Friday Update 10-16-15

Greetings faithful readers. I am enjoying attending the Alternatives Conference this week, where, alas, contrary to what some politicians and vocal media types might tell you, the sessions are brimming with love, learning and respect for individuals from all walks of life who are working hard to "figure it out." Look for more on my experiences here at #Altcon15 next week, but for now, groove to the music of Jason Mraz and Daryl Hall, singing "I won't give up" and then get to readin' Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

For the beautiful souls I have met and interacted with at #Altcon15 this week, these words from Jason Mraz seem most appropriate:

I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you're still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn't break, we didn't burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not, and who I am

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up, I'm still looking up.

Most important reads for this week

Time to talk about guns
Frequent Morning Zen contributor Liza Long reflects on her writings about the connection between mental illness and the horrific mass shootings that continue to plague America. She writes,

29th Annual Research & Policy Conference – Just a few days left to get your proposals in!
Since 1988, this annual conference has been a leader in promoting the development of the research base essential to improved service systems for children and youth with mental health challenges and their families. In the context of a rapidly diversifying population, this conference continues to expand to include topics related to substance abuse service systems and research, as well as pressing behavioral health topics associated with mental health reform legislation being discussed in Congress. The call for proposals closes October 30th, so get those pencils sharpened and get to writin'!

26th Annual Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health Conference
Speaking of conferences; it's not too late to register for the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health Conference, November 18 - 22, 2015. It's coming soon, so make your plans today!

SAMHSA provides up to $649 million for programs addressing children's mental health and substance use
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will be awarding up to $649 million in funding over several years for programs providing crucial prevention and treatment services addressing the behavioral health needs of children, adolescents, young adults, and their families. These programs address a wide range of behavioral health issues affecting young people and families including, suicide prevention, substance abuse prevention, HIV-AIDS prevention, and serious emotional disturbance. Details here. 

Grieving the loss of your pet
Those of us who have lost a pet know how heartbreaking this can be. According to a recent survey, approximately 70 percent of Americans have a companion animal, and around 63 percent of these pet owners consider their pet to be a member of the family. With cat and dog life expectancies reaching into the teens and 20s, animals often become integral parts of our daily lives for many years, thereby creating meaningful, dependable and loving relationships. When a loved one passes away, grieving is a natural response that is expected as a social norm. Unfortunately, the same doesn't always hold true when an animal dies. Morning Zen Guest Blogger Rae Speaker provides some useful tips to help your family cope with the loss of your pet. Read the Morning Zen post here.

Teen foster care program reduces drug use in early adulthood
Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care has demonstrated advantages over group residential placement for teen girls who are mandated to out-of-home care by the juvenile justice system. New findings from a follow-up to a trial supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicate that those benefits extend to a reduction in illegal drug use in young adulthood. Learn more here.

How I learned to communicate my inner life with Asperger's
Alix Generous is a young woman with a million and one ideas — she's done award-winning science, helped develop new technology and tells a darn good joke (you'll see). She has Asperger's, a form of autistic spectrum disorder that can impair the basic social skills required for communication, and she's worked hard for years to learn how to share her thoughts with the world. In this funny, personal talk, she shares her story — and her vision for tools to help more people communicate their big ideas. Watch her inspiring TED Talk here.

ED & HHS release policy statement on inclusion in early childhood programs
The "Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs," released jointly by the Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) on September 14, 2015, states that all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive, high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations. Read more here.

NIH launches landmark study on substance use and adolescent brain development
NIH awarded 13 grants to research institutions around the country as part of a landmark study of the effects of adolescent substance use on the developing brain. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study will follow approximately 10,000 children beginning at age nine to 10, before they initiate drug use, through the period of highest risk for substance use and other mental health disorders. Scientists will track exposure to substances (including nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana), academic achievement, cognitive skills, mental health, and brain structure and function using advanced research methods. Details here.

Federal agencies join forces to help young children thrive
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced today that they have joined to establish a new National Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (Center of Excellence). Read more here.

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Scott Bryant-Comstock
President & CEO 

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