Exciting news from SAMHSA about a new round of system of care grants!

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SAMHSA is releasing another round of the Cooperative Agreements for Expansion and Sustainability of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances.

The purpose of this program is to improve mental health outcomes for children and youth (birth to 21 years of age) with serious emotional disturbances (SED) and their families. This program will support thewide scale operation, expansion and integration of the system of care (SOC) approach by creating sustainable infrastructure and services that are required as part of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances (also known as the Children’s Mental Health Initiative or CMHI). 

  • Anticipated number of awards from 15 - 45. 

  • Anticipated award amount up to $3,000,000. 

  • Length of award 4 years

  • More details here.

NAMI Response to GAO Report: Mental Health: HHS Leadership Needed to Coordinate Federal Efforts Related to Serious Mental Illness

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Thanks to Ron Honberg, NAMI National Director of Policy and Legal Affairs, for sharing this analysis on the recently released GAO report on mental health leadership.

[NAMI Release] The Government Accountability Office (GAO), a non-partisan agency that reviews and provides oversight over federal programs, has issued a report emphasizing lack of coordination at the leadership level in the administration of federal programs for children, youth and adults with serious mental illness. The report was conducted at the request of Representatives Tim Murphy, R-Pa., and Diane DeGette, D-Colo., the Chair and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. NAMI is grateful to Representatives Murphy and DeGette for their leadership and commitment to improving the lives of people with serious mental illness and their families.

The GAO’s report concludes that there has been poor coordination among the eight agencies and 112 federal programs that provide services to people with mental illness. The report also documents shortcomings in the evaluation of programs serving people with serious mental illness, contributing to the overall lack of information about who these programs serve or what outcomes these services achieve.

Lack of Coordination
The report decries the lack of coordination at the leadership level among different federal agencies. It notes that a Federal Executive Steering Committee for Mental Health, established in 2003 to coordinate services across federal agencies, has not met since 2009. The report further states that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is charged with promoting coordination across the federal government on mental illness and concludes that such coordination is not effectively occurring. The report does note that SAMHSA coordinates the Behavioral Health Coordinating Committee (BHCC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the BHCC has recently formed a subcommittee for serious mental illness to better coordinate efforts on serious mental illness within HHS.

The lack of coordination also applies to individual agencies responsible for administering multiple programs. For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has multiple institutes, including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that conduct research relevant to serious mental illness. According to the report, the NIH categorizes all of its mental health programs under the category “Scientific Research” yet is unable to state how much funding in total goes into research on serious mental illness. Recognizing this as a problem, NIMH is currently developing a method to categorize all research grants related to serious mental illness across all institutes.

Inadequate Evaluations
The GAO’s report also reveals that a majority of federal programs targeted for people with serious mental illness have not been evaluated for effectiveness. Only 9 of the 30 programs have completed program evaluations, 7 of them by SAMHSA. Particularly noteworthy is that none of the 8 programs administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have completed program evaluations. This is troubling because without such an evaluation, it is difficult to assess whether the services provided by these programs are effective.

Lack of coordination and lack of accountability in the provision of services to people with serious mental illness are longstanding problems. In 2009, NAMI issued a report assessing the performance of state mental health agencies in providing services to serious mental illness. In that report, we emphasized that many states were unable to provide even basic information about their mental health services. These states did not collect data on specific services provided, who the services were provided to, or what outcomes were achieved through services provided.

In recent years, SAMHSA has worked to improve data reporting by states through its Uniform Reporting System (URS). However, reporting by states is still voluntary, even though all states receive federal funds through the Mental Health Services Block Grant. And, the criteria used by states to report data are not uniform, making it very difficult to compare performance across states or to assess whether public dollars are being spent wisely and appropriately.

Exclusion of Programs administered by CMS
One limitation of the GAO’s report is that it did not examine programs administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that administers the Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs. As noted in the GAO’s report, Medicaid is the most significant source of funding for mental health services. Medicare is also an important source of funding as is CHIP for children and adolescents with serious mental health conditions.

Medicaid in particular is more than simply a source of payment for services. The structure of the Medicaid program as well as the use of Medicaid options and waivers has much to do with shaping mental health services, particularly in the community. Despite this, it is very difficult to find specific information about what mental health services are paid for through Medicaid and what results are achieved through these services because CMS does not collect this data. NAMI urges additional examination of the Medicaid program with respect to coordination and evaluation to benefit people with serious mental illnesses and their families.

