News From National: July 28, 2016 | Mental Health America

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News From National: July 28, 2016

In this update:

MHA 2017 Annual Conference: Big News!

MHA is excited to announce the new title and theme of our 2017 Annual Conference: Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll.

Are we really going there? Yes. Yes, we are.

Why? Because these issues are complicated, they are real, and they are far from black and white. It is time to take mental health, mental illness and addiction—and all the messy, sometimes embarrassing, uneasy truths that accompany them—out from behind closed doors—and discuss them openly. Together. Even if it makes some uncomfortable. It is that important.

MHA’s 2017 Annual Conference will take place in Washington, DC on June 14-16, 2017. Throughout the three days of our conference (and during our pre-con day for MHA affiliates on June 13), we will bring advocates, experts and elected officials together for some clear, real, and direct conversations:

  • We’ll discuss issues that impact many in the mental health and addiction communities every day—sexual trauma and its aftermath, gender identity and depression, and sexual and other side effects of mental illness medication.  And we will talk about how we can address them effectively to promote recovery.
  • We’ll dive into topics surrounding the opioid epidemic, self-medicating, and addiction.  And we will talk about how people are overcoming alcohol and drug dependence and successfully finding pathways to resilience and recovery.
  • We’ll talk about the all-too-frequent stories of musicians, entertainers, and artists who battle mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Is there a connection between the genius mind and serious mental health concerns and addiction?  Can you make great music and art and be sober at the same time? And we will talk about how music, musicians, and artists and entertainers are playing a major role in helping peers and fans along their own paths to recovery.

Engagement and inclusion are central to recovery. In 2017, we will bring our community together—to talk about what it means to have real mental health, what it means to be in recovery—and what it means to address mental illness Before Stage 4.

This is going to be good. We hope you will join us! So mark your calendars—June 14-16, 2017—and look out in the coming months for our Call for Proposals and speaker announcements. Once again, this will be one conference you definitely DO NOT want to miss!

What's Up with Congress?

As you know, MHA announced earlier this summer its support of H.R. 2646 and S. 1945/2680. On July 6th H.R. 2646, The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015, passed out of the House. We have made a lot of progress in making this legislation as strong as possible, but there is still a long way to go. Congress is currently out of session but we are hopeful the Senate will take up S. 2680, The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, upon their return.

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

Health Line: What Mental Health Legislation Would Do (Paul Gionfriddo quoted)
Time: How to Cope When the World Feels Like Total Chaos
CBS: Mental Illness Forcing Changes in America’s Jails
Variety: Demi Lovato Opens Up About Mental Illness at Democratic Convention
TIME: Being Transgender Is Not a Mental Disorder: Study
Forbes: 4 Questions To Ask When Choosing The Best App To Manage Your Mental Health
Fox News: Can Pokemon GO help patients with mental illness?

Where in the World is Paul Gionfriddo?

Paul is staying pretty local this month, and continuing to advocate on the Hill for mental health reform. In August he travels to Chicago on the 8th for a meeting with the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) and its State Health Innovations Task Force. 

Did You Know?

MHA is Partnering with IChooseBeauty

The last few months and weeks our hearts and minds have been filled with a range of thoughts and emotions that have challenged us daily. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for many of us. In these difficult times, it is tough to figure out how best to help ourselves and our communities. At MHA, we know that self-care is critical to maintain balance and positivity in our daily lives. Recognizing that self-care can oftentimes be difficult, MHA sought the support of one of our partners, I Choose Beauty, to help us focus on self-care and develop a plan of action to help ourselves and others.

Founded by Sahar Aker, I Choose Beauty is a social media effort aimed at helping oneself heal. Every day for the past two and a half years, Sahar has taken a picture of something of beauty and published it on Instagram using the hashtag #IChooseBeauty. This small action has helped Sahar focus on her own self-care while inspiring others to help themselves.

So, this is where you come in. Let’s practice self-care together and motivate each other to seek out and find the beauty around us. We recognize that, like recovery, beauty is self-defined, so don’t limit yourself. Take notice of the little things in life — the clouds, a flower, a cup of coffee, your bed, precious time spent with a friend.

Join MHA and IChooseBeauty in this effort by showing and sharing with us and others what beauty means to you and what you experienced today. Post it on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtags #IChooseBeauty and #MySilverLining, or download a blank card and share your thoughts. Taking time to notice little things can make a difference. Sometimes the small things add up to something bigger than all of us.

For questions or more information, contact America Paredes at

July is Minority Health Month

MHA is proud to recognize July as Minority Mental Health Month. We believe that everyone at risk for mental illnesses and related disorders should receive early and effective interventions. Historically, communities of color experience unique and considerable challenges in accessing mental health services.

MHA has updated content available online at:

Spanish versions of the infographics developed for May is Mental Health Month are also available at

Affiliate News

Celebrating Nearly 15 Years of Partnership with UST
MHA is thrilled to announce that our longstanding Affinity Partnership with the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) has reached a milestone year! Providing exclusive unemployment and HR resources to our members for 15 years, UST has been and will continue to be an invaluable program benefit—dedicated to the education and advancement of nonprofits nationwide. Complete a free Savings Evaluation at to find out if your affiliate could save thousands of dollars in unemployment costs.

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 summer edition is Friday, August 12, 2016. For questions, contact MHA’s Valerie Sterns at

500 Montgomery Street, Suite 820
 Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone (703) 684.7722

Toll Free (800) 969.6642

Fax (703) 684.5968

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