News & Announcements

Report Shows Elderly with Mental Health Needs Don’t Seek Help (posted 5/5)

Posted: May 05, 2010

A new study out of the Journals of Gerontology and supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that many older adults with mental health problems do not believe they need help. The study entitled "Perceived Need for Mental Health Care Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults" found that only half of older adults with a mental disorder use mental health services, and little is known about the causes of perceived need for mental health care. To read the full abstract click here.

AHRQ reports, "Mental health problems, including alcohol and substance abuse, are common in older adults. Yet only half of these individuals actively seek treatment and use mental health services. A new study has found that many older adults with mental health problems don't feel the need for treatment. Those who do perceive the need for care tend to have more symptoms of depression and other chronic health conditions.

The researchers collected data from a national sample of 1,339 individuals 65 years of age and older living in the community. Their ethnicity and gender matched that found in the general population. When a person was identified as receiving mental health care in the past 12 months, they were asked if they sought out the care voluntarily. Those who had not sought out care were asked if they felt a need to seek out treatment for an emotional or substance abuse issue. The researchers determined the prevalence and severity of depression, anxiety, and alcohol abuse in the sample. Participants were also asked if they had certain health conditions to determine the levels of physical health and cognitive functioning.

Only 7.3 percent of the entire sample perceived a need for mental health care during the past year. Among those who did feel a need, 82.8 percent received services voluntarily from either a primary care or mental health specialist. Another 17.2 percent perceived a need for mental health care but did not receive care. Those older adults most likely to feel a need for care tended to have more severe mental illness. They also had histories of depression, anxiety, chronic physical illness, and alcohol abuse. Perceived need for care was less likely as age increased. Men were half as likely as women to report perceived need for care." For more information click here.

New Study Released on Mental Wellness in the Black Community (posted 5/5)

Posted: May 05, 2010

A new report retails living in "survival mode," in the African American community and explores why some african americans thrive, while others merely survive emotional challenges (to view an Executive Summary of the report you must become a member of the MEE Community Network).

In spite of their challenging environments and life situations, positive coping behaviors and protective factors may explain why some low-income urban youth who experience ongoing stress and trauma in their lives thrive, while others crumble, according to a new report released today by MEE (Motivational Educational Entertainment) Productions, Inc., in partnership with a consortium of agencies and foundations, including the Community Mental Health Council, Inc.

"Modern developmental neuroscience tells us teenagers are like cars with all 'gasoline' and no brakes," said Dr. Carl Bell, a leading psychiatrist who served on the expert panel for the research. "Parents and society need to provide young people with 'brakes and a steering wheel'--the protective factors they need to keep these teen risk factors from causing bad future outcomes."

An extraordinarily frank report, Moving Beyond Survival Mode: Promoting Mental Wellness and Resilience as a Way to Cope with Urban Trauma, summarizes findings from 14 focus groups conducted with low-income Black mothers and young urban adults in four American cities in 2009.  The report offers sobering insights on the stresses and traumas of unrelenting poverty and violence; what it's like to live in "survival mode;" and the major barriers that inhibit access to community mental health services.  A consortium of healthcare foundations, mental health agencies and violence-prevention organizations sponsored this research project and report.

"Because mental and emotional issues impact behaviors in so many areas--including, substance abuse, interpersonal violence and sexual health--this research is of direct relevance to a wide cross-section of organizations and agencies," said MEE Founder and President Ivan Juzang. "It is critical to helping people think and talk about the issue of mental wellness in the Black community, and to helping create a common language and framework that can be used to educate the community on this issue."

