Bust the stigma - Say it forward!

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sayitforwardWhen it comes to mental health conditions, silence is not golden. Silence breeds stigma, and stigma prevents people from seeking life-saving treatment and support. 

Network faithful are encouraged to join participate in the International Bipolar Foundation social media campaign the week of Oct. 6-12 to fight the stigma of mental illness and encourage those who need it, to seek treatment. 

  • Help us “bust the stigma” by “saying it forward.” 

Starting Oct. 6, visit SayItForwardCampaign.org to share the facts and shatter the myths of mental illness through email, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You can also share your stories and stigma-busting triumphs by using the hashtags #BustTheStigma and #SayItForward. Last year we reached more than a million people, and with your support, the International Bipolar Foundation hopes to surpass that milestone this year.

When we separate myth from fact, stigma loses its power and seeking treatment is less scary for those who need help. Help fight stigma!

  • Twitter – Direct Message starting Oct. 6 
    When it comes to mental health, silence is not golden. Retweet our messages and spread the truth about mental illness. #BustTheStigma #SayItForward 
  • Facebook – Direct Message  
    Help us #BustTheStigma. This week is the annual social media campaign, Say It Forward, which helps fight the stigma of mental illness and encourage those who need it to seek treatment. 

Please show your support by visiting  www.SayItForwardCampaign.org and participating in saying it forward! 

Federation creating Family Movement Pioneers & Heroes Hall of Fame

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The National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health is calling for nominations for "Pioneers and Heroes" of the family movement over the past 25 years to coincide with their 25th anniversary conference. Read the message below from Sandra Spencer, Executive Director and send in your nominations!

  • As all of you know, this year marks the 25th Anniversary of the National Federation and what has come to be known as the Family Movement.  There have been countless pioneers and heroes over the last 25-30 years who helped start this movement- the pioneers, and those who have done great things to keep the movement going- the heroes. You are getting this email because you are one of those pioneers.  Let me apologize now for the long email, but please read and help me with this.

    We want to capture the history of the family movement and pay tribute to all who have worked to make it happen and to keep it growing.  We will be creating a Family Movement Pioneers and Heroes Hall of Fame. If you know a person who is either a pioneer or hero of the family movement, please let me know about them. Of course, start with yourself! 

    During the National Federation’s 25th Annual Anniversary Conference, we will honor several pioneers and heroes.  So here is what I need form you please: 

  • Send in the names of people you know who are heroes and pioneers of the family movement along with 3 bullet points about them. 

  • Send pictures, images of documents, book covers or any other visual aids that represent that person.  We will also look through our pictures here as well.

  • Send a copy of any other items you have that reflect the Federation’s history and that of these pioneers.

  • Several of the names we receive will be showcased during the anniversary celebration at the Saturday luncheon during the November conference .  We anticipate getting far too many responses to showcase everyone at once, so we will keep this going until the end of the year and have a wonderful visual showcase on our website that will honor these pioneers and heroes.

    Please have all pioneer and heroes to us no later than October 17th if you want them considered as a part of the live anniversary celebration.  All entries received after October 17th will be showcased on our web site in the Family Movement Pioneers and Heroes Hall of Fame showcase. I hope this will be a fun activity for you and that you are willing to help out.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

  • Click here to send in your nominations.

SAMHSA releases 2015–2018 Strategic Plan

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SAMHSA has released its new strategic plan, Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation 2015–2018. The strategic plan outlines how SAMHSA will continue to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, expand prevention efforts, promote emotional health and wellness, increase access to effective treatment, and support recovery.

SAMHSA's Leading Change 2.0 outlines six Strategic Initiatives for meeting SAMHSA's mission, new and existing goals, and vision. These Strategic Initiatives include:

  • Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness
  • Health Care and Health Systems Integration
  • Trauma and Justice
  • Recovery Support
  • Health Information Technology
  • Workforce Development.

Leading Change 2.0 will also guide SAMHSA in:

  • Setting budget and policy priorities
  • Managing key investments such as grants, contracts, technical assistance, and expertise
  • Engaging public and private partners at every level
  • Tracking and disseminating progress.

This strategic plan was developed by SAMHSA's Executive Leadership Team and staff, in partnership with a diverse group of stakeholders, and with input from the public. The process was shaped from lessons learned from the original strategic plan, Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA's Roles and Actions 2011–2014, and the evolving needs of the behavioral health field.

