News & Updates
July 2020 | Issue 6
Powered by Purpose | Making a Difference | COVID-19 | Research | Worth Noting | Events
Powered by Purpose

Thirty years ago this month, the ADA was signed into law , promising people with disabilities equal opportunities, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. Nine years later, in Olmstead v. L.C. , Lois Curtis (photo) and Elaine Wilson secured a promise that people confined in state psychiatric institutions would have these same rights.

The courage of ADA advocates and visionaries has made the world today a better place for us all. I am proud of the role that MAMH has played, and will continue to play, in ensuring that people with disabilities are integrated into all aspects of community life, with access to housing, employment, education, income, and health care in communities across the Commonwealth and the Nation.
The struggle for disability rights, however, cannot and should not be remembered on its own. Modern civil rights movements, from the ADA to #TimesUp to Black Lives Matter, are rooted in the shared experience of oppression – and too often the overlapping experiences of discrimination based on race, gender, social class, age, or disability status.

As we begin to explore alternatives to traditional policing, the intersection of these experiences must play a central role in our deliberations and solutions. For example, from 2005-2016, nearly half of people shot and killed by police in the Commonwealth were having a mental health crisis . This is consistent with national data, which also show that people who are Black are three times as likely as white people to be killed by police . Professionals and policymakers in the mental health and substance use treatment field need to step up and organize care so that clinicians serve as the first responder or co-responder, relieving police of a job they’ve taken on by default and protecting individuals of all races from fatal police intervention. 

The pandemic, too, calls us to reflect on the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on people who are Black, brown, older, poor, or disabled – and the ways in which our public response needs to acknowledge and address the intersection of these disparities. As the number of people at risk of death because of depression, anxiety, and substance use increases, societal responses to support basic needs such as housing, food security, and income, as well as more effective crisis response and equitable access to treatment, are needed.

In this work, I am reminded of the core axiom of the disability rights movement: "Nothing about us without us." I am encouraged that, while there is much work to be done to realize the promise of the ADA and other critical social movements, there are many voices, perspectives, and advocates to lead us - and MAMH is committed to be part of this work.

With hope and gratitude,
Danna Mauch, PhD
President and CEO
Making a Difference
This week, the House and the Senate both voted and agreed to extend the formal legislative session past its usual July 31st deadline. On the table for discussion is a new telehealth bill to codify changes put in place through Executive Order as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

The extension will also allow the Legislature to create a full FY21 budget. In the meantime, the House and Senate have finalized a budget to cover the operating costs of the Commonwealth through October 31, 2020. This 3-month budget agrees to fund line items at the lesser of FY20 expenditures or spending levels proposed in the House budget bill. This likely will result in reductions in several line items that we track as compared to FY20 spending, though how this approach will be operationalized is not yet fully clear.

For the FY21 budget, which will fund the state from November through June, legislators are hoping for a federal relief package that will prevent them from having to engage in deep cuts to state funds. 

Please watch for our Action Alerts! MAMH will continue to advocate strongly for protection of mental health, substance use, and related social services during this 3-month window, and we will need your help to educate legislators about the importance of investing in prevention, early intervention, and equitable access to treatment.
COVID-19 Mental Health Updates & Resources
Dozens of middle- and high-school age students submitted videos as part of the Mental Health Matters youth video contest , sponsored by MAMH and the MA Health Council. We were impressed with the ability of these young people to tap into those feelings and provide helpful tips in such creative, fun ways. Congratulations to all the winners, and check out their vidoes here !

The Childhood Trauma Task Force found that COVID-related stressors may increase child trauma , that these trauma experiences will have serious health and behavioral health consequences, and that the current behavioral health system is not prepared to address them. Many effective interventions exist to address these needs, but targeted support for under-resourced areas is critical. Learn more.

Parents, caregivers, and early childhood educators will be interested in this 20-minute video from the OCA and U.Mass Medical School on supporting resilience in young children during times of stress . You can also check out the free tip sheets available in multiple languages on the OCA website. Learn more .

Medway Public Schools, in partnership with Boston University, created a free, online course for teens on stress and COVID-19. You can access the course here .

Data obtained by The Washington Post from a real-time tracker of drug-related emergency calls and interviews with coroners suggest that overdoses have not just increased since the pandemic began but are accelerating as it persists. 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
 Living with the worry, traumatic stress, social isolation, and economic insecurity of the COVID-19 pandemic is generating a mental health pandemic. Using two national projection models, MAMH estimates that deaths from suicide and overdose in Massachusetts will increase between 12 and 60 percent during the first year. Learn more.

