News From National - February 3, 2015 | Mental Health America

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News From National - February 3, 2015

In this update:

  • 2015 Annual Conference
  • Federal Legislative Update
  • Mental Health News
  • Where in the World is Paul Gionfriddo?
  • Did You Know?
  • Affiliate Spotlight

2015 Annual Conference

Registration for MHA’s 2015 Conference is now live! If you are an affiliate or attended last year’s conference, look for a separate email for your unique discount code. For everyone else, trust us, you aren’t going to want to miss this year! You can register TODAY right here. If you’ve never attended MHA’s Annual Conference, this is the one you don’t want to miss! The conference is shaping up to be an exciting one. The conference theme this year is Intervention and Innovation Before Stage4, and will feature perspectives from local and national experts via several plenary sessions and four breakout tracks: Nuts and Bolts of Advocacy, Consumers and Support Systems, Children and Adolescents, and Science and Policy.

Already confirmed are several high-profile speakers and participants, including Glennon Doyle Melton, author of New York Times bestselling memoir, Carry On, Warrior and founder of the online community; Dr. Thomas R. Insel: Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); Major General Mark Graham (Ret.); Senior Director, Call Center Operations and Director, Military/Veteran & Family Support Services at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care; Brigadier General (Ret.) Stephen Xenakis, MD retired Army medical corps officer; Dwight Hollier, Director, Transition and Clinical Services for the National Football League (NFL); Terrie Williams, Author, Entrepreneur and Mental Health Advocate; Angie Goff, reporter and anchor for NBC Washington;  Brandon Staglin, Director of Marketing Communications for both Staglin Family Vineyard and IMHRO/One Mind Institute; Peter Earley, author of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness; and Dennis Embry senior scientist at PAXIS Institute in Tucson and a co-investigator at Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention. 

2015 Media Awards

In addition to an exciting line-up of speakers, MHA is excited to announce that journalist Yochi Dreazen, ESPN’s program Outside the Lines, and NBC4 Washington will be receiving MHA’s 2015 Media Awards.

Yochi Dreazen is the managing editor for news at Foreign Policy, and author of The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in the Era of Endless War. The book chronicles the compelling story of Major General mark Graham and his wife Carol as they faced  unimaginable tragedy after losing two sons—one to suicide and one to combat. The book brings to light not only the tragedy of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder throughout the military, but also the evolution of how the institution and its leaders are dealing with this crisis.

ESPN’s Outside the Lines story in 2014 of College Athletes and Mental Health: Sasha’s Story, reported on by Tom Farrey and Nicole Noren, drew attention to the tragic suicide of University of Missouri swimmer Sasha Menu Courey, and her unanswered cries for help to University of Missouri officials. ESPN shared the story of Sasha—a beautiful and talented swimmer who battled mental health issues and ultimately took her own life when she couldn’t find the help she needed. By thoroughly reporting on this important topic with sensitivity and compassion, OTL not only honored Sasha’s memory but also brought attention to the urgent need to change the dialogue of mental health in this country—on college campuses and beyond.

NBC4 Washington, the Washington, DC area NBC affiliate spent 2014 discussing the issues surrounding mental health, through its year-long Changing Mind series. As NBC4 describes it, mental health “…can affect anyone at any time. It doesn’t discriminate by age, race, gender, or income. Yet many of us find that mental health and mental illness are tough topics to talk about.” The campaign has drawn significant attention to the needs of those struggling with mental health issues, and by providing education and information on a variety of mental health topics NBC4 has done the Washington area a great service.

Call for Nominations for Additional 2015 Awards

Please look out for a separate email in the coming weeks calling for nominations for the 2015 Clifford W. Beers Award, mPower Award, Legislator Award and Innovation Award.

