The Bell: MHA's Newsletter

Volume 7, #2 | Spring 2012

In This Issue


Did You Know?


The Bell Story
MHA Bell
During the early days of mental health treatment, asylums often restrained people who had mental illnesses with iron chains and shackles around their ankles and wrists. With better understanding and treatments, this cruel practice eventually stopped.

In the early 1950s, Mental Health America issued a call to asylums across the country for their discarded chains and shackles. On April 13, 1956, at the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, Md., Mental Health America melted down these inhumane bindings and recast them into a sign of hope: the Mental Health Bell.



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President’s Corner: A Special Conference 

By Dr. David Shern, President & CEO
Dr. Shern

Our Annual Conference presents a unique opportunity to connect with others and explore the latest developments in mental health. And this year’s event promises to be very special.

We are partnering with our Tulsa affiliate, the Mental Health Association in Tulsa (MHAT), to hold the conference in conjunction with the 2012 National Zarrow Mental Health Symposium from September 19-21, 2012. The Zarrow Symposium is an annual educational forum offering state-of-the-art research and best practice information about current issues related to mental health. We anticipate over 1,000 attendees for this second National and 18th Annual Zarrow Symposium.

This year’s symposium, “From Housing to Recovery: Building Community, Building Lives,” will focus on innovative approaches to the development of safe, decent and affordable housing in the community, as well as accompanying best practice models of support services needed to sustain recovery and meaningful community involvement.

MHAT’s award-winning housing programs have been recognized nationally by SAMHSA and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Additionally, Tulsa is home to the Denver House, Oklahoma’s first peer-run drop-in center, along with a full complement of recovery support programs.

You will hear from national experts on innovative approaches to the development of safe, decent and affordable housing in the community, as well as accompanying best practice models of support services needed to sustain recovery. Special sessions are dedicated to funding, advocacy, support services, community collaboration, and more. And you will have the opportunity to take a tour to see nationally recognized housing and recovery programs up close and in action. Several national leaders including SAMHSA Administrator Pam Hyde and HUD Deputy Secretary Estelle Richman will provide plenary updates on national programs.

The Conference will also include the Clifford Beers Award Dinner, breakout sessions and plenaries featuring inspiring speakers including Glenn Close’s sister Jessie Close and Kurt Vonnegut’s son Mark Vonnegut.

Tulsa is a very attractive, affordable and easily accessible destination. Tulsa International Airport is just 20 minutes from the host hotel, which will be offering very reasonable rates.

We will be sending you additional information in the weeks ahead on speakers and sessions. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit the conference website at, which includes information on consumer scholarships, award nominations, and registration.

We hope you will join us for this very special event.

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2012 National Zarrow Mental Health Symposium and Mental Health America Annual Conference: September 19-21

We are pleased to be partnering with our Tulsa affiliate, the Mental Health Association in Tulsa (MHAT), to hold our Annual Conference in conjunction with the 2012 National Zarrow Mental Health Symposium from September 19-21, 2012 at the Tulsa (Oklahoma) Convention Center.

The 2012 symposium, “From Housing to Recovery: Building Community, Building Lives,” will focus on innovative approaches to the development of safe, decent and affordable housing in the community, as well as accompanying best practice models of support services needed to sustain recovery. We encourage you to visit the conference website at to view all the details about the conference.

The Mental Health Association in Tulsa was established in 1955 and currently owns and operates more than 500 units of housing, including safe havens, transitional and supported living, and fully independent housing.  The Association’s award-winning housing programs have been recognized nationally by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Additionally, the Association is home to the Denver House, Oklahoma’s first peer-run drop-in center, along with a full complement of recovery support programs.

This year will mark the 18th year the Association has hosted the Zarrow Symposium, an annual educational forum designed to provide state-of-the-art research and best practice information about current issues related to mental health.

