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National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery | NCMHR

NCMHR Public Policy

2017 Public Policy Priorities

Our 2015 public policy priorities focus on advocating for a recovery-focused mental health system that prevents crisis, protects rights, and promotes wellness, economic empowerment, and social inclusion.

Goal 1: Advocate for the civil and human rights of persons with mental health challenges and trauma histories.

  • Call for full implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Olmstead decision, and ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
  • Promote improved law enforcement responses to persons in distress/crisis.
  • Expand fair and meaningful legal representation for individuals subject to inpatient/outpatient commitment and guardianship hearings.

Goal 2: Increase the availability and accessibility of voluntary supports to prevent crisis and promote recovery and social inclusion.

  • Advocate for the funding and development of peer-run programs, peer-run respites, jail diversion, and hospital diversion programs.
  • Promote accessible, affordable, and safe housing, such as Housing First, peer-owned housing, and collective ownership models.
  • Encourage the development of peer-led engagement strategies to prevent the need for coercive interventions that infringe on civil liberties.
  • Address the cycle of poverty through employment and educational opportunities.

Goal 3. Improve conditions and opportunities for people working in peer roles.

  • Advocate for living wages, improved working conditions, and workforce development opportunities.
  • Promote guidelines for provider organizations hiring peer workers.
  • Encourage the development of a national charter of practice standards for peer workers.

Policy Matters! A bimonthly policy update by Raymond Bridge, Director of Public Policy

November 2012

NCMHR Recommends Recovery-Oriented Research Priorities to NIMH

NCMHR, with input from its members, has developed a number of recovery-oriented research priorities, which were submitted to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Click here to read the research priorities (PDF, 230KB, 2 pages)
Click here to read a summary of the meeting with NIMH officials (PDF, 234KB, 3 pages)

National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery Releases Guidelines for Promoting Recovery Through Choice and Alternatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. (4-28-11) — The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a national coalition of statewide consumer/survivor organizations and others, has released guidelines to educate people about the values-based needs of individuals with mental health challenges. The guidelines — "Enhancing the Effectiveness of Psychiatric Care and Other Services and Supports: Guidelines for Promoting Recovery Through Choice and Alternatives" — were developed by a diverse group of people with the lived experience of mental health recovery from across the United States. They are available here and pasted in below. "It is our intention that these guidelines be used as a tool for training and education of all community members interested in improving the provision of mental health services and supports," said NCMHR director Lauren Spiro. "It is our hope that the guidelines will be incorporated into current efforts at mental health systems reform."

Spiro continued: "We express our support for all efforts to implement these principles, and applaud the significant steps forward made during the February 11-12, 2011, Medication Optimization Symposium convened by providers and policy makers and inspired by the important work of journalist Robert Whitaker and his latest book, 'Anatomy of An Epidemic.' We congratulate Mr. Whitaker for having this book selected by the Investigative Reporters and Editors Association as its winner in the category of Best Investigative Journalism of 2010 www.ire.org/resourcecenter/contest/press/AwardsPR2010.pdf ." Click here to read the full press release

Advocacy Victory by Consumer/Survivor Community and Allies

SAMHSA Responds to Consumer/Survivor Advocacy and U.S. Congressional Request with a New "Recovery Support" Strategic Initiative

Washington, DC -- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/DHHS recently restructured their strategic initiatives, including a new focus area called "recovery support." This change comes after intense advocacy in the fall of 2010, highlighting how none of the initiatives included survivor/consumer voice and leadership, where it seems the Agency has now responded to thousands of constituents and the U.S. Congress. The new initiative appeared recently on the SAMHSA Website and will "partner with people in recovery from mental and substance use disorders" to "promote individual-, program-, and system-level approaches that foster health and resilience; increase permanent housing, employment, education, and other necessary supports; and reduce barriers to social inclusion."

The inclusion of recovery support comes after SAMHSA opened the strategic initiatives for public comment and thousands of survivors, consumers, advocates, and others chimed in to ensure that this important voice and perspective was maintained at all levels of the Agency. Click here to read the full press release.

National Coalition of Individuals with Mental Health Conditions Calls for Reasonable Response to Arizona Tragedy

WASHINGTON (1/10/11) – The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), an organization of statewide networks of persons in recovery from mental health conditions as well as individual members, joins the nation in grieving the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other Arizonans. “We especially understand the impact of violence because, contrary to popular belief, research has shown we are no more violent than the general population and in fact are 11 times more likely to be victims of violence,” said NCMHR steering committee member Daniel B. Fisher, M.D., Ph.D. Click here to read the rest of the press release (PDF, 46KB, 2 pages)

NCMHR Contributes to Medicaid Reform Efforts

L to R: Ari Ne'eman, James Conroy, Lauren Spiro, Daniel Fisher, Amy Goodman, Tom Nerney, Eli Cohen
L to R: Ari Ne'eman, James Conroy, Lauren Spiro
Daniel Fisher, Amy Goodman, Tom Nerney, Eli Cohen

