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MHA News From National: Guess What Time It Is?

April 6, 2015

MHA News From National: Guess What Time It Is?

By: Erin Wallace, MHA Senior Director of Communications and Marketing

Greetings Mental Health Advocates! So, I don’t know about where you live, but last week was spring break for all the kiddos in Virginia, which meant my two little munchkins didn’t have preschool.  So the husband had the seriously brilliant idea to take them to see their grandparents for the week. Brilliant! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the little buggers, but OH… MY…Silence!

So, did their exhausted Mommy have a girls’ night? Catch up on TV shows that did not involve talking monster trucks or puppies? Hit the spa? Nope, I worked more!!  Yay! Why do you ask? Because I love MHA that’s why! (No really, I do!)

But it’s not really why—it’s because I’m in charge of MHA’s 2015 Annual Conference, which by the way is ONLY TWO MONTHS AWAY. You know…that little ‘ol conference that we keep telling you is going to be THE conference you want to attend this year? Yeah…that one. We have some seriously amazing content and speakers this year…and I can promise you some more exciting announcements in the weeks to come! 

So do me a favor: my kids came back on Friday and are bouncing off the walls from Easter candy, so this tired mama needs your help on the work front—it’s time to register. It’s time to tell your family to register. It’s time to break out that rolodex (does anyone have those anymore?) or your smartphone or whatever new device is trending right now and take to your contact lists or to your church group and to social media and do whatever it is YOU do. Because this conference going to be THAT GOOD. Really. Register here.


MHA 2015 Annual Conference Update (June 3-5, 2015 in Alexandria, Virginia)

See above.

Need more? How about Miss Mississippi Teen USA 2015, Fable the Poet, This Is My Brave, or former Miami Dolphins player Dwight Hollier? See…I told you our content rocks.

MHA 2nd Annual Innovation Nation Program Sharing Session

MHA is excited to share that Innovation Nation will be back again this year at our Annual Conference in Alexandria, Virginia, and affiliates—it’s time to sign up! Do you have a creative and innovative program that you want to highlight and bring attention to?  Do you want to learn about innovative programs that others are doing so you can replicate them in your service area?

Last year in Atlanta, 13 programs from affiliates around the country were featured in our new Innovation Nation Affiliate Program Sharing Session. Included among programs exhibited last year were the 2014 Innovation in Programming Award winner, the Texas Youth Suicide Prevention Project of MHA Texas, and 2013’s winner, the MHA Palm Beach County (FL) Be Merge: Integrating Primary and Behavioral Health Care program. So at the 2015 Annual Conference in June, it’s back: Innovation Nation will be a relaxed and informal poster session – an opportunity to share program ideas with all of your MHA peers, and a time to collect new ideas from the dozens of your peers who we anticipate will be presenting posters this year. 

But there’s more! This year, in addition to the return of Innovation Nation, the winner of the 2015 Innovation in Programming Award will have the opportunity to dive deeper into their program by presenting on a breakout panel devoted to our affiliates’ innovative programming.

Remember affiliates, space in Innovation Nation is limited this year.  And this year, there is no criteria specific to age of program, so whether your program is 1, 2 or 10 years old, it’s eligible! So don’t delay in reserving your space to become one of the Innovation Nation programs! 

What’s Up With Congress…and Washington in General?

While most eyes in Washington this week were on negotiations with Iran or the drama in Indiana, Congress was busy debating health care (as usual) and (actually) passing legislation. The Doc Fix Sailed through House and it appears that Senate Democratic opposition may be softening. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court won’t hear case on Obamacare Medicare Board.

And make sure you watch the video from the White House celebrating the 5th Birthday of their “West Wing Week” series and First Lady Michelle Obama rocking out the Mom Dance on Jimmy Fallon. Pretty funny stuff.

What We’re Reading

MHA Press Statement on Germanwings Crash

PR Week: Mental Health Groups Demand More Responsible Media Coverage after Germanwings Crash (Paul Gionfriddo quoted)

Kaiser Health News: Research Plan Could Drive ‘Culture Change’ In How Mental Illness Is Diagnosed, Treated (Paul Gionfriddo quoted)

Kaiser Health News: Depression, related ailments take their toll on the workplace, study finds (Paul Gionfriddo quoted)

NIMH: Targeting Suicide

Wall Street Journal: After Airline Tragedy, New Focus on Mental Health at Work

Huffington Post: No, ‘Suicidal Tendencies’ Are Not an Indicator of Violence

Denver Business Journal: Andrew Romanoff to Lead Mental Health America of Colorado

Time: Mental Health Therapy through Social Networking Could Soon Be a Reality

MTV: How Can Texting Help Teens Struggling with Mental Illness?

