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National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery | NCMHR

Mission: The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) will ensure that consumer/survivors have a major voice in the development and implementation of health care, mental health, and social policies at the state and national levels, empowering people to recover and lead a full life in the community.

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Dorothy Dundas Receives 2014 Judi Chamberlin Joy in Advocacy Award

Dan Fisher presents the Judi Chamberlin Joy in Advocacy Award to Dorothy Dundas

Every year, NCMHR chooses an exceptional leader in mental health advocacy to receive the Judi Chamberlin Joy in Advocacy Award. 

Dorothy Dundas has been a part of the Consumer/Survivor/Ex-patient (C/S/X) movement since the late 1970's and has been a tireless advocate for civil rights and humane, voluntary, and peer-led services ever since.

Dorothy was one of a few electroshock survivors who testified at the January 2011 U.S. Food and Drug Administration public hearings on electroconvulsive therapy, leading to the FDA panel’s decision to require rigorous testing of the device used for electroshock.

Her story appears in “Beyond Bedlam,” her op-eds and letters have been published in many newspapers, and her revolutionary poster, “Behind Locked Doors“ is used to educate students and the general public about the abuses that have happened under the guise of mental health “treatment.”

It is with gratitude for her work that NCMHR honors Ms. Dundas with the 2014 Judi Chamberlin Joy in Advocacy Award.

NCMHR Visionary C/S/X Leadership Conference - Audio Recording Now Available!

Another lively and inspiring discussion took place this year, featuring Daniel Fisher, Susan Rogers and Wilma Townsend, and moderated by Keris Myrick. If you missed this annual NCMHR event, please click here to access the audio of the presentations.

NCMHR Members and Friends Rally for Real Medicaid Reform

Rally Photo

Lauren and Laurel

On September 21, 2011 NCMHR and Washington, DC-area advocates participated in the Rally for Real Medicaid Reform, sponsored by a variety of cross-disability, aging, and civil rights groups. "It was an important opportunity to make our voices heard and stand up for a health care system that meets our real needs," said Lauren Spiro, NCMHR Director.

Health Care Reform: Challenges and Opportunities for Behavioral Health Care Reform

Daniel Fisher and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

Daniel Fisher and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter at the
25th Annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy
held at The Carter Center in Atlanta Nov. 5-6, 2009.

More than 150 mental health advocates, policy-makers, practitioners, educators, and researchers convened at the symposium to discuss “Health Care Reform: Challenges and Opportunities for Behavioral Health Care Reform.” Dr. Fisher presented on the topic of comparative effectiveness research in mental health. He drew on personal lived experience as well as research carried out at the NEC. He pointed out the importance of integrating persons' lived experience into any research into recovery and wellbeing. He emphasized that participatory, qualitative, action research is best suited to gathering evidence as to the most effective means of assisting people to recover. For more information on the symposium, please visit www.cartercenter.org.

Campaign for Mental Health Reform

Campaign for Mental Health Reform Dinner
At the Campaign for Mental Health Reform dinner, March 18, 2009 were: (L to R) Dan Fisher, First Lady of Massachusetts Diane Patrick, Lauren Spiro, and First Lady of Colorado Jeannie Lewis Ritter

On March18, 2009, the Campaign for Mental Health Reform held its annual dinner in Washington, DC, to present awards to Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) and the First Lady of Massachusetts, Diane Patrick, who has been very honest about her battle to overcome depression. Many grateful words and warm wishes for a speedy recovery were given to mental health and healthcare champion Senator Edward Kennedy, who was receiving medical treatment in Florida on this celebratory evening.

Speaking Up and Speaking Out for Mental Health in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Region: A Call to Action

Speaking Up and Speaking Out for Mental Health in the Washington, DC Metro Area: A Call to Action

On September 16, 2008, NCMHCSO brought together 150 consumer/survivors, advocates, providers, and administrators from Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia whose collective knowledge and experience resulted in a report that highlights 6 goals with recommendations to transform mental health care in the DC Metropolitan region.

"It was inspiring to see so many people giving their voices towards transforming not only mental health services but society itself." — Conference participant

[Click for full report (PDF, 8 pages, 181KB)]

Senator Tom Harkin, of Iowa, shares a special time with Dan Fisher, Rachel Freund, and Lauren Spiro
Senator Tom Harkin, of Iowa, shares a special time with Dan Fisher, Rachel Freund, and Lauren Spiro at the Presidential Forum in Columbus Ohio, July 26, 2008.

