All posts by admin-1

California Reducing Disparities Project Phase 2 Pilot Project Survey Results

The California Department of Public Health, Office of Health Equity conducted a survey designed to learn the basic components of Community Based Organizations and their Community-Defined Evidence Practices including the targeted populations served, organization budget size, success in applying for and receiving grants and varying technical assistance needs.

Read the survey results here.

Faces of Mental Health

Sacramento County’s Mental Illness: it’s not always what you think billboard display was hoped to encourage people with mental illnesses to be seen as positive members of the community. An update on the county’s website states that the campaign has inspired more local residents who are living with mental illness to step forward and contribute their faces and stories to the campaign.

Read more and access the County’s website here.

Prevention Effort Showing Early Results

Programs targeted at mental health prevention and early intervention are showing positive early results, according to a news release. A RAND Corporation report indicates efforts in reducing stigma and discrimination, suicide prevention and improving mental health for students, are making headway.

The study reviews training, marketing, social media campaigns and statewide activities implemented under Proposition 63, which expanded mental health service in California. The study was sponsored by the California Mental Health Services Authority and conducted independently by RAND. The report, “Evaluation of California’s Statewide Mental Health Prevention and Early Intervention Programs: Summary of Key Year 2 Findings,” can be found at

Read the report here.

Read the press release here.

Mental Health First Aid – Evidence Base Review

A report reviewing the state of evidence for the effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) in key target populations was conducted to help the California Mental Health Services Authority’s planning for future prevention and early intervention activities.

According to the findings, MHFA appears to be helpful in improving knowledge of mental health issues and reducing stigma across most of CalMHSA target populations. An increase in providing help to others with mental health needs was self-reported, particularly by public-sector employees. The report concludes that while it is “unlikely that the effects of MHFA training would vary greatly between the general Australian and US populations, the limited evidence base for ethnic minority groups is potentially a strong limitation.” Key groups in California, such as Latinos and African Americans, have not been studied. As there are differences in cultures with respect to beliefs about mental illness this indicates the need for further studies.

Read the report here.

President Signs Bill to Save Veterans from Suicide

A survey by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American (IAVA) found that two out of every five of their members know another veteran who committed suicide. On February 12, President Obama signed a federal bill to help veterans access quality mental health services, according to an article by Peter Baker in the New York Times.

The Clay Hunt Act, named for a Marine who committed suicide in 2011, was passed unanimously by both houses of Congress and provides the following:

  • Outside evaluations of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ mental health and suicide prevention programs;
  • Website with interactive features for locating resources;
  • Incentives for mental health professionals to practice with the VA; and
  • Extension of time limit for veterans to get health benefits from the VA without proving that disability is related to service.

Read the article here.

Read the IAVA survey results here.

Read the text of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act here.

Portland Police Bureau Develops Policy for Mental-Illness Encounters

As an example of how other states are fostering more positive interactions between law enforcement and people experiencing a mental health crisis, the Portland Police Bureau has created a new set of policies. As required in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the city of Portland has produced new policies with increased training and oversight for police officers who encounter mentally ill persons when responding to calls.

In an article in the Oregonian, Maxine Bernstein reports that the policy emphasizes de-escalation, giving officers the choice of standing back or delaying action in incidents where they recognize characteristics of mental illness.

Read more here.

Supporting a Friend or Family Member with Mental Health Problems

New U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy took to Twitter this month to encourage everyone to learn how they can recognize and help friends and family members with mental illnesses.

Dr. Murthy’s tweet links to a webpage at that begins, “Anyone can experience mental health problems. Friends and family can make all the difference in a person’s recovery process.” The page addresses the following topics:

  • The value of learning about mental health issues
  • How to talk about mental health
  • Getting help for your friend or family member

Read more here.

Veterans and PTSD: Campaign to Change Direction

With increasing awareness of the challenges of returning veterans, from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to other mental illnesses, representatives of the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are promoting the Campaign to Change Direction, a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). An article by the Military Health System Communications Office quotes Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson, “We realize that we need to devote more resources moving forward with many veterans returning home to their families and communities.”

Read the article here.