The National REACH Coalition launches the Health Equity Leadership & Exchange Network

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At the 2014 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Spring Health Braintrust, the National REACH Coalition (NRC) in collaboration with Morehouse School of Medicine and the National Collaborative for Health Equity announced the launch of the Health Equity Leadership & Exchange Network (HELEN) – A Campaign to Advance Health Equity.

The HELEN initiative, funded by a grant from the Aetna Foundation, establishes a forum to bolster leadership development and the exchange of ideas and information among communities of color to advance racial and ethnic health equity in laws, policies, and programs. The HELEN project is the first component of a larger comprehensive engagement and leadership development program being established by the NRC to achieve health equity and strengthen the evidence base for informing health laws, policies, and programs that affect the lives of racial and ethnic minority communities. “The HELEN Project provides another level of skill building focused on policy analysis to assist communities in determining and implementing, health equity policies that are useful, relevant, and effective,” said Cathy Morales, NRC Program Director and HELEN Project Administrative Lead.

Through this collaboration, the NRC, Morehouse School of Medicine, and the National Collaborative for Health Equity will combine their expertise in community-led initiatives to develop and implement policies and programs that promote racial and ethnic health equity. “The HELEN project will include members of various organizations, coalitions and associations committed to the elimination of health disparities and serve as a national forum for health equity champions to share information about timely, relevant and pressing policy issues impacting health equity,” said Daniel E. Dawes, J.D., Executive Director for Government Relations, Health Policy and External Affairs at Morehouse School of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the HELEN Project. “As the United States moves towards increased access to health care through the Affordable Care Act, the HELEN project provides a unique and timely opportunity to identify, develop and implement policies and laws that further advance health equity for vulnerable populations,” said Brian Smedley, PhD., Co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity and Co-principal investigator. HELEN Project participants will have access to in-depth, real-time analysis, fact sheets, briefs, and information on health equity laws, policies, and programs at the federal and state levels. Thus, health champions will gain a greater understanding of the economic and legal impact of existing and proposed policies, as well as the ability to better define the challenges in advancing health equity.

Advocates dialogue on Assisted Outpatient Treatment – Defining the "T" in AOT

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During this past year two proposed bills (HR 3717 and HR 4574) have been introduced to committee and have received much coverage in the press and among mental health advocacy groups. While we applaud the focus on mental health services, the Children's Mental Health Network is concerned that advocacy groups and the public at large have become entrenched in their public positions on a key issue in HR 3717 – the use of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). This entrenchment has led to a lack of constructive dialogue and understanding of the intricacies of the AOT process and the spotlight it shines on what is needed to improve mental health services and supports for young adults and their families. It is imperative that advocacy groups, families and providers come together to address their differences on AOT and provide useful compromise solutions to help lawmakers craft meaningful legislation. 

Our upcoming dialogue is focused on clarifying the "T" in AOT. As the dialogue series evolves we will find ourselves getting much deeper into the complexities involved with the actual provision of service, which is important for congressional staff to understand if they are to write legislation that effectively highlights what is needed to help families and their young adult children in crisis. As always, our overriding goal is to open lines of communication among advocates and providers with divergent views, and to model for legislative staff that constructive dialogue can occur. 

If you are in Washington, DC on Monday, September 29th, you are invited to join the Children's Mental Health Network for the second in a series of ongoing dialogues, with a focus during this dialogue on the specific processes involved in decision-making and treatment options available as part of the AOT process.

    Monday, September 29th, 9:00 am - 11:00 am 
    Cannon House Office Building – Room 441 

The Advocates Dialogue on Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is being conducted to achieve two primary objectives: 

  • For advocates, families and providers 
    Bring together advocates on both sides of the AOT discussion to listen to differing perspectives and share ideas for how to move the national conversation about AOT forward. Key to this effort is a focus on strategies that facilitate collaboration, civility, and improvement of services and supports for individuals with mental health challenges, their families and the communities in which they live. 
  • For congressional representatives and staff 
    Provide an opportunity for congressional representatives and staff to observe the dialogue and gain deeper insight into the perspectives and the different advocacy positions. Since legislative staff are critical to the writing of language in any proposed bill that addresses this topic, it will be beneficial for them to have a broader understanding of perspective and utilize that broadened perspective in working on compromise language. 

