News & Announcements

Peer Support in Mental Health: Exploitive, Transformative, or Both?

Posted: September 18, 2014

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Larry Davidson, PhD on MadeInAmerica.com:

The first time I tried to write about peer support—that emerging form of “service delivery” in which one person in recovery from what is described in the field as a “serious mental illness” offers support to another person who is in distress or struggling with a mental health condition—was in 1994. The manuscript was summarily rejected from an academic journal as representing what one of the reviewers described as “unsubstantiated rot.” That same article was eventually published 5 years later,1 and used by the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health to support its recommendation that peer supports be implemented across the country.2 Now, more than a decade later and as peer support arrives at something of a crossroads, both of these reactions remain instructive.

First, there continues to be a large, unmet need for peer support across the country. Over thirty states have already secured Medicaid reimbursement for peer support, and many other states have found ways to fund peer support without Medicaid. Yet there remains a tremendous need for people to receive the message that recovery is real and possible for them, and to benefit from the support peers can provide. At the same time, there remain influential people in mental health systems (and government) who continue to think that peer support—along with anything else related to the concept of “recovery”—is nothing more than “unsubstantiated rot.” Perhaps this situation is no different from that of the diffusion of other innovations in medicine or society at large—like the transition from horse drawn carriages to cars—but it strikes me as an important consideration in deciding the future of peer support. And that is what I would like to address in this piece.

Read more on MadeInAmerica.com.



“In My Own Words” Video Message Contest for Individuals in Recovery from Addiction or Mental Illness

Posted: September 17, 2014

The Addictiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network Coordinating Office announces the 2014 “In My Own Words…” Video Message Contest. In partnership with Faces & Voices of Recovery and Young People in Recovery, the ATTC contest invites individuals in recovery from addiction and/or mental illnesses to share why they want to speak up and reach out about their recovery. All entries must be received by midnight, Central Standard Time, on October 15, 2014. Video message submissions must be no longer than 60 seconds..

Learn more about the contest.



Crafting an Advocacy Agenda for Black Gay Men in the U.S. South

Posted: September 16, 2014

If black gay men in the U.S. South had an agenda for achieving a life free from stigma and discrimination, what would be on it? What are the issues that must be confronted to make progress toward equality? The webinar We Are Here: Toward an Advocacy Agenda for Black Gay Men in the South, presented by HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, brought together select voices to try to answer these questions and more. Presenters on the webinar pointed out that black gay men in the South -- and around the country -- are burdened with mass incarceration, poverty, unemployment, stigma and discrimination. In order to level the playing ground and make strides toward ending certain policies that contribute to these burdens, the webinar presenters stressed the need to organize and take action on several key issues.

Read more on TheBody.com.



Hispanic Heritage Month is Sep 15-Oct 15

Posted: September 15, 2014

National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 – October 15, 2014, the theme for this year is – “Hispanics: A legacy of history, a present of action and a future of success”. 

According to the Library of Congress, "National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the contributions Hispanic Americans have made to American society and culture and to honor five of our Central American neighbors who celebrate their Independence days in September." The Library of Congress provides a full history of presidential proclamations commemorating this time of observation.

Visit the Office of Minority Health (OMH) website to download resources. Visit the OMH Spanish Language Website.



In Northwest Alaska, Teens to Lead the Way in Suicide Prevention

Posted: September 12, 2014

For the last five years, the Northwest Arctic Borough School District has coordinated the Youth Leaders program, training up approximately 120 students to serve as social "captains" at their schools in the 11 villages in the region. The goal is two-fold: To teach the students to be leaders in their communities and to deal with social problems, like bullying, drug abuse, domestic violence and suicide.

Alaska has long struggled to deal with suicide as a state and has led the nation in overall suicide rates. According to the latest numbers from the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics, there were almost 22 suicides for every 100,000 people in the state. In the Northwest Arctic Borough it was almost double that. The statewide teen suicide rate, for those between the ages of 15 and 19, was 24 for every 100,000 people. In the Northwest Arctic Borough, the teen rate was seven times that, based on data collected between 2008 and 2012.

While the data continues to catch up, leaders in Northwest Alaska are looking to the program as a success story in preventing suicides. So far they’ve had phenomenal results: There hasn’t been a teen suicide in the borough in four years, according to administrators.

Some of that credit appears to go to the program, which has worked hard to shift the social responsibilities in the schools to the students. Not only are students, who range in age from middle through high school, engaged, they are keenly aware of the problems facing their peers and communities.  

During a week-long training for youth leader captains -- who serve as leaders in the program -- one of the first things students learned about is the five stages of grief. Using art to share their experiences, students then worked with teachers new to the district to share their experiences.

Read more on ADN.com.



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