CAFE TAC News and Notes for July 11, 2016

Last week was an eventful one, with the House of Representatives advancing HR 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. This bill represents the most significant effort at national mental health reform in a generation. It will now go to the Senate, where it is likely to be reconciled with mental health legislation that has been brought forth in that body.

As it stands, the bill has a number of noteworthy provisions:

  • Expands Medicaid funding for stays in private or state mental health and for addiction treatment facilities by relaxing the IMD exclusion. Medicaid managed care programs will be able to pay for inpatient treatment up to 15 days.
  • Makes no changes to HIPAA. The bill includes funding for education about flexibility in the existing law, and asks Health and Human Services and the Office of Civil Rights to consider new rules surrounding HIPAA.
  • Allocates funding for compulsory outpatient treatment (aka AOT). The bill includes increase funding for AOT pilot programs, but does not penalize states for lacking AOT programs as earlier versions of the bill did.
  • Makes no changes to the role of Protection and Advocacy Agencies P&A agencies.
  • Creates the position of Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders within SAMHSA to oversee federal behavioral health policy and set priorities. This position is intended to be filled by a psychiatrist or psychologist.
  • Re-authorizes SAMHSA Block Grants.
  • Calls for a GAO study on parity compliance.

We have gathered some summaries and reactions to the passage of this bill below. CAFÉ TAC will continue to share information on the progress of federal mental health reform legislation as the discussion moves to the Senate.

In addition to legislative developments, peers around the country are getting ready for the iNAPS Conference, which will be held in Philadelphia this August. Please find info about that event below. We have also included information about Alternatives, including a call for award nominations.

Recent events have also brought issues of race to the forefront of the nation’s attention. This edition of our News and Notes email includes some items that highlight the inextricable connections between race and mental health.

Whatever you are doing this summer, we hope that you are staying well! Thanks for being part of CAFÉ TAC, and don’t forget to join us on Twitter and Facebook for more news and information.


House Passes Mental Health Bill

A summary from The Hill:

An account from the hometown paper of the bill’s author:

Reaction from the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery:

Reaction from the National Council for Behavioral Health:

Reaction from Mental Health America:

Full text of the bill is available at


Webinar: Back to the Basics: Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration

Monday, July 11

2:00 pm Eastern / 11:00 am Pacific

Integration is a hot topic and buzzword in health care. And, integrated primary and behavioral health care is the best approach to care for people with complex health care needs. But do you have an elevator speech when someone asks you about integrated care? What do you tell new staff during orientation and how do you communicate the value to potential partners and your board of directors? Join this webinar to go back to the basics of primary and behavioral health care integration and learn how to effectively communicate the importance of integrated care and the benefit to the people you serve.

This webinar is for any service provider in mental health, substance abuse or primary care interested in implementing integration.

Register for free at:


Webinar: Working Together to Support the Caregivers of Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families

Tue., July 12

2:00-3:30 p.m. ET

Over 1.1 million spouses, parents, and friends are caring for injured and disabled veterans who have served since 09/11/01. Caregivers of service members, veterans, and their families (SMVF) have been described as crucial partners in providing a supportive environment for SMVF. The responsibilities of supporting the needs of returning service members and transitioning veterans can prove challenging, and without a strong support system, caregiving can take a toll on one’s health and wellbeing over time.

Understanding those who serve as caregivers—and the array of challenges they face when accessing help—is the first step in supporting their resiliency and behavioral health.

In this webinar, Ms. Tanielian from RAND Corporation will present information on their sweeping study of military caregivers. Ms. Kabat, from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), will discuss the VA’s services that specifically support caregivers. Ms. Bauer of Operation Family Caregiver, a program of the Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving, will discuss examples of possible partnerships to support caregivers. Several other key federal and community resources will also be shared. Through public-private partnerships, some of our best solutions and supports for military families can be offered.



iNAPS: A story of resilience and sustainability

The 2016 iNAPS (International Association of Peer Supporters) Conference will take place August 26-28 in Philadelphia. This event presents a great opportunity to connect with peers from across the nation and the world.

