National Association of School Psychologists Issues Call to Action

KellyKelly Vaillancourt, PhD, NCSP
Director of Government Relations, National Association of School Psychologists

Recently on Care for Your Mind, Dr. Anne Marie Albano contended that schools are the right place for kids to get treatment for social anxiety disorder. Today, Kelly Vaillancourt of the National Association of School Psychologists offers an easy way for you to advocate for school-based psychological services.

In order to make meaningful and substantial progress toward increasing access to comprehensive mental health services, we must call upon our local, state, and federal policy makers to act. We need to

  • educate legislators and government officials about evidence-based policies and practices
  • encourage them to allocate the necessary funding to ensure these practices are in places in our schools and communities.


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It’s About Mental Health, America

paulgianfriddoPaul Gionfriddo
President and CEO, Mental Health America

I became President and CEO of Mental Health America on May 1, honored by the opportunity to work with so many wonderful advocates on behalf of people with concern for mental health. At Mental Health America, our goal is:

  • prevention for all
  • early identification and intervention for those at risk
  • integrated health and behavioral health services for those who need them, and
  • recovery as a goal

Changing the treatment paradigm
For too long, policymakers and some advocates have been mired in what I call Stage 4 thinking. They have accepted the largely false premise that mental health concerns and violence are intertwined. They have accepted “imminent danger to self or others” as a standard for diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.

But as I have said repeatedly, mental illnesses are the only chronic conditions that we treat this way. They are the only chronic conditions where, as a matter of public policy, we wait until Stage 4 to treat, and then often only through incarceration.

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Mental Health Advocate Launches Suicide Prevention Campaign While In- flight

AJ-French-2014AJ French, CRSS
Executive Director of Sacred Creations

Anyone can start an awareness campaign. All it requires is passion and a willingness to speak out. AJ French is a mental health advocate who demonstrates that a little tenacity and the courage to speak up has the power to change lives.

The Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance recently sent out an email saying that this is “a time to encourage people to add the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255) number into the contact list on their phone. You never know when you will want to share it with someone who is struggling.” I was thinking about this on United Airlines Flight 4628 to New Jersey and asked the flight attendant if I could have one minute to make an announcement about the Suicide Prevention LIFELINE. She said yes and I made the announcement!

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How Can You Find The Right Provider to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder?

BlumensteinBottLori Blumenstein-Bott, MSW, LMSW
Executive Director, The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety

Finding a provider to treat social anxiety disorder can be a challenge, especially because so many people—mental health professionals included—do not know how to diagnose or treat it. Ms. Blumentstein-Bott shares tips from the Andrew Kukes Foundation to help people living with social anxiety disorder and their families effectively exercise their right to an appropriate provider.

One in eight people lives with social anxiety disorder. As the third most-common mental health condition, it’s everywhere, yet greatly misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and mistreated. But there is help. And with access to the right treatment, individuals can expect to lead quality lives. However, lack of basic awareness and understanding about the disorder presents a major barrier to quality care. Addressing this challenge begins with getting essential information into the hands of the right people:  individuals living with social anxiety disorder, teachers, parents, and health professionals.

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Back to School Anxiety. What is Your School Doing to Help Your Child Succeed?

AlbanoAnne Marie Albano, PhD
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry
Director, Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Columbia University Medical Center

Classrooms are ripe for social anxiety triggers
From being called on in class to navigating the hallways, school is rife with social stressors. However, for children and teens with social anxiety disorder, school can be even more stressful, as school presents a full day of social interactions with peers and authority figures. The day can harbor countless opportunities to be embarrassed or say something humiliating. As a result, many young children with social phobia have a hard time transitioning to school and may cling to parents or have long, tearful good-byes. Older children and teens may simply refuse to go to school.

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When Young People Suffer Social Anxiety Disorder: What Parents Can Do

AlbanoAnne Marie Albano, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry
Director, Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders,
Columbia University Medical Center

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), or social phobia, can have a crippling effect on young people. Children who avoid raising their hand or speaking up in school can become tweens who withdraw from extracurricular activities, and then teens who experience isolation and depression. In fact, children with social anxiety disorder are more likely than their peers without SAD to develop depression by age 15 and substance abuse by age 16 or 17.

As they head toward adulthood, young people with social anxiety disorder tend to choose paths that require less involvement with other people, and so cut short a lot of opportunities. Bright, intelligent young people who have yearnings to be lawyers or doctors, but cannot interact with other people, may choose a profession or work that is very solitary; or they might not enter the work force at all.

