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Free Workshop on Preparing for the Autism Insurance Benefit

The Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAOM) is coming to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City on October 15, 2012 to help explain the upcoming changes to the Michigan insurance code to cover autism. The workshop will be held two times – at 12:30 p.m. and at 6:00 p.m. – and will last about 90 minutes.

Parents and caregivers of children with autism are invited, along with advocacy agencies, public agencies, employers, and others who support parents and caregivers of children with autism.

Topics explored:

  • Autism legislation bills and what they mean
  • Treatments covered by the legislation
  • Evidence-based practice treatments and what that means
  • Overview of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
  • Explanation of state-regulated and self-funded insurance coverage
  • Medicaid coverage for treatments
  • How to find a qualified provider
  • Resources for help in this process.

Presenters are:

  • Colleen Allen, Ph.D., President and CEO, AAOM; Chair, Michigan Autism Council
  • Stacie Rulison, MS. M.Ed., BCBA-Candidate, AAOM; Michigan Autism Council
  • Mary Sharp, MD, Development Officer, AAOM; Mid-Michigan Autism Board of Directors

The workshops are free. Contact Marlowe Franklin at (231) 631-3747 or marlowefranklin@gmail.com to register.

Want to get involved?

Northern Lakes Community Mental Health is accepting applications for individuals who would like to become a member on the Recipient Rights Advisory and Appeals Committee. The applicant must have received or is receiving services from a community mental health services program or services from the private sector equivalent to those offered by the public mental health system. Members are expected to attend monthly meetings and serve up to a (3) three-year term. Candidates need to be able to fairly represent consumers and NLCMH, have a good ability to communicate, and work cooperatively with other members.

Applications can be received by contacting the Executive Office at Northern Lakes Community Mental Health 231-935-3677.

State Theatre Night a Grand Success!

About 175 people attended last night’s free community movie night at the State Theatre in Traverse City to see It’s Kind of a Funny Story.

Pictured (L-R) before the movie are Elizabeth Black, Project Coordinator, PAYS – Partnership Against Youth Suicide; Michael Estes, Mayor of Traverse City; Cynthia Petersen, Community/Provider Relations at NLCMH; and Bradley Will, Emergency Services/Clinical Supervisor, at NLCMH.

Michael Estes, Traverse City Mayor, formally proclaimed the week of September 9-15, 2012 as National Suicide Prevention Week in Traverse City. Cynthia Petersen and Bradley Will assisted Mr. Estes in reading the proclamation before the start of the film.

After the movie, attendees were treated to a pizza party, recreating a scene from the movie, and had opportunity to do some drawing – which is a great stress reduction tool also featured in the movie – courtesy of Kidz Art of Traverse City.

The event was sponsored by PAYS, Partnership Against Youth Suicide, the Grand Traverse Leelanau Suicide Prevention Coalition, and Northern Lakes CMH.

Free Movie at the State Theatre Tonight

The movie, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, is playing at the State Theatre in Traverse City at 5:30 p.m. tonight as part of Suicide Prevention Week 2012 activities. This youth and family-friendly picture (PG-13) follows a teen struggling with thoughts of suicide. Join us to watch as he triumphs and thrives with the help of friends, family and caring professionals.

There will be a casual reception following the movie, featuring pizza and drawing with Kidz Art of Traverse City. The event is sponsored by PAYS, Partnership Against Youth Suicide, the Grand Traverse Leelanau Suicide Prevention Coalition, and Northern Lakes CMH.

Bookmarks Created with Mini-Grants

This past year, we offered mini-grants to support projects created by people with mental health issues themselves. One of these grants was to create bookmarks which contain the poetry of Annamarie Lawrence as a community education project “To Modify The Bully.” These have been distributed at libraries, schools, and health fairs and other community events. They are included here too, so you can print them out and enjoy them also. Click the titles below to access the printable bookmarks.

  • In Harm’s Way – is written to help a young child understand what to do when he/she senses trouble.
  • No More – is designed to make a girl think before she humiliates another. At the same time, the poem makes another girl understand that the bully is doing wrong, not her.
  • Alley Cat – was written to show that being tough and bad does not win friendships.
  • R.D. (Short for Recovery Doll) – is designed to help students cope with abusive classmates. It is written to help them think in a way that the bully can’t hurt them anymore.
  • Peace – shows that when we pick the weeds of abuse and violence, plant the seed of understanding, we have the fruit of peace.

