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News and Notes   |    
News Briefs
Psychiatric Services 2008; doi:
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Guide to self-directed mental health care: The Bazelon Center and the UPENN Collaborative on Community Integration have produced a 40-page guide to help consumers and others develop strategies to advocate for policies that give consumers a primary role in their recovery planning and greater control over how resources are spent to meet their needs. In the Driver's Seat: A Guide to Self-Directed Mental Health Care describes step-by-step advocacy strategies and essential components of self-directed care programs, including options for financing them. Several federal agencies, including SAMHSA and the Institute of Medicine, have recommended the adoption of self-directed care in public mental health systems. Self-directed care builds on and often incorporates innovations from the consumer empowerment movement, including peer support, consumer-operated programs, paid peer specialists, and consumer leadership in system design and governance. In such programs individuals have the flexibility to spend some of the money allocated for their care in new ways, on the basis of an individualized plan and budget. They thus may choose from a wider array of services and supports than have traditionally been offered. Self-directed care programs have not been widely implemented and generally exist as pilot projects of limited scope. The guide is available on the Bazelon Center's Web site at www.bazelon.org.

SAMHSA's Homelessness Resource Center Web site: SAMHSA has launched a social networking Web site to promote recovery-oriented and consumer-centered homeless services. The social networking site provides a platform for creating an interactive community of providers, consumers, policy makers, researchers, and public agencies at federal, state, and local levels. The site is designed to support individuals who are working to improve the lives of people affected by homelessness who have mental and substance use disorders and histories of trauma. Users can share knowledge and experiences via posts, download resources and practical tools, rate and comment on the site's content, and learn about upcoming events. Topics include reaching out to homeless individuals, facilitating the transition from homelessness, accessing health care and housing, and promoting self-care. The new site is at www.homeless. samhsa.gov.

SAMHSA adds 100th review to its registry of evidence-based programs: SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) has added two programs, bringing to 100 the number of programs on the NREPP system. NREPP is a searchable database of current information on the scientific basis and practicality of mental health and substance use interventions. Program 99 is "Cocaine-Specific Coping Skills Training," which was developed at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University. The intervention uses cognitive-behavioral and support strategies to reduce or eliminate cocaine and alcohol use among program participants. The 100th program is "Not On Tobacco" (N-O-T), which was initially developed at West Virginia University and adopted nationally by the American Lung Association. The school-based intervention has enabled thousands of teens to stop smoking. Launched in March 2007, NREPP is designed to help community organizations and state and local officials make informed decisions about evidence-based interventions. Approximately 15,000 users visit the NREPP Web site each month at www.nrepp.samhsa.gov.

More than 55,000 callers to Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline: In its first year of operation, the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline provided help to 55,000 veterans and family members or friends concerned about a veteran in distress. More than 22,000 calls came directly from veterans. The hotline was launched in the summer of 2007 as a collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and SAMHSA. The hotline provides around-the-clock access to crisis counseling and behavioral health services for all veterans and their families in emotional distress or suicidal crisis. When callers dial 800-273-TALK, a voice prompt says, "If you are a U.S. military veteran or if you are calling about a veteran, please press 1 now." By selecting this option, the caller is automatically connected to a VA-operated call center in Canandaigua, New York, staffed by specially trained professional crisis workers. The workers can connect the veteran to his or her local VA suicide prevention coordinator for priority follow-up and monitoring to ensure that the veteran receives ongoing care at the local VA medical center. When the call volume exceeds the capacity of the Canandaigua center, calls are automatically routed to one of five back-up crisis centers of SAMHSA's National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Funding available for campus suicide prevention: SAMHSA is soliciting applications for grants to support suicide prevention efforts on college campuses, pending the availability of fiscal year 2009 funds. A survey in 2006 indicated that 9% of students enrolled in a higher education institution had seriously considered suicide within the past year, and that 1.3% attempted suicide. The grant program is designed to assist colleges and universities in their efforts to prevent suicide and enhance services for students with mental and substance use problems that put them at risk of suicide. It is expected that about $2.1 million will be available to fund up to 21 grants. The average annual award is expected to be up to $100,000 per year for up to three years. Grant recipients are expected to provide matching funds from nonfederal sources for each year of the grant. Applications, which are due November 25, 2008, are available at www.sam hsa.gov/grants/2009/ sm09001.aspx.

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