News From National: September 23, 2015 | Mental Health America

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News From National: September 23, 2015

News From National: September 23, 2015
By: Erin Wallace, MHA Senior Director of Communications and Marketing

Good afternoon Mental Health Advocates!

So you may have heard, the Pope is in town! Many of us in the DC area are thinking about our mental health this week and avoiding the headache that is Beltway traffic by working from home. Unfortunately, not everyone works at a place where that is allowed. I’m lucky enough to work at MHA, which allows me to work from home regularly, which makes a huge difference. International dignitary visits aside, flexible work schedules and telecommuting can be incredibly important for many in keeping a solid work-life balance. It’s why MHA is a national partner in the 1 Million for Work Flexibility Campaign. We also want to hear from you about your own work health situation—we have a new anonymous Work Health Survey online that individuals can take (and a special thank you to the Faas Foundation for its support on the survey).

So a shout out to MHA and to all of you that provide your employees work flexibility and a healthy work environment—thank you for walking the walk!

In this update:

  • Announcing the Theme for MHA’s 2016 Annual Conference
  • What's Up with Congress?
  • What We Are Reading
  • Where in the World is Paul Gionfriddo?
  • Did You Know?
  • Affiliate News and Updates

Announcing the Theme for MHA’s 2016 Annual Conference

MHA is excited to announce the theme for our 2016 Annual Conference—Media, Messaging and Mental Health! Taking place in Alexandria, Virginia on June 8-10, our 2016 conference will take a deep dive on the impact and influence of media and the entertainment industry on the complex issues of mental health and mental illness. With a particular 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; how celebrity can be used to influence the conversation; and how messaging and language can sometimes contribute to and perpetuate the destructive stigma and discrimination of people living with mental illness. A Call for Proposals as well as sponsorship and exhibiting opportunities will be shared in November, so stay tuned for details on how to get involved!

What’s Up with Congress?

MHA is one of several national organizations participating next week in the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Hill Day, where mental health advocates will be on Capitol Hill in force to promote the need for mental health care reform. While MHA hasn’t yet endorsed the current mental health reform bills, you can read about our priorities, policy statements and bill analysis here. Congress this week is busy prepping itself for the historic address from the Pope, and has been focused on international affairs issues as of late. We anticipate movement on some of these mental health reform bills early next month. So stay tuned!

What We're Reading

Roll Call: Patients' Rights Questions Hang Over Mental Health Debate (Paul Gionfriddo quoted) MHA of Tippecanoe Showcases Photo Exhibit on Mental Illness
New York Times: Head of Mental Health Institute Leaving for Google Life Sciences
CNN: Is Mental Health Parity Law Fulfilling its Promise?
Newsweek: America’s Biggest Gun Problem is Suicide
Forbes: Psychiatrist Shortage Worsens Amid 'Mental Health Crisis'

Where in the World is Paul Gionfriddo?

Paul this week is on a much-deserved vacation! Earlier this month, Paul welcomed our national board members to Alexandria for the board’s quarterly meeting, and Paul traveled to Atlanta to speak at the three-day annual meeting of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism. There he was honored to meet Mrs. Carter and learn more about their new Journalism Resource Guide on Behavioral Health.

Paul also visited the MHA Palm Beach County affiliate, where he spoke about Losing Tim, Before Stage 4, and MHA’s online screening tools. Like many MHA affiliates around the country, MHA Palm Beach County uses MHA’s online screening tools – generating more than 650 responses in a relatively short time. This allows Paul to customize the presentation for the county, comparing the county to the state and the nation. Interested in the same? Contact MHA’s Theresa Nguyen at to obtain screening data for your area and learn more about the MHA Screening program.  MHA Screening technical support is also an additional benefit of affiliation!

Did You Know?

MHA Needs You to Tell Retailers: “Gone Mental” Halloween Costumes are Offensive and Stigmatizing
Halloween costumes are meant to be scary or funny, but costumes such as “Gone Mental” that caricature individuals in psychiatric hospitals are neither. They are offensive and harmful. Individuals living with mental health conditions are not costume characters. Mental health conditions do not make someone a serial killer, covered in blood and dirt with ripped clothing. Costumes like “Gone Mental” contribute only to stereotypes and misunderstandings that all individuals living with mental health conditions are violent and scary.  Sign the petition asking retailers to remove these offensive costumes from their inventories.  For more information, read our blog post on Chiming In.

Mission Complete Veterans Awards
MHA is proud to support and participate in the Mission Complete First Annual Veterans Awards Event. On this Veterans Day, November 11, 2015, Mission Complete will host the event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC, and MHA’s Debbie Plotnick will be presenting an award. The Veterans Awards will honor organizations that have dedicated themselves to creating an America where our nation's heroes are able to live the lives they deserve and access the assistance that is promised to them. Learn more about Mission Complete and purchase tickets to the event.

Affiliate News and Updates

BrainFutures 2015
MHA is excited to be a part of MHA of Maryland’s Centennial Conference, BrainFutures 2015: Exploring New Frontiers to Improve Brain Health & Optimize the Mind's Potential. Taking place in Annapolis, Maryland on November 4-5, the conference will provide up‐to‐the-minute insight into the most exciting new developments in behavioral health technology, treatment, support and self-care. MHA’s CEO Paul Gionfriddo will be speaking at the conference. Register today!

MHA of East Tennessee Recipient of Grant to expand the Peer Recovery Call Center
The Mental Health Association of East Tennessee is pleased to share it has received a $50,000 grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee to expand the Peer Recovery Call Center, switch to a new MIS system and provide marketing resources to promote the call center, free screenings and peer support.

MHA San Francisco and the 3rd Annual Tools for Change Conference
The Center for Dignity, Recovery, and Empowerment, a project of MHA San Francisco, is proud to present its 3rd Annual Tools for Change Conference. This unique two-day event taking place on November 6-7, 2015 will unite mental health experts, users/consumers, health technology leaders, providers, researchers, and community members in a collaborative and actionable learning environment to advance innovation highlighting the work of diverse leaders across sectors. The Tools for Change Conference is the world's first conference focused on lived experience and culture change around mental health and mental illness. Register today!

MHA of Monmouth County Celebrating 65 Years
The MHA of Monmouth County is throwing a birthday party! The affiliate is celebrating 65 years and invites you to join them tomorrow, September 24, 2015. You can still buy tickets here!

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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