The report recommends intensive, sustained and culturally-relevant community outreach to engage African American families who are most at-risk. Mental health service providers need to build a bridge between their own professional knowledge and perspectives and an individual youth's feelings, needs and interests, by developing communications strategies that "meet people where they are." At the same time, the report asserts, low-income African Americans need to understand that they have choices in the way they go about seeking mental wellness for themselves and their family. Finally, "Moving Beyond Survival Mode" calls for using protective factors as a framework that would lead a shift from mental health treatment as a focus of funding and programs to a prevention focus - one that helps "inoculate" young people against traumas they will face.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Stress and trauma are constants in the lives of today's low-income, urban African Americans, and continue to take a devastating toll on their psyche.  Many causes of stress were named by the young people in this study, spanning a wide range of urban issues that make "just trying to live" a major challenge -- from finding jobs, to interactions with the criminal justice system, to household/familial problems. Not having money and finding ways of acquiring it were enormous causes of stress for this segment of the American population.  While young Black men spoke regularly about the trauma of surviving the streets, young Black women more often cited stressors related to interpersonal relationships.
  • Positive coping behaviors and protective factors can act as a foundation for building toward increased resilience and mental wellness. Young people said having internal goals and a strong support system, believing in a higher power (faith/spirituality), and being able to see beyond one's immediate circumstances all help them "bounce back" from life's challenges.  By better understanding the positive coping mechanisms young people use to respond to stress, communities can help promote the prevention of mental illness and reinforce protective factors that help low-income Black youth thrive.
  • Stigma remains a major barrier to accessing community mental health services.  Young adults reported that people aren't getting help for mental health issues because "who wants to be viewed as crazy?"  Many believed that asking for help for an emotional problem is a sign of weakness.  Other participants said some people are in denial about their own mental health issues, or that they aren't seeking help for violence or depression because they consider the things around them to be "normal."
  • A lack of diversity among mental health professionals is also contributing to under-use of behavioral health services and programs.  Participants consistently commented about not having mental health service providers who "look like them" and share their backgrounds and experiences.  While providers in our focus groups pointed out that many of their mainstream peers try to be culturally sensitive, they said that they often fall short.
  • This two-year research project examined the mental and emotional needs that lead to disastrous choices and behavioral consequences among youth.  The research design included expert interviews with top experts on psychology, mental health and urban youth issues; focus groups; and an extensive data coding process.  At the project's core, we collected qualitative data from low-income African American mothers/caregivers (ages 35+ who had adolescent sons ages 14-17) and from African-American young adults (ages 19-22, separated by gender), along with community-based service providers in four cities: Washington, DC; Oakland/Richmond, CA; Chicago, IL; and Philadelphia, PA.

The comprehensive MEE report is accompanied by a video documentary featuring excerpts from the focus groups and expert interviews.  In addition, as a result of the findings in the report, MEE has developed a multi-component toolkit that includes the kind of culturally relevant materials that are needed in order to begin a community-wide dialogue with African American young adults and parents about the importance of mental wellness-and how to achieve it. It also provides CBOs, service providers, public agencies and institutions with methods (tools and communication strategies) to effectively address the identified provider-client cultural gap in the delivery of behavioral health services.  Chicago and Philadelphia will serve as two of the first cities to implement some of the recommendations in the report, using the Community Mental Wellness Toolkit to inform the work of their behavioral health providers.

"Moving Beyond Survival Mode is critically important reading," said Dr. Joe White, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry at University of California Irvine, and a nationally renowned expert on psychological trends within Black and urban communities. "The report hits all the major points with respect to coping strategies, community reluctance to use existing mental health resources, and the whole movement toward prevention and wellness, as opposed to illness." For more information click here.

About MEE and the Partnering Organization

MEE Productions Inc. ( is an internationally recognized research, communications and marketing firm that develops research-based, market-driven solutions for issues facing urban and low-income populations living in at-risk environments. MEE specializes in developing cost-effective and culturally relevant messages for hard-to-reach urban and ethnic audiences. The company is headquartered in Philadelphia, with satellite offices in Washington DC and Los Angeles. MEE's proprietary research methodologies, award-winning media productions and innovative campaigns are designed to meet the changing needs of underserved, low income and urban populations around the world.

For more than 30 years, the Community Mental Health Council, Inc. (CMHC), a multi-million dollar comprehensive community mental health center headquartered on Chicago's South Side that has helped tens of thousands of individuals and families who struggle with the challenges of mental illness. CMHC focuses on placing clients and their families on a lifelong path to mental, emotional and physical wellness. The President and CEO is internationally renowned psychiatrist, author and educator, Carl C. Bell, M.D., who has conducted groundbreaking research that examines the effects of race, culture and ethnicity on behavioral healthcare issues. Dr. Bell is also Director of the Institute for Juvenile Research; Director of Public and Community Psychiatry; and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Other sponsors included The California Endowment; the Division of Behavioral Health of the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health; the Blueprint for a Safer Philadelphia; the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority; the Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership and MEE Productions Inc.

New LGBTQ2I-S Resources Available (posted 5/5)

Posted: May 05, 2010

The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership) has recently updated their website to include links and descriptions of more than 30 websites related to LGBTQI2-S children/youth and their families as well as three national telephone helplines.  You can access the list by clicking here.