On November 3, Representatives of the National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Org. (NC), Lauren Spiro and Daniel Fisher, as well as Andy Imparato (AAPD), Kelly Buckland (NCIL), Mike Oxford (ADAPT), Ari Ne'eman (Autistic Self-Advocacy Network), Tom Nerney (Center for Self-Determination) and several other advocates met with Cindy Mann, Director of Center for Medicaid and State Operations, CMS, Susan Hill, Linda Peltz, Melissa Harris and several other CMS officials to discuss specific ways that CMS could further Olmstead and recovery in mental health. This meeting was a follow-up to a July meeting that the advocates held with Director Mann. Lauren Spiro and Daniel Fisher presented recommendations for Medicaid reform of mental health. [Click to view the recommendations (PDF, 111KB, 4 pages)]

On November 20, 2009, CMS sent a letter to state Medicaid directors providing guidance on self-directed personal assistance services. [Click to read the letter]

John Podesta, Obama's Transition Team Co-Chair meets with Dan Fisher
Shares views on Health Care Reformm

Dan Fisher met with Barak Obama's Transition Team Dec. 22, 2008 to discuss health care reform, and presented a statement on behalf of the NCMHR Steering Committee.

Click to view Statement to the Obama Health Care Transition Team (PDF, 2 pages, 18KB)

NCMHR Reps meet with the Obama Transition Team

Daniel Fisher, Jim McNulty, Ken Wireman and Effie Smith
Daniel Fisher, Jim McNulty, Ken Wireman and Effie Smith

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team invited representatives from NCMHR and two other organizations to meet on Wednesday December 17, in Washington, DC.

Kareem Dale, the disability coordinator/liaison in the transition team's Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs Department, and Sharon Lewis, a member of its Education Agency Review Team, who met with us, have been meeting organizations from various parts of the disability community. These meetings are in keeping with Obama's plan for a transparent government and transition process.

[Click to view full story including: Mental Health Policy Proposals to the Obama Administration]

Advocacy, Disability Groups Call For Reform Of Public Mental Health System

Tragedies In Psychiatric Hospitals Prompt Call For Peer Recovery, Wellness Centers

A national coalition of disability and advocacy groups is calling on the incoming Obama administration and leading mental health officials to implement widespread reforms in the country's mental health treatment system that would include identifying and funding pilot programs to demonstrate best practices in psychiatric emergency, inpatient and community-based care.

The move is prompted by the influx of recent news reports about the failure of psychiatric hospital staff to respond promptly to patients with serious mental illness.

[Click for full article (from Mental Health Weekly, Vol. 18, No. 46 December 8, 2008)]

Harvey Rosenthal Addresses the Association of Health Care Journalists

Harvey Rosenthal addresses the Accociation of Health Care Journalists

Washington, DC, March 28, 2008.
(Clicking image takes you to MIWatch.org)

Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) discussed how the overemphasis on violence has skewed public perceptions, and that services and programs that actively engage people in a recovery process have received far too little public notice.  Click image to [View video at www.miwatch.org]

Peter Ashenden testifies before US House of Representatives'NCMHC/SO Steering Committee member Peter Ashenden testifies before US House of Representatives'

WASHINGTON, DC – March 13, 2008

National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organization's Steering Committee member Peter Ashenden testifies before US House of Representatives' Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Sub- committee."

Click for more information

Impacting Healthcare Reform was the focus of the American College of Mental Health Administrations' Summit

American College of Mental Health Administrations' Summit

SANTA FE, NM - March 14, 2008 - Participants in the session on the National Healthcare Address include from right to left: Tommy Thompson, Lauren Spiro, and Andrew Kessler, and hidden behind the podium is Ron Manderschied

March 14, 2008 (Santa Fe, NM) Tommy G. Thompson, independent chairman of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, former Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary and four-term governor of Wisconsin, addressed the need to significantly redesign our healthcare deliver system which spends 80% of our healthcare dollars on chronic illnesses. He said that wellness and prevention is where we need to go and he detailed ideas for systems change.

The three day Summit ended with participants sharing the actions they would take. Ms. Spiro shared a number of ideas.

[Click to view full story] For more of Ms Spiro’s recommendations, which were shared at the summit, click here.

Guidelines for Promoting Recovery Through Choice and Alternatives

These guidelines were developed by a diverse group of people with the lived experience of mental health recovery from across the United States.

Enhancing the Effectiveness of Psychiatric Care and Other Services and Supports: Guidelines for Promoting Recovery Through Choice and Alternatives (PDF, 47KB, 2 pages)

The Urgent Necessity for More Non-Drug Alternatives in Mental Health Care

On July 14, 2010, national consumer/psychiatric survivor leaders participated in a national federal meeting on the inclusion of mental health consumer and psychiatric survivors. At the meeting, they issued a statement about the "undue influence of the psychiatric pharmaceutical industry," and the "urgent necessity for more non-drug alternatives in mental health care." Speaking as individuals, and not on behalf of the government, 18 of the 19 participants signed the statement, which was read at the meeting by Lauren Spiro. [To read the statement, click here (PDF, 20KB, 2 pages)]

Summary of Findings from Anatomy of an Epidemic

This two-pager summarizes the main findings of the groundbreaking book by journalist Robert Whitaker.[Click to read Summary of Findings from Anatomy of an Epidemic (PDF, 19KB, 2 pages)]

White Paper presented to President Elect Obama's Senior Health Transition Team Members

National Recovery and Empowerment Initiative: Active Citizens Create a Healthy Economy
January 15, 2009 (PDF, 4 pages, 42KB)

Position Statement on Alternatives to Force and Coercion, October 2, 2009

Alternatives to Force (PDF, 2 pages, 250KB)