Tonight’s NAMI South Bay Meeting

First Lutheran Church 2900 W. Carson St. Torrance, CA 90503

First Lutheran Church, 2900 W. Carson St., Torrance, CA 90503

Because of the legal holiday on the third Monday of the month, our January meeting has been moved to the fourth Monday of the month–January 26. (The same will be true of our February meeting.) So tonight, the Caring and Sharing support group for family members will will start at 6 p.m. in the Fireside Room and the Speaker Meeting follows in the Fellowship Hall at 7:30 p.m. Both events take place at the First Lutheran Church, 2900 Carson Street in Torrance.

The January speaker is Dr. Rad, Assistant Professor at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. Dr. Rad was previously the Medical Director of the Psychiatric Emergency Services at Harbor UCLA Medical Center and is currently the Medical Director of the Crisis Resolution Unit at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. Dr. Rad will be speaking about “Recent Developments in Psychopharmacology.”

Parity in Mental Health “Don’t Take No For An Answer”

Historically, insurance companies and health care services plans have not provided equal coverage between physical health and mental health and substance abuse disorders. For people needing mental health treatment, there are fewer services, more restrictions on those services, and greater costs, both monetarily and for mental health wellness and recovery. Federal and state laws require insurance companies to provide mental health and substance use abuse benefits at the same level as physical health benefits. Few people are aware of these laws or how to advocate for equal coverage, and as a result do not get what they need.

Through funding from CalMHSA’s Stigma and Discrimination Reduction (SDR) Project, Disability Rights California trains on mental health parity laws and equips participants with tools and strategies to advocate for mental health and substance use abuse care. We can discuss individual mental health parity issues, provide counsel and advice, provide help filing complaints and in select cases raising systemic issues provide direct representation.

If you are interested in learning more about the project or want a training for your local NAMI chapter, please contact:

Robyn Gantsweg, CalMHSA SDR Project Coordinator and Senior Coordinator of Disability Rights California’s Peer/Self-Advocacy Program

  • Phone: (213) 213-8134
  • Email:

Laura Reich, lead Mental Health Parity Training Coordinator and Disability Rights California Attorney

  • Phone: (916) 504-5800
  • Email:

Disability Rights California is funded by a variety of sources, for a complete list of funders, go to this link.

The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) is an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Prevention and Early Intervention programs implemented by CalMHSA are funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). Prop. 63 provides the funding and framework needed to expand mental health services to previously under-served populations and all of California’s diverse communities.

Better Screening and Treatment Access Needed for Teens With Major Depression

Severe MDD was more common among older adolescents, and girls had two to three times the risk of MDD and four times the risk of severe depression than boys. image credit: zea_lenanet | DPC

Severe MDD was more common among older adolescents and girls. image credit: zea_lenanet | DPC

From Psychiatric News Alert: About 60% of teenagers with DSM-IV major depressive disorder (MDD) receive treatment, but only 35% were treated by a mental health professional, according to a nationally representative survey of 10,123 adolescents.

Lifetime prevalence of MDD was 11% among that sample, and 12-month prevalence was 7.5%, said Shelli Avenevoli, Ph.D., of the Division of Translational Research at the National Institute of Mental Health and colleagues in the January Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Age and gender influenced prevalence, they said.

“The majority of depressed adolescents did not receive treatment specifically for their depression or from the mental health sector for any emotional or behavioral problem. These findings underscore the ubiquitous nature of this disorder in youth, suggest that a significant portion of depressive disorders have their first onset in adolescence, and support the notion of routine and universal screening during adolescence.”

To read more about treatment of adolescent depression, see:

Family-Based Interpersonal Therapy Found Effective for Child Depression

Treating Child Depression--photo credit: artmim | DPC

Treating Child Depression photo credit: artmim | DPC

From Psychiatric News Alert: Family-based interpersonal psychotherapy appears to be an effective treatment for preadolescent depression and proved superior to child-centered therapy, according to a report published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons/New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) randomly assigned 42 preadolescents with depression family-based interpersonal psychotherapy (FB-IPT) or to child-centered therapy (CCT). Depressive symptoms in children were measured by the Children’s Depression Rating Scale, Revised, and the Mood Feeling Questionnaire, Child and Parent Versions. Preadolescents receiving FB-IPT had higher rates of remission, a greater decrease in depressive symptoms from pre- to post-treatment, and lower depressive symptoms at post-treatment than did preadolescents with depression receiving CCT.

“These findings provide strong support for FB-IPT as an effective treatment for preadolescent depression with medium to larger effect sizes. There was a significant indirect effect for decreased social impairment mediating the association between the FB-IPT and preadolescents’ post-treatment depressive symptoms. This may suggest that reducing social impairment is one mechanism by which FB-IPT may decrease preadolescents’ depressive symptoms.”

For related news, see the Psychiatric News article “Family Intervention Benefits Children of Depressed Parents.”

Directing Change Contest Submission Deadline: February 1, 2015

Students throughout California are invited to Direct Change by submitting 60-second films to spread awareness about suicide prevention and ending the silence associated with mental illness. The winning teams and their associated schools will win cash prizes, receive mental health or suicide prevention programs for their schools, get to participate in a meeting with state legislators on these topics, and attend the award ceremony at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Directing Change is part of statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. These initiatives are funded by the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) and administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA).

