MHA News From National: April 6, 2016 | Mental Health America

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MHA News From National: April 6, 2016

In this update:

MHA 2016 Annual Conference Update

Chamique Holdsclaw to Speak at Opening Session
Often referred to as “the female Michael Jordan,” Chamique Holdsclaw is undoubtedly one of the best and most successful basketball players in U.S. history. Holdsclaw was a star at the University of Tennessee from 1995 to 1999, where she helped to lead the Lady Vols to the women's NCAA's first ever three consecutive Women's Basketball Championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998.  In 1999, Holdsclaw was selected by the Washington Mystics, where in her fist season she was named Rookie of the Year. In 2000, she was named to the U.S. Olympic team and helped bring home the gold medal. In 2005 she was traded to the LA Sparks, and in 2007 she announced she was retiring from the fame. She returned for two more seasons before stepping away from the game for good in 2010.

Unbeknownst to many, Chamique was dealing with significant mental health issues during her career. She was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, and she has since become a mental health advocate, traveling the country to talk about her journey. Her story is chronicled in the newly released documentary, Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw.

We are excited to have Chamique involved in MHA’s 2016 Annual Conference. She will speak during the opening session on June 8 as a keynote, and the documentary will be shown in our 2016 Film Festival on June 9. Chamique will join the film’s producer and director, Rick Goldsmith, on a panel discussion following the screening.  The Film Festival is included in all conference registrations (except student registrations), and individual ticket options are also available for those interested in just attending the evening. Chamique joins an already amazing line-up for our June conference. You really don’t want to miss it! And you definitely don’t want to miss our Early Bird Rates which are going away in just a couple weeks.

Don’t miss out--register today!

Workshop Highlight: Amy Oestreicher
In addition to some great keynote speakers, we have some AMAZING workshops planned.

Today we want to share with you the story of Amy Oestreicher, who will be speaking during a breakout session at the conference on Thursday June 9.

Amy Oestreicher is an actress, musician, composer, dancer, writer, artist, yogi, foodie, and general lover of life.  Surviving and thriving through a coma, 27 surgeries and other trauma has inspired Amy to share her story with the world through her passionate desire to create and help others.  Piecing her life together after her initial dreams of performing musical theatre took on a beautiful detour into broader horizons.  Amy has written, directed and starred in a one woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, has flourished as a mixed media and acrylic artist, with her art in multiple galleries and mounting dozens of solo art shows, and continues to share her story through her art, music, theatre and writings.

Want to hear more of Amy’s amazing story? Register for the conference today and see her June 9!

There are Still Opportunities to Sponsor or Exhibit!
Want to engage and interact with MHA, mental health advocates, stakeholders, and decision makers eager to learn more about mental health services, products, and options for living mentally healthier lives? Consider sponsoring, exhibiting, or advertising!

Pre-Conference Day for Affiliates Only-Don’t Miss it!
The 2016 MHA Conference will have pre-conference workshops for MHA affiliates only on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. If MHA affiliates register for the full conference, pre-conference activities are included (please remember to check yes for Affiliate Pre-Conference Day, if you are planning to attend).  All activities will be held at the Hilton Mark Center. Check out the content-packed agenda and speaker list!

What's Up with Congress?

Last month, The Senate Health, Energy, Labor of Pensions (HELP) Committee advanced a bipartisan mental health bill to the full Senate. 

At the close of the markup, Chairman Alexander (R-TN) said that Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has promised floor time if Committees send him legislation that is bipartisan and likely to be signed by the President. McConnell said these bills meet those characteristics and would be ready to go as early as when the Senate returns from its spring recess in early April.  Earlier in the markup, Alexander referenced the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) by the Senate and said the Senate Finance and Judiciary Committees are also working on mental health/addiction legislation.  Alexander had previously said that each Committee would work on issues within its jurisdiction and then the bills would likely be combined on the Floor.

In MHA’s opinion, the proposal put forth by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray is another good start toward mental health reform, and MHA has shared recommendations for strengthening the proposal when it comes to the floor.

MHA continues to advocate for investment in earlier identification and intervention, integration of health and behavioral health care, the removal of barriers to services integration, the opportunity for peers to be reimbursed by insurers when they work on clinical care teams, the promotion of innovation, the strengthening of the lead federal agency dealing with mental health.

What We're Reading

MHA: Statement by Paul Gionfriddo, MHA president and CEO, on Final Parity Rule
L.A. Times: Despite Bipartisan Support, Mental Health Reform Bill Could be Derailed (MHA’s Paul Gionfriddo quoted)
U.S. News and World Report: Why Addressing Mental Illness Goes Beyond Obamacare (MHA’s Theresa Nguyen quoted)
People: Sean Astin on Mom Patty Duke's Bipolar Disorder: 'We Were All in the Storm Together'
ESPN-W: How a Michigan Program is Focusing on Athletes’ Mental Health
Vanity Fair: Wentworth Miller Reveals Heartbreaking Truth Behind Hurtful Internet Meme

Where in the World is Paul Gionfriddo?

