Friday Update 10-9-15

Greetings faithful readers. Leave it to John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, to put in perspective the absurd logic exhibited by many Americans when it comes to discussing guns, violence and mental illness. A "must watch", and a great use of SAMHSA data as well! Watch the video here, and then get to readin' Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

Most important reads for this week

Everyone blames mental illness for mass shootings. But what if that's wrong?
It seems like there's one thing everyone agrees on after a mass shooting: The shooter must have been mentally ill. President Barack Obama said as much in his reaction to the Umpqua Community College shooting on Thursday: "We don't yet know why this individual did what he did, and it's fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds, regardless of what they think their motivations may be." But what if the assumption is wrong, or at least misses the nuance of the issue? Jonathan Metzl, a professor of psychiatry, sociology, and medicine, health, and society at Vanderbilt University, argues that mental illness is often a scapegoat that lets policymakers and the public ignore bigger, more complicated contributors to gun violence. Continue reading.

CMHNetwork 'walks the walk' on the Alternatives Conference
The Alternatives Conference, now entering its 29th year, was at the center of controversy last year in the often heated debate around the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (for brevity, we will refer to this as the 'Murphy bill'). Comments about the conference were often vitriolic, and the name 'Alternatives' was highlighted as an example of wasteful spending by SAMHSA. Conference workshops were chastised for being irrelevant to the needs of individuals with mental illness, and a poor excuse for the sharing of far-fetched treatment and support options for individuals with mental illness.

I had never heard of the Alternatives Conference until a little over a year ago when the Wall Street Journal published a scathing Op-Ed article that slammed the conference as an example of why SAMHSA needed to be reorganized and the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act needed to be passed. The examples in the Op-Ed piece came across as so egregious as to make anyone wonder how in the world public dollars could be invested in such an endeavor. Of course, after doing just a bit of digging, the truth of the matter became crystal clear. You can read my detailed analysis of the accusations made here. I publically invited my colleagues who have been vocal against the Alternatives Conference to join me in attending this year. I am a firm believer that if you are not willing to embrace and experience what concerns you most then you probably shouldn't be talking about it. It is our responsibility as advocates to not just accept as gospel what any politician tells us, regardless of what side of the issue you are on. We must do our homework. For when we do, we can change the conversation about what is most helpful for youth and families, not what is most helpful for politicians. If you are not willing to do this, then frankly, you shouldn't be using it as an example of what you see as wrong with the mental health system in America. Okay politicians and advocates - Show me what ya got and join me at the Alternatives Conference next week!

Project Launch: A Family Centered Medical Home Model
Network Advisory Council member, Martha Kaufman, just put the finishing touches on a much-needed training manual on Family-Centered Medical Homes. This manual is designed for use in pediatric primary care settings that are interested in developing a family-centered model of care to better meet the needs of patients and their families. The manual showcases the ground-breaking work done by the North Carolina (NC) LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children's Health) grant showcasing how to incorporate family partners with pediatric practices in ways that help with the mental health needs of families and youth. A big shout-out to Martha and the other members of the Project Launch team.

Eliot Brenner joins the CMHNetwork Advisory Council
Please join us in welcoming Eliot Brenner to the Children's Mental Health Network Advisory Council. Eliot is a nonprofit executive with 15+ years' experience leading program operations and change management in child welfare, mental health, healthcare, and philanthropy. He is also a licensed clinical psychologist with a private practice. Most recently, Dr. Brenner was Type 1 Diabetes Program Director at the Helmsley Charitable Trust, which is the largest private foundation funder of type 1 diabetes research, treatments, and support programs. At the Trust, he led staff and strategy for a portfolio of 200+ grants totaling more than $200 million. Prior to joining the Trust, Dr. Brenner was Deputy Executive Director at Casey Family Services, the direct service agency of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. At Casey Family Services, he directed all program operations and training and led a staff of 290 that served more than 4,000 children annually. Welcome, Eliot!

Childhood is not a mental disorder
This video provides an important reminder to us all that at the end of the day, kids are just kids. Watch the video here.

The "Go To Mom" joins the CMHNetwork Advisory Council
Please join us in welcoming Kimberley Clayton Blaine (The "Go To Mom") to the Children's Mental Health Network Advisory Council. Kimberley is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and is named one of the most powerful moms in social media by Working Mother Magazine. She is an inspirational speaker, author and a nationally recognized mindfulness and positive-psychology thought-leader. Kimberley's writings have appeared in Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best-sellers as a contributor to the soul healing site of SimpleReminders.com, which has over 50 million readers weekly. She was one of Google+'s first family partners, launching their Online community where parents share and communicate about family life. Welcome, Kimberley! 

Teach your baby how to use the word "Help"
Watch this and more great videos from the "Go To Mom" Kimberley Clayton Blaine, at the GoToMom website.

29th Annual Research & Policy Conference – Less than 30 days 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'!

Patrick Kennedy breaks the silence
Patrick Kennedy gave a soul-bearing interview on the CBS show 60 Minutes last Sunday. Watch it here.

OCR website helps app makers with HIPAA
HHS's Office for Civil Rights has launched a website that allows health app makers to submit questions about HIPAA. It is good to see the work being done by the Office of Civil Rights incorporated into health apps. Congresswoman Doris Matsui is right! Read more here.

The Prevention Institute is hiring!
The Prevention Institute is searching for strong candidates for several exciting positions. They are particularly looking for individuals who can play key roles in violence prevention and mental health work, including promoting mental well-being for men and boys of color. Like all of the Institute's work, the focus will also be on promoting health equity. Looking for a great work opportunity? Check this one out!

ParityTrack completes evaluation of Parity implementation in all 50 states
The Kennedy Forum has unveiled the long-awaited ParityTrack, an online resource designed to provide information on parity implementation in all 50 states. The site includes reports on the pertinent legislation, regulations, and litigation in each state. It also offers a comprehensive report on federal activity. According to William Emmet, Executive Director of the Kennedy Foundation, "The findings show that we still have a long way to go in making parity a reality." Okay Network faithful, put the ParityTrack website through its paces and let's see if it delivers!


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Scott Bryant-Comstock
President & CEO 

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