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The Key Update, Volume 9, Number 12 - June 2013

News and Alerts
Deadline Extended for Alternatives 2013 Proposals; Scholarship Applications Available!
The National Empowerment Center (NEC) has announced that the deadline to submit workshop and institute proposals for Alternatives 2013 has been extended to July 15! Proposals can be submitted online at the source below, or via mail or email. Alternatives 2013 – the oldest national conference organized by and for individuals active in the mental health consumer/survivor/peer recovery movement – will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, Texas, from Wednesday, December 4, through Saturday, December 7, 2013. The theme of the conference, which is being organized by the NEC, is Building Inclusive Communities: Valuing Every Voice.” Links to the workshop/institute proposal submission form and the scholarship application form are available at the source below. Scholarship applications are due by July 22.  
Source: http://www.power2u.org/alternatives2013/ 
New National Nonprofit on Disability Issues to Host Free Teleconference on July 2
RespectAbility: USA will host a free conference call on July 2, at 2 p.m. ET (1 p.m. CT, noon MT, 11 a.m. PT) to outline its plans to create a new national nonprofit to focus on disability issues. According to the founders, “One of our main goals is to be of service to YOU – leaders of the self-advocacy community. To that end, we have some exciting projects coming up . . . : (1) We are doing a series of focus groups which will lead to a national poll on disability issues. (2) We are hosting a special all-day training on July 16th for CEOs/communications directors of disability advocacy groups. The training is on the nuts and bolts of getting disability issues heard in America.” For more information and to RSVP, please see the source below.
Source: http://respectabilityusa.org/
Computer Test May Provide Clues to Suicide Risk; Online Suicide Prevention Course Offered
Researchers are hopeful that a computer-administered test – the Implicit Association Test (IAT) – might be adapted to measure suicide risk so that, based on their test scores, people could “retrain” their self-destructive thoughts. The IAT “has become famous for its ability to measure biases that subjects either don’t care to acknowledge or don’t realize they have,” according to an article to be published in The New York Times Magazine on June 30, 2013 (and available online). The article profiles Harvard University researcher Matthew K. Nock’s efforts to study whether “training people to think more positively about the past and the future makes them less likely to attempt suicide.” For more information about the IAT, click hereIn a related story, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center is offering an online suicide prevention course: “Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM).” The course is designed for providers who counsel people at risk for suicide. According to the website: “The first module explains why reducing access to lethal methods of self-harm saves lives. The second module teaches practical skills on when and how to ask suicidal clients about their access to lethal means and how to work with them and their families to reduce that access.” For more information, see the second source below.
Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/magazine/the-suicide-detective.html?ref=magazine
NCD Offers Two New Medicaid Policy Publications; NAMI Provides Report on Medicaid Expansion
The National Council on Disability (NCD) – an independent federal agency that advises the President, Administration, Congress, and other federal agencies on disability policy – recently released two new Medicaid policy publications: one on Medicaid block granting and the other on Medicaid self-direction.
Titled “A Medicaid Block Grant Program: Implications for People with Disabilities” and “The Case for Medicaid Self-Direction: A White Paper on Research, Practice and Policy Opportunities,”the publications seek to address concerns by both providers and individuals with mental health conditions as changes to Medicaid are considered and made in the future. In a related story, NAMI issued a report on May 30, 2013, about the benefits of Medicaid expansion; the report is available by clicking here. Decisions about Medicaid expansion are still up in the air in 13 states, Mental Health Weekly reports.
Sources: http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/05222013 
Mental Health Weekly, June 3, 2013, page 4 
AAPD Is Seeking Stories to Help Educate Legislators and the General Public
AAPD (American Association of People with Disabilities) is hoping to educate legislators about the obstacles faced by individuals with disabilities who want to work but fear losing their benefits in case their employment does not work out, and other such dilemmas. AAPD writes: “Are you considering taking a higher paying job or a promotion but would end up losing your health care and other public benefits if you earned more? Are you not on any government assistance but your salary does not help you fully cover your personal care needs? Are you graduating and/or have a job offer but worried that you won’t be able to access the services and supports to be able to go to work? Help us create a powerful narrative that will help elected and appointed officials better understand the choices you face as a person with a disability. Your story is the most powerful tool we have for creating change.” For more information, see the source below. To submit your story, fill out a quick survey by clicking here.