To view the agenda, find travel information, or register, visit the event website at


With the 10th Annual iNAPS Conference set for next month, here’s an article that describes its purpose, growth and history.

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Focus 45: Finding the Right Fit: What to Look For in a College or University

The demand for mental health services is at an all-time high, and colleges and universities are struggling to meet the need for support and counseling among their student bodies. The end result is a crisis not just among the students, who report extraordinarily high levels of depression and anxiety, but among institutions of higher education as a whole, as schools struggle with the demand for mental health services. Given the pressure on colleges and universities to provide for an ever-growing number of students in need of support, it is more essential than ever that people with mental health needs seeking to pursue higher education make decisions about where to study that are grounded in an understanding of the their own needs, the unique culture of each campus,  and the level of support and accommodations each school is able to offer.

In the latest Focus newsletter, CAFE TAC provides some advice on what prospective students with mental health needs should look for in a college or university. There’s a lot to consider, from the culture around mental health and stigma on campus, to university policies and available accommodations. To get a sense of how to figure out if a given school is the right fit, check out Focus 45: Finding the Right Fit:  What to Look For in a College or University.


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CAFE TAC News and Notes for June 22, 2016

It’s hard to believe that it’s already halfway through 2016, but July is fast approaching!

The latest news in the mental health community is all about the movement of federal mental health legislation from the House Energy and Commerce committee to the full House of Representatives. This piece of legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), has been significantly revised to gain the support of Democrats. It now includes no changes to HIPAA or incentive for states to increase their use of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). Although the chances for rapid advancement of this legislation are reduced given the election year calendar, consumers and advocates will certainly need to follow this issue closely.

We would also like to remind you that the Alternatives conference is only three months away! Early bird registration for this landmark event is still open. Register at before the end of the month to take advantage of the reduced rate!

And if you’re not willing to wait until September to get together with your peers from around the nation, consider attending the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS) 10th Annual National Peer Support Conference in Philadelphia this August 26-28. Learn more about that event at

We have our usual collection of upcoming webinars and articles to get you thinking below. Remember, if you want more, you can always join us on Twitter and Facebook, where we regularly share news and articles about issues, stories and developments in mental health.


Legislative Update: HR 2646 Moves Forward

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) has been advanced out of committee in the House or Representatives. Here are two links to help you understand what that means:

House panel moving ahead with long-delayed mental health bill – via The Hill

Mental Health Bill Approved by Committee, Now Heads to House Floor – via The National Council for Behavioral Health


It’s Time for Mental Health Advocates to Take Back Assisted Outpatient Treatment From Misguided Politicians

One of the most contentious issues in mental health reform is Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). This post from Scott Bryant-Comstock urges advocates to define what AOT should look like before it’s done for them.


Webinar: Peer Providers: Innovations and Future – Peer Providers

Fri, Jun 24

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT

Join us Friday, June 24th from 1-2pm EST for a webinar to learn more about what the future holds for peer providers!

The webinar will feature Brandee Izquierdo, Director, Office of Consumer Affairs, State of Maryland; Jennifer Padron, Founder & Principal, Klein, Padron & Associates; and Dr. Jessica Wolf, Yale University School of Medicine, Dept of Psychiatry Consultant Peer Workforce Issues.

They will discuss innovative and emergent roles of the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, peer career development and education, regional and national innovations on the CPS, FPS, RC and CHW in integration and much, much more!

Register here:

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CAFE TAC News and Notes for May 24, 2016

As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close and summer begins, it looks as though Congress is set to make a final push for mental health reform legislation. Reports are circulating that the House Energy and Commerce Committee may consider compromise legislation that include provisions from both Rep. Tim Murphy’s (R-PA) bill – Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) and Rep. Gene Greene’s (D-TX) bill – Comprehensive Behavioral Health Reform and Recovery Act (H.R. 4435).

