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News From National: We're Back!

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

Happy summer mental health advocates! Following a very successful 2015 Annual Conference (and a much-needed vacation) News From National is back…and as usual, there is no rest for the weary. Whoever said things slow down in the summer months clearly isn’t working on mental health care reform!


  • MHA 2015 Annual Conference Wrap Up (and 2016 Save the Date)
  • What’s Up with Congress?
  • What We Are Reading
  • Where in the World is Paul Gionfriddo?
  • Did You Know?
  • Affiliate News

MHA 2015 Annual Conference Wrap Up (and 2016 Save the Date)

MHA’s 2015 Annual Conference: Intervention and Innovation Before Stage 4, which was held last month in Alexandria, Virginia was a huge success!  We heard from the United States Surgeon General, two sitting U.S. Senators, Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania—and for  those who attended the Clifford Beers Awards Dinner—a video message from the First Lady of the United States herself, Michelle Obama!  Overall, we saw over 600 people throughout the 3 days, and wrapped everything up with an amazing luncheon with Momastery founder and best-selling author Glennon Doyle Melton, who shared her story of resilience and recovery with the attendees.

Check out a summary and some great photos of the conference at our website, and if you weren’t able to catch all the fantastic panel speakers, many of their presentations are now online (you can find them under the individual sections of the conference agenda).

Finally, SAVE THE DATE! MHA’s 2016 Annual Conference is June 8-10, 2016 in Alexandria, Virginia. Some have asked how we could possibly top this year’s meeting. Trust me, we will!

What’s Up with Congress?

Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

Last month, MHA president and CEO Paul Gionfriddo testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health regarding HR 2646, The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015. While MHA did not support the previous version of the bill, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013, the organization along with many affiliates and advocates around the country have been working tirelessly to address the specific faults of the original legislation.

Through its tireless advocacy, MHA has been credited by the sponsors in changing the approach of the legislation this year, with greater emphasis on screening, early intervention, and integration, and the removal of a federal mandate around forced treatment for people with late-stage mental illnesses. The Murphy-Johnson legislation’s emphasis on moving upstream in the process – i.e., on intervening before Stage 4 – is a critical step toward treating mental illnesses like we treat every other chronic disease

MHA is pleased that the bill’s authors, Representative Tim Murphy (PA-18) and Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) are open to some important suggested changes and believes this version is a good start.  That said, MHA still sees areas for needed improvement. MHA will work throughout the legislative process to strengthen H.R. 2646 and is encouraged by the bi-partisan support for advancing federal legislation on mental health reform.

The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act (HR 3060)

On July 14, MHA president and CEO Paul Gionfriddo joined Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) at a press conference introducing bipartisan legislation to reform and regulate residential treatment and youth “boot camp” programs nationwide. Families turn to these programs when in need of more assistance than traditional inpatient mental health services or intermediate therapy programs are able to offer.  Residential treatment programs have existed for several decades as a last resort treatment option for children with mental health issues, and Paul spoke specifically about his own experiences in seeking help for his son Tim.

MHA supports this legislation, which would provide protections for youth when their parents have to consider sending them out of the home and community; protections against the most abusive actions; assurance that families are afforded basic rights for good and fair treatment for their children; standards across state lines for these programs and facilities; and basic accountability to families.

What We Are Reading

Where in the World is Paul Gionfriddo?

Following the Annual Conference, Paul visited Texas the second week of June where he met with affiliates from Houston, Dallas, and Fort Bend. He also keynoted and signed copies of Losing Tim at MHA Houston’s annual meeting, which was attended by over 100 people.  He then presented to 30 state legislators from around the country at a meeting of the Council of State Governments in DC on June 18th, and to 200 people at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in Washington, DC on June 22.

This week, he travels to Denver to attend a meeting with representatives of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and he’ll be presenting this Friday at a clinic on health and mental health at the Biennial of the Americas Conference (at which there will be representatives from both North and South America).

Next month, he 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?

MHA Taps Renowned Mental Health Experts to Join National Board of Directors

MHA is a National Partner with Destination Dignity: The March for Dignity and Change in Mental Health.  At the Destination Dignity March, people personally affected by mental health challenges, distress and suicide will step forward, along with supporters, to demand change for the health of our nation. The Destination Dignity March is being held on August 24th in Washington, DC. It will begin with a rally on the national mall at 12:00 p.m. Many communities, local and national organizations are contributing to this effort through the Dignity Mental Health Coalition.

For our local veterans and their families, our partner Mission Complete is offering discounted rates for their summer camp program which runs until August 14th. If you are interested in registering or learning more, go to

Affiliate News

In an effort to communicate and collaborate more effectively with the MHA Affiliate Network, MHA is collecting contact information on key affiliate staff dealing with communications, development, education and policy.  It’s our intention to use this contact information to share resources from National to support and assist in affiliate efforts, and to get input and feedback on existing and future resources and initiatives. 

We will continue to share information with the leadership of our affiliates through News from National and other direct communications, but we want to make sure that we can reach out directly around certain topics and connect your department staff to ours on a regular basis. Please click here to complete the survey or follow the link and have the appropriate staff person(s) complete the survey. The survey is very brief and shouldn’t take long to complete. 

MHA appreciates your continued support and thanks you for your participation!

Feedback on NFN?

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