News & Updates
February/March 2021 | Issue 10
Powered by Purpose | Making a Difference | COVID-19 Resources | Research Updates| Worth Noting | Leading Change | Events
Powered by Purpose
On Jan. 20, I joined most of the nation in rapt attention as Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman inspired us with these words:

And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn't mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
I’ve thought of these words many times since then. What does it mean to have purpose in our work? As advocates, we know the work we do and what we achieve - but in the midst of a pandemic, a national reckoning on race and disparities, and ongoing discrimination against people with mental health conditions, it is more important than ever to remember why we do this work and why it matters.
A recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reminded us of our "why." In the report, DOJ found significant constitutional violations and chronicled findings from an investigation into treatment for prisoners under "mental health watch" in MA Department of Corrections (MDOC) facilities. Investigators noted that MDOC failed to provide mental health services to prisoners on mental health watch and cited numerous incidents in which staff failed to remove self-harm instruments and sometimes cruelly taunted prisoners to engage in self-harm. In addition, MDOC violated its own policies that limit mental health watch - which is severely restrictive and almost entirely isolating - to a maximum of four days. From July 2018-August 2019, MDOC held 106 prisoners experiencing a mental health crisis on mental health watch for 14 consecutive days or longer.
There are many factors contributing to this shameful treatment of people experiencing mental health crises. MAMH worked closely with MA Sen. Jamie Eldridge and Reps. Brandy Fluker Oakley and Lindsay Sabadosa to introduce legislation to require MDOC to adopt best practices already in place in many other prison systems across the country. (For more information about this bill and MAMH's other policy priorities, see Making a Difference, below.)
The DOJ report is just one important reminder that people with mental health conditions and those experiencing the effects of traumatic experiences continue to experience discrimination and neglect, not only in less progressive states but right here in Massachusetts. Doing better to protect human rights and promote recovery is our purpose. This is why we work for change, and I am grateful for the collaboration and partnership that each of you brings to this shared purpose. With hope and gratitude,

Danna Mauch, PhD
President and CEO
Making a Difference
The 2021-2022 legislative session is officially underway! MAMH's legislative agenda supports three main goals:

  • Promoting wellness and preventing negative outcomes too often associated with mental health conditions among children;
  • Expanding access to high quality mental health services; and
  • Decriminalizing mental health conditions and improving mental health treatment for people in the criminal legal system.

MAMH is working closely with legislators on bills to support each of these priorities. Learn more.

In addition, the FY22 budget released by Governor Baker on Jan. 27 included a lot of good news for mental health advocates. Despite the Commonwealth’s uncertain financial position, many priorities were funded at historically consistent levels. Last year’s increase to the Department of Mental Health’s Rental Subsidy Program was preserved, as were many other core services. MAMH will advocate for continued support for mental health as the House and Senate prepare their respective budgets in the coming months.
Stay up to date by checking MAMH’s Take Action page on our website! 
COVID-19 Updates & Resources

Massachusetts' new Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line provides live, multilingual support for residents aged 75+ and others who don't have access to the website. Call 211 to access.

A recent poll of Black and Latinx communities found that a significant majority mistrust the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly among Black Americans. A report by the polls authors (NAACP, UnidosUS, Langer Research, and COVID Collaborative) summarizes findings and highlights areas of focus to increase vaccine uptake. Learn more.

A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) examines how a range of economic and societal disruptions stemming from COVID-19, including school closures, may affect the health and well-being of children and families. Learn more.

A new report by the Betsy Lehman Center exposes the gaps in information, policies, and protections that can lead to increased risk for home care workers and their clients. Learn more.

The COVID-19 Behavioral Health Information Hub at Network of Care Massachusetts is updated weekly! Find guidance and updates from state agencies, new tools and resources to support wellness during the pandemic, and links to help access a range of behavioral health and social services. 
Research Updates
A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics in February confirmed that the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) questionnaire helps to identify population-level risk, but found that it is not accurate in determining whether a particular individual will develop health problems later in life. According to the researchers, “many individuals with high ACE scores will not develop poor health outcomes, and most poor health outcomes in the population will be observed in those with low ACE scores, as these groups are more prevalent.” Learn more.

A new study supported by the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) identified early risk factors that may predict heightened anxiety during stressful life events in early adulthood and inform prevention and intervention efforts. Learn more.

New NIMH-funded research suggests that differences in the expression of gene transcripts – readouts copied from DNA that help maintain and build our cells – may hold the key to understanding how mental disorders with shared genetic risk factors result in different patterns of onset, symptoms, course of illness, and treatment responses. Learn more.

Sign up here receive research news and information directly from NIMH!
Worth Noting
The MA Executive Office of Health and Human Services released a Roadmap for Behavioral Health Reform, an exciting multi-year plan to ensure that residents of the Commonwealth have access to effective behavioral health treatment when and where people need it and to encourage a more diverse workforce. Learn more.

