News From National: August 14, 2015 | Mental Health America

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News From National: August 14, 2015

In this update:

What’s Up with Congress?

This summer, a lot!! On August 4, Senators Bill Cassidy (R-TN) and Christopher Murphy (D-CT) introduced the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015. While Mental Health America has not yet formally endorsed it or its House counterpart (H.R. 2646), we consider it another important step toward making comprehensive mental health reform a reality in America. Check out our press statement on the legislation and a Chiming In blog post by MHA president and CEO Paul Gionfriddo on the subject.

Last week, Republican John Cornyn of Texas introduced legislation that addresses issues with the current national background checks system by encouraging states, through the promise of federal funding, to send more information on mental health records to the national database. Cornyn’s bill includes language on Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), which would “create a path” for people dealing with mental illness to be ordered into treatment by a judge without being involuntarily committed. It includes provisions supporting mental health courts and CIT training, too.  MHA has not endorsed the legislation, which has the support of the National Rifle Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). We have stated that we favor a system in which behavioral health EMTs, not police and sheriffs, respond to mental health crises. We think hospitals and health clinics—not jails and prisons—are sites of evaluation and stabilization, and that health professionals (including peers) and families—not lawyers and judges—work with individuals, once stabilized, to develop a plan of treatment and support.

Last month, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act, “a bill to continue and improve programs that help states and local communities in suicide prevention, helping children recover from traumatic events, mental health awareness for teachers and other individuals, and assessing barriers to integrating behavioral health and primary care.” The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and is expected to be marked up in the coming weeks.

Coming Soon: Back to School materials!

Next week, Mental Health America will release its 2015 annual Back to School toolkit. The toolkit for MHA Affiliates, advocates, and organizations of all types to use with parents, youth and school personnel to raise awareness of the importance of talking about mental health. 

By using the toolkit materials, you will help members of your community:

  • Be aware of the risk factors and early warning signs for mental health disorders in youth;
  • Access tools to assess the mental health of young people through use of MHA’s scientifically proven, free, anonymous, and confidential screening tools for youth and parents.
  • Learn strategies for starting conversations about mental health concerns; and
  • Increase understanding of next steps and treatment options available to help young people address their mental health.

Keep an eye on your inbox and our website next week for the release!

What We’re Reading

U.S. News and World Report: Would Mental Health Laws Threaten Privacy and Patients’ Rights? (Paul Gionfriddo quoted)
Fierce Health IT: Digital Innovation is Changing the Behavioral Healthcare Landscape (Paul Gionfriddo quoted)
The Economist: Letter to the Editor re: Jailhouse Nation (authored by MHA board member David Theobald)
National Journal: Mental Health Reform Gaining Momentum in Congress
The Hill: Senators Unveil Bipartisan Mental Health Bill
Newsweek: Robin Williams Left 'Unprecedented' Mark on Suicide Hotlines
Huffington Post: Why #TheWorstPartOfDepressionIs Matters So Much
U.S. News and World Report (Op-Ed): America Wakes Up to Mental Heal

Where in the World is Paul Gionfriddo?

This month Paul is slated to visit Indiana and Ohio, with a book signing for MHA Greater Indianapolis on August 26, and a keynote for the Health Policy Institute of Ohio as well as a visit with MHA Franklin County on August 31.

Did You Know?

Destination Dignity March
MHA is a founding partner of Destination Dignity, a March for Dignity and Change in Mental Health, taking place in Washington, DC on August 24. Destination Dignity is a collaborative project for change and public engagement around mental health in America. For those who can't make it to DC, join the digital rally by using #MHDignityMarch on social media! The Destination Dignity March will bring people from around the world and nation together, with people affected by mental health conditions in the lead, to create energy and solidarity for a more supportive nation. Join us!

On Tuesday, August 18 at 1 p.m. ET MHA will be co-hosting a Twitter Chat with @StampStigma and @MHDignityMarch talking about mental health and dignity. Follow MHA on Twitter at @mentalhealtham for more information!

Training Webinar: A Peer Driven Solution to Isolation and Social Exclusion
September 3, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. ET

The first of three training webinars on MHA’s highly innovative and successful It’s My Life: Social Self Directed Care program, A Peer Driven Solution to Isolation and Social Exclusion Training Webinar will take place on September 3, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Please join us for the first training webinar to learn how to implement this remarkable intervention that promotes social connectivity through the use of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Peer Support, professional Life Coaching, and Self Direction. It is an integrated skill and support strategy that helps people living with severe psychiatric issues build networks of friends and intimate relationships. In a two-year pilot demonstration, our peer Life Coaches worked with individuals who are among the most misunderstood and isolated members of society and successfully assisted them in becoming participating members of their communities.  This Webinar is open to the public. For more information please contact Kirsten Kaiser (, Shavonne Carpenter (, or Patrick Hendry (

National Peer Support Certification
This week, MHA is meeting with mental health experts from around the country and the Florida Certification Board to define core competencies, skill sets, and other requirements necessary for a National Peer Support Certification. MHA wants to expand the concept of peer support to its fullest capacity while still keeping the intrinsic nature of true peer support. The certification is not meant to qualify a peer to work in a clinical position, but rather to work in tandem with clinicians or in peer-run organizations to provide the highest level of support. Stay tuned for more information about the National Peer Support Certification!

Affiliate News and Updates

MHA Affiliate Webinar: Mental Health Awareness in Schools
August 20, 2015 at 3 p.m. ET
The webinar will highlight two Affiliate programs that expand outreach to students about mental health. Presenters include Bianca Mikahn, Programs Facilitator/Community Liaison for MHA of Colorado and Kelli Cochran-West, Director of Community Education for the MHA in Southwestern New Jersey. To learn more about the webinar and to register, log on to or email Valerie Sterns at  

Program and Fundraising Consulting Opportunity
Last March, Laura Moskow Sigal retired after 25 years (!) as director of MHA of Franklin County in Ohio. While at MHAFC, Laura grew the affiliate from a 3-person, $100,000 budget to a 13-person, $1.6 million dollar budget. She is now looking to help other affiliates around the country. Contact Laura at to start a conversation and see how she can help your affiliate today!

New Director at MHA of Wabash County
Please join MHA in welcoming Karen Newhouse, the new Director of MHA of Wabash County

Feedback on NFN?
Want to see more or less of something? MHA welcomes your feedback! Please email thoughts and suggestions to Erin Wallace at

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Phone (703) 684.7722

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