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Friday Update 4-3-15

Greetings faithful readers. We are heading into spring break for the kids, and a reminder from Mother Earth that the change of season brings with it hope for growth and renewal. Let's start off this edition of Friday Update with a lesson in mindfulness, provided by a group of amazing kindergarteners. Enjoy the "Just Breathe" video, get your mindfulness on, and then get to readin' Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

Most important reads for this week   

Assisted Outpatient Treatment community visit 
Just about finished with the Morning Zen piece on our recent visit to a community that utilizes the Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) process. We consulted with the Treatment Advocacy Center, headed up by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, and asked for an example that would fit with Congressman Murphy's vision of a successful AOT approach as identified in his bill. If you are gonna weigh in on matters like these, you owe it to everyone to observe the thing you are talking about up close and personal. Otherwise, you are just speculating. Here is a sneak peek for you - the visit was amazing. And enlightening. And informative. And, like most things in life, requires that we deepen the conversation far beyond the rhetoric of "for" or "against."  Check your email on Monday morning for my Zen piece on our AOT visit. I am writing the Zen piece as an open letter to Congressman Murphy. In the letter, I share what we observed, what we learned, and our recommendations for how to improve the language in his soon-to-be-released updated version of the Helping All Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

Let's get rid of the "bad bench" and focus on positive interventions for pre-K and kindergarten 
Frequent contributor Kevin Dwyer reminds us of the importance of utilizing proven positive reinforcement strategies for addressing challenging behaviors in schools. Let's get rid of the "bad bench." It doesn't work, and there is a plethora of science to support the overwhelming benefit of proven programs that positively change behavior and provide positive, structured support. 

The demise of the mental health system is not the result of SAMSHA 
Dennis Embry responds to commentary resulting from my post of last week on the current state of affairs at SAMHSA. As we have come to expect, Dennis backs up his thoughts with hard data. Gotta love them scientists… 

Administration for Community Living setting up an Advisory Council - consumers, youth and families take note! 
The Administration for Community Living (ACL), part of HHS, is setting up an Advisory Council. ACL brings together the efforts and achievements of the Administration on Aging, the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and the HHS Office on Disability to serve as the Federal agency responsible for increasing access to community supports, while focusing attention and resources on the unique needs of older Americans and people with disabilities across the lifespan. Consumers, family, and youth are encouraged to apply. Get on it and represent!

NAMI report finds insurance discrimination, lack of transparency under parity laws 
Health insurance plans are falling short in coverage of mental health and substance abuse conditions according to a report issued by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The findings in the report were based on a survey of 2,720 consumers and an analysis of 84 insurance plans in 15 states. In addition to the release of the report, Ron Honberg, Director of Policy & Legal Affairs, explains mental health parity in a brief video. Good read and good watch, Network faithful!

Findings add urgency to screening, treatment – NIH-funded study 
The AIDS virus can genetically evolve and independently replicate in patients' brains early in the illness process, researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have discovered. These results underscore the importance of early diagnosis and treatment with antiretroviral therapy.

My perspective: Individuals with behavioral healthcare needs under attack
Network faithful Richard Chapman weighs in on the discussion about Assisted Outpatient Treatment and calls for continued dialogue between consumers and professionals. We couldn't agree more!

Job opening! 
SAMHSA's Child, Adolescent & Family Branch is looking for someone amazing to join their team. It could be you! 

Autism Spectrum Disorder: The special bond between siblings 
About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The '1' in 1 in 68 is more than just a number—it represents many families in communities across the United States living with the condition. Alexis Wineman, the first woman with ASD to participate in the Miss America competition, feels that her family, and particularly her siblings, have always been a source of strength and inspiration for her. Learn more about her incredible journey.

Monitoring of psychotropic medications in children and youth 
Pencil in this webinar for April 16th. Kamala Allen, vice president for program operations and director of child health quality at the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), will inform participants about the role psychotropic medications play in the treatment of children and youth with serious behavioral health needs and how systems of care can improve the quality of behavioral health care for this population. We love our friends at CHCS cuz' they are just so danged smart. This one is a definite "must attend."

Health observance: National Minority Health Month 
During April, the HHS Office of Minority Health marks National Minority Health Month by raising awareness about the health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities. 

Helping newly-enrolled families understand and use their Medicaid and CHIP coverage 
The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign is hosting an important webinar on how to help newly-enrolled families understand Medicaid and CHIP coverage. Thanks to nationwide enrollment efforts, millions of children and parents have health coverage, many for the first time. Educating newly-enrolled families about their Medicaid and CHIP benefits is critical to ensuring they get the care they need when they need it. On this webinar, you will hear from experts on the benefits available through Medicaid and CHIP and how organizations are working with newly insured families to help them to understand their coverage.


Is Friday Update workin' for ya? 
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Scott Bryant-Comstock
President & CEO 

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