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?

Webinar: Legal and Liability Issues in Suicide Care

Tuesday, May 17

2:30 PM EDT – 4:00 PM EDT

Health and behavioral health care (HBH) organizations and providers implementing suicide prevention practices often have concerns about liability and legal issues. Providing quality patient care while minimizing liability risk is a priority across HBH organizations, especially when caring for patients at risk for suicide. Liability risks can be reduced when providers deliver patient-centered care with embedded systems-level communication and documentation practices.

Health and behavioral health care organizations can support providers and manage risk by adopting practices that ensure: suicide risk is properly identified and assessed; timely and effective treatment that allows for patient choice and involvement is provided; patient health information is appropriately communicated between providers, patients and collaterals; and documentation is thorough.

This webinar will explore the legal and liability issues related to implementing systems-level changes designed to improve suicide care practices. Participants will hear from three experts who will discuss common liability concerns including those related to confidentiality and HIPAA, key elements considered in liability cases, and strategies to minimize liability against a provider or health care organization.

Learn more and register at


Webinar: Cultivating the Leadership Skills of Young People in Recovery

Thursday, May 19

2:00-3:30pm ET (1:00pm CT, 12:00pm MT, 11:00am PT)

Young adult recovery movement leaders have become powerful agents of change in the behavioral healthcare field.  In many organizations and communities, they have achieved extraordinary levels of professional responsibility and authority.  To continue their growth and aspirations, these young leaders need access to professional development supports that can equip them to interact, share ideas, and cultivate their professional acumen (The Bridgespan Group, 2010).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS) project will host a webinar titled Cultivating the Leadership Skills of Young People in Recovery that will disseminate leadership tools and discuss their application with established and emerging young leaders in the recovery movement.

Learn more and register at


Webinar: Activation: The Secret Sauce

May 13, 2016

12:00 Noon Eastern | 11 AM Central | 10 AM Mountain | 9 AM Pacific

Activation is the “Secret Sauce” to promote recovery and wellness. After attending this webinar with Sue Bergeson, VP Consumer and Family Affairs at Optum, you will be able to:

  • Understand the distinction between engagement and activation
  • Become familiar with the research showcasing the importance of activation
  • Consider activation through lens of the five stages of recovery, the PAM, The Transtheoretical Model (TTM), and Motivational Interviewing.
  • Learn how to support activation among hard to serve members
  • Learn five strategies to promote activation
  • Briefly review a few activation tools

There is no registration for these webinars. Connection information will be available on the day of the webinar at:


Peer Respite Essential Features Survey Results Published

What makes peer respites work? Thanks to Researchers from Live & Learn, Inc. and the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) we now have some new answers to that question. Check out the results of the 2016 Peer Respite Essential Features Survey here:


Participate in a National Survey on National Certified Peer Specialist Credential

Mental Health America (MHA), in partnership with the Florida Certification Board (FCB), is developing the first national, fully accredited certification program recognizing peer specialists qualified to work in both public and private whole health practices.  This credential is called the MHA National Certified Peer Specialist (NCPS). They are currently seeking feedback on the “core competencies” they are planning to include.

To learn more and participate in the survey, visit


Webinar: Tips for Preparing an Alternatives Workshop Proposal

Monday, May 9

11:00 AM EDT

The Alternatives Conference call for proposals is due to close May 23rd. To support new presenters, or those who have limited previous experience, in preparing a proposal to speak at conferences, Peerlink invites anyone wishing to gain some tips on preparing a workshop proposal to attend this webinar. This information will not only be useful for the Alternatives Conference proposal process but also other conference proposal applications

Register at


American Police and Prisons Are Failing the Mentally Ill

As this article recounts, a recent report from the National Academies of Sciences finds that the dynamics between people with mental health conditions and law enforcement are grim, from initial contact with police to the lack of services and mistreatment in jails and prisons.


The Intersection of Reform: Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health

Silos that separate mental health and criminal justice reform are hampering our ability to change systems and improve outcomes. This article argues that “substance use disorders, mental health concerns and the criminal justice system are inexorably connected” and cooperation between these fields is imperative.


The Case Management Trap

Does the need for provides to log case management hours contradict the goals of recovery and independence for the people engaged in service? This article examines the question.


Webinar: Enhancing Careers and Economic Security: The Synergistic Effects of Supported Employment, Financial Literacy, and Peer-Led Services

Tuesday, May 17

2:00 PM EDT / 11:00 AM PDT

In this webinar, the importance of meaningful employment and economic security to achieving a successful recovery will be highlighted. Evidence will be presented for what works to help people find competitive jobs and build careers that enhance self-esteem and foster community participation. In addition, services that promote financial literacy and economic self-sufficiency will be discussed. Throughout the webinar, the critical role of peer support and peer-led services in vocational and economic recovery will be emphasized. This will include demonstrating the importance of the emerging peer workforce and how it has a significant role to play in supporting our nation’s economy and contributing to its labor productivity.

Learn more and register at


Apply for a Connect 4 Mental Health 2016 Community Innovation Award

While there is no one approach to effectively address mental illnesses, the Community Innovation Award winners offer best practices for all communities to consider.

Now in its third year, the awards program honors local community programs that have successfully introduced novel approaches to address mental health in one of four program categories:

  • Early intervention
  • Creative use of technology
  • Continuity of care
  • Service integration

Winning organizations receive a $10,000 award to further their work, as well as access to one-on-one mentoring from past C4MH honorees to learn from other exemplary programs and to facilitate best practice sharing.

Entries are due by July 22, 2016 and will be judged by a committee of representatives from C4MH and the mentor community organizations. Winners will be notified in fall 2016.

Learn more and apply at


Webinar: Improving Relationships Between Police and the Mental Health Community

Wednesday, May 25

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

The National Empowerment Center’s Technical Assistance Center presents a webinar that includes best practices from both the police and mental health peer perspective. Research, collaboration models, and approaches to building better relationships, as well as tools and strategies for safely collaborating with police, will be offered with the ultimate goal of improving the relationship between mental health peers and police and reducing negative outcomes.

The purpose of the Improving Relationships Between Police and Mental Health Community webinar is to provide both peers and police officers with new perspectives and tools to promote successful collaborative efforts, improve relationships, and reduce harm.

Register at


Funding Opportunity: Statewide Peer Networks for Recovery and Resiliency

The purpose of this jointly-funded grant program (CSAT and CMHS) is to provide a one-year developmental period to promote cross-system collaboration, expand the peer workforce, build infrastructure, and enhance capacity among currently funded SAMHSA Recovery Community Services Program – Statewide Networks (RCSP-SNs), currently or formerly funded Statewide Consumer Networks (SCNs), and currently or formerly funded Statewide Family Networks (SFNs). These networks will work together to enhance and promote cross-service systems, expand the peer workforce, and develop infrastructure that is recovery and resiliency-oriented, as well as focused on implementation, planning, and sustainability.

Learn more and download the RFA at


Webinar: Putting Community Back into Community Mental Health

Thu., May 12

1:00-2:00 pm ET

The Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being is not a traditional mental health clinic. It is an innovative community center that offers a place for neighbors to connect, learn new skills and find supports they need to increase their overall health and wellness. The 4-acre site features a hub of services and program, including: mental health services, pediatric dentistry, preschool, urban farm, training kitchen and more.

By engaging and partnering with the surrounding community, the Mental Health Center of Denver created a supportive and inclusive space with programs beyond traditional community mental health.

Register at