Source: http://www.aapd.com/take-action/share-your-story.html
Thanks to the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery
Employment Opportunities Are Available in Delaware and Virginia
Job opportunities in Delaware and Virginia have recently been posted. The Delaware Consumer Recovery Coalition, the statewide organization of individuals with lived experience of a mental health condition, is seeking a full-time administrative director to help with event planning, record keeping, website management, and facilitating self-help and advocacy groups. (The position is offered on an independent-contractor basis.) For more information, click here. And the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is seeking a Suicide Prevention and Mental Health First Aid Program Coordinator (click here) as well as a Mental Health Program Assistant (click here). For information about these and other available positions, please see the source below.
Source: http://www.mhselfhelp.org/job-postings/
Three Free Webinars Offer Educational Opportunities in July
Three free July webinars will provide information on health care, community trauma, and smoking cessation, respectively. On July 17, Peerlink National Technical Assistance Center will host a one-hour webinar at 2 p.m. ET (1 p.m. CT, noon MT, 11 a.m. PT) called “Holding the Hope in Healthcare.” The webinar will explore “what happens to our recovery journey when we move into the primary medical care setting.” On July 23 at 11 a.m. ET (10 a.m. CT, 9 a.m. MT, 8 a.m. PT), SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with Mental Health (ADS Center) will host a 105-minute webinar called “Building Community Resiliency and Healing: Preparing for, Responding to, and Recovering from Community Trauma and Disasters.” And on July 24 at 1 p.m. ET (noon CT, 11 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT), The Smoking Cessation Leadership Center will host a two-hour webinar on “Peers Helping Peers: Ways to Quit with Rx for Change.” For more information about each of the webinars, see the sources below, respectively.
Sources: http://www.peerlinktac.org/events/
New Research Initiative Promotes Service User/Survivor Leadership in the Mental Health Arena
The Lived Experience Research Network (LERN) is a new initiative to promote service user/survivor leadership and inclusion in behavioral health and disabilities research, clinical practice, and program evaluation. LERN advocates for increased accessibility in research and evaluation settings, social justice, and policy change, and aims to strengthen ties among stakeholders. A working group within LERN is currently engaged in systems advocacy to address pervasive discrimination, stigma, and civil rights violations within higher education settings, with a focus on graduate students. The LERN Discrimination in Higher Ed (DHE) working group has created a survey designed to gather information about students’ experiences of discrimination, accommodation denials, and other disability-related barriers in postsecondary settings. The researchers write, “We encourage both undergraduates and graduate students to participate. Please note that the survey is not formal research but rather information-gathering for the purpose of advocacy; no private information will be collected.” To participate, click here.
Source: http://www.lernetwork.org/
HHS Launches Health Insurance Marketplace Educational Tools
CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) reports that the Obama Administration recently kicked off the Health Insurance Marketplace education effort with a new, consumer-focused HealthCare.gov website and a 24-hours-a-day consumer call center to help Americans prepare for open enrollment and ultimately sign up for private health insurance. The new tools will help Americans understand their choices and select the coverage that best suits their needs when open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins October 1, 2013. “The re-launched Healthcare.gov and new call center will help consumers prepare for the new coverage opportunities coming later this year,” said CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “In October, HealthCare.gov will be the online destination for consumers to compare and enroll in affordable, qualified health plans.” For more information, see the source below.
Source: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2013pres/06/20130624a.html
Thanks to NYAPRS E-News
SAMHSA Comic Book Provides Hopeful Message about Substance Use Recovery
People Recover is a new resource from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It uses a comic book format to tell the story of two people, Hal and Nikki, who abuse substances and who are also affected by anxiety and depression, respectively. Because of their co-occurring addictions and mental health conditions, their relationship suffers and they struggle in their professional work. Each also faces a personal crisis. With the help of friends, professionals, and each other, Hal and Nikki begin their individual paths to recovery. People Recover presents a hopeful message of recovery for individuals with a substance use disorder and a mental illness. The comic book can be downloaded for free by clicking here.