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Understanding the Unique Barriers for People with Social Anxiety Disorder

Today we begin a series from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a national organization of researchers and clinicians focusing on science, treatment, prevention, and cure of these disorders. In the coming weeks we will share posts from members of this organization shedding light on the disorder, by creating awareness about symptoms, treatment and support.

markPollackMark Pollack, M.D.
Grainger Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry,Rush University Medical Center, and President, Anxiety and Depression Association of America

People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) face unique challenges when it comes to accessing mental health care, and many struggle for years before seeking any type of treatment. For family members supporting an individual with SAD, gaining a deeper understanding of the disorder can help you guide your loved one toward appropriate care and an improved quality of life.

About social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder(SAD), also called social phobia, causes extreme self-consciousness in everyday social situations. (http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder) People with SAD have a strong fear of embarrassing themselves or being judged by others. It interferes with an individual’s ability to form relationships, succeed at school or work, and complete everyday tasks that involve interacting with others in person or even on the phone. SAD can have a significant impact on nearly every aspect of a person’s life.

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Fixing Mental Health Services without Coercion

harvey2Harvey Rosenthal
Executive DirectorNew York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS)

In our final post on AOT Harvey Rosenthal explores the role of evidenced-based wraparound services in providing better mental health care outcomes.

Outpatient commitment typically involves mandating individuals to accept the same treatment approaches that have already failed or deterred them in the past. We know a lot more about how to help people in severe distress, but these methods are typically not offered or are not sufficiently available. These include a number of evidence based approaches like

  • Transitional Supports: using critical opportunities to engage people when leaving inpatient and detox facilities and prisons and jails
  • Individualized Care Management: organizing care across multiple behavioral and physical health and social systems that operates from shared information and offers real time response
  • Housing First and other harm- and homelessness-reduction models: offering individuals what they most need to be safe even if they’re not currently willing to take medications or stop using alcohol and drugs
  • Person-centered Planning Tools: utilizing Wellness Recovery Action Plans and Advance Directives
  • Criminal Justice Diversion and Re-entry Services: using court-based mental health workers, Crisis Intervention Teams, and better prison discharge plans and support services
  • Peer and Family Supports: incorporating peer crisis warm lines, respite houses, outreach, bridger and wellness coaching as well as family-to-family support
  • Employment and Education
  • Evidence-based Medicine: relying upon the latest research, providing more individualized care, and utilizing less drugs over a shorter period of time
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Reforming Mental Health Care Begins with Rethinking Provider Engagement

harvey2Harvey Rosenthal
Executive DirectorNew York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS)

Last week, Harvey Rosenthal shared why he believes the answers to improving mental health care for individuals with more serious conditions lie in bringing state of the art engagement, services, and supports to scale, as opposed to expanding civil commitment programs. In this post, Mr. Rosenthal provides details about what these approaches and innovations should include.

Meeting individuals where they’re at
We need more accountable, aggressive action by providers. If a person does not fit into our current treatment paradigm—that is, if they don’t come into the office on time or take the medicine that is prescribed—they are typically considered noncompliant and often eligible for outpatient commitment.

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Fixing Not Forcing Services

harvey2Harvey Rosenthal
Executive Director, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS)

In the wake of several recent mass shootings, many are calling for an overhaul of the nation’s systems of mental health care. A national debate has been renewed over whether legislation is needed to force local officials and mental health providers to be more responsive to those with more profound mental health needs, and whether those groups should, in turn, force such individuals to accept some form of treatment. In this post, Harvey Rosenthal argues we should reframe the debate and focus on reforms that significantly increase the range and raise the bar for community outreach and supportive services.

Fixing Not Forcing Services

Over the past year, we’ve seen an intensified focus on our nation’s and state mental health systems that has drawn a broad array of advocacy groups to weigh in on the merits of two legislative proposals put forward by House members Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania) and Ron Barber (D-Arizona).

Central to Congressman Murphy’s bill is a provision that would require states to adopt or expand court-mandated outpatient commitment programs like New York’s Kendra’s Law in order to access federal block grant dollars. These and several other provisions have generated much controversy. While it now appears that contentious provisions like these will not be moved by the House GOP leadership this year, it is imperative that we address a number of challenges that the bills present.

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