Friday Update

Friday Update 11-6-15

November 06, 2015


Friday Update 11-6-15

Greetings faithful readers. Today, something a little different for our Friday Update video prelude. Close the door, turn off the lights and give yourself the gift of three minutes to get lost in the beautiful sound of Cesar Espinoza from Ecuador, playing the pan flute. Then, awaken from your reverie and get to readin’ Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

Most important reads for this week

HR 2646 moves on
A busy, busy week for the Helping All Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (HR2646). The amended legislation passed this week with an 18-12 vote in the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Health Subcommittee, and will now move on to the full Committee for consideration. Mental Health America has a good summary of the amendments here. I am compelled to say, however, that virtually all of the national advocacy organizations are being less than vocal addressing the serious concerns that the CMHNetwork has raised about key elements of this bill over the past year (SAMHSA reform, HIPAA, grant review process, etc.). No worries, Network faithful – we will soldier on! 

Saving Congressman Murphy from Fraudulent Information
This post is a must read for all Network Faithful. Dennis Embry sheds a light on some of the misinformation that has been given to Congressman Murphy during the framing of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. In this post, Embry reminds us that if the information given to great leaders is inaccurate, then great leaders cannot make great decisions.

  • Shakespeare writes eloquently about the dangers of flattery and lies to great leaders. I’ve worked in Congress for Gerry Ford and Bob Dole, for Secretary Cheney during the Gulf War, various governors, and legislatures and at high levels for other national or provincial governments. Lies and fraud are often delivered in fat envelopes of flattery. I’ve come to realize that the very good intentions of Congressman Murphy to fix an obviously not-working mental health prevention, intervention, and treatment “system” has caused him to be swarmed by a flock of flatterers flogging fraudulent “facts.” Honest-to-God facts are the hardest thing for great leaders to get their hands on, for great decisions. This is why in all my counsel to leaders, as a scientist, is couched carefully and grounded in facts as best I know, even if I know the leader—of whatever party or persuasion—may or may not like it. Otherwise, a great leader cannot make a great decision. Continue reading.

Democrats propose alternative to the Murphy bill
Energy and Commerce Democrats on the health subcommittee proposed an alternative to the Murphy bill at the markup meeting earlier this week. The effort failed, but the information is still relevant to help you understand some of the key differences between members of the congressional committee working on this bill. Unlike Murphy’s bill, which dismantles SAMHSA, the Democratic proposal keeps the agency in place and creates an assistant secretary for mental health that would oversee all mental health programs throughout the federal government. That official would also serve as the SAMHSA administrator.Download the alternative proposal here.

Boston University and the Transitions RTC offering Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Career Development among Transition Age Youth and Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions
A two-year postdoctoral research fellowship program in psychiatric rehabilitation and vocational recovery from serious mental illnesses will begin April 1st, 2016 at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University. One of these fellowships will be focused on career development and employment success among transition-age youth and young adults (ages 14-30) with serious mental health conditions. The latter practicum will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Maryann Davis and the Transitions RTC, UMass Medical School ( Didactic seminars provided by the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University, extensive research practicum and annual stipend of $40,000 are included in the fellowship. Applications are due December 1st, 2015. Contact: Dr. Zlatka Russinova at (617) 353-3549 or Orientation phone discussions are recommended before submitting applications. More detail about the fellowship program is available here.

Learning Community Supports Interagency Planning for Youth with Co-occurring Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Disorders
Public systems confront obstacles when providing for children with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) who also have mental health or behavioral disorders. Because their needs are often not adequately addressed, these children and youth are at high risk for expensive and preventable out-of-home placements in foster care, juvenile detention, psychiatric institutions and developmental disabilities centers. This report describes lessons gleaned from a Learning Community developed by Georgetown University’s National Technical Assistance for Children’s Mental Health to assist cross-agency teams and families in three states to improve care for this vulnerable population.  The project was conducted in consultation with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) and NADD, the Association for People with Intellectual Disability and Mental Health Needs.

What a successful university mental health program looks like
On May 20, Karen Arkin was standing in the common room of her son’s dormitory at Northwestern University. The day before, in the early morning hours, Jason Arkin went into that room and took an overdose of pills that sent him into a seizure. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died that afternoon. Now, as Arkin stood in the same room where her son had taken his own life just hours earlier, she was being asked by a university administrator to hide what had happened. Interesting article by Network faithful Kimberly Alters on We are fans!

8 Brutally Honest Reasons I’ve Stopped Self-Harming
Speaking of people we are fans of, another great post on This one is a first-person narrative by a young woman who has “mostly kicked the habit of self-harm,” and wants to share what’s worked.

  • There are many lists, articles, conversations and every other form of communication about why you shouldn’t self-harm. If you’ve ever hurt yourself and someone found out, you’ve probably been subject to a litany of reasons.Some people find the generic lists on the Internet extremely helpful, but I’ve never been particularly convinced when I’m in a bad place. That’s because most of these well-intentioned pieces make the assumption I believe in my own self-worth. When I want to hurt myself, I’m rarely in a state of mind that recognizes that. I suspect I’m not alone.At this point, I’ve mostly kicked the habit of self-harm, and I want to share what’s worked for me. So here is my list — a real list — of honest to God reasons I’ve stopped.


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Scott Bryant-Comstock
President & CEO

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