Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of February 10, 2014 | Mental Health America

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Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of February 10, 2014


Patrick Hendry of Mental Health America Wins 2014 Reintegration Lifetime Achievement Award.

Debbie Plotnick, Senior Director of State Policy at Mental Health America, writes on CNN on How to Stop Tragic Shootings of People with Mental Illness.

Mental Health America Calls Changes to Part D Protected Drug Classes Harmful to Consumers.

Mental Health America Faults Rep. Tim Murphy’s Legislation for Jeopardizing Role for Consumers and Their Recovery.

Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace: Mental Health America has released a toolkit with a wealth of information and resources.

Mental Health America Produces Comprehensive, Objective Resource Describing Principal Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Mental Health Conditions.

The MHA Career Center matches the best employers with the best talent in the mental health field.  Find your employment match at


MARCH 7-8—2014 Tools for Change Conference: The Center for Dignity, Recovery, and Empowerment, a project of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, presents the Tools for Change Conference, now in its second year. Tools For Change, which will be held at the Hilton at Union Square in San Francisco, CA, is the first international conference focused on lived experience and culture change around mental health and mental illness. This year, Tools For Change brings effective stigma-change strategies into focus with culturally-responsive programs and the power of stigma change for prevention of suicide. Keynote speakers include former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher and Paolo del Vecchio, Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services. To register, go to

The Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation Design Challenge 2014: This year’s Design Challenge is exploring the most effective avenue to integrate mental health care into retail clinics. Retail Clinics (CVS' Minute Clinic, Walgreens' Take Care Clinic, Target Clinic, and local healthcare systems clinics) have existed since 2000. They are small health clinics located within a larger store in which patients can receive basic primary health care. They are known for convenience, low cost and high quality care however the model of retail clinics focuses on primary physical health and currently does not provide behavioral health interventions (e.g. screening, referral, and crisis management). Scattergood is challenging Mental Health experts to create a program that includes an education, access and/or service component for Behavioral/Mental Health in a Retail Clinic. Award: The winning solution will be considered for implementation at QCare, the first retail clinic in North Philadelphia. QCare is operated by Family Practice and Counseling Network. For more information and to download the user guide, go to Additionally, the Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation has started a crowd-funding page on the website, Indiegogo, to support the funding for mental health care at QCare:

20th Annual Zarrow Mental Health Symposium Call for Presentations—All Things Prevention: In September 2014 the Mental Health Association in Tulsa will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Zarrow Mental Health Symposium. This annual educational forum brings together local, state, and national leaders to focus on state-of-the-art research, best practice information, and model programs about current issues related to mental health and substance abuse disorders. This year’s theme is All Things Prevention. Proposals for conference presentations are now being accepted. Deadline for submission is Monday, March 10. For additional information, go to

Deadline Extended—Consumer Scholarships Available for Fourth International Conference on Families with Parental Mental Health Challenges-Addressing the Needs of the Whole Family; Ed Roberts Campus, Berkeley California - April 25-27, 2014: Scholarship funds are available to provide financial support to consumers of mental health services who are parents that wish to participate in the Fourth International Conference on Families with Parental Mental Health Challenges. These funds have been provided through generous support from Brook Lenfest and are possible thanks to support from the City of Philadelphia’s Councilman-At-Large Dennis M. O’Brien, the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities, and Employment Options, Inc. Both partial and full scholarships will be provided in order to give more people the opportunity to attend the conference. Consumers who are either conference presenters or participants are invited to apply. Please Note: To be eligible for this scholarship, a completed application must be received by U.S. Mail or by email ( on or before the deadline of 11:59 pm on February 17, 2014. The application can be found at For more information or to register for the conference, please follow this link:

SAMHSA Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollment Toolkit: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has released a training resource toolkit, developed through the Enrollment Coalitions Initiative, entitled “Getting Ready for the Health Insurance Marketplace.”  The toolkit will assist organizations with outreach, education and enrollment of individuals in the Health Insurance Marketplace. It is composed of three sections: A description of the health care law, how it works, and why it is important for uninsured individuals with behavioral health conditions; An explanation of how the Health Insurance Marketplace works, how to apply for health coverage and where to get help; and Numerous communication ideas and materials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that can be used to raise awareness and encourage uninsured individuals to enroll. The toolkit has been developed in six slightly different 30-minute, interactive formats, each of which can be accessed and viewed online: (General information);;;;;


