect in Baltimore. Over the past century, Baltimore has become a tinderbox, easily ignited and difficult to extinguish. The young people who looted and set fires after Gray's death were portrayed in the media as hooligans taking advantage of a chaotic situation to misbehave. But closer to the truth, the uprisings are the culmination of decades of public indifference and misguided policies.
 
Freddie Gray died needlessly, but there is a vital takeaway message — a call to action to effectively address the social ills that underlie the unrest. It is imperative that we all take ownership and have the courage to make bold, anticipatory decisions to implement new policies that reverse the damage from our neglect.
 
The task is not easy. Many Baltimore residents face formidable obstacles to breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty, academic failure, violence and drug addiction. It is difficult enough for impoverished residents to meet even the most basic needs of these children; schools try to compensate, but there is little time left for a solid education. Children raised in poverty are also exposed at alarming rates to traumatic experiences that are harmful to brain development and, in turn, diminish academic and social skills crucial for success throughout life.
 
It is unsettling that the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health reported that nearly 1 in 3 children growing up in Baltimore City experience multiple adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and at significantly higher rates compared to state and national levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documented that exposure to ACEs is associated with chronic disease, drinking and drug use, mental health problems and premature death. ACEs tend to accumulate over time, creating a snowball effect of trauma, loss and hardship. Our call to action is to intervene early to alleviate the damage.

Prevention science — one of the most well-established bodies of research on how to improve lives — can provide that guidance. The Institute of Medicine report on prevention concluded that we know enough "to begin to create a society in which young people arrive at adulthood with the skills, interests, assets and health habits needed to live healthy, happy and productive lives in caring relationships with others." As a civilized society we have no excuse to allow adverse conditions to prevail in poor communities in light of evidence that many if not most are preventable.

  • See the full article here.

Diana H. Fishbein is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, director of the Center for Translational Research on Adversity, Neurodevelopment, and Substance abuse and director of the National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives.

Depression Associated With Bipolar Disorder In Youth

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The International Bipolar Foundation is out with another great webinar. Be sure to check it out!

  • Depression Associated With Bipolar Disorder In Youth" With Dr. Melissa DelBello
    June 10th, 2015 at 9:00 am PT.
  • Treatment options for bipolar depression in youths have been primarily studied in adults. Currently only one medication is approved by the FDA for use in bipolar depression in youths. However, there is a growing number of research on treatment options in youths with bipolar disorder. Despite this, there is still a huge gap in clinical trials performed on adults and children and as this webinar will show, extrapolating results of adult studies doesn't necessarily translate to successful treatment options for youths. Furthermore, although medication is the cornerstone of treatment in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder, we'll discuss how psychosocial interventions are of paramount importance. The current webinar will review the empirical evidence available for both pharmacological and psychosocial treatment strategies for bipolar depression.
  • After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
  • Space is limited, reserve your Webinar seat now.

About the presenter:
melissaDr. Melissa DelBello is Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Dr. Stanley and Mickey Kaplan Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience and Co-Director of the Division of Bipolar Disorders Research at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Dr. DelBello received her medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and completed her postgraduate education through psychiatry residencies at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic of the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. 

Read more here

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