    We will capture key points and suggestions for moving the dialogue forward in the discussion and will prepare a written report for dissemination to members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for their consideration as they work toward compromise language to pass meaningful mental health legislation.

Note: For background context on the creation of the Advocates Dialogue on Assisted Outpatient Treatment, please click here

Overall purpose of the dialogue 
The goal for this meeting is not to pit "for" and "against" head to head. Quite the opposite. The purpose of the discussion is to provide an opportunity for the sharing of personal experience around the challenge of addressing this issue and the emotion it brings – precisely why this discussion will not focus on research, data or other props to support a position one way or the other. Everyone in the discussion is quite astute and could argue a position either for or against with plenty of supported data to back them up. 

How is the dialogue be structured? 

  • Scott Bryant-Comstock will facilitate the discussion. Discussants will be seated in a circle in the center of the room. Congressional members, staff and interested citizens will be invited to observe the discussion. 
  • No charts, graphs, research studies, or speeches allowed! There have been presentations of research on both sides of the issue in many different forums. And it seems to us that neither side is listening to the other, so we are gonna leave the PowerPoints behind!
  • At the end of the dialogue, observers are welcome to interact with discussants in an informal "after the meeting" environment. 
  • The goal of the discussion is not to “solve” anything – just to broaden understanding of the unique perspective each brings to the topic. Quite bluntly, our goal in this meeting is not to convince members in Congress of what the “right decision” is, but more to encourage continued and more frequent dialogue between proponents of both bills. Knowledge is power. Ignorance is bliss, which is always short lived. 
Participants in the dialogue include: 

baronStephen Baron, Director, Department of Behavioral Health, District of Columbia, Washington, DC – Steve Baron leads the development and management of the District’s mental and substance use disorder treatment services and supports. The Department of Behavioral Health provides emergency psychiatric care and ongoing community-based services and support to about 30,000 residents, including a network of private mental health rehabilitation services and substance abuse treatment providers, unique government delivered services, and Saint Elizabeths Hospital—the District’s inpatient psychiatric facility. Before joining District government, Mr. Baron was president of Baltimore Mental Health Systems, Inc. for 17 years where he developed a range of innovative community-based programs for adults, increased affordable housing for people with mental illness, and expanded school-based and early childhood mental health services.


Scott Bryant-Comstock, President & CEO, Children's Mental Health Network – Scott has worked in the mental health field for over 30 years in a variety of roles, including therapist, trainer, mental health board chair, state level mental health official and national consultant, trainer and facilitator. Over the course of his career, Scott has incorporated learnings from policy-makers, families, providers and community leaders throughout the United States into a focused approach to improving services and supports for youth with emotional challenges and their families. Scott is the founder, President & CEO of the Children’s Mental Health Network.

enbryDennis Embry, President/Senior Scientist at PAXIS Institute – Dennis D. Embry is a prominent prevention scientist in the United States and Canada, trained as clinician and developmental and child psychologist. He is president/senior scientist at PAXIS Institute in Tucson and co-investigator at Johns Hopkins University and the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy. His work and that of colleagues is cited in 2009 the Institute of Medicine Report on The Prevention of Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People. Clinically his work has focused on children and adults with serious mental illnesses. He was responsible for drafting of the letter signed by  23 scientists, who collectively represent scores of randomized prevention trials of mental illnesses published in leading scientific journals. In March 2014, his work and the work of several signatories was featured in a Prime-TV special on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation on the prevention of mental illnesses among children—which have become epidemic in North America.

jammieJammie Farish, Youth M.O.V.E. (Motivating Others through Voices of Experience) Oregon – Jammie Farish is the Training and Development Director for Youth M.O.V.E. Oregon. In 2009, Jammie worked with Martin Rafferty and Lisa Moody to found Youth M.O.V.E. Oregon and establish it as an independent, youth-driven organization that has had a sizeable impact at both the local and state levels. Motivated by her journey in the mental health system with her son, Jammie left the world of Special Education with the school district to pursue work in the field of peer services and advocacy. This experience led to her professional pursuits as a Family and Youth Advocate dedicated to system of care reform, community-based wraparound services, and peer delivered services, advocacy, and more. For her work, she has been awarded Oregon Mental Health Award of Excellence and the Children’s Mental Health Advocate of the Year (Oregon Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry). 