This Forum featured the 2008 Presidential Candidates. John McCain and Senator Harkin, who served as the surrogate for Barak Obama who was in the middle east, presented their visions for the future of disability policy in America followed by questions by Judy Woodruff (news anchor and journalist for "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer". [Click here to view the archived webcast of this historic event]

Our second annual face-to-face meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, October 12, 2007

Our second annual face-to-face meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, October 12, 2007

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Lauren Spiro (Coalition Policy Director)

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Lauren Spiro (National Coalition Policy Director)


On November 2, 2007, the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, along with more than 20 other national disability rights organizations, co-hosted the Presidential Candidates’ Forum: A National Forum on Equality, Opportunity and Access, in Manchester, New Hampshire. This historic, day-long event featured presidential candidates speaking on disability issues and answering questions from the audience.

“You could feel the excitement in the auditorium on this historic day that brought together unprecedented numbers of cross-disability groups with most of the presidential candidates,” said Lauren Spiro, the National Coalition’s policy director.

“Ted Kennedy Jr. said, ‘We must end social and political isolation. It is not the disability but society’s perception that is the most disabling condition.’ ” The event was covered by television and was Webcast live.

Click to view transcript of the presidential candidate's speeches from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (pdf, 95 pages, 491kb)

For docs, more biology info means less empathy for mental health patients

New Yale study challenges the notion that biological explanations for mental illness boost compassion for the tens of millions of Americans who suffer from mental-health problems. Click here to read the findings | Effects of biological explanations for mental disorders on clinicians’ empathy by Matthew S. Lebowitz1 and Woo-kyoung Ahn (PDF, 637KB, 5 pages)

New Research Briefs

NCMHR has compiled lists of references and citations to support legislative advocacy and public education efforts.

To access research and citations on Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), also known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), click here (PDF, 157KB, 5 pages).

To access research and citations documenting the weak link between mental health diagnoses and violence, click here (PDF, 156KB, 5 pages).

To access research on the evidence base for peer support and recovery-oriented approaches to distress and crisis, click here (PDF, 208KB, 13 pages).

New!Involuntary Outpatient Commitment: What the Evidence Really Says

Under Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), a person with a serious mental health condition is mandated by a court to follow a specific treatment plan, usually requiring the person to take medication and sometimes directing where the person can live and what his or her daily activities must include. Proponents of IOC claim that it is effective in reducing violent behavior, incarcerations, and hospitalizations among individuals with serious mental health conditions. However, repeated studies have shown no evidence that mandating outpatient treatment through a court order is effective; to the limited extent that court-ordered outpatient treatment has shown improved outcomes, these outcomes appear to result from the intensive services that have been made available to participants in those clinical trials rather than from the existence of a court order mandating treatment.

Involuntary Outpatient Commitment: What the Evidence Really Says (PDF, 152KB, 4 pages)

Mental Health Advocates Blast Rep. Tim Murphy's Bill as a Costly Step Backward, to the Days When a Mental Illness Diagnosis Was a Life Sentence

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Congressman Tim Murphy introduced legislation that, if passed, would reverse some of the advances of the last 30 years in mental health services and supports. It would exchange low-cost services that have good outcomes for higher-cost yet ineffective interventions, according to the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition of 32 statewide organizations and others representing individuals with mental illnesses; the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the non-profit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities; and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a national non-profit legal advocacy organization. Click here to read the entire press release.

Asheville event focuses on mental health

The Asheville Citizen Times covers a recent Emotional CPR (eCPR) training sponsored by Motherbear CAN, and NEC executive director Daniel B. Fisher's story. Click here for the complete article.

National Mental Health Coalition Calls “Today Show” Electroshock Segment One-Sided

Coalition Recommends Balanced Coverage of Controversial Intervention

WASHINGTON, DC (8/22/13) – The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) urges “The Today Show” to provide balanced coverage of the risks of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), in which grand mal seizures are electrically induced, usually to treat severe depression. The NCMHR is responding to a one-sided segment about ECT that “Today” ran on August 20, 2013.

“We are disappointed, especially because two NBC producers had sought out ECT survivors who could attest to the disabling effects of this controversial treatment,” says NCMHR director Lauren Spiro, who was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia. “The producers were given contact information for five willing individuals, but chose not to include them.” The producers later called this an editorial decision.

