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News and Notes   |    
News Briefs
Psychiatric Services 2008; doi:
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Bazelon guide on voting rights for people with mental disabilities: People with mental disabilities are often disenfranchised by unwarranted concerns about their competence to vote, inappropriate challenges to prevent them from voting, refusals to provide or permit help with voting, and help that disregards the voter's own choices. A 68-page booklet produced by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in collaboration with the National Disability Rights Network explains the rights of voters with mental disabilities. The text focuses on four areas of concern: voter competence requirements imposed by state laws, election officials, or service providers; state photo-ID laws; voter challenges; and provision of help to voters with disabilities. For example, the guide clearly explains that a voter with disabilities can bring a person to the polls to provide help in voting or the voter may ask a poll worker for help. People who may not assist a voter are the voter's employer or an agent of that employer; if the voter is a member of a union, help may not be provided by a union officer or an agent of the union. For voters who encounter problems, a toll-free number (866-OUR-VOTE) is provided. A chart listing each state's laws on voter competence requirements is included. The booklet is designed as a resource for people with mental disabilities, family members, service providers, election officials, state and local mental health and aging authorities, and state legislators. Vote. It's Your Right is available on the Bazelon Center Web site at www. bazelon.org.

AHRQ decision makers' guide to adopting innovations: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released a 111-page guide to help decision makers "determine whether an innovation would be a good fit—or an appropriate stretch—for their health care organization." The tool is guided by a framework that regards adoption as a process, rather than an event, and it is based on a modified version of the core concepts in Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations. An innovation can be a product, a service, a process, a system, an organizational structure, or a business model that is new to an organization. The guide is structured on four modules: Does the innovation fit? Should we do it here? Can we do it here? How will we do it here? Each module consists of a layered series of questions—major questions followed by many more detailed questions that stimulate discussion and help inform and advance the decision process. The guide features links to helpful tools on various Web sites, and an appendix provides examples of successful and failed cases of innovation adoption, with lessons learned by the organizations that undertook evidence-based adoption processes. Will It Work Here? A Decisionmaker's Guide to Adopting Innovations is available on the AHRQ Web site at www.ahrq.gov.

Bazelon guide for college students on treatment options and rights: In 2005 the Bazelon Center brought lawsuits on behalf of students at two universities who were evicted from university housing—in one case the student was banned from campus—after they voluntarily obtained emergency hospital treatment for depression. The cases were settled in 2006, and since then both universities have changed their policies. Leadership-21, a group of young mental health leaders affiliated with the Bazelon Center, have developed a 27-page guide to inform students about their legal rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act and other laws. For individuals who have never before sought treatment, the guide outlines detailed help-seeking steps and describes what to expect from treatment, including inpatient care. The guide also addresses the student's right to privacy, the types of reasonable accommodations that schools are required to provide, and what to do if the school takes disciplinary action or seeks to impose a leave of absence. Campus Mental Health: Know Your Rights! is available on the Bazelon Web site at www.bazelon.org.

Interactive map of states moving toward universal health care: To address the growing problem of the uninsured, states have taken steps to reform their heath care systems to provide more people with health care coverage. As of August 2008, three states had enacted and 14 states were moving toward comprehensive reform. In the three states—Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont—the goal of the reform plan is to achieve near universal coverage of state residents. Other states have announced reform proposals or have established commissions with the goal of expanding coverage. The Kaiser Foundation has created an interactive map that allows users to click on a state to access a summary of the state's reform efforts, with links to full text of the state legislation passed to advance those efforts. The map and a 19-page compilation of all the state summaries is available on the Kaiser Web site at www.kff.org/uninsured.

SAMHSA funds available for systems of care: The Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will make funds available for Cooperative Agreements for Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families. The purpose of the agreements is to develop and expand systems of care—integrated home and community-based services and supports—for children and youths with serious emotional disturbances and their families. It is expected that $17 million will be available, with funds provided for up to six years. Grant recipients are expected to provide matching funds from nonfederal sources for each year of the grant. Applications, which are due January 15, 2009, are available on the SAMHSA Web site at www.samhsa.gov/grants.




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