NAMI California is excited to announce the expansion of the education and training component of The Directing Change Student Film Contest! This year, Directing Change is offering an Ending the Silence presentation and suicide prevention programs to students who intend on submitting entries into the contest. There are also additional resources for participants, parents and school advisors. The Directing Change Team will be offering a monthly newsletter to keep participants up-to-date with all developments about the contest and various mental health and suicide prevention topics through articles, educational videos, and current events. Educational films that discuss various mental health and suicide prevention topics will also be released for participants on a monthly basis. The films can be used to provide more information to students and teachers to help inspire the film-making process! Check out the October films about the Mental Health Continuum, mental illness, and stigma:

To subscribe to The Advocate: Directing Change newsletter, please visit

Visit the campaign website for contest rules and information: .

Submission Deadlines: February 1, 2015.

Have questions about Directing Change? Contact Lauren Hee at or 916-567-0163.

Governor’s Proposed 2015-16 Budget: Mental Health Highlights

Last Friday, January 9th, Governor Brown released his 2015-16 state budget proposal. NAMI California has identified the following areas, among others, as having potential impacts on consumers and families. NAMI California will continue to follow the budget through the legislative process and provide updates and advocacy opportunities to members.

  • Mental Health Services Act Revenues. The budget estimates annual revenues of $1.8 billion for 2014-15 and $1.775 billion for 2015-16. The 2013-14 estimates and 2014-15 estimates are $100 million and $200 million above the estimates for those years stated in the Governor’s January 2014 budget.
  • Medi-Cal Growth. The budget proposes total expenditures of $95.4 billion ($18.6 billion General Fund) for 2015-16. With enrollment projected at 12.2 million eligibles, about 32 percent of Californians will be in Medi-Cal. The Medi-Cal expansion, as provided by the Affordable Care Act, will result in an additional 3.3 million people enrolled in Medi-Cal.
  • AB 3632 Payments. The budget proposes $533 million of the $800 million currently owed to counties for pre-2004 mandates be paid in the 2015-16 year presuming that the May 2015 revenue estimates continue to show funds exceeding the May 2014 estimates. AB 3632 mental health services for students are a significant share of these payments.
  • Coordinated Care Initiative. Under this pilot project, dual eligibles (Medi-Cal and Medicare) receive medical, behavioral health and long-term supports. This pilot was intended to operate in eight counties; however, Alameda will now not be participating. Due to various implementation issues, including a large opt-out of participation rate of 69 percent, less federal shared savings, and delays in implementation, the program may not continue in the future due to poor cost-benefit. If factors don’t improve by January 2016, the CCI may cease operating effective January, 2017.
  • Drug Medi-Cal Program. California has submitted a federal Waiver for the Drug Medi-Cal Program, which focuses on the delivery of substance use disorder services, which will be finalized in 2015. A key component of this Waiver is to expand Residential Treatment Services. In addition to the federal Waiver submitted for restructuring this program, the Department of Health Care Services is in the process of trying to complete recertification of hundreds of facilities that provide drug treatment. DHCS contends they will complete this recertification process by November 2015.
  • 2011 County Realignment. The Behavioral Health Account within realignment is to receive growth funds of $146 million in 2014-15 and $141 million in 2015-16. A priority for these growth funds will be for children’s specialty mental health and Drug Medi-Cal Program services.
  • Department of Social Services-Continuum of Care Reform. The budget proposes $9.6 million for DSS to begin implementing the Continuum of Care Reform, which includes preventative, wraparound and mental health services for foster youth.
  • Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP). Total expenditures of $2.8 billion are budgeted which reflects a revised maximum grant level for January 2015 set at $881/month for individuals and $1483/month for couples, and a caseload of 1.3 million recipients.
  • Department of State Hospitals and Department of Social Services: Department of State Hospitals and Department of Social Services will increase the number of beds available to admit clients who need to be restored to competency in order to stand trial. The San Bernardino County Restoration of Competency Program and Porterville Secure Treatment Program are likely to be expanded.
  • Proposition 47 Funds. Proposition 47 funds will be placed in a new fund to be used for mental health and substance use disorder treatment services, among other programs. These funds will be available beginning in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Thank you for your dedication to
mental health advocacy!

House Passes Bill Aimed at Improving Psychiatric Care in the VA


Photo Credit: enterlinedesign | DPC

From Psychiatric News Alert: APA hailed passage this week by the House of Representatives of legislation that would help the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) attract and retain psychiatrists and improve the agency’s suicide-prevention efforts.

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act is named in honor of an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran and suicide-prevention advocate who took his own life in 2011. The bill sailed through the House in December, but it stalled in the Senate after a retiring senator, Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), objected to the cost.

Said APA President Paul Summergrad, M.D.:

“Too often the men and women who serve our country do not have timely access to the mental health care they need and deserve. Losing 22 veterans a day to suicide should move us all to immediate action. APA strongly supports the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which will make a real difference in the lives of many veterans by improving access to much needed mental health care…. We now ask that the Senate adopt this important legislation for our veterans.”

The bill would establish a pilot project encouraging more psychiatrists to choose a career with the VHA by offering medical school loan repayments on par with other government agencies and private organizations. Current policy makes it difficult for the VHA to compete with employers that offer employment incentives, such as medical school loan repayment. The bill would authorize the agency to recruit at least 10 psychiatrists into the loan-repayment program each year. It would also authorize a Government Accountability Office study of pay disparities affecting psychiatrists at the VA.

A summary of the bill is posted HERE. For more information, see the Psychiatric News article, “Push for Suicide Prevention Law Hits Senate Roadblock.”