Click here to read the full press release.
Click here to read Lauren Spiro's Mad in America blog post on this issue.

NCMHR Responds to Torrey/Jaffe Article Attacking SAMHSA, Promoting Involuntary Treatment

We are writing to respond to an article in the National Review online (August 15, 2013) by E. Fuller Torrey and D.J. Jaffe. Dr. Torrey heads the Treatment Advocacy Center, whose mission is to expand the use of involuntary outpatient commitment (also called Assisted Outpatient Treatment, or AOT) throughout the country.

Dr. Torrey does not believe that individuals with mental health diagnoses – such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression – can recover. He is wrong. We – members of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (a coalition of 32 statewide organizations representing individuals with mental health conditions) – are among the millions of individuals who have recovered despite the fact that we have been diagnosed with such disorders. Click here to read the full 8-page rebuttal (PDF, 143KB, 8 pages).

Letter to President Obama

On July 2, 2013 the National Coalition sent a letter to President Obama with copies to selected others regarding our recommendations for including people with the lived experience of mental health recovery in dialogues, meetings and pertinent opportunities to discuss mental health in America. Click to view letter (PDF, 162KB, 4 pages)

Community treatment orders 'don't reduce psychiatric readmissions'

This study of community treatment orders (CTOs) in patients with psychosis is reported as being the largest of its kind. Its findings support those of two previous trials, which also found no benefit from CTOs in reducing readmissions. Click here to read a summary of the study.

I GOT BETTER Campaign - Executive Summary of Findings

The I GOT BETTER Campaign seeks to understand the factors contributing to individual recovery. Survey results clearly show that many individuals (even those with so-called severe mental illness) can and do achieve stable, medication-free wellness. And 97% of Follow-up Survey respondents with a psychiatric diagnosis affirmed they had “experienced at least some recovery from mental or emotional problems.” Click here to read the full report.

NC has been very busy strategizing about our next legislative steps

Dan Fisher, Lauren Spiro, and Ray Bridge
Daniel B. Fisher, Lauren Spiro, and Ray Bridge (from L to R): met recently
with staff of Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow to discuss how new mental
health legislation can support peer-delivered training programs, peer-run
programs and use of peer specialists.

Obama administration to launch mental health dialogue

The Obama administration is planning a national campaign to encourage the discussion of mental health issues in light of recent mass shootings.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will lead the effort, which will begin within weeks, Sebelius said Tuesday.

"There is no question that the recent tragedy in Newtown broke the hearts of the nation," Sebelius told a medical conference in Washington, D.C. "But it also gives us an opportunity to address some important issues that have gone unaddressed for too long."

The administration called for the dialogue in its January recommendations on preventing gun violence. Four of President Obama's 23 executive actions on the issue addressed mental health.

Click here to read more

Training and Technical Assistance Opportunities

The Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS) Team can assist you in your work through free training opportunities, telephone consultations, email resources, peer learning, webcasts, distance learning, and knowledge products. The BRSS TACS Team is a consortium, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), dedicated to promoting wide-scale adoption of recovery-oriented supports, services, and systems for people in recovery from substance use and/or mental health conditions. Click here to access the TA Request Form (Word Doc, 2 pages).

"Free Your Mind Projects" Radio Show featuring Daniel B. Fisher on Gun Violence, Mental Health, and Emotional CPR

Dr. Fisher discusses his personal story of recovery and Emotional CPR. Click here to listen to the show (streaming audio, 56 minutes). Click here for complete description of the show. (PDF, 88KB, 2 pages)

National Coalition Representing Individuals with Psychiatric Diagnoses Lauds President Obama’s Recommendations to Contain Gun Violence

WASHINGTON (1-17-2013) – The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition of 32 statewide organizations representing individuals with mental health conditions, joins with other Americans to thank President Obama for taking bold and decisive action against the shocking escalation of gun violence in America.

NCMHR supports the President's statement that people labeled with mental illnesses are far more frequently the targets than the perpetrators of violence. “However,” said Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., a founder of NCMHR and himself diagnosed with schizophrenia, “we are concerned that several of the recommendations will increase the fear of, and discrimination against, individuals with mental health conditions. For example, expanded reporting of potential violence by mental health professionals to local authorities will inevitably result in people concealing information from their service providers, and deter people from voluntarily seeking mental health services." Click here to read the rest of the press release.

