News & Updates
September 2020 | Issue 7
Powered by Purpose | COVID-19 Resources | Research Updates| Worth Noting |
In the News | Making a Difference | Events
Powered by Purpose

September 2020 is a month filled with gratitude, loss, and hope - a chaos of conflicting emotions that increasingly characterizes my pandemic experience.

First, gratitude. On behalf of MAMH, thank you to the several hundred people who joined us live for our 107th Annual (and 1st Virtual) Friend & Leader Event! And thanks to hundreds more who since viewed the Event!
Our honorees - Eastern Bank Chair and CEO Bob Rivers, State Sen. Cindy Friedman, and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, and our special guests - Home Base CEO Brig. Gen. (ret.) Jack Hammond, Governor and First Lady Baker - and our thoughtful speakers – Secretary Marylou Sudders, Board Member Joe Feaster, Advocates Heidi Trainor and Angela Wallace, and DMH partner Rob Walker remind us that the Commonwealth is blessed with exceptional leadership. These individuals support improved prevention, access to treatment, and recovery resources for people of all ages who live with mental health conditions. Most important, their stories reflect our shared experiences with mental health challenges and hope for increased understanding and support.  

At the same time that I am deeply appreciative of our many advocates for social justice, our collective sense of loss this month is deep and wide. There are now 1 million dead worldwide from the coronavirus. The announcement this month that no charges would be brought against two of the officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor was a painful reminder of the many ways in which our systems not only fail but too often harm people of color and people with disabilities through discriminatory policies, actions, and words. And the passing of Massachusetts Chief Justice Ralph Gants and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves a gap in leadership in the ongoing struggle for civil rights and justice for people and communities subject to discrimination and disparities.  

I note that hope, and energy for the work yet to be done, overtakes the sense of loss. Justice Gants laid the groundwork for the Massachusetts Courts to expand therapeutic courts, participate in criminal justice diversion for persons with behavioral health conditions, and attend to the mental health dimension of those coming before and working in the courts. His commissioned report on racial inequities in our justice system was released just before his death and will secure his legacy as a leader in these matters. Justice Ginsburg will be remembered for many things - her leadership in working to end gender discrimination, her commitment to equal protection and fairness under the law, her intellectual curiosity that supported dialogue and friendship with many who disagreed with her, and her landmark decision in Olmstead v. LC affirming that "unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination." Their deaths call not just for grieving but for action, and thousands have risen to the occasion. 

For our part, here in Massachusetts, MAMH is leading advocates in calling for an increase in resources to support housing subsidies for people with mental health conditions. And we join with our partners at the Aging and Mental Health Coalition to increase funding for Elder Mental Health Outreach Teams, to ensure that older adults with behavioral health conditions can receive resources and services they need in their own homes and communities, rather than in institutional settings. Visit the MAMH Take Action page for more information on these two important programs as well as our other policy priorities. 
Justice Ginsburg's legacy is that thousands of Americans have the right to live, work, and participate in communities of their choosing. Our legacy must be to see that this right is supported and advanced through policy, practice, and values - and I welcome the partnership of our many friends and leaders as we continue this work. 

Danna Mauch, PhD
President and CEO
COVID-19 Mental Health Updates & Resources
The MA Department of Public Health (DPH) is seeking input on the impact of COVID-19. By completing the survey, you can help find new solutions to community problems and give DPH the information they need to take action and support the communities that need it most. DPH is committed to sharing information back in ways that will help us all take collective action. Anyone 14 years old or older can participate. Learn more. 

Families, school personnel, and policymakers are back to school in some capacity amidst the uncertainty of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The SAMHSA Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network developed a free toolkit to guide trauma-informed, equitable and compassionate conversations and support mental health for every member of the school community. Learn more. 
The JED Foundation teamed up with The Steve Fund, the nation’s only organization focused on supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color, to provide a Framework of Recommendations for Colleges and Universities to Support the Mental Health of Students of ColorLearn more.

In Case You Missed It ...