leahLeah Harris, Director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery – Leah Harris is a mother, storyteller, survivor, advocate and the Director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery. She has written widely to promote human rights, dignity, healing, and self-determination, and has spoken at advocacy/activist gatherings and conferences including NARPA, Alternatives, and the National Conference on Organized Resistance (NCOR). Her writing has appeared in publications including Off Our Backs: a Women’s Newsjournal, Adbusters.org, CounterPunch, Street Spirit and theicarusproject.net. Her spoken word album, “Take Refuge,” chronicles her journey from suicidal patient to human rights activist. 

lambertLisa Lambert, Executive Director, Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) and Children's Mental Health Network Advisory Council member – Lisa Lambert is the executive director of Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL), a statewide, family-run, grassroots nonprofit organization based in Boston. Lisa serves on a number of committees in Massachusetts as well as the Building Bridges Initiative Youth and Family Partnership workgroup. She has been instrumental in working with local and national media to highlight the concerns of families and youth. She is dedicated to ensuring that family voice is included in every state and national conversation about the policies, practices or services that impact them.

sophiaSophia Lenk, Mandatory Outpatient Treatment Coordinator for Prince William County Community Services in Prince William County, Virginia – Ms. Sophia Lenk is a licensed clinical social worker who has 25 years of experience in local health and human service agencies. Ms. Lenk’s first 22 years were with the Department of Social Services in child welfare and adult protective service positions as well as in program managing. Ms. Lenk is currently in the position of Mandatory Outpatient Treatment Coordinator for Prince William County Community Services in Prince William County, Virginia. She has long held a strong commitment to serving Virginia’s vulnerable citizens.  

lizaLiza Long, the "Anarchist Soccer Mom" – Liza Long is a writer, educator, mental health advocate, and mother of four children. She loves her Steinway, her kids, and her day job, not necessarily in that order. Her book "The Price of Silence: A Mom's Perspective on Mental Illness" is now available in bookstores.

martinMartin Rafferty, Executive Director Youth M.O.V.E. Oregon – is the founder and executive director for a state-wide chapter of Youth M.O.V.E. National called Youth M.O.V.E. Oregon. Martin was diagnosed with bipolar II at 23 and later with PTSD but does not let diagnosis define who he is. Martin is the winner of multiple advocacy awards in the field of mental health and the author of curricula used by state leaders in Oregon to train peer support specialists. As an experienced public speaker, Martin has trained nationally since 2009. He is the primary author of the Youth Mental Health Bill of Rights and the director of an award winning documentary video called Project Invoke.

rita2Rita Romano, Emergency Services Division Manager, Prince William County CSB  – Ms. Rita Romano is a licensed clinical social worker who has been providing community behavioral health services in Virginia for the past 35 years. She currently holds the position of the Emergency Services Division Manager for Prince William County Community Services in Prince William County Virginia. Ms. Romano has nurtured a keen interest in the involuntary commitment laws for many years. She served on the Commitment Task Force that supplied information and recommendations to the Commission on Mental Health Law Reform that was commissioned by Chief Justice Leroy Hassel.  

brianBrian Stettin, Policy Director, Treatment Advocacy Center – Brian Stettin is the Policy Director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a national advocacy organization based in Arlington, Virginia that works to remove legal barriers to the treatment of severe mental illness. In 1999, as an Assistant New York State Attorney General, Brian was instrumental in conceiving and drafting "Kendra's Law," landmark legislation establishing Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) in New York. After leaving the Attorney General's Office in 2007, Brian served as Special Counsel to the New York State Commissioner of Criminal Justice Services and Counsel to the Health Committee of the New York Assembly.  Since joining the Treatment Advocacy Center in 2009, Brian has worked with state legislators and policymakers across the U.S. to improve mental health commitment laws and establish AOT programs. Brian is a 1991 graduate of the City College of New York and a 1995 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law.

Questions? Please contact Scott Bryant-Comstock, 919-219-2342 / scott@cmhnetwork.org

NeuroLeader Master Class begins October 6th

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Heads up Network faithful, there is still time to join Scott Bryant-Comstock of the Children's Mental Health Network on an eight-week leadership journey with the wonderfully talented crew at Zero Point Leadership. The eight-week online leadership, coaching and development program begins October 6th. Scott will be there. Will you? Read the description below and get involved! Take Note –  ZeroPoint Leadership is offering a 50% discount on the cost of enrollment to change leaders who work in a child and family serving organization. Yowzers! 