National Empowerment Center (NEC) Calls for Peer-delivered Community Services Instead of More Forced Treatment

"The best means to help people recover from mental health issues is by funding more voluntary, community-based services delivered by people who have ourselves recovered: people who relate mutually or peers. Peers uniquely connect with persons in distress in a non-stigmatizing, egalitarian manner because we have been through similar experiences. Peers operate respite centers, which are alternatives to more traumatic hospitalization, and work as wellness coaches in health centers to help integrate mental health and medical care. Peers also teach the public how to help each other through emotional distress by a peer-developed program called emotionalCPR (eCPR). Also peers are learning community-based, voluntary Open Dialogue treatment from Finland." Click to view Press Release

NCMHR Mourns the Newtown School Shooting, Calls for De-Linking Violence and Mental Health Issues

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) wishes to express deep sympathy for all the families of the victims of this unconscionable tragedy. Words cannot convey the horror of the senseless loss of so many innocent young lives. There is an understandable national outcry for answers, and demands for policy changes to prevent more of these kinds of violent outbreaks in our society. Yet simplistic calls for more “mental health” treatment for individuals ignore the complexity of the problems we face as a nation.

There is no evidence of increased violence among those with mental health issues. Rather, these tragedies are an outgrowth of a culture of violence in which guns are glorified in media and entertainment, and weapons are accessed with ease. In addition, we view these acts as inextricably linked to the unraveling of our social fabric and the disintegration of communities and families. We believe that social and health policy should be aimed at community-based, peer-run programs supporting providers, families, and communities to address trauma and to promote connected communities of support, tolerance, and understanding.

Please see the links below for more critical perspectives on the Newtown school shootings.

Better care for mentally ill won't be enough, experts say (The Buffalo News)

Mental Health Apologists Are Enablers(Huffington Post)

HHS announces formation of the new Administration for Community Living

All Americans – including people with disabilities and seniors – should be able to live at home with the supports they need, participating in communities that value their contributions. To help meet these needs, HHS created a new organization, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) with the goal of increasing access to community supports and full participation, while focusing attention and resources on the unique needs of older Americans and people with disabilities. More at www.hhs.gov/acl

Occupy the APA Is a Success!

By Susan Rogers, National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse

On Saturday, May 5, 2012, more than 200 dedicated human rights activists, most of whom had firsthand experience with the mental health system, gathered inside Friends Center in Philadelphia to rally before marching to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. At the Convention Center, many activists ripped up their psychiatric labels while, inside, thousands of psychiatrists attended the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, where a key topic was the controversial proposed new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – the DSM-5 – due to be published in May 2013. Click here to read the entire article.

Coalition of Individuals with Psychiatric Labels Supports Protestors’ Efforts to “Occupy” the American Psychiatric Association Convention

WASHINGTON, DC (5/3/12) – The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition comprising 32 statewide organizations of individuals in recovery from mental health conditions, supports an upcoming peaceful protest of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the controversial “bible” of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). On Saturday, May 5, 2012, as thousands of psychiatrists congregate in Philadelphia for the APA Annual Meeting, individuals with psychiatric labels and others will converge in a global campaign to oppose the APA’s proposed new edition, the DSM-5, scheduled for publication in May 2013. [ Read Press Release ]

Nationwide Survey of Peer-Run Organizations and Consumer-Operated Services is Underway

This study, being conducted by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, will contribute to information on the role peer-run organizations and consumer-operated services are playing in the mental health system and in our communities.  The study will provide data for planning, reimbursement, and sustainability, and will be important for diffusing the peer-run model, and educating the government, the organizations, and advocates.  It will also allow us to understand the challenges faced by peer-run organizations as the system changes and reforms are implemented.  Participation by organizations in all states is necessary.  Results will be shared with peers, advocates, and government agencies that support mental health. www.peersri.org/projects.html

NCMHR Accepting Nominations for At-Large Board Members

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) is accepting nominations until June 27 4pm EDT for at-large members of our board of directors. At-large board seats are designated to encourage board representation of a constituency that goes across the NCMHR six federal networking regions. Click here for more information and the nomination form (Word doc, 46KB, 4 pages).