Check out this webinar conversation with MA Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders and MAMH President/CEO Danna Mauch, kicking off a new webinar series, Wellbeing in the Time of COVID, with a tribute to the frontline workers supporting people with mental health conditions! 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 report published by Blue Cross Blue ShieldThe Impact of Caregiving on Mental and Physical Health, finds that caregiving is associated with higher rates of both physical and behavioral health conditions for caregivers—particularly for millennials and members of communities with a majority Black or Hispanic population. Learn more. 
A new CDC report on the impact of COVID-19 and the public health response found that 1 in 4 young adults (aged 18-24) reported seriously considering suicide in the 30 days prior to taking the survey. Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reporting having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes and increased substance use during the pandemic. Learn more. 
Chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis, lower back, and neck pain are consistently the leading causes of disability worldwide. Mental health conditions and chronic pain are bidirectional, comorbid conditions that often exacerbate one another. This new report from Mental Health America (MHA), Early, Equitable and Trauma Responsive Care for Chronic Pain and Mental Health, explores data from individuals who self-identify as living with chronic pain and completed a mental health screen from 2015-2019, and provides policy and practice recommendations. Learn more. 
Although interest is high in addressing suicide mortality after the transition from military to civilian life, little is known about the risk factors associated with this transition. A new study published in JAMA Network Open found higher risk among service members who were male, were younger, had shorter length of service, or were separated from the Marine Corps or Army. Learn more. 

Families living with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) know that everyone with prenatal alcohol exposure has a different experience. While part of this variation depends on when or how much exposure occurred during pregnancy, some of the variation is explained by a person’s genetics. The Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD) website offers the latest in research and resources to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of FASD. Learn more.
Worth Noting
Part of a New York Times series on resilience in troubled times, this article asks whether focusing on building protective factors misses the bigger point: What about a focus on the risk factors themselves, the outcomes of systemic racism, poverty, and inadequate educational and social supports? Learn more. 
When people are in crisis, their family members are too. NAMI's Angela Kimball shares her family's story with #CrisisTalk, exposing significant flaws in crisis response that too often miss opportunities for engagement and building trust. Learn more.
By the end of 2020, an estimated 117 million older Americans will need assistance of some kind. Tight Knit, a new podcast series by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, explores the complexity and joy inherent in providing care for an older family member. Learn more. 
The Betsy Lehman Center has produced two new videos that demonstrate how to safely put on and take off personal protective equipment (PPE) aimed at protecting home care and other health workers — and the people who rely on them for essential care — from spreading COVID-19. Learn more. 
In the News
This compelling conversation with MAMH Board member Joe Feaster and WCVB TV’s Karen Holmes Ward addresses the plight of individuals and families facing mental health challenges and surviving the death by suicide of a loved one. Learn more: Part 1 of 2, Part 2 of 2.
This recent Boston Globe op-ed by MAMH Board member Jim Brett lays out the work ahead on national disability policies on the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act: "We can’t gloss over the fact that our national policies and programs are contributing to promises deferred for people with disabilities. We should instead seize on the opportunity to modernize policies that are painfully out of sync with what people with disabilities in America want and need today — services and supports that facilitate employment rather than discourage it." Learn more.  
Making a Difference
As we head into the fall, the Legislature is expected to create and finalize a FY21 budget for the remaining eight months of the FY21 fiscal year. In the meantime, MAMH continues to advocate strongly for funding that protects vulnerable individuals with behavioral health conditions, including leading advocacy work related to pediatric behavioral health urgent care, affordable housing and support for older adults.
The Legislature will continue to review non-budget legislation, although its usual July 31 deadline has passed. MAMH is closely monitoring bills in conference committee that are expected to be taken up in the next several weeks. This includes legislation that would extend important telehealth provisions and legislation that takes important first steps toward police reform in our Commonwealth. 
As the budget and legislative processes progress this fall, check your email inboxes for Action Alerts and stay current by checking MAMH's Take Action page!
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!
Thursday, Oct. 1, 10:00am-12:00pm ET

Thursday, Nov. 12-Friday, Nov. 13

In Case You Missed It ...

What would it look like if we truly acknowledged and addressed the impact of racism and disparities in providing services to older adults?