This insightful NY Times article speaks to the disparities that communities of color experience with access to mental health treatment and the need for healing and equity in our approach to mental health services. Learn more.

The Healthiest Goldfish, a new blog by Sandro Galea, focuses on the social causes of health and mental health and the consequences of trauma. Learn more.

The U.S. Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention have issued a new Call to Action to implement a national strategy for suicide prevention. Learn more.

A new report by Mental Health America explores the experiences of adults with co-occurring physical and mental health conditions and provides recommendations for providers to address barriers to initiating treatment, improve patient engagement, and create better care.

A coalition of civil rights groups and legal scholars examined how Crisis Standards of Care, used by hospitals to prioritize who will receive scarce, life-saving treatment in an emergency, may perpetuate medical discrimination against people with disabilities, older adults, and higher-weight people, as well as Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. Learn more.

More than 4.6 million women have lost their jobs or left the workforce since the pandemic started, and the mental health impact on mothers and their children is significant. This interactive feature by the NY Times chronicles the impact in their own words and voices. Learn more.

Applying an approach called Built for Zero, Bakersfield, CA has reached "'functional zero" for chronic homelessness, meaning that long-lasting and recurring homelessness were essentially eliminated. Learn more.

Not sure how to navigate all the mental health apps available? One Mind PsyberGuide reviews and rates existing apps on multiple domains. Learn more.

To find more mental health news, check us out on Facebook and Twitter!
Leading Change

Beginning this month, MAMH News & Notes will feature an interview with MAMH Board members, partners, and other leaders in mental health advocacy. We hope this feature will help you get to know the people behind our work more personally - and the motivation for their activism. This month, our spotlight's on Joe Feaster, a long-time MAMH board member and voice for improved access to mental health services and supports. Read more.
event calendar icon
Even as we minimize our physical interaction with others to help control the spread of COVID-19, we can continue to stay engaged, learn new things, and connect with others in our community. Take advantage of the many opportunities for free, online training and resources!

MA Association for Infant Mental Health
Every other Monday through April 26, 4:00pm ET
This free webinar series is designed to support honest conversations for Black parents and between Black parents. This will be a welcoming space for participants where they will be invited to share strength-based and culturally responsive ideas. Participants may attend one or all of the conversations!

Center for Public Representation
Tuesday, March 9, 6:00-7:30pm ET
Get answers to your questions about the vaccine from infectious disease specialist Dr. Regina La Rocque (Harvard Medical School) and Vaccine Ambassador/MA DPH Health and Disability Program Coordinator Nassira Niocola.

National Institute on Mental Health
Thursday, March 18, 2021, 3:00–4:00pm ET
The NIMH Director’s Innovation Speaker Series is designed to encourage broad, interdisciplinary thinking in the development of scientific initiatives and programs, and to press for theoretical leaps in science over the continuation of incremental thought. 

Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery
March 23rd and 24th, 12:00pm-3:00pm ET
This online course is designed for peer specialists and peer workers to examine effective communication strategies. Participants will learn how to examine the skills needed for self-disclosure, both as a listener and a speaker, and review a variety of methods for communicating accurately, respectfully and with compassion. The registration fee is $180, but a limited number of scholarships are available for unemployed peer specialists.

Wildflower Alliance
March 30th, 9:30am-12:30pm ET
This free webinar will challenge conventional ideas on self-injury and offer a framework for how to support people who self-injure. It will be led by people who have their own experiences with self-injury and extensive experience supporting others, as well.

Doors to Wellbeing National Technical Assistance Center
March 30th, 2:00-3:00pm ET
This free webinar introduces the concept of gender inclusion and how it applies to facilitation for peer specialists. Through this presentation attendees will learn more about personal inclusive practices, facilitation of groups with mixed gender or sexual orientation, and awareness and deconstruction of gender associations.

William James College and partners
April 10, 9:00am-5:00pm ET
This conference will address the gap between knowledge and practice by bringing together leaders in contemporary attachment theory and practice, and those on the front lines from pediatric, mental health, and public health fields to teach and learn about parent-child attachment from infancy through adolescence. Registration fee is $175, but a limited number of scholarships are available for clinicians serving low-income communities.

In Case You Missed It ...

The Plymouth County District Attorney's Office and partners hosted a virtual event with Jarrett Krosoczka, the award-winning author of Hey Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father and Dealt with Family Addiction, a graphic memoir appropriate for ages 12 and up. A recording of the event can be found found here.

This National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM)'s webinar explores the challenges COVID-19 poses to long-term care for nursing homes, vaccination and vaccine distribution challenges for older adults, and a health plan’s efforts to address pandemic isolation and loneliness. A recording of the event can be found here.