Federal Legislative Update

  • Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) removed a substantial barrier to mental health screening in schools by changing the “free care” policy. In response to CMS and the Obama Administration’s December 2014 guidance on the Medicaid “free care” policy, Mental Health America (MHA) sent a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner applauding this, acknowledging that CMS’ action represents a significant advance in identifying and supporting children with mental health needs before crises occur.  MHA appreciates the many ways this change is aligned with and advances MHA’s priorities: prevention for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated health and behavioral health (and other) services for those who need them; and recovery as a goal. MHA CEO Paul Gionfriddo discusses this topic further on our MHA’s blog, Chiming In.
  • The Achieving a Better Life Experience (the ABLE Act) was signed into law in December of 2014.  This legislation allows for individuals who were disabled before age 26, or their families, to set aside up to $14,000 per year in a special savings account. The funds may be used for needs, such as education, housing, and transportation. These funds will not be counted when considering eligibility for other federal programs, which are income/asset based.   
  • Indiana’s Medicaid expansion was approved by CMS affording coverage to an estimated 350,000 additional people in the Hoosier State. Not only is it noteworthy that Indiana has become the 28th state to expand Medicaid, but it has done so with a unique twist. People whose incomes are above the federal poverty level ($11, 670 for an individual) will be required contribute to a health savings account. Failure to do so could result in being locked out of coverage for six months.
  • There is much anticipation around expectation of the pending reintroduction of important pieces of legislation sponsored by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee —the 21st Century Cures and Congressman Tim Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.  Congressman Murphy was honored at a luncheon sponsored by the Treatment Advocacy Center, where he was presented with an award named in honor of psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey. He indicated that a new version of his bill will be introduced in the next few weeks.
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) have been conducting a bipartisan roadshow to gather input from advocacy organizations on how best to bring new medications and therapies more quickly from the development stage into practice. A discussion document is has been released for comment by the E&C Committee.

Mental Health News

New Report on Behavioral Health Integration

Milbank Memorial Fund Report on Behavioral Health Integration

Recent MHA Press

Washington Post: Getting mental health services can be hard, despite law requiring parity

The Guardian: A foiled plot to kill Boehner – but suspect showed signs of mental illness

Medscape: US Mental Health Services Ranked by State

YouTube: Demi Lovato and the Mental Health Listening and Engagement Tour

Where in the World is Paul Gionfriddo?

As many of you know, it’s pretty hard to keep track of Paul’s busy schedule! He has been busy spreading the #B4Stage4 message around the country, promoting Losing Tim, and visiting with many of you to learn more about the great work happening around the country among MHA affiliates and partners. Here’s just a snapshot of Paul’s recent and upcoming adventures:

He lectured and did a book signing at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, FL, on Wednesday, January 28th.  He enjoyed a warm reception from the 75 people present in the lecture hall and another group that video-conferenced in from the Palm Beach Gardens campus.

He’ll be in greater Fort Lauderdale on Friday, February 6th, for a Losing Tim and #B4Stage4 presentation and book signing sponsored by MHA Southeast Florida.

He’s also heading out to San Francisco in two weeks to participate in a panel presentation at the 7th Annual International Conference Against Stigma on February 18th promoting #B4Stage4. Then, he is hopping a plane to Austin, TX to keynote a children’s mental health summit sponsored by Austin Travis County Integral Care at the LBJ School at the University of Texas, and to attend a book signing sponsored by MHA Texas. 

Did You Know?

MHA’s Vice President of Consumer Advocacy, Patrick Hendry was nominated and accepted as a member of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities with the US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy.  The Advisory Committee is a key part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, signed into law by President Obama on July 22, 2014 to support individuals with disability to access employment and build a recovery oriented mental health workforce.

The New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions! OK, I’m pretty sure you knew that. But did you know that Victoria Renard is a huge Green Bay Packers fan? We dare you to go 5 minutes with MHA’s Senior Director of Development without hearing about her love for all things Wisconsin…including her beloved Packers! She even is on the waiting list for season tickets…a very LONG waiting list. Number 36,637! That’s dedication. So tread lightly when talking about the legacy that is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, she is probably still recovering from the ending of the NFC Championship game. But nothing like a healthy football rivalry to keep MHA National interesting…Go Pats! J

Affiliate Spotlight

MHA affiliates! We want to highlight you and the great work you are doing! If there is a particular program or news item you’d like us to highlight in the next issue of NFN, please send summaries to Erin Wallace at

Feedback on NFN?

Want to see more or less of something? MHA welcomes your feedback! Please email Erin Wallace at with any thoughts or suggestions for future issues of NFN.

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