The Kaiser Family Foundation developed state-by-state fact sheets providing prevalence data for mental health and substance use conditions, as well as an overview of coverage and treatment access issues. Learn more.

A recent report from Boston Indicators, in partnership with the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and the Economic Security Project, explores the effectiveness and feasibility of a minimum guaranteed income for residents of the Commonwealth. Learn more.

Long-term care settings provide ideal conditions for the rapid spread of COVID-19, but models used to develop policies don't adequately capture the complexities of how COVID-19 is spreading , according to a recent JAMA article. Learn more.

Research published this month suggests that offering a well-designed Digital Peer Support Certification program can increase the capacity of peer support specialists to use specific digital peer support technology features. Learn more.

NIMH seeks participants for an online research study to better understand changes in emotional reactions and assess motivation in people during this stressful pandemic. Participation involves completing online questionnaires and a computer task twice (first time, and again in 8 months), and compensation is provided. Learn more.

NIMH released two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) supporting research to evaluate interventions designed to reduce the mental health impacts of COVID-19. Click on these links to learn more about the FOAs on Community Interventions and Digital Healthcare Interventions to address consequences of COVID-19.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) published its new Strategic Plan for Research , outlining its research priorities for the next five years. Learn more.

Sign up here to receive research news and information directly from NIMH!
Worth Noting
Our social compact relies on all of us sharing equally in the benefits and the burdens of the compact, yet Black people and other people of color in the United States share far fewer of the benefits and much more of the burden . At MAMH, we pledge to continue to learn how to be more effective allies, forge new partnerships, and take action to ensure that all Massachusetts residents share equal opportunities for health and well being. Learn more.

This important op-ed published in the July 13 Boston Globe reminds us that the lasting and tragic consequences of racism include not only discrimination and police brutality, but mental health conditions and suicide as well. Learn more.

In this Commonwealth Magazine op-ed, First Justice of the Massachusetts Juvenile Court Jay Blitzman argues that adopting a more robust and equitable public health model is a national imperative to address systemic racism and inequality . He advocates for re-visiting the policies and practices that have fueled geographical segregation and the great divide between the haves and have nots. Learn more.

As we, as a society, come to terms with the disparate impact of our current approaches to policing and corrections, Norway's prison system offers a vision for what a less punitive, more supportive prison system could look like and how that would benefit people with mental health conditions. Learn more.

Outsiders , a multipart podcast chronicling unsheltered homelessness for one year in Olympia, Washington, provides a complicated portraint of homelessness as the consequence of multiple life stresses, including trauma, mental health conditions, and substance use. Learn more.

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed deep problems with how we treat the older adult workforce , including those who provide in-home supports, and how that contributes to the spread of the pandemic. Learn more.

Telebehavioral health has potential to dramatically improve access to behavioral health care services, particularly for vulnerable populations. A recent report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation provides policymakers and other behavioral health stakeholders with an overview of the state's current telebehavioral health landscape; a description of an optimal telebehavioral health care delivery model; a summary of common barriers to services; and recommendations for policy and programmatic changes to support increased consumer engagement. Learn more.

MAMH hosts an Older Adult Behavioral Health Training Calendar , which provides information about trainings available across the Commonwealth to support the older adult workforce and caregivers, during COVID-19 and beyond! Search for trainings by topics or just browse the calendar.
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!

August 6 and 20, Sept. 3 and 17, Oct. 1 and 15, Nov. 5 and 19, Dec. 3 and 17,
1:00-2:30 pm ET
DPPC is now offering free, virtual mandated reporter training. This training will provide mandated reporting professionals with information on recognizing, reporting, and responding to abuse of persons with disabilities. The training is offered on multiple dates. Participants may choose which training to attend at registration. 

August 11, 2:15-3:00 pm ET
Join MAMH and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders in recognizing and honoring the many Commonwealth citizens working in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, residential care, and other settings on the frontlines of COVID-19. 

Save the Date ...

Caregiving Conversations: Reflecting on Race, Older Adults, and implications for Behavioral Health
Tuesday, August 18, 1:00-2:00
This webinar conversation co-sponsored by MAMH, DMH, and the MA Aging and Mental Health Coalition will explore the traumatic effects of racism on older adults and strategies for effective engagement.

In Case You Missed It ...

This archived webinar highlights research related to 1-time interventions for adolescents that have been shown to be effective in reducing feelings of hopelessness and self-hate and increasing perceived control.

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