The neuroLeader MasterClass™ is an intensive, 8-week leadership coaching and development program that helps leaders understand how to use knowledge of the human brain and intelligent energy management to dramatically improve individual and team performance, increase engagement and collaboration, inspire innovation, enhance talent development, reduce stress and accelerate positive change.  This cutting-edge science-based leadership development learning journey integrates research from modern neuroscience with leadership development capacities, cognitive fitness training, biofeedback and resilience building emotion regulation techniques - resulting in a dramatic increase in the capacity to mobilize others to move change forward.

In this course leaders learn how our brains work at their best. It provides practical insights into many important aspects of work, such as how to keep cool under pressure, why change is painful, and what helps us to learn. This program helps leaders work with vs. against the physiology of the human brain to improve communication, innovation, and collaboration within their organization. Leaders walk the path of learning what it takes to become a NeuroLeader, someone who uses an understanding of the human brain to make decisions and solve problems, collaborate with and influence others, regulate emotions, and facilitate change.  Leaders who take this course develop the knowledge, skills and habits that enable them to move beyond status quo and take their leadership to the next level.

Outline of the program:

    • Week One- Kick-Off
    • Week Two - Orientation to NeuroLeadership
    • Week Three- Understanding the Deeply Social Brain
    • Week Four- Emotion Regulation
    • Week Five-The Neuroscience of Decision Making and Problem Solving
    • Week Six- The Neuroscience of Collaboration and Collective Decision Making
    • Week Seven- The Neuroscience of Behavior Change
    • Week Eight – Graduation
  • Learn more about the MasterClass here.
  • Download the brochure.
  • And then sign up already!

California To broaden Autism coverage for kids through Medicaid

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Kaiser Health News staff writer Daniela Hernandez reports: “A new initiative seeks to help level the playing field. Starting Monday, September 15,thousands of children from low-income families who are on the autism spectrum will be eligible for behavioral therapy under Medi-Cal, the state’s health plan for the poor. California is among the first states to respond to a recent rule by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that requires the therapy to be covered, when deemed medically necessary, as part of a “comprehensive array of preventive, diagnostic and treatment services” for low-income people 21 and under” (Hernandez, 9/15).

Webinar: Got Coverage? Next Steps in Using Your Health Insurance

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The HHS Partnership Center offers updated webinars on the healthcare law for faith and community organizations. These webinars are open to the public and include a question and answer session. Many people now have health insurance, but may not know how to use it. This webinar and conference call will discuss how to read an insurance card, how to find a doctor, what one needs to know in making an appointment, and what to do in case of a health emergency. Key terms will be discussed as well as recommended health screenings.

  • Webinar: Got Coverage? Next Steps in Using Your Health Insurance
  • When: October 8, 2014, 1:00-2:00 PM ET 
  • Register here
  • To Join By Phone Only: Dial: +1 (415) 655-0055, Access Code: 419-247-290. For those joining by phone only, the Pin Number is the # key. 

AHRQ looking for feedback on “Strategies to improve Mental Health for Children and Adolescents”

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 Network faithful take note - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Effective Health Care (EHC) Program is developing a systematic review on “Strategies to improve Mental Health for Children and Adolescents.” AHRQ is looking for feedback from stakeholders during the public comment periods to help them improve the relevance of their systematic reviews for healthcare decisionmaking.

The proposed Key Questions (KQs) that will guide the Systematic Review on “Strategies to improve Mental Health for Children and Adolescents” have been posted for comment on the Effective Healthcare (EHC) website. They are available for comment until October 6, 2014.

All comments will be reviewed and considered for inclusion into the report so this is a great opportunity to have your voice heard. The draft report is expected to be available for comment in the Fall 2015.

  • For more information on the Effective Healthcare Program click here
  • To see the topics available for comment click here

The Affordable Care Act's first report card

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News from the The Commonwealth Fund – It’s early in the school year for report cards, but it seems like it’s never too soon to grade the performance of the Affordable Care Act. Verdicts on the law’s success or failure have been arriving on a near-daily basis since the law was signed in 2010.

But in a new blog post, The Commonwealth Fund’s David Blumenthal, M.D., and Sara Collins say we now have solid evidence for some initial assessments of the health coverage expansions.

Just prior to the insurance marketplaces’ first open enrollment period, Blumenthal and Collins suggested four key areas for evaluating the law’s progress in 2014. Today, they offer grades on those benchmark measures—and add a few more for extra credit. 

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