SB 44 study of children with a serious emotional disturbance

Please see below for an important message from Dr. Monica Faulkner of the Child and Family Research Institute of the University of Texas at Austin.

“Based on your agency’s work with children and families, I am writing to ask you to help direct parents, caregivers and professionals to our study regarding the needs of children with serious emotional disturbances. The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have partnered with the Child and Family Research Institute at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work to conduct a study mandated by the Texas Legislature to examine the needs of families who have a child with a serious emotional disturbance.

As part of our study, we are seeking parents and other stakeholders to participate in an online survey and/or participate in interviews about their experiences. Input from parents will be used to identify existing service gaps and the needs of families. Specific details about our project can be found on our website.

If you have questions about this research, I am more than happy to address any questions or concerns. Please contact me at or (512) 471-7191.

For more information about this project, please visit:



Adult Mental Health Awareness Poetry Contest: Deadline May 2

In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, the Texas Department of State Health Services Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division, Mental Health America of Texas, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Texas are holding their Third Annual Statewide Adult Mental Health Awareness Poetry Contest open to adults with or in recovery from mental illness and their adult family members and friends.
Last year, more than 80 poems were received from across Texas for the contest, written by those living with and recovering from mental illness, their friends, and their families. Five winning entries were selected, along with six poems given honorable mention.
Children and adolescents interested in participating should submit entries to the Creativity Contest; please see for details.

• Poems should express the experience of living with mental illness, living with a family member with mental illness, or having a close friend with mental illness.
• Entries must be 200 words or fewer.
• Entries must be typed or legibly handwritten.
• Entrants must be Texas residents who are 18 or older as of May 1, 2014.
• The submission deadline is May 2, 2014. All entries must be received on, or postmarked by, May 2, 2014.

Each entry must include the following:
• Name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (if available). We will only contact you if your poem is chosen to ask for your permission to post it online. All entries will be reviewed with respect to privacy and winning entrants may ask that their work be posted anonymously.
• Please submit your poem by email, with your contact information, to, or send by postal mail to:
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Texas Department of State Health Services
RE: Mental Health Month Poetry Contest
Mail Code 2083
909 W. 45th Street
Austin, TX 78751
Prizes and certificates will be awarded to the poems selected as winners, and the top five poems will be announced May 20, 2014, and with the author’s permission, they will be posted on the DSHS MHSA (, Mental Health America Texas ( and NAMI Texas ( websites.

Texas State of Mind Conference


A live conference on mental health issues in Texas featuring:

-The Honorable Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives
-The Honorable Jane Nelson, Chair, Committee on Health and Human Services, Texas Senate
-Dr. Kyle Janek, Executive Commissioner, Texas Health & Human Services Commission
-The Honorable Nathan Hecht, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas

APRIL 16th
Streaming live from
starting at 8:30 a.m.

TJP Jailhouse Stories

This spring 2014, Texas Jail Project is launching a new project called
“Jailhouse Stories: Effects of Pretrial Detention”
which will collect accounts about what happens to people held in county jails before they are tried for a crime. If you have a story about what you or your loved one experienced while in jail, please contact TJP to set up an interview! Contributors can remain anonymous – it’s just important for your voice to be heard. Jailhouse Stories will be shared with media outlets, lawmakers, and social leaders to educate Texas about the need to incarcerate less, create more diversion programs, and improve conditions in local jails.

TO SEND US YOUR STORY, connect at:
Texas Jail Project
call: 512.597.8746
write: 1712 E. Riverside Drive, Box 190; Austin, TX 78741

What is the Texas Jail Project?
Texas Jail Project (TJP) works to ensure healthier, humane conditions in our local jails and advocates for improved accountability for jailers. On an average day, about 67,000 people – mothers, fathers, brothers, sons, sisters, and daughters – are incarcerated in 246 county jails across Texas. Almost 60% of those being held have not been convicted and are being held pretrial. Many must deal with the difficulties of being in jail while also facing the challenges of addictions or mental health disorders.


 DIRECT SUPPORT: TJP receives hundreds of complaints and questions that illustrate ongoing issues and unmet needs in county jails. We try to respond to each, while posting content on our website that provides family and friends with helpful information on how to aid their loved one in receiving fair treatment while they are being held.