Paul will be in Alexandria for most of the next couple of weeks, getting ready for our move to our new offices.  While he will sneak in a couple of visits with family in Connecticut and Florida during that time, he won’t be on the move again for business until April 21st, where he will do an early kickoff for Mental Health Month at a reception sponsored by the Jerome Golden Center in West Palm Beach (Paul is a Board member).  He is preparing for a very active month of May to promote Mental Health Month, which will take him to locations and events in 9 different states, including visits on behalf of affiliates in Rhode Island, Indiana, Arizona, and Pennsylvania.

Did You Know?

MHA’s May is Mental Health Month Toolkit is Here!
For over 65 years, MHA and our affiliates across the country have been responsible for the continuation and led the observance of the mental health advocacy community’s signature public education event,  May is Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings. This year’s theme for Mental Health Month is - Life with a Mental Illness - and will call on individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures and video by tagging their social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike (or submitting to MHA anonymously). Posts will be collected and displayed on a special page on MHA’s website.

Posting with the hashtag will allow people to speak up about their own experiences, to share their point of view with individuals who may be struggling to explain what they are going through—and help others figure out if they too are showing signs of a mental illness. Sharing is the key to breaking down the discrimination and stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and to show others that they are not alone in their feelings and their symptoms.

The toolkit is now available. Download it now! 

SAMHSA 2016 Voice Awards: Nominations Due April 22
For the past 11 years, the Voice Awards, a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has helped improve the nation's views and knowledge about mental health and addiction issues. It does this by recognizing exemplary television and film productions that raise public awareness, as well as community leaders whose work demonstrates that recovery from mental health conditions and addictions is not only possible, but is taking place every day. The Voice Awards help bring mental health and addictions out of the shadows, but there are still many stories that we can spotlight.

In 2016, the Voice Awards will focus on the role that family support-----between parents, children, spouses/partners, siblings, and other close family relationships----plays in inspiring hope and resilience for people experiencing a mental and/or substance use disorder. Special consideration will be given to Voice Award nominees that highlight the importance of meaningful family support in all aspects of prevention, treatment and recovery. 

Visit SAMHSA’s nominations page for information about how to submit a nomination.

Affiliate News

Affiliates in Action
Want to share your successful program or best practice and be featured in the Affiliates in Action newsletter? We want to hear from you and share your success stories with the Affiliate Network! Upload a submission at:

You will need your affiliate ID and Password to upload a submission. We invite submissions on an ongoing basis. However, the deadline for the spring edition is Friday, April 29, 2016. For questions, contact MHA’s Valerie Sterns at

New Leadership for MHA of Virginia
Please welcome Bruce Cruser, MSW as the new Executive Director for MHA Virginia. Bruce will fill the vacancy created by Anne Edgerton’s departure on March 31, 2016. Bruce’s resume includes over 25 years of program development, grant management, legislative analysis, board and staff development and strategic planning experience in the state government and non-profit sectors. 

MHA of Virginia is based in Richmond and can be reached at 804-257-5591 or

Webinar Opportunities

Peer Supports for Transition-Aged Youth
TODAY! Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. ET
A SAMHSA sponsored webinar presented by Mental Health America and the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health will take place today, Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 2:00pm Eastern Time.

Transition-Aged Youth (TAY), including foster youth, youth who have been through the juvenile justice system, and youth with mental health diagnoses, have unique needs that are often unaddressed. At this crucial stage in development, TAY peer support programs allow young people to work with trained specialists in their own age group who have similar experiences, providing them with both the benefits of best practices and the connection with someone they relate to. Panelists will discuss their programs and experiences in addition to how participants can create similar programs in their communities. 

Presenters: Matthew Gallagher and Meri Viano

Register today:

Peer-Run Respite Programs
Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. ET
A SAMHSA sponsored webinar presented by Mental Health America will take place Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Peer-Run Respite Programs serve as successful alternatives to hospitalization or other traditional crisis services with focuses on support, hope, and recovery. Operated by individuals who themselves have lived through crises, respites offer services to ultimately improve quality of life and reduce hospitalizations, in addition to shifting costs from expensive crisis centers and hospital stays. Panelists will discuss their programs, what they have learned over time, and share lessons on how communities can build their own peer-run respite programs.

Presenters: Steve Miccio and Ashley Wilksen          

Register today:

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