The TA Partnership currently supports a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQI2-S) Learning Community (LC) that provides a forum for Systems of Care and their partners to collaborate, exchange knowledge, network and share best practices to advance the development of culturally and linguistically competent mental health systems for children and youth who are LGBTQI2-S and their families. This LC holds periodic conference calls that feature best practices for mental health systems serving children and youth who are LBGTQI2-S. To view presentations from past calls click here. The LC's most recent call focused on a University of South Florida publication, "Asset-Based Approaches for LGBTQI2-S Youth and Families in Systems of Care."  This new monograph offers a public health approach for communities to meet the needs of these families with LGBTQI2-S youth as they access and utilize needed services within the mental health system. To download the report off of the University of South Florida website, click here.

Suicide Prevention Guide for American Indian/Alaskan Native Communities (posted 4/30)

Posted: April 30, 2010

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) has released a suicide prevention planning guide to prevent suicide in American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) communities. “To Live to See the Great Day that Dawns: Preventing Suicide by American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and Young Adults” was designed to support AI/AN communities and those who serve them in developing effective, comprehensive, and culturally appropriate suicide prevention plans. This guide lays the groundwork for comprehensive prevention planning, with prevention broadly defined. Prevention is not limited to programs that just address the needs of individuals who may be at risk of suicide. Prevention also includes programs that a community can use to promote the mental health of its young. It also is the actions that a community can take in response to a suicide that has occurred—or postvention—to help the community heal and thereby prevent related suicidal behaviors. To download the guide click here (6.9MB). For more information click here.

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 5/6

Posted: April 29, 2010

The 5th Annual National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day will take place on Thursday, May 6th. Awareness Day is a day for everyone to promote positive youth development, resilience, recovery, and the transformation of mental health services delivery for children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families. Awareness Day raises awareness of effective programs for children's mental health needs; demonstrates how children's mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience; and shows how children with mental health needs thrive in their communities. On Thursday, May 6, 2010, Awareness Day will mark its 5th anniversary, as well as a first-time focus on the topic of early childhood. Communities across the country will observe the day with events, youth demonstrations, and social networking campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and increase understanding of the mental health needs of children and their families. For more information click here.

Awareness Day 2010 will specifically focus on increasing basic awareness of the importance positive mental health has on a child's healthy development, with the key message that "positive mental health is essential to a child's healthy development from birth."

Awareness Day efforts will encourage the following actions:

  1. Integrate mental health into every environment that impacts child development from birth
  2. Nurture the social and emotional well-being of children from birth
  3. Look for and discuss milestones of a child's social and emotional development from birth

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will be holding two events on May 6th to celebrate Awareness Day. The Awareness Day Turns 5 Celebration is a free event in which young children from local daycare centers, and their parents and caregivers will participate. Children will have the opportunity to express their feelings through music, dance, and the visual arts. The Awareness Day Early Childhood Forum will take place in the Amphitheatre of the Ronald Reagan Building beginning at 7 p.m. This free event will consist of two 45-minute panels focusing on 1) Promoting Positive Social-Emotional Development, and 2) What to Do When Problems Arise. One of the panelists is NNED's Larke Huange, Ph.D. Senior Advisor, Office of the Administrator, SAMHSA. For more information click here.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has released several resources for organizations plan activities to celebrate Awareness Day. To view the resources click here.
They include:

  • Podcasts on topics such as “Suicide and the Young,” “Depression and ADHD,” “Anxiety,” and “Autism Spectrum Disorders”
  • Vodcasts (video podcasts) discussing new data about the prevalence of mental disorders in adolescents and access to care
  • NIMH Director’s blog on children’s mental health. NIMH’s key messages for Awareness Day include: Mental illness is a brain disorder; Mental illness often begins in early childhood and adolescence; Early intervention often can halt the progress of these disorders; and Mental health and physical health are of equal importance.

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) has released a new issue brief focusing on mental health as a key component in a child’s healthy development. The brief entitled, "Children’s Mental Health: What Every Policymaker Should Know" offer policy strategies to improve the mental health service delivery system for children and adolescents. To download the brief off of the NCCP website, click here.

The Frameworks Institute has released five new reports and a Flash presentation on child mental health. The five reports document the dominant frames used to explain issues of child mental health in media and in expert discourse. The Flash presentation, "Models of the Mind" allows viewers to listen to the voices of ordinary people as they struggle to understand how mental health 'happens.' For more information click here.


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