News and Notes for March 7, 2017

We’re pleased to let you know that preparations for the 2017 Alternatives Conference are well underway, with the event scheduled for Friday, August 18 through Monday, August 21, at the Boston Park Plaza in Boston, MA!

The SAMHSA-sponsored Alternatives conference is a truly remarkable international event, where mental health consumers/survivors cme together to share knowledge about developing peer-operated services, find empowerment, and celebrate recovery. If you have not been to Alternatives before, we encourage you to attend, and experience the strong sense of community and shared experience that can be found there. And if you have been to Alternatives before, then you already know how powerful of an experience it can be!

You can find out more about Alternatives 2017, including information on accommodations, registration, and the preliminary agenda, at

You should also know that the Alternatives Planning Committee is currently looking for presentations to include in this year’s agenda. This year event organizers are paying extra attention to representing different viewpoints, welcoming people who don’t ordinarily participate, representing and involving people of different cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds in every aspect of the conference.

This is a great opportunity to share your knowledge with your peers! If you’re interested, check out the Call for Presentations at Applications to present workshops at Alternatives 2017 are due by March 17, 2017 and can be submitted online or by mail.

In addition to Alternatives, there is much else going on in the world of mental health and recovery. Please check out the news and notes we have gathered here below!


SAMHSA Webinar: National Certification for Adult and Parent/Family Peers

Thursday, March 16
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM EDT

Across the country, various states have developed independent standards for peer support certification. Due to the variability of these certifications, and with increasing interest and support from private health sectors, there has been a call to develop a national credential that maintains the highest levels of skills, education and experience. This webinar will explore two models of National Peer Certification, one designed for Adult Peers and one designed for Parent/Family Peers. The webinar will touch on the history of these certifications and provide an overview of the standards, requirements, examinations and processes for maintaining certification. The rigorous processes that are required to develop a national certification will be described, as will the requirement for “lived experience”, which is the cornerstone for both certifications.

Register at

Learning Opportunity: 2017 BRSS TACS Policy Academy “Building a Strong Recovery-Oriented Workforce”

Application due date:  April 7, 2017

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announces the 2017 Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS) Policy Academy.  All eligible entities, which include states, territories, and federally recognized American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes and tribal organizations (tribal entities), are invited to apply for participation to receive intensive technical assistance to support the development of recovery-oriented services, supports, and recovery-oriented systems change. Up to 10 teams will be selected to participate in the 2017 Policy Academy, which will offer expert facilitation, technical consultation, and other support to help teams develop and implement outcome-focused Action Plans.

Learn more at

Funding Opportunity: Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program

Application due date: April 4, 2017

The USDOJ Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) supports innovative cross-system collaboration to improve responses and outcomes for individuals with mental illnesses or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders who come into contact with the justice system. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is seeking applications that demonstrate a collaborative project between criminal justice and mental health partners from eligible applicants to plan and implement justice and mental health strategies collectively designed between justice and mental health.

Learn more at

Funding Opportunity: Native Youth Initiative for Leadership, Empowerment, and Development (I-LEAD)

Application due date: May 22, 2017

The Administration for Native Americans (ANA), within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), announces the availability of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 funds for the Native Youth I-LEAD. This program will emphasize a comprehensive, culturally-appropriate approach to ensure that all young Native people can thrive and reach their full potential by fostering Native youth resilience, capacity building, and leadership. Native Youth I-LEAD will specifically focus on implementation of community programs that promote Native youth resiliency and foster protective factors such as connections with Native languages and Elders, positive peer groups, culturally-responsive parenting resources, models of safe sanctuary, and reconnection with traditional healing.