Speakers include Pamela Hyde, J.D., Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Estelle Richman, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Glenn Close's sister Jessie Close, Kurt Vonnegut's son Mark Vonnegut, and recognized leaders in housing, community reintegration and recovery supports who represent innovative and best practice programs that are helping people to reclaim their lives in diverse communities from across the country.

In addition to keynote/plenary sessions, the three-day conference will also feature the Clifford Beers Award Dinner on Thursday evening and more than 40 breakout sessions. Workshops in motion will give conference participants the opportunity to board a bus and take a tour of some of the innovative housing and support programs located in Tulsa. And special sessions will be dedicated to funding, advocacy, support services, community collaboration and more.

Tulsa’s central location makes it an affordable and easily accessible destination. Tulsa International Airport is just 20 minutes from the convention center and host hotel, which will be offering very affordable rates at under $100 per night. By attending, you will be part of a larger movement to improve the lives of people living with mental health and substance use conditions.

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Capitol Hill Update: The Budget at a Crossroads

As the November election nears, the U.S. Congress will likely use the months running up to the campaign season to draw sharp contrasts on behalf of their parties and presidential candidates. And no issue offers a bigger source for debate than the Budget and spending priorities.

In March, the House of Representatives passed a budget resolution (H.Con.Res.112) by a vote of 228-191, without a single Democratic vote.  The proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would make dangerous cuts to Medicaid and likely lead to an increase in the number of Americans unable to receive essential care. The budget plan would also gut health discretionary funding below the levels agreed to last year under the deficit spending plan (the Budget Control Act).

Medicaid, the largest source of funding for mental health services nationally, would be cut by $810 billion over the next 10 years and converted into a block grant. The plan cuts discretionary health by at least 9 percent below FY12, inviting another October shutdown fight with Senate Democrats unless the House alters course.  In addition, the plan would also put at risk the implementation of two laws important to the behavioral health community—the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. 

President Obama and congressional Democrats have denounced the plan, saying it would hurt America's working families and seniors. The President called it a “Trojan horse” built around radical right-wing, “thinly veiled social Darwinism.”

In many ways, the Ryan budget is a wish list for potential negotiations after November. Despite the chasm that exists between the two sides, many think a budget deal might be reached in a more-than-likely lame duck session because of deadlines facing Congress. These include the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts required from last summer's debt-ceiling deal (sequestration). Unlike the Ryan budget, the administration is calling for a more balanced approach to deficit reduction—thereby avoiding cataclysmic cuts to safety net programs. This approach has been endorsed by all credible, bipartisan commissions on cutting the deficit.

At present, House and Senate Appropriations committees will have to write their annual spending bills using two sets of instructions—instead of one as envisioned under the Budget Control Act. And the House budget plan requires six House Committees to come up with $261 billion in savings over 10 years to prevent automatic reductions in defense spending. The Armed Services Committee is exempt, breaking faith with the spirit of the last year's debt-ceiling deal. As a result, health care programs and other social service programs are threatened with additional reductions.

These issues and Mental Health America’s legislative priorities will be the centerpiece of our Capitol Hill Day, which for the first time will be held in partnership with the National Council on Community Behavioral HealthCare and the U.S. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, on June 25-26. You can find more information on Capitol Hill Day in the accompanying article.

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Capitol Hill Day: June 25-26

Mental Health America's Capitol Hill Day has traditionally kicked off our annual conference, which is usually held in June; however, since this year’s annual conference will take place in Tulsa in September, we are joining with the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and the U.S. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association to continue our long-held tradition of highlighting our presence and issues on Capitol Hill on June 25-26 in Washington, D.C.

This partnership will allow us to amplify our voices around critical issues such as debate over the budget and its impact on Medicaid and our other legislative priorities: the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization of 2011 (S. 740); the Mental Health in Schools Act of 2011 (H.R. 751); the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act of 2011 (S. 539), and the Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 1381/S. 2020). We are seeking additional cosponsors for all of these bills. In addition, the reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration remains a priority of the Congress and there are bipartisan efforts to pass this legislation, which has yet to be introduced.

