MHA News From National: October 22, 2015 | Mental Health America

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MHA News From National: October 22, 2015

By: Erin Wallace, MHA Senior Director of Communications and Marketing

In this update:

MHA 2016 Annual Conference (June 8-10, 2016 in Alexandria, Virginia)

The planning for MHA’s 2016 Annual Conference has official begun, and we are very excited to share the latest with all of you. MHA's 2016 Annual Conference: Media, Messaging and Mental Health will take an in-depth look at the impact and influence of media and the entertainment industry on the complex issues of mental health and mental illness. With a focus on film, television, the digital landscape and the press, we will explore the good and the bad of portrayals on the big and small screen; the art of storytelling as a powerful way to change the conversation; how celebrity can be used to influence the dialogue; and how messaging and language can sometimes contribute to and perpetuate the destructive stigma and discrimination of people living with mental illness.

The Annual Conference is designed to provide educational opportunities for a diverse group of individuals and organizations working to advocate for and implement innovative interventions within the Before Stage 4 philosophy. Each year, Mental Health America’s Conference brings together advocates, educators, researchers, business and community leaders, Members of Congress and the Administration, and health professionals from across the country. Past speakers include Tipper Gore, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Rosalynn Carter, Glenn Close, Glennon Doyle Melton, George Stephanopoulos, and entertainer Demi Lovato.

MHA will be issuing a Call for Proposals next month as well as additional information on Sponsorship and Exhibitor opportunities. Stay tuned for additional announcements!

What's Up with Congress?

There is a lot of chatter out there regarding mental health reform legislation and the momentum on Capitol Hill, so we wanted to share with you exactly what we are hearing and doing:

MHA continues to talk with sponsors and proponents of mental health reform legislation, as well as leaders of other advocacy organizations, and agencies and individuals affected by the proposals.  What we're hearing strongly and carrying to members of Congress are two things: First, it is time for investment in earlier identification and intervention, time to integrate health and behavioral health care and remove barriers to services integration, time to make it possible for peers to be reimbursed by insurers when they work on clinical care teams, time to promote innovation, and time to strengthen the lead federal agency dealing with mental health. Second, that the rhetoric on all sides – which comes from genuine and heart-felt desires, but often differing desires to do good - is becoming a bit too heated all around, and needs to be tamped down if we're going to make progress. 

We're working to tone down some of the rhetoric and to keep everyone's eyes on the ball.  And we're continuing our efforts to improve the proposals under consideration, especially with respect to peer support, protection for rights to and choices in treatment and broad-based supports, elevation of the position of mental health in the federal bureaucracy, and person-centered approaches to record-sharing. While MHA has not formally endorsed any bill, we continue to commend the sponsors in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle for their willingness to listen to us and others who are willing to talk to them, and to hear what we're saying, in spite of so much background noise. There's still time to talk to your legislators and ask them to support these positions!

What We're Reading

Washington Post: Advocates and Lawmakers See Rare Momentum for Mental Health Reform (Paul Gionfriddo quoted)
Miami Herald: The Impact of Workplace Bullying (originally in Chicago Tribune; Paul Gionfriddo quoted)
Washington Post: Why Is It So Hard to Find a Mental Health Professional? (Paul Gionfriddo quoted)
NPR: What To Do With California’s Mentally Ill Defendants? (video)
The Hill: Feds award grants for new mental health clinics
New York Times: Talk Therapy Found to Ease Schizophrenia
Upworthy: Hayden Panettiere is checking herself into treatment for depression. Here's why it's a big deal.
Washington Post: NIH’s mental health chief on why he’s leaving for Google: Technology may hold key to better diagnosis
The White House: President Obama Hosts Community Forum in West Virginia, Talks About Opioid Abuse

Where in the World is Paul Gionfriddo?

Paul is off to Lynchburg, Virginia today to spend an evening with MHA Central Virginia and then participate in an Advocacy to Practice conference it is hosting at Lynchburg College on Friday. On Saturday, he’ll head to Hollywood, Florida to keynote the American Psychiatric Association State Advocacy Meeting Dinner. On Tuesday, he will fly directly from Florida to New York City to speak to a Farragut Square Group luncheon, before heading back to D.C. to participate in an AHRQ-sponsored meeting (with MHA Senior Policy Associate Nathaniel Counts) all day on Wednesday to improve dialogue between health services researchers and mental health advocates.

Want to see Paul at your event or host a book signing? Contact Michael King at to schedule something!

Did You Know?

Mental Health Channel Online Film Festival
Yours truly had the unique opportunity to play film critic this month (!) as one of the official jurors for the Mental Health Channel Online Film Festival (MHC OFF). I was joined by an incredible group of jurors, including Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Ross Kauffman, and Dr. Lloyd Sederer, Huffington Post Medical Editor for Mental Health.

MHC OFF seeks to celebrate and promote filmmakers who, through excellent storytelling and filmmaking, raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues. The films in their Official Selection do this in creative and surprising ways. The festival is open to all genres of short films (under 20 minutes) and is an eclectic mix of high-quality documentaries, narratives, animations and experimental films from all over the world.

You can participate too! Voting for the Audience Award is now open! Please visit the festival page to view all of the short films in the Official Selections, view the recipient of this year's Vision Award, and cast your vote for the Audience Award winner. MHC has extended the deadline through Sunday, October 25th at 11:59PM. The short film with the most votes will win the Audience Award and a cash prize, so please watch and vote for your favorite today. All films and voting are available at

Winners of both the Audience Award and the Jury Award will be announced November 1st, 2015.

Affiliate News

MHA Family Mourns Passing of Kurt Cunningham

Webinar: Creating Sustainable Funding For Your Mental Health Organization
October 23, 2015 at 3 p.m. ET
Please join Terry Axelrod, Founder and CEO, Benevon and Susan Crain Lewis, President and CEO, Mental Health America of the Heartland, for a free webinar on how to create sustainable funding for your mental health organization. By the end of this session, you will have learned:

  • A tested system to identify and cultivate donors who love your mission—donors who will give for operations, capital, and endowment
  • How to engage your community in your organization’s mission and to inspire giving
  • How to get started right away to implement mission-focused, permission-based fundraising

Space is limited. Register today:  Who Should Attend? Key organizational leadership, including board members, executive director or CEO, development director and volunteers. Questions: Contact Bianca Galam at 206-428-2150 or or Valerie Sterns at 703-797-2594 or

New Affiliate Executive
Karen Waldron is the new Executive Director for MHA of Cass County in Indiana. Welcome Karen!

Unemployment Services Trust (UST)
The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) helps nonprofits exercise this unique option effectively, while providing a state-specific claims representative as well as a live HR Hotline—helping you maintain compliance without the costly legal fees. Having partnered with Mental Health America for nearly 15 years, UST has been able to help organizations like you lower unemployment costs through reserve-building, dedicated administrative support, auditing, and online training opportunities.  Just last year, UST members experienced $34,270,677.51 in unemployment claims cost savings.

The deadline to submit a Savings Evaluation is November 15th. So, if you’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 10 plus employees, you can get a complimentary 2-Year Savings Projection today or call a UST at 888-249-4788. Use Priority Code “2015MHA” to expedite the process. UST has recently expanded their options, so even if you’ve explored this before, we recommend taking a look. There is a deadline of November 30th to enroll in the program for 2016, so submit a free Savings Evaluation today and find out if you could benefit from UST.

Feedback on NFN?
Want to see more or less of something? MHA welcomes your feedback! Please send any thoughts and suggestions to me at

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