Learn more at

SAMHSA Webinar: Transition Planning: The Important Role of Families of Youth and Young Adults with Behavioral Health Needs

Thursday, March 23
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM ET

All youth will experience transitions, however, individualized approaches to transition are necessary when working with youth and young adults with behavioral health challenges and their families as they face unique situations around treatment, medication, formal services, programming and education. A balance must be reached within the family unit around how the young adult transitions into a decision making role and the family transitions into a role of being a support, resource and connection rather than the youth’s primary advocate. Families should be engaged early and often throughout the transition planning process to ensure the lines of communication are kept open among all parties involved in the young adult’s life. This webinar outlines key principles when working with family members/caregivers of youth and young adults with behavioral health care challenges, unique transition scenarios and strategies that family leaders and family members have found helpful for navigating the transitioning process.

Register at

Inside the Challenges International Students Face Navigating Campus Mental Health Services   

This article from the University of Pennsylvania’s campus paper takes a look at the unique difficulties that international students confront in trying to access campus mental health services.

Surging Demand for Mental Health Care Jams College Services

This article from Scientific American details the logjam that’s resulted from an increasing number of students seeking out campus mental health services, as reflected in new survey data.

SAMHSA Webinar: Serious Mental Illness and Opioid Use Disorders

Monday, March 13
2:30 PM – 4:00 PM ET

Individuals with an opioid use disorder (OUD) frequently suffer from serious mental illness (SMI). Over half of patients with bipolar affective disorder and schizophrenia have a co-occurring SUD. Co-occurring disorders, however, can be difficult to manage in a fragmented treatment system. Care outcomes respond best to comprehensive treatment with culturally competent practices. Understanding why providers often underutilize medication assisted treatment (MAT) is important to overcoming provider bias, as well as the discriminatory bias and perceptions around substance use disorders mental illness. This webinar will discuss the evidence base for treating OUD and co-occurring disorders simultaneously, the benefits and advantages of utilizing MAT for individuals with SMI, and empower mental health providers to utilize and translate evidenced-based behavioral health skills to diagnose and manage SMI among patients with OUD.

Register at

SAMHSA Funding Opportunity: Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals

Application due date: April 25, 2017

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) is accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2017 Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals (Short Title: GBHI). The purpose of this program is to support the development and/or expansion of local implementation of a community infrastructures that integrates behavioral health treatment and services for substance use disorders (SUD) and co-occurring mental and substance use disorders (COD), permanent housing, and other critical services for individuals (including youth) and families experiencing homelessness. SAMHSA funds will support three primary types of activities: 1) behavioral health and other recovery-oriented services; 2) coordination of housing and services that support the implementation and/or enhance the long-term sustainability of integrated community systems that provide permanent housing and supportive services to the target population; and 3) efforts to engage and connect clients who experience SUDs or CODs to enrollment resources for health insurance, Medicaid, and mainstream benefits programs (e.g. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), etc.).

Learn more at

Resource: Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology: Special Issue on Service User/Survivor Research

The journal Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology (PPP), which focuses on the area of overlap among philosophy, psychiatry, and abnormal psychology, has produced a double issue on research into the experiences of psychiatric service users. This issue has been guest edited by Jayasree Kalathil and Nev Jones.

The full list of articles included are available in pdf format at

New Documentary Outside the House Examines How Mental Health is Discussed in the African American Community

A new documentary created by Darnell Lamont Walker takes its title from the saying that “what goes on inside the house shouldn’t be taken outside the house.” As this article from The Root explains, the film examines the unique culture surrounding the mental health conversation, or lack thereof, among African Americans.

What Can Employers Do About Employee Mental Health?

Despite the fact that roughly 20% of people in the workforce have some kind of mental health issue, employers are reluctant to recognize how that reality factors into their management and workplace culture. This Forbes article provides some advice on how employers can be more proactive when it comes to mental health.

Doors to Wellbeing Peer Specialist Database      

The Doors to Wellbeing TA center has put together a peer database that provides information on how to become a peer specialist in every state in the US. Please check out this great new resource, and share any feedback you may have with Doors to Wellbeing!

Learning Opportunity: AAPD Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship

The American Association of People with Disabilities is offering fellowships that will allow advocates to learn and apply skills in digital media storytelling, and to connect with media professionals to prepare participants for advanced careers in media production, journalism, online advocacy, or digital design.
If you’re interested in telling your story, consider checking this opportunity out!