Friday Update 3-31-17

March 29, 2017


Friday Update 3-31-17

Greetings faithful readers. Goodness, another action packed week with even more troubling news concerning the erosion of the values and principles that define who we are as Americans. Let’s start off with the classic Dire Straits song, “Private Investigations.” Stay strong, stay focused, and above all, get to readin’ Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

Most important reads for this week

Amy Bleuel, Founder of Project Semicolon, Passes Away at 31
Amy Bleuel, known in the mental health community as the person behind the popular semicolon tattoo, passed away on Thursday, March 23 at the age of 31. Bleuel was the founder of the nonprofit movement Project Semicolon, created to honor her father, who took his own life, and to give voice to her own fight with mental illness. The idea was to provide a forum for anyone struggling with mental illness to draw a semicolon on their body, photograph it, and share it on a given day to encourage love and to inspire. (Katz). The Project Semicolon’s website puts it best – “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life.” Please take a moment to read this heartfelt tribute to Amy by Sarah Schuster of The Mighty. 

Supporting Comprehensive and Innovative Care for Children: Request for Information on a Potential Pediatric Alternative Payment Model - DEADLINE EXTENDED TO APRIL 7
CMS is seeking input on approaches to improve the quality and reduce the cost of care for children and youth enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. SAMHSA has been working with CMS to promote this opportunity which can potentially build upon systems of care and wraparound work. Be sure to download the excellent template developed by the TA Network that will help you develop responses to the RFI. This template includes objective, empirical, and actionable evidence on the need to develop a specialized behavioral health delivery system for children, youth, and young adults with serious behavioral health needs and their families. CMS requests that respondents, where possible, draw upon and cite evidence in their responses.

Okay, folks, it is most important that you take a few moments to comment on this RFI. We have an important opportunity to provide our voice on the type of behavioral health services and supports available to children and families enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. Let’s take advantage of it!

President Trump Issues Executive Order Establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis
No one questions the importance of combating the Opioid Crisis in America, but do we need yet another Commission? Here is a suggestion. I would encourage this Commission to read the Surgeon Generals first ever report on Addiction in America that was released on November 17th, 2016. That was a mere 134 days ago. It seems to me the prudent thing to do would be to get moving on the recommendations of that report instead of starting over from scratch with yet another Commission. 

Transgender Health Equity: Patients Say Providers Lack Expertise And Understanding Of Transgender Health Needs
For the past five years, Massachusetts has mandated that insurers provide coverage for medical services related to the health of transgender people, including gender-affirming medical services. But it was not clear how well the mandate was working or whether people were able to access care now that services were covered. Were insurers covering the right services? What barriers were being encountered? Download the report.

Her Story Changed Everything
Lisa Lambert, a frequent contributor to Morning Zen, introduces us this week to Linette, a powerful “difference maker” in the family advocacy movement. Read Lisa’s Zen post to learn more about Linette’s story and the impact she is having on others. Also included is a video of Congressman Joe Kennedy III’s testimony about Linette before the House of Representatives. Powerful stuff!

Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) Training Update
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the upcoming SAMHSA sponsored training for communities interested in implementing AOT. At the time I had more questions than answers about how the training is being developed, specifically around the level of involvement of the many different advocacy perspectives on this topic. I just heard back from SAMHSA officials who indicated they are pulling together the information and would send it to me next week. Thanks to SAMHSA staff who are taking on the extra work of responding to my request! It is most important that we continue to stress involvement of all perspectives in training on community implementation of the AOT process.

Intersecting Identities: Improving Health Outcomes for LGBTQI2-S Youth of Color
The January 2017 Knowledge Network for Systems of Care TV (KSOC-TV) webcast delved into the intersecting identities of LGBTQI2-S youth of color and the associated challenges they may face, such as trauma, suicide, and resilience. A panel of experts discussed strategies to build supportive spaces for LGBTQI2-S youth of color, address behavioral health challenges, and facilitate healing among children, youth, and families. 

Supporting Young Children Who Experience Trauma: The Early Childhood Trauma Collaborative
Hey Network faithful, are you looking for examples to help you develop a robust early childhood trauma collaborative in your state? Well, your search is over. Check out the stellar work being done by our colleagues at CHDI and their team of amazing partners. Connecticut has developed one of the most robust systems of trauma-informed care for school-aged children in the nation. CHDI’s latest Issue Brief discusses the effects of trauma on young children and ways Connecticut can support young children who experience trauma. Be sure to subscribe to their newsletter to stay up to date on the latest!

Is Social Media Making Us Lonelier?
Interesting post by NIH Director, Francis Collins – “Initially, most of us thought that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media applications would help to bring people together. And, yes, in many instances that has been true. Such apps have made it possible—even simple—to catch up with former classmates living thousands of miles away, share a video of your baby’s first steps with relatives near and far, or strike up new acquaintances while discussing the stock market or last night’s ballgame. Yet, a new NIH-funded study suggests that social media may also have the power to make people feel left out and alone.

What to Do (And Not Do) When Children Are Anxious
Webinar: April 20, 2017, 1:00-2:00 PM ET

Caregivers play a vital role in helping a child manage anxiety. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say and do when a child is anxious. This NIMH webinar will offer the practical strategies to help caregivers and children break the cycle of anxiety. Participants will learn how to present important concepts about the nature and causes of anxiety, effective ways to change unhelpful thinking, how to face feared situations in a gradual, manageable way, and how to identify and change the cycle of accommodating anxiety within the family. 

Webinar: Understanding Depression in Teenagers
April 27, 2017 1:00-2:00 PM ET
Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Depression has its origins early in life, but current treatments are inadequate. Close to a third of young people with depression do not respond to treatment and many of those who do respond eventually relapse. Join Dr. Argyris Stringaris, Chief of the NIMH Mood Brain and Development Unit in Bethesda, MD, for this webinar on depression in teenagers. 

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Scott Bryant-Comstock
President & CEO 

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