Farewell to Carole Ann Glover

Carole Ann GloverAdvocates across the country are saddened by the sudden passing of the hurricane of hope, Carole Ann Glover, Executive Director of Meaningful Minds of Lousiana, and original NCMHR board member. Click to view words of praise (PDF, 220KB, 3 pages)

National Mental Health Coalition Calls
"Dr. Oz" Electroshock Show One-Sided

Coalition Recommends Balanced Coverage of Controversial Intervention 

WASHINGTON, DC (1/26/12) - The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) calls upon the producers of "The Dr. Oz Show" to provide balanced and truthful coverage of the risks of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), in which grand mal seizures are electrically induced, usually to treat severe depression. "We are surprised that Dr. Oz would air such a one-sided show," says NCMHR director Lauren Spiro, "as ECT remains one of the most controversial psychiatric practices." 

"Shock survivors" and many other mental health advocates assert that ECT's disabling effects - including permanent memory loss and cognitive deficits - outweigh possible benefits, and call for potential ECT recipients to be told the risks so they can make an informed choice. 

Click here to read the full press release.

National Coalition to work with SAMHSA on BRSS TACS

The National Coalition is pleased to be part of a large SAMHSA contract to support wide-spread adoption of recovery, recovery supports, recovery support services, and recovery-oriented systems of care across the United States". Click here to read more about this new TA Center (PDF, 398KB, 2 pages).

Joseph RogersForced Treatment Doesn’t Work

Here is an excerpt from the USA Today OpEd written by Joseph Rogers, executive director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse:

Studies have shown that what works is not force but access to effective services. We don't need to change the laws to make it easier to lock people up; existing laws provide for that when warranted. Instead, we need to create and fund effective community-based mental health services and supports that would make it attractive for people to come in and receive care, and that would support them in their recovery. We also must end the discrimination that discourages people from seeking help. [Click here to access the USA Today OpEd] [Click here for a version with complete references]

Susan Rogers Receives the 2011 Judi Chamberlin Joy in Advocacy Award

Susan Rogers receives award

Sally Zinman gave Susan Rogers the award at the 2011 National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery annual open meeting in Orlando, FL. The Judi Chamberlin Joy in Advocacy Award recognizes Judi's lifetime of joyful dedication to bringing hope into the lives of individuals labeled with mental illnesses around the world.

Summaries of Alternatives 2011 Wellness Workshops Now Online

National Coalition member organization P.E.E.R.S. has created summaries of some of the 2011 wellness-related workshops, as well as a synopsis of SAMHSA Administrator Pam Hyde's presentation.

Emotional Health only One Piece of Personal Wellness

Workshop Teaches ABCs of Getting Your ZZZZZZZs

Trainer: Support, Specific Goals Key to Achieving Fitness Objectives

SAMHSA Administrator: Shift Focus of National Mental Health Dialogue from Blame to Social Inclusion

NCMHR to Partner in New Technical Assistance Center

NCMHR will provide consumer input to the Center for Social Innovation, who was awarded the contract for the Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS)." The purpose of this project is to provide policy and practice analysis, as well as training and technical assistance, to States, providers, and systems to increase the adoption and implementation of recovery supports (e.g., peer-operated services, shared decision making, supported employment) for people with behavioral health problems. This project furthers efforts to address the needs of individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use issues. For more information, click here.

Alternative Care for Psychosis: Preventing Schizophrenia

Open Dialogue has achieved remarkable success helping people through extreme states labeled 'psychosis' and 'schizophrenia' while relying much less on medication and hospitalization.

Interview with Jaakko Seikkula [Click to view]
Madness Radio Interview with Mary Olson [click to view]

National Coalition Mourns the Death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Dan Fisher with Senator Edward Kennedy at the Campaign for Mental Health Reform's Gala Dinner

Dan Fisher shares with Senator Kennedy how grateful the mental health community was that the Senator has helped the recovery of consumers through his work on health care reform and parity.
They were at the Campaign for Mental Health Reform's Gala Dinner in Washington, April 16, 2008.

WASHINGTON (8/26/09) – The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) deeply mourns the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an ardent and lifelong champion of the rights of people with disabilities and of all Americans.

Sen. Kennedy understood to his very core the importance of involving all Americans – including people who are homeless, people living in poverty, people with physical and/or psychiatric disabilities, [Click to view press release...]

The Coalition received start-up funding from the Washington-based Public Welfare Foundation. The Coalition office is located at 611 Pennsylvania Ave. SE #133 Washington, D. C. 20003.

For additional information, call 877-246-9058 (Toll Free), or send email via our contact form.