 ADVOCACY: TJP represents the concerns of inmates and their families to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) and the Texas legislature, providing feedback on the standards and processes regulating jails. TJP especially seeks to represent those from special populations who need improved care: mentally ill people, women (particularly pregnant inmates), veterans, and substance abusers.

 PUBLIC EDUCATION: Informing the public about county jails is a vital part of bringing positive reform to the current system. TJP has participated in rallies and vigils that help raise awareness of unjust conditions and has contributed articles for various media sources. For years the popular “Inmate Stories” section of our website has educated, validated, and empowered by giving voice to those who have been impacted by the local criminal justice system.

Sharing Mental Health Information: Details of the New HIPAA Privacy Rule

Sharing Mental Health Information: Details of the New HIPAA Privacy Rule

Date: April 16, 2014, 2:00pm – 3:00 p.m. Central Time

Presenters: Sherri Morgan, Christina Heide, and Marissa Gordon-Nguyen, HHS/Office for Civil Rights; and Kate Tipping, SAMHSA

Register for free at

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights recently issued guidance on the HIPAA Privacy Rule and sharing information related to mental health. Learn from experts in health information privacy about this new guidance, including privacy protections for mental health records and psychotherapy notes and circumstances in which the Privacy Rule permits providers to share patients’ information with others. Presenters will discuss when family, friends, and others involved in care can access treatment information, when law enforcement and other professionals need to know information, and circumstances when other laws may apply – such as where drug and alcohol abuse treatment facilities and schools are involved.

Medicare Physician Payment Bill Includes Two Mental Health Provisions

On Monday night, the U.S. Senate passed HR 4302, the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) extension. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week and now goes to President Obama for his signature. HR 4302 includes two provisions that are relevant to people living with mental illness and their families.

First, the bill includes the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration project. This eight (8) state pilot is critical to modernizing publicly funded mental health services to align with evidence-based practices and to streamline Medicaid funding. The eight states selected will receive planning grants and Medicaid funding to provide comprehensive community-based mental health services and supports, including integrated mental health and primary care treatment. Community mental health programs participating in this program will be required to provide a broad range of services, including 24-hour mobile crisis teams, crisis stabilization services, outpatient mental health and substance use services, peer and family supports, and intensive, community-based services for veterans.

Second, HR 4302 includes authority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to undertake a new pilot program for states to establish and expand “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (AOT) programs. This program applies to individuals living with serious mental illness who are not participating in treatment and experience serious adverse consequences such as repeated hospitalizations, homelessness or incarceration. States that choose to apply for funding appropriated for this program will be required to gather outcomes data on the effectiveness of the program, including its impact on reducing negative outcomes.
HR 4302 can be accessed here. The Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration project can be found in Section 223 and the Assisted Outpatient Treatment demonstration program in Section 224.

Tell Congress “Don’t Cut SSDI to Pay for Unemployment Insurance!”

As early as today, the U.S. Senate may resume consideration of legislation to extend federal emergency unemployment compensation benefits – a vital program that Congress must support.

Unfortunately, some in Congress continue to push for cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to help pay for the proposed extension.
During consideration of the extension in January, various Senators introduced multiple amendments to cut or eliminate SSDI for workers with disabilities who receive Unemployment Insurance (UI) after losing a job. Thanks to strong advocacy by people with disabilities and their allies, these proposals failed to advance – but may reemerge as the Senate resumes its consideration of emergency unemployment compensation extension over the next few days.

SSDI and UI are separate programs, but some people qualify for both because they have a significant disability, receive SSDI, and try to work — but lose their job through no fault of their own. By law, SSDI beneficiaries are encouraged to work if they can, and many do work part-time. Benefit cuts would erode the economic security of workers with disabilities and their families, and would treat people with significant disabilities who receive SSDI differently from all other American workers.

Our nation’s Social Security system should not become a piggybank. Social Security is paid for by workers and their employers. Any changes to Social Security must be considered as part of careful deliberations about how to strengthen Social Security.
Take action here:

Call your Senators and let them know:
• Don’t cut Social Security to pay for extending Unemployment Insurance! Both programs are important, but Social Security must not become a piggybank.
• Social Security disability beneficiaries who try to work should not be treated differently from other American workers. Unemployment Insurance should be there for them in their time of need. It’s fair and it’s right.
• Cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) could hurt the financial security of people with significant disabilities and their families.

All Senate Offices can be reached by calling 202-224-3121.

Thank you for your advocacy!
Click here to view additional background on SSDI and UI: