News & Updates
December 2019 | Issue 1
Powered by Purpose | Research | Making a Difference | News | Worth Noting | Events
Powered by Purpose
On behalf of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) welcome to the inaugural edition of MAMH News & Updates , our newly revamped monthly newsletter!

At MAMH, our actions are powered by our purpose: to advance mental health and well being by promoting prevention, early intervention, effective treatment, and research to address social, emotional, and mental health challenges. With this foundation, we've been excited to learn more about and support the Governor's Health Reform 2.0 proposal. The centerpiece of the proposal would require insurers, hospitals, and physician groups to increase expenditures on primary care and behavioral health – including treatment and services for mental health and addiction – by 30 percent over the next three years. This is critical, because it acknowledges that physical health and behavioral health are inextricably linked. In addition, the bill tackles some of the most important barriers to accessing effective mental health and addiction treatment, including requiring urgent care centers to provide behavioral health services.

Many of you have received our past newsletters, which focused on research and news from the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH). We’ll continue to provide information and links from NIMH, and we'll also share news about mental health policy and programs, our legislative and advocacy priorities, and upcoming events right here in Massachusetts. We’d like you to know more about MAMH – what inspires and "powers" us to advocate for initiatives to protect mental health and promote resilience. We hope that our newsletter encourages you to reach out so we can learn more about you, too.

Danna Mauch, PhD
President and CEO
Research Updates
We've known for many years that traumatic childhood experiences increase risks for mental health issues, substance use, and health problems - and exciting new research on positive childhood experiences (PCEs) offers a hopeful perspective.

In a fall article in JAMA Pediatrics , researcher Christina Bethell and her colleagues concluded that PCEs may decrease one's risk for depression and poor mental health - with the risk decreasing in proportion to the number of PCEs reported. In an interview, Bethell told NPR : "We see that accumulation of positive experiences, just like the accumulation of adverse experiences, really packs a punch." 

Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have uncovered sex-based differences in the development of the hippocampus and amygdala. These brain areas have been implicated in the biology of several mental health conditions that impact males and females differently. 

An i mportant new study in JAMA Network Online found that inmates who spent time in solitary confinement or segregations were 24% more likely to die in the first year after release, especially from suicide (78%). These inmates were also 127% more likely to die of an opioid overdose in the first two weeks after release.

NIMH supports clinical trials to test new ways to prevent, detect, or treat mental health conditions. If you think you might be interested in enrolling a clinical trial, click here for more information.

Sign up here to receive research news and information directly from NIMH!
Making a Difference
Budget Advocacy

The legislative session in Massachusetts is in full swing, and mental health advocates have had a lot to celebrate! This year's budget included several key priorities:

$1 million to support additional housing subsidies for people receiving Department of Mental Health (DMH) services

  • $10 million for a Mental Health Trust Fund, which will support workforce scholarships and anti-stigma efforts

  • $200,000 for the Community Behavioral Health Promotion and Prevention Commission Trust Fund

  • $300,000 to fund additional Elder Mental Health Outreach Teams
 
Congratulations to all the champions across the Commonwealth who helped to secure these investments in mental health! Special thanks to Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senators Rodrigues, Friedman, and Cyr, and Representatives Michlewitz, Garlick, Decker, Balser, and Garballey for their leadership!  
Legislative & Regulatory Advocacy
MAMH joined the Children's Mental Health Campaign and advocates from around the state in supporting legislation to improve the accuracy of insurance provider directories. The Children’s Health and Wellness Initiative (H.4210) was signed into law on November 26, and will ensure that provider directories are regularly updated and contain accurate contact information for providers, including whether they are available to take new patients in that network.  In addition, MAMH:

  • Supported legislation ordering a review of the use of "step therapy" protocols by health plans and recommending changes. Step therapy protocols require people to "fail first" on a less expensive prescription drug in order to access the medication they need. Read more.

  • Opposed a bill that would allow for the use of surveillance equipment inside therapeutic DMH and Department of Developmental Services living environments. Read more.

  • Opposed a bill that would allow prisons and houses of correction to put inmates with anxiety disorders, trauma, and stress-related disorders in solitary confinement. Read more.

  • Joined colleagues from Prisoner Legal Services to support legislation to transfer control of Bridgewater State Hospital from the Department of Corrections to DMH.

In addition, MAMH opposed a Department of Mental Health emergency regulation that would allow the use of drug-sniffing dogs in DMH facilities. Read more .
MAMH in the News
Worth Noting
A new report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation describes potential coverage and federal funding losses for Massachusetts if Texas v. United States results in overturning the Affordable Care Act. A Dec. 18 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned the law's individual mandate provision, sending other provisions of the law back to federal district court for further review. Plaintiffs are expected to appeal the Fifth Circuit decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This Daily Hampshire Gazette article highlights one significant challenge to successful re-entry from incarceration, including re-entry for inmates with mental health conditions: expensive fees for phone calls that make it harder for inmates to stay connected to family and friends.

CDC's November Vital Signs highlights the enormous health costs associated with childhood trauma and toxic stress, noting that preventing childhood trauma could reduce the number of adults with depression by as much as 44%. Check out the CDC's website for research, infographics, social media strategies, and more to help reduce the impact of childhood trauma.

On Dec. 12, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved the designation of 9-8-8 as a nationwide suicide prevention hotline number. The decision kicks off a public comment period, with implementation likely in 2021. Until then, callers should use the existing suicide hotline number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Upcoming Events
Supported Employment: How to Support Someone with Obtaining and Maintaining Employment   
Jan. 16, 2020, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Free webinar sponsored by the SAMHSA Northeast and Caribbean Mental Health Technology Transfer Center.

SAVE THE DATE!
April 17, 2020, Boston
Conference designed to raise awareness about disparities in cancer care for patients with serious mental illness (SMI) and bring together diverse stakeholders to generate priorities for patient-centered research, clinical innovation, and policy change. Free and open to the public, but registration is required.

May 13-14, 2020, Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center, Framingham
19th Annual Massachusettts Suicide Prevention Conference featuring keynote speakers Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and Eric Hipple.
To subscribe to our newsletter, please contact Jenifer Urff at JeniferUrff@mamh.org.