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Upcoming Events

The Sharing Experience: From Violence in Our Lives to Peace in Our Communities. This is a 5-day interactive training starting on Monday, June 22 at 8:00 AM - Friday, June 26 at 5:00 PM  in Prescott.  A fee is required for the training. Presented by Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, click here for registration information.

MOMI (Mothers of Seriously Mentally Ill) AZ Community Meeting on Saturday, June 27 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at First institutional Baptist Church Phoenix.  For more information about MOMI or the community meeting, click here.

Would you like to learn more about programs and services that can help you on your recovery journey? Attend Mercy Maricopa's peer & family conference on July 7th from 3-8 pm Connections: at the Black Canyon Conference Center Phoenix, AZ. E-mail to to RSVP.

Northern Arizona Suicide Prevention Conference at Twin Arrows Navajo Casino and Resort, Flagstaff on July 15 & 16 from 8am to 5pm. Click here for more details.

16th Annual Summer Institute: Innovations & Essentials for Advancing Health 4-day networking & educational conferences from July 14-17th in Sedona.  Link here for registration details. 
Board of Directors 

Michael Shafer, Chair

Joshua Mozell, Vice Chair

Kristina Sabetta, Secretary

Jason Bernstein, Treasurer

Jack Beveridge

Max Dine, M.D.

Sheri George

Emily Jenkins

Marcus Johnson

Barbara Lang

Karen Pitico

Clarke Romans
June 15, 2015
Mental Health Issues on Capitol Hill

Have you contacted your member of the US House of Representatives or either of our US Senators this year yet? 

Let's highlight a few of the bills that are on the agenda in WDC that may impact our community.  Remember, you're the expert with your knowledge, experience and the care you provide for individuals with mental health needs.  Share your expertise with your Congressperson. 

Indeed there's a long list of bills that have been introduced.  It's unclear today if any bill will cross the legislative finish line.  What is described below is NOT comprehensive, but only an overview. 

First let's highlight Representative Tim Murphy's (CD-18, PA) bill, Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015, which received attention last year and again this year.  The bill would:

*  Establish an Office of the Assistant Secretary who must be a psychiatrist or psychologist. Many of programs would be consolidated into this office, with the agency having greater authority than SAMHSA currently does.  The Office would emphasize research & evaluation, as well as long-term planning.


*  Establish several new grant programs that focus on Innovation, Demonstration, Early Childhood Intervention & Treatment. There's a focus on evidence-based programs & the innovation grants would support promising programs. There is a focus on screening, diagnosis & treatment, and integrated services, with 1/3 of the funding reserved for services to individuals under the age of 18.


*  Make revisions to HIPAA to allow sharing of dates of services, diagnosis codes, & medication orders with caregivers, but it also requires that six conditions all be met at the same time for this to happen. Sharing is allowed if the health & safety of the public or the individual is protected; the individual has a co-occurring chronic condition, the treatment of which may be affected by the treatment for the mental health condition; & not having the information would lead to a worsening of the condition.


*   Retain the Protection & Advocacy program, but limit the legal advocacy to remedying abuse or neglect, & explicitly prevent programs from engaging in lobbying activities.   


*  Provide for a training program for primary care professionals to assure use & understanding of screening tools.


*   Promote workforce development across the board to bring more people into behavioral health services, including peers.  


An example of a bill that promotes Early Invention is HR 1211, Mental Health in Schools Act, that would provide school-based comprehensive mental programs in schools.

A bill promoting treatment for those in need is HR 448, reauthorizing the Enhancing Services for Runaway & Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking  Act. Another is S 841, Prioritizing Veterans Access to Mental Health Care Act which would expand eligibility under the Veterans  Access, Choice & Accountability Act of 2014 to include veterans seeking mental health care. 

Examples of bills that focus on recovery are:  S 711, Mental Health First Aid Act, which would amend the Public Health Service Act to offer this training program and S 684, Medicare Formulary Improvement Act, that would improve formulary requirements of Medicare recipients. 

Your challenge is to read and understand these bills, and use your voice.  Let Congress know your views. 
We Want You!
Mental Health America of Arizona (MHA-AZ) is in need of talented and passionate people to serve on our Board of Directors!  Specifically, we are in need of three individuals to join our Board to provide greater diversity to our group.   If you represent a minority community, a faith-based community, or work in the corporate or criminal justice sectors, please consider applying. 
MHA-AZ's mission is to promote the mental health and well-being of all Arizonans through education, advocacy, and the shaping of public policy. Serving Arizona since 1954, we are the state's oldest organization dedicated to the behavioral health issues facing the people of Arizona.    We have accomplished much over the years, but we will always have a lot to do.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a member of MHA-AZ, please visit our website or contact Board Member Kristina Sabetta at
Meet a Board Member
Marcus Johnson currently serves as the Assistant Director of Policy & Advocacy for the Arizona Hospital & Healthcare Association.  In this role, he is responsible for contributing to the organization's vision - "Making Arizona the healthiest state in the Nation" - through policies and systems approaches that strengthen the healthcare system and empower consumers. 
Marcus has long been a proponent of preventive health strategies, confident that the most effective way to fight disease is to address the upstream factors which cause disease.  His career has provided him with professional experience in corporate wellness management, public health policy, childhood obesity advocacy and healthcare reform.  Marcus' passion lies in the limitless potential created by the bridging of preventive health approaches (i.e., Public Health) with an evolving healthcare system.  The realization of this shift, from a sick care system to a true health care system, will ensure that all populations have equitable access to health.  Populations affected by behavioral and mental health disorders stand to benefit significantly from a more integrated, equitable and cost-effective system. 

After researching and publishing a policy brief on the often-discussed, yet seldom-quantified issue of psychiatric boarding practices across the state, Marcus was honored with the opportunity to serve on the MHA-AZ Board of Directors.  As a Board Member, Marcus is eager to offer his unique perspective to the organization, and he looks forward to working with others to create a more robust and responsive system for behavioral health patients in Arizona.

Mental Health America of Arizona wants to again acknowledge the support of Janssen Pharmeutical Company for our activities.  Corporate support is key to assuring there's a voice in the community. 

We invite your participation and sharing of this newsletter by forwarding to your friends and colleagues.  If they wish to receive the newsletter, encourage them to simply click on the link here.  Let's share the word.  Time to get involved.
Eddie L. Sissons
Executive Consultant
Mental Health America of Arizona | | |