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Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Reader:

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the newsletter of the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania (MHAPA). This quarterly email offers updates from MHAPA programs and initiatives and news about the mental health community in Pennsylvania. 

To your inbox every few months, we will bring stories of people and programs serving Pennsylvanians, as well as information from MHAPA’s Children’s News, our OpenMindsOpenDoors (OMOD) anti-stigma campaign, and MHAPA affiliates across the state.

MHAPA works on behalf of the mental health of the citizens of Pennsylvania, instilling principles that facilitate recovery and resiliency of individuals and their families through advocacy, education, and public policy. In addition to the action alerts we send out when your voice is critical, this newsletter will serve as a tool to keep you informed about key legislation and events affecting Pennsylvania mental health consumers, providers, and families.

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Budget Update

Bad News, Good News, Bad News:  A 2010-2011 Budget Overview

First the bad news. As everyone knows, Pennsylvania faces extreme economic challenges. As a result, the recently released FY 2010-2011 budget contains many cutbacks, and the state mental health appropriations budget reflects cuts from the FY 2009-2010 budget, totaling more than $35 million.  

Now for the good news. The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) has been able to generate more federal revenue than anticipated, so the base cut has been mitigated and counties will not see an overall reduction to their 90% base allocation. In addition, OMHSAS had proposed a $5 million forensic cost containment, which it will absorb rather than pass on to individual counties. (See OMHSAS Budget Highlights below.)

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The Magnificence of an Artist’s Mind

je suis la source

Syngred Briddell grew up in an artistic household, with parents whose paint canvases were outlets for creative expression and therapeutic tools for dealing with the effects of mental illness. Her mother struggled with depression; her father, a veteran of the Vietnam War, with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Witness to their ongoing experiences with recovery, she has always keenly understood how important the process of creating art can be for individuals living with mental illness.

Syngred, who holds an MSW from Temple University, has worked in mental health/mental retardation services for more than 15 years, first with individuals with developmental disabilities and children diagnosed with autism; more recently, in crisis intervention. Throughout her professional career she drew on the artistic experiences of her parents when working with clients, and had long dreamt of starting a program that would offer artists living with mental illness opportunities to share their work with the world. After recently being named a Center for Progressive Leadership’s Pennsylvania Political Leaders Fellow, she knew it was time to realize this dream.

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OpenMindsOpenDoors Update

Open Minds Open Doors

Certified Peer Specialists

Each year, American businesses lose $70 billion in productivity and absenteeism due to untreated mental health disorders. At the same time experts acknowledge that work is a key factor in supporting mental wellness and warding off mental illness.

We know that work is an important part of recovery for many people with mental illness. But did you also know that for people living with mental illness, the support of peers is a critical component of being able to sustain work? Having someone who understands what life with a mental illness is like and who can lend a hand – and ear – from an experienced, “I’ve walked in your shoes,” perspective, strengthens an individual’s recovery efforts.

Certified Peer Specialists (CPS) are people with mental illness who help others regain control of their lives and progress through recovery. A CPS offers support in any number of ways, from helping with day-to-day tasks to assisting in setting and realizing long-term goals for recovery, to being a “person who understands.”

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Children’s News Update

Children’s News Update

List of Pennsylvania Schools Supporting Positive Behavior for 2010-11 School Year

As we enter back to school season, families of children with emotional and behavioral challenges feel the anxiety of knowing that their child’s school is not prepared to offer evidence-based support.  Other families, however, feel more confident knowing that their school has taken dramatic steps to create a positive school climate.

More and more districts are joining the Positive Behavioral Supports (PBS) movement, as they see schools implanting PBS report significant improvements in school climate.

PBS is a research-based approach to behavioral health support, in which all school staff are trained to respond to children in very specific ways. They learn to reward good behaviors and provide effective supports when children are struggling. Schools quickly see dramatic drops in poor behavior, and equally dramatic increases in desired behaviors, such as paying attention in class and getting along with peers.

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Affiliate Updates

Mental Health America of York and Adams CountyEach month, Mental Health America of York and Adams Counties hosts the following monthly support groups in York County.

Bipolar Support Group
1st Wednesday of each month
7:30pm to 9:00pm

Depression/Anxiety Support Group
4th Wednesday of each month
7:30pm to 9:00pm

Border’s Café of Borders Bookstore
3000 Whiteford Road
York, PA 17402
(Across from the York Galleria Mall)

In relaxed and casual settings, the groups offer informative discussions and the opportunity to share with others and build a support network.  Facilitated by Vince DeMasi, they are open to anyone who would like to attend. Bring friends and family!

If you have questions, would like more information or need directions to Borders, please contact Mental Health America of York and Adams Counties at (717) 843-6973. Ask for either Seth or Kim.

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Mental Health for Military Families: The Path to Resilience and Recovery. A SAMHSA ADS CenterTraining Teleconference. This free training teleconference will cover the evolution of mental health services for service members; mental health problems faced by returning service members and their families; and effective strategies for preventing, reducing, and addressing mental health conditions—strategies such as resilience training and veteran-to-veteran support. Time: 3:00pm-4:30pm EST.

Education Law Forums, Luzerne County
A day and evening of workshops about issues affecting Pennsylvania’s children’s educational services.

Peer Support Training Day, Mt. Gretna. The PA Peer Support Coalition holds its 3rd Peer Support Continuing Education Training Day at Philhaven in Mt. Gretna.

Until the 30th
What a Difference a Friend Makes Contest. SAMHSA has announced a video and essay contest entitled “What a Difference a Friend Makes.” The contest asks participants to tell a story of how they were supported by a friend, or supported a friend, in their mental health recovery. Awards will be given. Click here for more information.

Magnificent Minds Project Art Exhibition at Reservoir Park Mansion, Harrisburg.



Five-Day WRAP Facilitator Training, Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania Peer Support Coalition offers a Five-Day WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) Facilitator Training at the low cost of $100.


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