News and Notes for Global Peer Support Celebration Day

Today is Global Peer Supporter Celebration Day! This is a day to recognize the amazing work peers are doing to help people with mental health needs, and to bring a message of hope and recovery to our mental health system.

This global day of recognition was created by the International Association of Peer Supporters in 2015. They have a Facebook page at where anyone from the peer support community can share their thoughts on why peer support, and the people that provide it, deserve to be celebrated.

This day also provides an ideal occasion to let people in your community know what peer support is, how it works, and why it matters. If you want some resources to help get that conversation started, check these links:

Finally, CAFÉ TAC would like to take this moment to celebrate you! Whether you are a certified peer specialist, or someone that lives the values of peer support by practicing empathy, listening actively and believing in people’s strengths, please know that what you do is unique, important, and valuable. You deserve to be recognized!


Preparing for Election Day

The National Disability Rights Network and Asian Americans Advancing Justice have released a fact sheet to help people with disabilities understand their voting rights, specifically relating to potential “voter challenges” on Election Day.


What is The Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act?

A piece of legislation currently pending in Congress would make federal help available for campuses to expand their mental health awareness, outreach, and direct counseling services, brining much-needed support to colleges and universities that struggle to meet the mental health needs of their student bodies.

This article describes recent comments by the bill’s sponsor, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).


Here’s What Happens When Teenagers Talk Openly About Mental Health

When one young person steps forward to talk honestly about mental health, dozens follow suit.


Is Anybody Paying Attention? Harm And Death Within Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities

Recent discussions of mental health reform have emphasized improving access to treatment, and providing more inpatient services. But what will the experience of the people engaged in those proposed systems look and feel like? This article points out that re-institutionalization could be as dangerous as incarceration, and any increase in services must be accompanied by a thorough examination of the quality of that care.

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News and Notes for October 7, 2016

The calendar has turned to October, and that means Halloween is coming around again. For most people that means jack-o’ lanterns and free candy, but for people in the mental health community, it also means another round of costumes, attractions, and entertainment that rely on the clichéd depictions of violent “crazy people” and spooky “insane asylums.” Despite the fact that mental health is an issue that has come to be discussed more openly and thoughtfully in recent years, Halloween seems to provide an occasion for regression to the old, damaging stereotypes linking mental health to violence, chaos and danger.

Fortunately, mental health advocates have recently made some headway in helping the general public to better understand how hurtful and offensive Halloween-themed depictions of people with mental health needs can be. In a recent post on Mad in America that you can read here, Susan Rogers, Director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse, describes advocacy efforts that forced changes to attractions at Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks. The Cedar Fair attraction, called FearVR: 5150, was described in the LA Times  as “a mental hospital where a psychiatric patient with demonic powers is on the loose.” The Six Flags attractions, with names like Dark Oaks Asylum and PSYCHO-PATH Haunted Asylum, promised to bring visitorsface-to-face with the world’s worst psychiatric patients.”

As Susan recounts in the post, mental health advocates from around the country came together to educate Cedar Fair and Six Flags about why their attractions were offensive, and how they were likely to shame people with mental health needs, while conveying the message that it’s ok to objectify “mental patients.” The fact that both organizations altered their attractions is not just evidence that advocacy actually works. It also highlights the tremendous opportunity that mental health advocates have to take situations in which people with mental health needs are being objectified and derided in the name of “fun,” and use them as an occasion to talk about the reality of mental health, the painful history of institutionalization, and the very real humanity of the many people that deal with mental health every day.

So if you see something that doesn’t sit right with you this October, don’t be afraid to say something. It might be a chance to change someone’s perspective!


March for Dignity and Change for Mental Health

Speaking of defending the dignity and humanity of people with mental health needs, the March for Dignity and Change for Mental Health is planned for Monday, October 10 in Washington DC. If you’re in the area, please consider joining the chorus of people speaking out for the human rights of people with mental health needs. If you can’t be there, follow along on twitter by looking for the #MHDignityMarch tag.