NAMI’s Recommendations
At a time in which payment for health care and mental health care services are increasingly being linked to performance, services to people with serious mental illness are at risk of lagging even further behind than they are today. This is in no small part due to poor coordination and data collection on services and outcomes. Severe gaps in availability of quality mental health services and supports have devastating consequences for individuals with serious mental illness, their families, and American society. The evidence of this public health crisis can be seen in the growing ranks of youth and adults with mental illness who are dropping out of school, experiencing homelessness, incarcerated in jails and prisons, or spending hours or days in emergency rooms seeking help that is too often not available. We know that we can do better.

NAMI recommends the following steps for improving federal coordination and accountability on services for people with serious mental illness.

  1. Create a high level position within the federal government responsible for coordinating federal programs serving people with serious mental illness, developing evaluation criteria and outcome measures, and holding relevant federal agencies responsible for achieving relevant outcomes. More effective coordination between programs responsible for research, services, and financing mental health services is particularly important. Coordination must be directed at achieving outcomes.

  2. Identify as a priority for federal funding people with serious mental illness whose lives have been significantly impacted by their illness and the families of such individuals. Federal policies should prioritize both services to prevent adverse outcomes associated with serious mental illness such as homelessness and criminal justice involvement and services designed to facilitate the early identification of psychosis, recovery, education and employment.

  3. Conduct a thorough review of the Medicaid and Medicare programs to determine what resources are spent on serious mental illness and whether these programs are measuring and achieving positive outcomes for those being served. 

International Bipolar Foundation’s Call to Action for World Bipolar Day

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Organizations and individuals are encouraged to participate in a social media campaign

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — With World Bipolar Day just around the corner, the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), an organization that envisions a world free of the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder, is encouraging persons with lived experience, caregivers and the general public to participate in their “CALL TO ACTION” social media project. This project strives to educate the public about bipolar disorder and encourages an open discussion to end the stigma associated with brain illness.

World Bipolar Day, celebrated on March 30th each year, is an initiative of IBPF, the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD) and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD), with the goal to increase awareness and knowledge about bipolar disorder and improve sensitivity towards individuals suffering from the illness.

Aligned with this mission, IBPF is asking individuals to submit a photo holding a sign that reads:

  • Persons with Lived Experience: “I am (something other than your illness)” with their name (optional) and country

  • Caregivers: “I love/care for someone with bipolar disorder” with their name (optional) and country

  • General Public: “I support those who have bipolar disorder” with their name (optional) and country

“IBPF is looking forward to celebrating this year’s World Bipolar Day with individuals around the world through our ‘CALL TO ACTION’ social media project,” said Muffy Walker, co-founder of IBPF. “We can’t wait to showcase the photos and support for those affected by and with bipolar disorder to help end the stigma associated with brain illness, and we are hoping to top last year’s campaign that had over 400 submissions and 1.2 million impressions via Facebook!”

Please submit photos to hzupin@ibpf.org no later than March 15, 2015 and attach a signed photo permission slip that can be found on http://www.ibpf.org/event/world-bipolar-day-0. Photos submitted to the “CALL TO ACTION” social media campaign will be posted on Facebook, Twitter and additional IBPF social media pages on World Bipolar Day.

For more information please contact Heather Zupin at hzupin@ibpf.org or 858-764-2496.

About International Bipolar Foundation
International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded in June 2007 in San Diego, California by four parents with children affected by bipolar disorder. The mission of IBPF is to improve understanding and treatment of bipolar disorder through research; to promote care and support resources for individuals and caregivers; and to erase stigma through education. For more information about IBPF, please visit their website at www.ibpf.org.

NWI gets a spiffy new website!

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Okay, all of you wraparound aficionados, groupies and Zen masters, it's time to pay homage to the passionate crew who steer the National Wraparound Initiative. Not content to just provide relevant information for wraparound practitioners and researchers, they have gone and prettified their website into a true "before" and "after" makeover that will just plain knock you out.

Give a look and listen to Janet Walker, Co-Director of the Initiative, as she introduces the new website and how you can use it for maximum effect.   

Request for Proposals: 20th annual conference on advancing school mental health

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Proposals are now being accepted for the 20th Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health to be held November 5-7, 2015 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. The theme of the conference is Getting Jazzed about School Mental Health - Celebrating 20 Years of Advancing School Mental Health.  

The annual conference will offer attendees numerous opportunities to advance knowledge and skills related to school mental health practice, research, training, and policy. The conference emphasizes a shared school-family-community agenda to bring high quality and evidence-based mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention to students and families. The intended audience for the conference includes clinicians, educators, administrators, youth and family members, researchers, primary care providers, advocates, and other youth-serving professionals. 