CVS to End Sales of Tobacco in October: National drugstore chain CVS Caremark announced it will end all its tobacco sales by October.  Selling tobacco in a pharmacy sends the wrong message about social acceptability, CVS Caremark Chief Medical Officer Troyen Brennan, MD, and Steven Schroeder, MD, of the UCSF Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, explained in a viewpoint article online in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Although the sale of tobacco products in CVS pharmacies produces more than $1.5 billion in revenues annually, the financial gain is outweighed by the paradox inherent in promoting health while contributing to tobacco-related deaths," they wrote. Drugstores account for only a small proportion of tobacco sales, compared with the more than 75 percent from convenience stores. So the CVS "action may not lead many people to stop smoking; smokers will probably simply go elsewhere to buy cigarettes," the JAMA opinion piece acknowledged. "But if other retailers follow this lead, tobacco products will become much more difficult to obtain .... If pharmacies do not make this effort voluntarily, federal or state regulatory action would be appropriate." (MedPage Today, 2/5/14)

Morale, Mental Health Improve for Troops in Afghanistan: The imminent end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan has resulted in some of the highest morale and lowest levels of mental illness among deployed U.S. soldiers in years, according to an Army mental health study. The findings by Army scientists working in the combat zone last year dovetails with the 19 percent drop in active-duty Army suicides in 2013. The study, which interviewed war-zone troops anonymously, also notes fewer soldiers deployed to Afghanistan contemplated suicide. Some 8.5 percent did, down from 13 percent in 2010. Despite the improvements, the stigma against seeking mental health help remains, the study shows. Nearly half of the surveyed soldiers who need therapy said the perception of weakness discouraged them from seeking help. That rate has remained unchanged for years despite military efforts to reduce it, the report said. The report also showed that the more times a soldier is deployed, the greater the likelihood he or she will suffer from mental illness. (USA Today, 2/3/14)

Senate Finance Committee Members Protest Limiting Access to Mental Health Drugs: The 24 members of the Senate Finance Committee have sent a joint letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) urging the agency to roll back a proposal that would drastically limit consumers’ access to mental health drugs. The letter strongly urges CMS to preserve the Medicare Six Protected Classes policy “as it exists today.” This policy allows Part D enrollees to access all or substantially all medications within six classes: antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, immunosuppressants, antineoplastics, and antiretrovirals. The policy was developed by the Bush Administration—and later codified by Congress—as a means to ensure that vulnerable individuals with severe and disabling conditions could access the full range of medications they need. CMS has proposed to revoke protected status for antidepressants and immunosuppressants (with antipsychotics set to lose their protected status at a future date). “We are very concerned this change will lead to decreased access to medication, especially for those beneficiaries afflicted by mental health problems,” the letter states. “These vulnerable individuals rely on multiple medications to control and treat their illnesses. Unfortunately, over the course of treatment, certain medications may cause undesired side effects or become ineffective. As a result, certain beneficiaries must have a wide range of treatment options available. By limiting the number and type of medications offered under a Part D plan, a beneficiary may be forced to rely, if only temporarily, on medication that simply does not work or results in adverse side effects.” (MHH Reporting, 2/10/14)


Howard Dean argues against changes to protected drug classes in The Huffington Post.

In the New York Times, Nicolas Kristof examines “Inside a Mental Hospital Called Jail.”


The New York Times profiles NIMH Director Tom Insel.

Futurity examines “Why rural women miss out on mental health care.”

The Huffington Post looks at tragic death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Reporting on Health examines “Translating Trauma: The Challenge of Treating Refugees With PTSD.”

MedPage Today looks at mental health parity.

Latest Research

Teens with Mental Health Issues at Higher Risk of Pregnancy: Young girls with mental illness are three times more likely to become teenage parents than those without a major mental illness, according to a new study. Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study is the first to examine trends in fertility rates among girls with mental illness. Researchers examined live birth rates from 1999 to 2009 in 4.5 million girls, 15 to 19 in Ontario, Canada, with and without a major mental health illness. They found young girls with a major mental health illness, including depression, bipolar disorder and other psychotic disorders, were three times more likely to become teenage parents. Although birth rates in both affected and unaffected adolescent girls decreased over time, the gap between the groups appeared to be increasing slightly over the 10-year study period. Among girls with a major mental illness, live births decreased by only 14 per cent during the study period compared to a 22 per cent drop among unaffected girls. Although the risk factors behind why girls with mental health illness may be at increased risk of becoming pregnant are known, pregnancy prevention programs in most developed countries have not traditionally considered mental health issues, the researchers note. They suggest targeted school-based programs are needed along with greater integration of reproductive health care into adolescent mental health care programs. (Medical Xpress, 2/10/14)


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Mental Health in the Headlines is produced weekly by Mental Health America. Staff: Steve Vetzner, senior director, Media Relations.

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