There are two days of activities: on Monday, June 25, attendees will hear from Obama administration officials and Hill staff, as well as other leaders in our field; on Tuesday, June 26, we will march to Capitol Hill and meet with elected officials in the Senate and House.

This inaugural partnership offers: 

  • A significant opportunity to come together as a community to amplify our voices on Capitol Hill.
  • No registration fee for Mental Health America attendees.
  • A full day of training and policy sessions and a Capitol Hill reception along with a full day of meetings with legislators.
  • Discounted hotel rates at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill—located just a few blocks from the House and Senate office buildings.
  • Co-branded materials to be distributed to attendees.

We very much hope you will join us for this important event. Capitol Hill Day is critical to making the case for our legislative priorities and supporting legislation, policies and funding for critical mental health and substance use supports and services. For more information and details, go to

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Parity Hearings Planned: Advocates Push for Final Rule

Former Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.), who championed passage of the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, are launching a series of field hearings and public forums to raise visibility about the law and help finalize implementation of regulations. C-SPAN coverage of the announcement can be viewed here.

The law has been implemented with the guidance of an Interim Final Rule, which provides details to individuals, employers, and insurance companies regarding how mental health and substance use benefits must be equitable to medical surgical benefits in employer-based plans.  Mental Health America and fellow organizations in the Parity Implementation Coalition have been urging the Administration to provide a Final Rule that would be more proscriptive and provide greater protections to individuals seeking mental health and substance use treatment. 

The series of hearings and forums, called “Patriots for Parity,” will present a venue for promoting the need for further regulations by highlighting instances of insurance discrimination that continue to exist.  The events, to be held around the country between now and early fall, will also bring awareness to the general public about their new rights according to the 2008 law.  Studies have shown that a vast minority of Americans even know that the law was passed and they may be entitled to more comprehensive coverage of mental health and substance use treatment.

Mental Health America affiliates are involved in the planning and sponsorship of many of the field hearings, including a forum held in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in April. Here is a list of dates and locations:

June 26 – Washington, DC - 7:00 pm
Village of Friendship Heights Village Center
4433 South Park Ave., Chevy Chase, MD

July 17 – Minneapolis, MN - 6:30 pm
Minnesota Recovery Connection
253 State Street, St. Paul, MN

August 6, 2012 – Chicago, IL - 5:00 pm
Union League Club of Chicago
65 West Jackson Blvd Chicago, IL 60604

September 17, 2012 – Los Angeles, CA - 6:30 pm
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles
617 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA

September 24, 2012 – New York City - 9:30 am
New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry
1051 Riverside Drive
New York, NY  10032

October 9, 2012 – Delray Beach, FL
Time and Location TBD

If you would like to be involved in hosting or providing outreach for a hearing or have a story related to parity noncompliance you would like to tell, please contact Sarah Steverman at

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Health Reform Update: Supreme Court Arguments, Essential Health Benefits

Supreme Court Hears Arguments—The Supreme Court heard arguments for an unprecedented three days in March on the constitutionality of two aspects of the health reform law—the individual mandate and the expansion of Medicaid. 

The individual mandate is the provision requiring all Americans to purchase health insurance, a controversial issue for many Americans. The individual mandate is necessary for maintaining the integrity of the law, because without the requirement of a mandate healthy people could wait to get insurance until they are sick. That would increase costs on individuals because insurers would have a smaller risk pool. The Medicaid expansion will require states by 2014 to offer Medicaid coverage to individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level regardless of categorical eligibility.  This provision will expand public health insurance for many poor individuals, especially childless adults.

In addition to these constitutional issues, the court heard arguments on whether it is premature to rule on the law until it is fully implemented in 2015 and whether the entire law must be struck down if the individual mandate is found unconstitutional.