Where in the world is Paul Gionfriddo? (And where is he going?)

Well, right now he is likely enjoying such much needed rest and relaxation poolside in Florida. (Jealous? Um, yes). But he never really stops working, which I can attest to—last week while at a business dinner Paul took calls from CNN and Al Jazeera without batting an eyelash, and then hopped in a car for a live on-air interview across town. He makes my job easy, folks!

We’ll get some time with Paul in the office in April, but then he is off to Orlando at the end of the month for the 2015 National Council’s Annual Conference. Coming up in May, Paul will be doing events with affiliates in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Connecticut and be the keynote speaker for MHA of Monmouth County Annual Dinner on May 13 in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey. He will also travel to Toronto to attend the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting, May 16-20.                                                                                                 

Want to see Paul at your event or host a book signing? Contact Michael King at to schedule something!

Did You Know?

MHA has a new Senior Director of Affiliate Services! Valerie H. Sterns joined MHA last month! Previously she served in the capacity of Director of Member Services for the National Affordable Housing Management Association for six years and as Director of Membership & Affiliate Services for the National Apartment Association for more than 12 years. She has significant experience in nonprofit management, working with local and state affiliated associations, their staff and volunteer leaders to build a solid network of affiliated organizations by providing program and strategic assistance. We are excited to have her, welcome Valerie!

Daughter Running in Memory of her Father for MHA: Jennifer Watson, a physical therapist from Chesapeake, Virginia is running 100 miles in August in memory of her father, John Elbert Arthur Watson. She has set up an online page and is raising money for MHA! Check it out and consider donating!

Affiliate News

Update from Tennessee (thank you Ben Harrington!) Recent developments in Tennessee have kept advocates—including Tom Starling (MHA Middle TN) and Ben Harrington (MHA East Tennessee), MHA volunteers and other stakeholders who receive or deliver services—busy to say the least.

Budget instructions caused TennCare (Medicaid) and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) to propose drastic cuts in their Fall budget hearings to eliminate Case Management for the SPMI ($32M) unless they had received a STAGE4 service (hospitalization, Emergency Room, or crisis services), elimination of Peer Support Centers ($5.4M) , and eliminate A&D residential programs for youth ($1.9M) among others reducing staffing in central office, provider rate reductions, lifetime limitations to suboxone, etc.

Advocates sprang to action and Peer Support Center ($5.4M) funding was restored in the initial Governor’s budget released in February. This left a lot of work for the advocates and especially the members of the Tennessee Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Coalition chaired by Tom Starling. Legislative visits, letters & emails, media coverage in most newspapers and television media, including the political shows airing Sunday mornings, put pressure on the state. Paul Gionfriddo keynoted the Behavioral Health Day on the Hill activities and nearly 400 advocates descended on the Hill in a final push with a new message – intervene #B4STAGE4!

MHA voices were clearly heard as the Governor’s Budget amendment came out this week restoring $32M in Case Management services and $1.9 M in A& D residential treatment for youth! Advocates working together resulted in $37.3 M in vital services have been restored to the state budget.

Sadly though, it has been a rollercoaster of sorts in Tennessee regarding Medicaid Expansion. Although a deeply colored “red” state, the Governor proposed a compromise health plan called “Insure Tennessee” and convened the required special session of the legislature. Expansion died a miserable death in a Senate “super health committee” stacked with “tea party” types.

The public was displeased that seven legislators could kill a bill vital to 280,000 people. Everyone thought it was dead - only to see it be resurrected in the regular Legislative Session, with tweaks based on the objections the Special Session generated. Second time around it passed the Senate TennCare Committee and limped into the Senate Health Committee and was passed. Insure Tennessee went to the Commerce Committee March 31st where it died again, without deliberation, questions or answers. Literally it was DOA in the Commerce Committee. Now likely done for the year. This loss hurt!

MHA Oklahoma (formerly MHA in Tulsa) invites its affiliate colleagues to submit a workshop proposal for the 21st Annual Zarrow Mental Health Symposium, September 17-18, 2015 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The theme of the symposium is, Integrating Healthcare: Mind, Body and Spirit. Potential presentation topics are listed on page 2 of the attached Call for Presentations (CFP).  The deadline has been extended to tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7th to encourage affiliate submissions.  Complete details and submission instructions can be found in the attached Call for Presentations document. For more information, contact Karen LaPlante at

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500 Montgomery Street, Suite 820
 Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone (703) 684.7722

Toll Free (800) 969.6642

Fax (703) 684.5968

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