Friday Update 7-10-15

Greetings faithful readers. In this edition of Friday Update we are sharing our opening thoughts on the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (H.R. 2646) as well as some reflections from our analysis of last year's version of the bill (H.R. 3717). And so the summer of educatin' and learnin' about what true mental health reform should look like begins... What better way to start our self-anointed summer of mental health reform love than with an inspirational pep talk from Kid President about the importance of students and teachers learning from each other. Get inspired with the Prez and then get to readin' Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

Most important reads for this week

Note: We have passed the three-year mark of sending out Friday Update each and every Friday - Whoop to the whoop! Now, if I could only remember on a weekly basis which day is actually Friday...

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The 'Murphy bill' (H.R. 2646) fails its own home inspection
It doesn't matter where you land on any of the key issues in the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (H.R. 2646). Proposals for the use of AOT, the role of consumer advocacy groups, HIPAA, or where SAMHSA places its priorities all are doomed to failure. The structural integrity needed to facilitate the implementation of strategies in any of these areas of focus, as written in the bill, is inherently flawed, and thus, will result in a damaged bill destined to increased federal bureaucracy, wasteful spending, and a dangerous precedent of congressional supervision over executive branch activities.

However, don't be deterred, Network faithful. This is the time for us to rally and share our ideas on defining meaningful mental health reform. Be sure to share this post with your representatives and advocacy partners. It is going to be a busy summer for mental health reform!

The power of words: What the Wall Street Journal didn't tell you
Recently, we have started hearing the drumbeat from over a year ago of references to workshops at the (now infamous) Alternatives conference. Before you dig out your old signs proclaiming the Alternatives Conference as an example of wasteful spending on the part of SAMHSA, you might want to give a read to our Morning Zen response to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal from last year. Several of the sound bites from the Wall Street Journal editorial have found their way into political speeches, letters to the editor, and point blank questioning on the part of congressional committee members during hearings on H.R. 3717 (last year) and H.R. 2646 (this year). It is interesting to note that these provocative sound bites appear to have gone unquestioned in the popular press, so in true Network fashion we decided to grab the long shovel and do some diggin'. What we found might surprise you.

Marketing Matters: A White Paper on Strategies to Reduce Unhealthy Food and Beverage Marketing to Young Children
As part of the First 5 LA funded Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiative (ECOPI), the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) in partnership with ChangeLab Solutions has released a comprehensive toolkit called Marketing Matters: A White Paper on Strategies to Reduce Unhealthy Food and Beverage Marketing to Young Children.  The toolkit highlights strategies for local communities to reduce the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children. 

Mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders are preventable - Letter to the Wall Street Journal signed by 23 leading prevention scientists 
This Morning Zen post was originally sent to the Wall Street Journal as a response to an editorial that focused on HR 3717 (the precursor to H.R. 2646). The letter was signed by 23 leading scientists whose work has shown in gold-standard, randomized longitudinal control studies to prevent, avert, or reduce one or more than one mental illness, including members of the IOM Committee issuing the finding that mental illnesses are preventable. This is a worthy read Network faithful and applies just as much, if not more, to the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (H.R. 2646) recently released by Congressman Tim Murphy (PA).

"For" or "against" AOT—Are we asking the wrong question?
After our visit earlier this year to a community that utilizes the Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) process, a reporter asked me, "So now that you have seen AOT, does it change your mind? Are you for or against AOT?" "Neither," I said. "For or against is the wrong question. The question you should be asking is, 'Does this community have in place what it needs to protect and promote recovery for individuals with serious mental illness?' 

HHS awards Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program grants
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) Director Evelyn Kappeler recently announced more than $86 million in teen pregnancy prevention grants to non-profit organizations, school districts, universities, and others. The 81 new grants are expected to serve more than 291,000 youth each year in communities where teen birth rates remain high. Keep up the good work, Evelyn!

What is the magic ingredient in the "T" of AOT? Reflections on a site visit to the "best" AOT in America
Heads up to our growing legion of congressional staffers in the House and Senate – if you are going to participate in the development of any of the mental health bills currently under consideration, you need to understand the relationship between Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) and comprehensive mental health reform. Since my Morning Zen post on our visit earlier this year to see AOT in action, many have been chagrined that the Network is not coming out for or against. Guess what? We ain't changin' our minds. If we are to help Congress write legislation that truly focuses on mental health reform, we need to move our discussion to a whole different level. We can no longer allow the discussion of meaningful mental health reform be hijacked by back-alley brawls over "for" or "against". Read this Morning Zen post on the science, practice and fiscal realities around the AOT debate.

Treating Youth as Youth in New Jersey's Juvenile Justice System: A Community Call to Action
The New Jersey Parents Caucus and Drew University will be holding a full day conference for parents, caregivers, professionals, providers, legislators and other interested stakeholders in ensuring New Jersey youth who come in contact with the juvenile justice system are treated as youth.

Boys are more likely than girls to receive a prescription for antipsychotic medication regardless of age, researchers have found. Approximately 1.5 percent of boys ages 10-18 received an antipsychotic prescription in 2010, although the percentage falls by nearly half after age 19. Among antipsychotic users with mental disorder diagnoses, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was the most common among youth ages 1-18, while depression was the most common diagnosis among young adults ages 19-24 receiving antipsychotics. - See more at: http://www.cmhnetwork.org/resources/show?id=909#sthash.DQfNZxVs.dpuf





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Scott Bryant-Comstock
President & CEO 

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