CAFE TAC News and Notes for February 11, 2016

February is a busy month, with lots happening. There are multiple opportunities available to learn from webinars and online resources, and to make your voice heard through surveys and open public comment periods. You can find the details below.

On the national scene, a new bill on the House appears likely to shape the conversation about mental health reform in 2016. Mental health advocates will be watching closely to see how debate on the nation’s approach to the mental health system of care moves forward. Read the initial press release about the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Reform and Recovery Act, and one advocate’s take, in our lead item.

We also have a number of interesting news items to share with you, on topics ranging from parenting, to campus mental health, to new information on how social factors impact our wellness. To stay connected with what’s going on in mental health in Washington, across the nation and beyond, we encourage you to connect with us through Facebook and Twitter.

Legislative Update

Momentum toward some type of mental health reform legislation continues to build in Washington. This week, Congressman Gene Green (D-TX), Ranking Member of the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee, along with five members of the Committee, introduced the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Reform and Recovery Act of 2016.

Here is the press release announcing the introduction of the bill.

In this article, Ron Manderscheid, Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors, offers an overview of the bill’s provisions.

Webinar: A Report on the National Survey of Compensation Among Peer Support Specialists

Friday, February 12

12:00 noon – 1:00 PM EST

The peer support specialist workforce has been growing and expanding since Medicaid established funding for these services in 2007. Absent from much of the research on the peer support specialist workforce has been a detailed national review of wages and compensation. Building on earlier work done by iNAPS, two surveys were developed. These include peer support specialists reporting on their current compensation (response rate = 1,608), and organizations who employ peer specialists (response rate = 271).  The findings of this study illustrate that there is diversity among the current national structure for the wages of peer specialists. This includes significant differences in average compensation rates between those who work all different hours ($15.42) and only full-time ($16.36). There are also different wage rates among the types of organizations (consumer and peer run organizations; community behavioral health organizations; health care provider organizations; inpatient psychiatric facilities; and, health plan and managed care organizations) that employ this workforce.

An analysis of the wages of peer specialists in the 10 US Department of Health and Human Services regions also demonstrates geographic differences in compensation rates and compares regional and national averages. Inequities in compensation rates are also noted between male and female peer specialists, with men receiving on average in excess of $2.00 more per hour than women. The implications for the findings of this study are discussed and include the need for greater attention and focus on the wages of the peer specialist workforce.

Access information: Click to join the webinar


Report from the National Survey of Compensation Among Peer Support Specialists Is Available

The College for Behavioral Health Leadership recently published a report on its 2015 National Survey on Compensation Among Peer Support Specialists. “The findings of this study illustrate that there is diversity among the current national structure for the wages of peer specialists,” according to the Executive Summary. “This includes significant differences in average compensation rates between those who work all different hours ($15.42) and only full-time ($16.36).” The report addresses a number of other disparities, including among types of employers, geographically, and male vs. female (with men receiving on average more than $2 more per hour than women). For the report on the study, click here. (This items comes courtesy of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse Key Update.)


iNAPS Conference Call for Proposals

The International Association of Peer Supporters is currently seeking proposals for their 10th Annual National Peer Support Conference, which will be held August 26-27 in Philadelphia. To submit a proposal, visit To learn more about iNAPS and their conference, visit The deadline for submission is February 15th.


Webinar: Peer Support Works, The Paper Proof

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

2:00 pm EST

Doors to Wellbeing presents a 60-minute webinar that will briefly explain the history of Pennsylvania’s Medicaid Billable Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) Services and the data that demonstrates its mutual benefits.

Through valid survey results, Gina Calhoun will highlight how Pennsylvania’s CPS Initiative has benefited people participating in these service, certified peer specialists, the behavioral health system and the greater community.

To register, visit


New Peer Respite Resource Website! is a website dedicated to information and resources regarding peer respites in the U.S. As part of the initiative, recruitment is open for the 2015 Peer Respites Essential Features Survey. We encourage you to share widely to peer respite directors and to programs that may consider themselves “peer respites” even if they don’t necessarily fit the description of peer respites. (This item comes courtesy of the National Empowerment Center.)


Peer Respite Survey

Are you a peer respite director or manager? Help us to understand key features of peer respites!