The deadline for submissions is February 20, 2015 - all proposals must be submitted online: 

The conference is hosted by the Center for School Mental Health (CSMH) and the IDEA Partnership (funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), sponsored by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education).

Upcoming KSOC-TV episode focuses on behavioral health and adoption

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Approximately 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. Children and youth who are adopted experience various levels of trauma and neglect, and adoptive families are three times more likely than birth families to seek out clinical services for behavioral health.

On Thursday, February 12 at 2:00 p.m. EDT, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will explore strategies for supporting the unique behavioral health needs of adopted children and their families. The webisode coincides with the release of a new report Domestic and International Adoption: Strategies to Improve Behavioral Health Outcomes for Youth and Their Families, which summarizes the findings of an interagency meeting hosted by SAMHSA to discuss science, policy, and practice related to the behavioral health challenges of children who have been adopted. The report will be released on February 10 and can be downloaded at SAMHSA.gov/children.

State and local community leaders, health care providers, child and youth-serving agencies, and caregivers are encouraged to watch the webisode and participate in the discussion.

  • What: KSOC-TV LIVE, Interactive Webisode on “Behavioral Health Needs of Adopted Children and Youth” 
  • When: February 12, 2:00 pm EDT 
  • Where: Participate online during the live webcast - Bookmark this link http://bit.ly/1CX9LCJ 
  • Who: Panelists include: Gary Blau, Ph.D., Child, Adolescent and Family Branch, SAMHSA (moderator); Debbie Riley, LCMFT, Chief Executive Officer, Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.); Richard Barth, Dean of the School of Social Work and Professor, University of Maryland, School of Social Work; Young adult who has been adopted and experienced behavioral health challenges 

28th Annual Research & Policy conference just around the corner!

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Pre-conference intensives, a full agenda and almost full hotel!

The time is drawing near, and we are very excited not only by the quality of the presentations for our concurrent sessions, but also our amazing lineup of plenary sessions which include the following notable speakers:

Pre-conference Sessions

On Sunday, March 22nd, intensive workshops and a special session offer unique opportunities for participants to learn from colleagues who are making significant contributions to contemporary research and evaluation methods related to children's mental health. Please register early for the intensive workshops to ensure your space!

  • Intensive Workshop 1: Health beliefs, culture, and language
  • Intensive Workshop 2: Addressing behavioral health challenges in the "Next America"
  • Special Session (open to all participants): Development of an evidence-based practice for the national registry of evidence-based programs and practices (NREPP). 

Primer Hands On - Training for leaders on building effective systems of care

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The National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health at Georgetown University has a wonderful opportunity for you and other key leaders that you identify as strategic to implementing your system of care initiatives. Take advantage of this great opportunity to participate in a Primer Hands On training on June 3 and 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. This is an exciting, capacity-building technical assistance (TA) initiative that is being provided to build a network of key leaders who are trained in a detailed understanding of what it takes to build effective systems of care. Based on Building Systems of Care: A Primer, 2nd Edition, by Sheila Pires, the training covers the structure, components, and elements of effective systems of care and the strategic processes essential to engaging partners in systems building. 

  • Please see the invitation letter for more information.
  • All interested participants must complete and submit an Interest Form by February 20, 2015.

Affordable Care Act broadens insurance coverage for behavioral healthcare for young adults

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The Affordable Care Act has extended health care coverage to many young adults (ages 19 to 26) and, as a result, has expanded their access to behavioral healthcare services according to a new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The study shows that since the Affordable Care Act allowed for young people in this age bracket to be covered as dependents under their parents’ health insurance policies, coverage rates for this age group have risen from of 70.2 percent in 2010 to 76.6 percent in 2012.    

This expanded coverage has resulted in a significant rise in the percentage of young adults receiving mental health services in the past year – from 10.9 percent in 2010 to 11.9 percent in 2012. The study shows that people in this age group who were insured were nearly twice as likely to receive mental health treatment as those without health insurance (13.5 percent versus 6.7 percent).  

The report, entitled Trends in Insurance Coverage and Treatment Utilization by Young Adults, is based on data from SAMHSA’s 2005 to 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports. SAMHSA’s NSDUH report is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older. Because of its statistical power, it is a primary source of statistical information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse and mental health issues affecting the nation.

For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.

HHS congressional budget justifications available

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Many thanks to Emily Holubowich of the Coalition for Health Funding for pulling this together and putting it all in one place!

CJs Cometh...The HHS congressional budget justifications (or CJs) providing granular detail on the President's funding requests for health agency programs, projects, and activities are now available online:

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