Friday Update 6-26-15

Greetings faithful readers. What a crazy and love-filled week. Marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act rocked the news, so what better way to start off Friday Update than with a dose of Freddie Mercury and Queen, singing "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." C'mon, go ahead and close the door and amp up the speakers. You know you want too... But when you're finished singin' and dancin', and hopefully haven't been fired for insubordination-like activities, get to readin' Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

Most important reads for this week

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act - H.R. 2646 - This bill seriously needs our help, Network faithful
Make no mistake, the architects of H.R. 2646 are incredibly passionate people, with a perspective firmly rooted in the thinking of the field of psychiatry that came into vogue during the baby boom era. Our challenge is to help them broaden the intent of the language in the bill to take a more culturally relevant and inclusive approach reflective of the United States in 2015. We can do this, but it is going to take work, patience, and a willingness to engage. Remember that all who are involved in the ongoing dialogue about mental health reform want things to be better. That is our starting point. The young people of today who identify as Millennial or Generation Z will inherit the mantle of power in the United States sooner, rather than later. They deserve our best effort and nothing less. Look for our analysis this Friday with specific action steps for us all.

Members of Congress continue to stick their heads in the sand on gun violence
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee voted 19-32 against ranking member Rep. Nita Lowey's (D-N.Y.) amendment to a bill that would fund health, education and labor programs in the next fiscal year. Representative Lowey's amendment would have reversed a nearly 20-year-old ban on funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct research on gun violence. Hold your representatives feet to the fire on this issue, Network faithful. Over the past two years, we have seen a dramatic uptick in the political debate about mental health reform. The debate has at times blatantly, and other times, more subtly, made the connection between mental illness and violence. This connection continues to be made, in spite of the research showing that people with mental illness are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime. Using the fear tactics inherent in connecting mental illness and violence while simultaneously blocking funding for research to understand better gun violence is not only disingenuous, it is unforgivable.

VA report on decrease in suicide a "smoke screen" deflecting from the real truth
The VA just released a report stating that suicides are down among Vets who are accessing their care vs. Vets who aren't. Sounds great, right? Before you celebrate this finding, read this Morning Zen post by Col George Patrin, who provides a sobering perspective about what the data really tells us. Patrin writes, "Is it a surprise to anyone that "VHA users had a lower suicide rate than non-VHA users?" The VA starts up a program(s) or service not offered before this (and why not?), and some Vets who had no options before go to the VA. Great. Those who still don't trust the VA stay with what they had…and the suicide rate is higher without care than those getting any level of care at the VA. This is nothing to boast about. The comparison needs to be VA care vs. other quality network care, whether DoD or civilian."

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.
"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." ~ Justice Anthony Kennedy

Statement by HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell on the Affordable Care Act
"Over six million Americans and their families will sleep easier knowing they will still be able to afford health coverage. Millions more won't have to worry about an upward spiral in their premiums because of today's decision, even if they didn't buy their insurance through the Marketplace. And the law's financial assistance will be available in the next open enrollment so that others can benefit as well."

National Council provides self-assessment for State Planning Grant applicants
Ah yes, we continue to marvel at Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO, National Council for Behavioral Health. She is constantly thinking up strategies to make life easier for behavioral health providers, and we are just about convinced she never sleeps. Case in point - We received this wonderful email in the middle of the night from her reminding all of us that the State Planning Grant applications are due in six weeks. But Linda doesn't just remind, she provides (what else) an amazingly clear self-assessment that you can use to make sure you are up to snuff. Hey Rosenberg, get some sleep!

Education equity: failing funding or fair funding?… Be part of the solution!
Daun Kaufman is fighting hard for the recognition of childhood trauma as part of education equity in Pennsylvania. Childhood trauma is the "most pivotal factor" in education equity because of both its wide scope and its deep impact on children's ability to learn. It will be historic for any state to attack this inequity, via an explicit funding mandate, statewide, across five-hundred school districts. Daun needs your help in getting the full General Assembly to explicitly acknowledge the power of childhood trauma by acting to include it in a "fair" funding formula. Don't live in Pennsylvania? No worries, Daun provides concrete strategies for you to advocate on this issue in your state. Get on it, Network faithful!

IHS seeks input about the health needs of the American Indian/Alaska Native LGBT community
The Indian Health Service is seeking broad public input as it begins efforts to advance and promote the health needs of the American Indian/Alaska Native Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Better days - A fresh approach for developing effective coping methods
Another fantastic International Bipolar Foundation webinar is coming up. Get our your #2 pencil and put it on the calendar! In this webinar, Craig Lewis and Jamie Marich, will be discussing the reality that we all possess the ability to develop more effective coping methods. "We honor that each person has a wealth of knowledge and self-expertise, that when tapped into, can radically improve the quality of our lives for the better - This is the 'Better Days' approach."

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Resources and Services: A Guide for Early Education and Care Professionals
Early childhood professionals play important roles in the lives of the young children they care for, and their knowledge and experience make them trusted resources for families. This guide provides basic information on infant and early childhood mental health and includes descriptions of services and supports for families with young children, as well as resources that can benefit both center-based and family providers of early education and care.

Unleashing the power of prevention
Within a decade, we can reduce the incidence and prevalence of behavioral health problems in this population by 20 percent from current levels through widespread policies and programs that will serve millions and save billions. Prevention is the best investment we can make, and the time to make it is now.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Men's Use of Mental Health Treatments
This report uses nationally representative data on the frequency of mental health symptoms and related treatment utilization to compare men of color (i.e., non-Hispanic black and Hispanic men) with non-Hispanic white men. It also explores whether racial and ethnic disparities differ by age, health insurance coverage status, and income.

New report shows increase in reported adverse health effects from synthetic cannabinoid use
Between January and May 2015, U.S. poison centers in 48 states reported receiving 3,572 calls related to synthetic cannabinoid use, a 229 percent increase from the 1,085 calls received during the same January through May period in 2014. The 2015 figures included a spike of 1,501 calls in April and 15 reported deaths, a three-fold increase over the five deaths that were reported in 2014.

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Scott Bryant-Comstock
President & CEO 

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