Source: http://nnlm.gov/psr/newsbits/2013/06/25/comic-book-provides-hopeful-message-of-substance-use-recovery/
Childhood Abuse Scars the Brain in Specific Ways, Researchers Say
Children who experience sexual and emotional abuse show changes in their brains that reflect the specific nature of the trauma, according to McGill University researchers. The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine 51 women who were exposed to various forms of childhood maltreatment. The results showed a correlation between specific forms of abuse and thinning of the cortex in precisely the regions of the brain that are involved in the perception or processing of the abuse, the researchers reported. For example, the “somatosensory cortex” in the areas in which the female genitalia are represented was significantly thinner in women who experienced sexual abuse in their childhood. Survivors of emotional maltreatment, in contrast, showed a specific reduction of the thickness of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with self-awareness and emotional regulation. “The large effect and the regional specificity in the brain that corresponds to the type of abuse [are] remarkable,” said one researcher. The study, published recently in the American Journal of Psychiatry, shows that survivors of such abuse often experience serious psychiatric disorders as well as sexual dysfunction, the researchers say.
Sources: http://healthland.time.com/2013/06/05/sexual-and-emotional-abuse-scar-the-brain-in-specific-ways/ 
American Journal of Public Health Has Devoted an Entire Issue to “Mental Illness Stigma”
The May 2013 edition of the American Journal of Public Health is entirely about the prejudice associated with mental health conditions. The special edition “frames stigma as a public-health problem that needs public-health solutions,” said Benjamin Druss, M.D., Rosalynn Carter Chair of Mental Health at Emory University. Among the topics covered are social inclusion, self-stigma, and whether or not to disclose that one has a psychiatric history. A video about the special edition by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter can be viewed at http://www.ajph.org.
Source: http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsarticle.aspx?articleid=1695389
Thanks to NYAPRS E-News
Monthly National Networking Teleconferences Will Alternate Between Day and Evening!
Because some people have let us know that they would like to participate in the monthly national networking teleconferences of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse but they can’t do so during the workday, we will be alternating daytime (on the third Monday of the month, unless that is a holiday, in which case the call will take place on the fourth Monday of the month) and evening hours (on the third Tuesday of the month) for the teleconferences. The next teleconference will be held Tuesday, July 16, at 8 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. CT, 6 p.m. MT and 5 p.m. PT. The call-in number is 866-906-0123; the pass code is 5037195#. The purpose of the call is for peer movement activists from around the U.S. to get together, share information, and “network.” Join us! Again, the next call will take place on Tuesday, July 16, at 8 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. CT, 6 p.m. MT and 5 p.m. PT. (The August call will take place on Monday, August 19, at 1 p.m. ET, noon CT, 11 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT.) If you have a topic or topics you would like to see discussed on this call, please write to Susan Rogers srogers@mhasp.org with the word “Agenda” in the subject line. In addition, if you plan to participate, even if you don’t want to suggest an agenda item it would be helpful if you would email Susan Rogers at srogers@mhasp.org; this will make it easier to provide the participants with teleconference minutes. Thanks!
Source: http://www.mhselfhelp.org
Consumer-Driven Services Directory
The Clearinghouse welcomes all programs in which consumers play a significant role in leadership and operation to apply for inclusion in its Directory of Consumer-Driven Services. The directory, accessible at http://www.cdsdirectory.org, is searchable by location, type of organization, and targeted clientele, and serves as a free resource for consumers, program administrators and researchers. Apply online at http://www.cdsdirectory.org/database/cds.php, via fax at 215-636-6312, or by phone at 800-553-4KEY (4539). To receive an application by mail, write to info@mhselfhelp.org or NMHCSH Clearinghouse, 1211 Chestnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19107.