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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CAFE TAC News and Notes for April 12, 2016

In our last message, we let you know about our latest Focus newsletter, Supported Education: Examining the Evidence. Coincidentally, we happened across a report from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the US Department of Health and Human Services this week that has a lot to add on the question of just how much evidence there is to validate supported education as an investment-worthy practice.

This report, entitled Feasibility Study for Demonstration of Supported Education to Promote Educational Attainment and Employment among Individuals with Serious Mental Illness, notes that “Findings from the current review of research, policy, and practice indicate that SEd is on the cusp of widespread and sustained implementation.” It points to the need for a “two-stage demonstration program” with careful implementation followed by a randomized controlled trials to obtain the necessary evidence for supported education to become an official evidence-based practice, concluding “Such a program would provide the platform necessary to generate the potential evidence needed to move SEd from a promising practice to an evidence-based practice, thus encouraging future funding and widespread adoption.”

This report confirms our belief that supported education is on the verge of becoming widely accepted. If you’re interested, you can read the full report here. CAFÉ TAC will continue to keep you updated on the latest developments in supported education and efforts to demonstrate its value and efficacy.

Of course, there’s a lot happening in the world of mental health beyond developments in supported education, including the Alternatives Conference call for presentations, multiple webinars and new funding opportunities. To see what’s caught our attention, please see below!

Alternatives Conference

The 2016 Alternatives Conference is being held September 19-23 in San Diego, CA, and presentation proposals are currently being accepted. If you would like to submit a proposal, you must do so by May 23rd. To view the call for presentations, and learn more about the process, visit the Alternatives website:

Despite Bipartisan Support, Mental Health Reform Bill Could Be Derailed

Here’s an update on federal efforts at mental health reform, which appear to be slowing with attention focused on the upcoming Presidential election and pending Supreme Court nomination.

Tennessee Passes Anti-LGBT Counseling Bill

A bill passed by Tennessee’s legislature would allow mental health providers to decline to treat people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

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Supported Education: Examining the Evidence

Supported education is a simple idea that makes intuitive sense. Getting a college degree can be extremely beneficial, both personally and professionally. Higher education allows people the chance to explore their interests and fulfill their dreams, while also markedly improving their employment prospects for a lifetime. At the same time, people with mental health needs often struggle to adapt to the demands of higher education. The practice of supported education came about to resolve this challenge, by designing strategies, resources and supports specifically designed to help students with mental health need succeed in higher ed settings, and enjoy the benefits of getting a degree.

But what evidence exists to show that supported education works? Is it an “evidence-based practice”? What does that designation really mean, and how might it impact the way supported education gets implemented? In the latest Focus newsletter, Supported Education: Examining the Evidence, we take a look at these questions, and explore the implications of the growing body of evidence that supports the effectiveness of supported education.

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CAFE TAC News and Notes for March 15, 2016

The headline for this edition of our collection of “News and Notes” has to do with this year’s Alternatives conference. Alternatives is the nation’s largest event hosted by and for people with experience of mental health conditions. It’s a truly inspiring event that brings together hundreds of peers and advocates to talk about recovery and how to push the mental health movement forward.

We’ve recently learned that this year’s Alternatives conference will be held September 19-23 at the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego, CA. More details will be coming soon, including a conference website with information about presentation proposals, room reservations and more. We will be sure to share whatever we learn with you just as soon as new info becomes available.

In addition to Alternatives, there is plenty more going on, including markup of the Senate’s mental health reform bill, as well as a new piece of legislation intended to reinforce mental health parity.

For all the latest, keep reading below the fold! And as always, you can stay in touch us through Facebook and Twitter.



Senate Turns to Mental Health Bill

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will meet on Wednesday at 10:00 to discuss the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016.

Here are some resources to help you follow developments:

A short overview of what’s happening from The Hill:

Full text of the bill:

The Senate HELP Committee website, where you can watch live video of the hearing scheduled for Wednesday, March 16 at 10:00 ET:


Parity is Also on the Congressional Agenda

There is also another bill on the Senate agenda that’s intended to reinforce the mental health parity provisions that have been included in prior legislation, the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act. Here’s the full text:

And here’s an article that offers some background:

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