Following the arguments, the nine justices took an initial—and secret—preliminary vote on the issues before the court. Their final decision is not expected until late June. At this point, it is unclear how the justices will rule. There are also a number of possible outcomes. The court could strike down the entire law, or uphold it, or find the individual mandate unconstitutional but allow the various insurance reforms—such as the ability for children to stay on a parent's insurance plan until the age of 26—to remain. However, this last possible outcome could still undermine the law because the mandate is critical to expanding coverage without increasing costs.

Essential Health Benefits—States are still waiting for a final rule related to the establishment of the Essential Health Benefits – the benefit package to be used as a benchmark in the Health Insurance Exchanges.  Guidance released in December gave the states latitude to pick one of four benchmark plans in the states to use as a guide in establishing the required benefits.  These benchmark plans will also have implications for the Medicaid benefits offered to the expansion population.  Even without a formal regulation, states are determining their options for a benchmark plan.   Selection of the benchmark plans to be utilized in 2014 and 2015 is slated for the third quarter of 2012.

SZ Magazine

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Mental Health Month

Mental Health Month was created more than 50 years ago by Mental Health America to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for all. This year, we are emphasizing two themes in our outreach activities.

Do More for 1 in 4 is a call to action to help the 1 in 4 American adults who live with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition. We want everyone to know that while mental health and substance use conditions are common, they are extremely treatable and individuals can go on to recover and lead full and productive lives. The first step is screening.

Healing Trauma’s Invisible Wounds, a new theme for this year, is an educational campaign bringing to light the many sources of trauma, its profound health effects, the cost to trauma survivors and society, and new hope for healing.

Until recently, trauma survivors were largely unrecognized by the formal treatment system. The costs of trauma and its aftermath to victims and society were not well documented. Inadvertently, treatment systems may have frequently re-traumatized individuals and failed to understand the impact of traumatic experiences on general and mental health. Today, the causes of trauma—sexual abuse, violence in families and neighborhoods, and the impact of war, for example—are matters of public concern. Trauma survivors have formed self-help groups to heal together. Researchers have learned how trauma changes the brain and alters behavior. A movement for trauma-informed care has emerged to ensure that trauma is recognized and treated and that survivors are not re-victimized when they seek care. Complementing these changes are programs to promote healthy development of children and healthy behaviors in families, schools and communities that reduce the likelihood of trauma.

For resources on these two themes, go to To purchase other Mental Health America materials and merchandise that you can use to supplement your Mental Health Month activities, call Antionette Means at 800-969-6642 or visit our online store.

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Become a member today!

The odds are that someone you know—a family member, one of your friends, or one of your colleagues—is affected by a mental health or substance use condition. And that's why Mental Health America was formed over 100 years ago.

For over a century, Mental Health America has been instrumental in reducing barriers to treatment and services and educating millions about mental illness and recovery. As a result of our efforts, many Americans with mental disorders have sought care and are now enjoy fulfilling, productive lives in their communities.

Whether you or someone you know has a mental health condition, or simply care about the issue of mental health and living a mentally healthier life, We Can Help, But Only With Your Support!

As a member of our nationwide movement, you will help us build on our century of service and strengthen our voice as we continue our ground-breaking steps to achieve victory over mental illness:

  • Our advocacy work helped pass landmark mental health parity legislation that ends decades of insurance discrimination and expands access to care.
  • Our firstofitskind Live Your Life Well program is providing the public with tested tools so they can preserve and strengthen their mental health and wellness.
  • And through the programs and services of our over 240 affiliates, we are delivering critical support to the over 60 million individuals and families living with mental health and substance use conditions.

Become a member of Mental Health America for just $5 a month (or a $50 annual payment)! Your contribution will support Mental Health America and our over 240 affiliates across the country as together we work to improve the lives of millions of Americans. RememberThere is No Health Without Mental Health. ::

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The e-Bell Newsletter is published by the Mental Health America, which works with its 240 affiliates nationwide to promote health, prevent mental disorders and achieve victory over illnesses through advocacy, education, research and service. To receive the e-Bell, visit Mental Health America’s Web site  or call 800-969-6642.
Cited reproductions, comments and suggestions are encouraged.