Learn more about this event at


Mental Illness Is A Health Condition, Not Halloween Entertainment

This Huffington Post piece does a good job of explaining the problems with linking mental health challenges and scary Halloween entertainment.

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News and Notes . . . and Video! for September 8, 2016

In this edition of our News and Notes email, we would like to share a series of videos of presentations given at The 18th Annual Family Café this past June. The Annual Family Café is the nation’s largest statewide cross-disability event. It attracts thousands of attendees from throughout Florida and beyond, and they are exposed to a wealth of information, including a complete track of mental health sessions. The 18th Annual Family Café also included a mental health keynote this year, with suicide prevention advocate Kevin Hines.

Here’s some of what we recorded:

Cracked Not Broken with Kevin Hines – In this keynote address delivered at The 18th Annual Family Cafe this past June in Orlando, suicide prevention and mental health advocate Kevin Hines shares his message of hope and resilience. –

Working Roles in Recovery – This workshop informs participants about employment roles, competencies, and the Florida Certification process for Certified Recovery Peer Specialists. –

Recovery Rocks! The Self-Directed Care Way – A self-directed care program participant talks about how she went from being on life support to starting her recovery journey with help from the FL Self-Directed Care Program (FL SDC). This innovative service delivery program places individuals with mental illness at the center of their own decision-making, by allowing participants to work with a recovery coach to manage a budget that allows for purchases that enhance their recovery and help them reach their recovery goals. –

The Power of Shared Decision Making and Peer Support in Recovery – This session explores the role shared decision making can play in mental health recovery. It includes information on tools for shared decision making in treatment. It also explores the benefits of peer support and ways individuals can be linked to a peer supporter in the community. –

Trauma and Individuals with Disabilities – This presentation explores what trauma is and some possible causes of trauma; the importance of taking trauma into consideration in all aspects of life and care; the potential effects of trauma; potential causes and the impact of trauma, especially on individuals with disabilities; available therapies for trauma; and an introduction to trauma-informed care. –

We hope you enjoy this taste of The 18th Annual Family Café’s mental health content!

As usual, we have even more for you collected below, including information on September’s Recovery Month activities, as well as information about the upcoming Alternatives conference. We hope to see you there!


September is Recovery Month

Every September SAMHSA promotes National Recovery Month to bring national attention to behavioral health and let people know that recovery is possible! This year’s theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!” SAMHSA has many materials and resources to help mental health consumer organizations participate in Recovery Month, as well as a National Recovery Month Facebook page, a Recovery Month Youtube channel, a Recovery Month Twitter feed, and a National Recovery Month Toolkit in English or Spanish.

See what’s available at


Hillary Clinton Releases Mental Health Policy Plan

Hillary Clinton has put out an extensive plan to address the nation’s mental health challenges. You can read the plan in full at

This article provides a brief overview:

And this article tries to imagine what results Clinton’s plan might bring, while also looking at what direction a Donald Trump administration might take in tackling the issue:


Alternatives is Coming

The 30th Annual Alternatives conference is coming to San Diego on September 19-23. We hope to see you there!

You can find everything you need to know about Alternatives at

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Cracked Not Broken with Kevin Hines

In this keynote address delivered at The 18th Annual Family Cafe this past June in Orlando, suicide prevention and mental health advocate Kevin Hines shares his message of hope and resilience.

Two years after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Kevin Hines attempted to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He is one of only thirty-four (less than 1%) to survive the fall and he is the only Golden Gate Bridge jump survivor who is actively spreading the message of living mentally healthy internationally. Kevin Hines has gone one to become an award-winning global speaker, bestselling author, documentary filmmaker, and suicide prevention and mental health advocate who has reached millions with his story of an unlikely survival and his strong will to live (


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Working Roles in Recovery

This workshop from The 18th Annual Family Cafe informs participants about employment roles, competencies, and the Florida Certification process for Certified Recovery Peer Specialists. Attendees are given an overview of the Florida Certification Board’s certification process in addition to learning about core competencies that apply to all forms of peer support and employment. Participants learn about the various roles that Certified Peer Specialist can fulfill and the job titles that apply to those roles and the core competencies necessary to fulfill these roles.

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