This “compromise legislation” includes a number of provisions, including new language to codify provisions in a recent Medicaid managed care rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that allows for federal Medicaid payments to be made to residential treatment facilities for short term stays (no more than 15 days in one month) for patients enrolled in Medicaid managed care; language to make clear it is the responsibility of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to review and implement privacy regulations regarding the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); new language on Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act compliance; and the establishment of an assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders at HHS, that would not absorb the responsibility of the administrator for SAMHSA, as initially proposed.

You can read more about the action in Washington here and here

There is also a lot going on beyond DC, with webinars on a wide array of topics scheduled, from campus mental health to cultural competence, and much discussion of mental health in the media, with articles on the debunked connection between mental health and violence, questions about what’s driving the anxiety epidemic, and the value of social media fro people seeking connection.

You should also note that registration for the 2016 Alternatives conference this September in San Diego is now open, and presentation proposals are being accepted through June 3rd.

We hope you find something in our latest News and Notes to get you engaged! And remember, you can always join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.


Most Mass Shooters Aren’t Mentally Ill. So Why Push Better Treatment as the Answer?

This Washington Post article pulls apart the debunked connection between diagnosed mental health conditions and violence. Only 2 out of 10 mass killers were found to have an identifiable condition, whereas most had “personality or antisocial disorders or were disgruntled, jilted, humiliated or full of intense rage. They were unlikely to be identified or helped by the mental-health system, reformed or not.”

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News and Notes for Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness

As you probably know by now, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Throughout the year, people in the recovery community spend a lot of time talking about our nation’s mental health system of care, peer support, and the role of people with lived experience in driving change. But how often does the average person think about mental health, or what it means, or what role it plays in their own lives and those of their loved ones?

Since May brings wider public attention to mental health that it doesn’t always get, this month presents a good opportunity to consider what people outside of the recovery movement need to know. Yes, May is about “awareness,” but what comes next? There appears to be a lot of general agreement about the need to address mental health, but where do we go from there? How does that awareness turn into action? Now that mental health is getting some attention, what message do we need to convey to the people that are looking for answers?

To help you think through these questions, we have gathered a few articles that take on some of the assumptions about mental health and offer some potential paths forward. We’ve also shared the President’s Mental Health Awareness proclamation, to offer some insight into the terms of the public conversation. Check it out, then ask yourself, if you were to write your own proclamation, what would it say?

We’ve also brought together a selection of upcoming webinars, surveys and funding opportunities, all of which you will see below.


Presidential Proclamation — National Mental Health Awareness Month, 2016

Please take a moment to read the President’s proclamation for Mental Health Awareness Month.


It’s Time To Restore A Sense Of Mission To Mental Health

In this post, the Executive Director of the Hogg Foundation calls for a broader understanding of mental health and wellness to match the depth, complexity and urgency of the problems we are currently facing as a society.


Here’s Why We Need Mental Health Action — Not Mental Health Awareness

This article makes the case that instead of simply promoting awareness, advocates should focus on the trauma and suffering that result from a broken mental health system, and the social realities confronted by people of color.


How to Improve Mental Health in America: Raise the Minimum Wage

Those that work and live in recovery are familiar with “social determinants” of mental health, like poverty, violence and trauma. This article takes the connection between mental health and social stability another step, by suggesting that a higher minimum wage, and the relief of financial stress and insecurity that would accompany it, could profoundly impact mental health across communities.


Mental Health Advocates Call on Senate for Better Care

Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, and NFL player Brandon Marshall recently appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance to advocate for a move beyond awareness, to meaningful federal action on mental health.


A Radical New Direction for Suicide Prevention and Care

In this Huffington Post piece, advocate Leah Harris makes the case for a complete overhaul in how suicide is treated based on the recently published Rational Suicide, Irrational Laws: Examining Current Approaches to Suicide in Policy and Law by Susan Stefan. Might the key be separating the concepts of mental illness and suicide?

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