Directors or managers of peer respites in the United States are invited to participate in the 2015 Peer Respite Essential Features (PREF) Survey. A team from Live & Learn, Inc. and the Human Services Research Institute is conducting the survey to gather information about funding, staffing, and policies and inform development and sustainability of new and existing programs. Your participation in the survey will allow us to continue to understand important characteristics of peer respites – including financing, governance, staffing, and policy and procedure. The information you provide will support efforts to open new programs, establish sustainable funding for current programs, and ultimately ensure that there are trauma-informed, person-centered alternatives to traditional crisis services for people experiencing extreme distress throughout the country.

The survey should take approximately 25 minutes to complete; there are about 50 questions. When we report the results of this survey, we will not identify you or your program by name. Whenever possible, your responses will be combined with others’ from your state and across the nation.

Responses are due by February 19, 2016.


Peer Specialist Survey

Are you trained and/or certified as a peer specialist or peer worker in the behavioral health field?

We invite you to participate in an important peer career development research survey designed in collaboration with national consumer technical assistance centers and peer organizations. The survey asks about peer specialists’ career development; interest in and opportunities for advancement; current work climate; and perceptions of discrimination and stigma. Survey results will provide ground-breaking data on peer career development realities and opportunities.  We will share the findings widely throughout the behavioral health community.

Survey Link:


How We Label People with Mental Illness Influences Tolerance Toward Them

A new study has found a link between how we talk about people with mental health needs, and the way society treats them.


Study: Improving Mental Health Services at Colleges Helps Increase Graduation Rates

A new study has shown that investing in mental health services results in better college graduation rates, and a net positive financial impact for individual students and the institutions that educate them.


“Careless Care” – A First-Hand Account

Yet another first-hand account of campus mental health services highlights how essential it is to provide ongoing, follow-up care to students. This example comes from a student at McGill in Montreal.


FDA Seeks Comments on Whether ECT Device Should Be Reclassified from Class III to Class II

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is once again seeking comments on whether it should reclassify the device used to administer electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The device is currently in Class III; the proposal is to reclassify it to Class II. For information about the three classes, click here. The comment period is open until March 28, 2016. To comment, click here. (This items comes courtesy of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse Key Update.)


TU Collaborative Launches New Web Page on Parenting with a Mental Health Condition and a Guide to Self-Directed Care Programming

The Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion recently launched a new “Parenting Tool.” The Collaborative writes: “This website will allow parents with children ages birth-to-18 to get information and strategies for improving their parenting, and, in addition, will provide you with a great deal of information about parenting with a psychiatric disability through its age-specific educational curriculum.” For the website, which includes a video introduction, click here. In addition, the Collaborative is offering A Guide to Creating Self-Directed Care Programmingavailable here. The manual provides “a detailed review of a novel and successful self-directed care program that is currently being offered in Pennsylvania.” (This items comes courtesy of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse Key Update.)


Parent Support Group for Parents Living with a Mental Health Challenge

Being a parent and managing your own mental health and wellness at the same time can be challenging. One source of support for parents with mental health needs is the national parent support group conference call hosted by Child and Family Connections.


Active Minds Healthy Campus Award Seeks Applications

Active Minds writes: “The Active Minds Healthy Campus Award – the only national recognition of its kind – celebrates leadership, innovation, collaboration, and excellence in campus health. Winners have their successes shared broadly, through a concerted national media relations campaign, to inspire change across the nation. The award recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that are prioritizing health and making great progress toward creating a campus that promotes the health and well-being of its students.” Applications are due February 16 by 5 p.m ET. For more information or to apply, click here. (This items comes courtesy of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse Key Update.)


County Turns to Urgent Care Centers, Rather than Jails or ERs, to Treat People In Crisis

Los Angeles County mental health officials and police are increasingly looking to urgent care centers such as the facility in Boyle Heights as an alternative to jail beds or overcrowded psychiatric emergency rooms for people in the throes of a mental health crisis. There are now five such centers around the county, the newest of which opened last month, and the county plans to open four more over the next couple of years.


Loneliness Grows from Individual Ache to Public Health Hazard

Many people are familiar with the ACES study, which demonstrated the link between “adverse childhood experiences” and behavioral heatlh issues later in life. This article from the Washington Post examines how loneliness in adults can be a social determinant of health, with profound impacts on both physical and mental health.


Stress of Discrimination Can Harm Mental Health

Discrimination can lead to economic inequalities as well as inequities in health outcomes. In a new study, UCLA researchers have shown how stress from discrimination can influence mental well-being.


Gun Violence: Is Obama Right To Cite Mental Illness?

The debate regarding the connection, or lack thereof, between gun violence and mental health continues. This Newsweek article questions the link, and the wisdom of the President in including mental health funding as part of a gun violence initiative.