Triple P Parenting Group Starting Up

A group for Crawford and Roscommon County parents with children ages 2-12 years old, demonstrating challenging behaviors, is beginning. It will be Fridays, July 27, August 3, 10, 17 and September 14. (Attendance on all dates is essential). The group will meet from 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM at the COOR Intermediate School District near Roscommon (meetings will be in the Board Room).

Triple P can help you:

  • Encourage behavior you like
  • Deal with problem behavior
  • Become confident as a parent
  • Be realistic about parenting
  • Take care of yourself

To register contact Jennie Walker, LPC, at Northern Lakes CMH at (989) 348-0005.

The group is sponsored by Crawford/Roscommon System of Care

Northern Lakes CMH Interested in What YOU Think and Need

We have scheduled three public hearings to seek input from and share information regarding current services and future system direction with people served, their families, advocates, and community members.

We are especially interested in receiving comment on local needs and priorities, and recommendations to improve the delivery of services and supports for individuals with severe mental illnesses, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, persons with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, and with serious emotional disorders.

The public hearings will be held at the following locations and times.

  1. Cadillac – Friday, July 13, 1:30-3:00 pm, at the NLCMH Cadillac Office located at 527 Cobbs Street.
  2. Houghton Lake – Thursday, July 26, 1:30-3:00 pm, at the NLCMH Houghton Lake Office located at 2715 South Townline Road.
  3. Traverse City – Tuesday, July 31, 1:30 pm-3:00 pm, at the NLCMH Traverse City Office located at 105 Hall Street, 3rd Floor Board Room.

NLCMH is both a regional manager of Medicaid services (Prepaid Inpatient Health Plan – PIHP) and a local manager and provider of services (Community Mental Health Services Program – CMH).

  • As the PIHP we manage Medicaid and Adult Benefit Waiver (ABW) services for persons with mental health, substance use disorders, and developmental disabilities in Crawford, Grand Traverse, Lake, Leelanau, Mason, Missaukee, Oceana, Roscommon, and Wexford Counties.
  • As the CMH we manage Mental Health Code public mental health services via state general funds (GF) for persons with mental health needs and developmental disabilities in Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Missaukee, Roscommon, and Wexford Counties.
  • As the CMH we manage MI-Child services for children with mental health conditions in Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Missaukee, Roscommon, and Wexford Counties.
  • As the CMH we provide mental health and developmental disability services and supports in Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Missaukee, Roscommon, and Wexford Counties.

Individuals who would prefer to submit written testimony should send this to Greg Paffhouse, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Lakes Community Mental Health, 105 Hall Street, Suite A, Traverse City, Michigan 49684.

Individuals requiring special accommodations to participate in the Public Hearing should contact Deb Lavender, in advance, at 231-935-3677.

New Resources on Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI) at Wayne State University is happy to announce a new webpage dedicated to providing families and professionals with information regarding diagnosis and treatment for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).  The webpage’s URL is:  http://ddi.wayne.edu/Autism.php

Using grant funds from the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, this site contains a manual for families, as well as a Quick Guide for Families of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, on a wide variety of resources in Michigan for families.

Mayo Clinic lists warning signs to help diagnose children with mental disorders

The Mayo Clinic released a list of warning signs recently showing whether children might have mental disorders – a tool designed to identify undiagnosed children when they are most treatable without alarming parents of healthy children.

The 11 “action signs” are written in everyday English instead of medical jargon — for example, if a child experiences “sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing.”

The list is endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and other groups.

“The child mental health field needed something like what cancer had done” with its seven warning signs for the disease, said Dr. Peter Jensen, a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist who led the creation of the action list. “It needed some kind of crisp, easily understood messages that parents, teachers, health care providers could … relate to.” The list seeks to help parents differentiate normal childhood moodiness from abnormal levels of aggression, depression and hyperactivity.

Here are the 11 warning signs parents should watch for:

  • Feeling very sad or withdrawn for two or more weeks
  • Seriously trying to harm or kill yourself, or making plans to do so
  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing
  • Involved in multiple fights, using a weapon, or wanting badly to hurt others
  • Severe, out-of-control behavior that can hurt yourself or others
  • Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to make yourself lose weight
  • Intensive worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
  • Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that puts you in physical danger or causes school failure
  • Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Drastic changes in your behavior or personality

Confusion by parents and doctors is one reason why as many as half of children with serious mental disorders are untreated, according to estimates by the U.S. Surgeon General, and also why some healthy children are misdiagnosed with disorders they don’t have.

“We needed to do something to help flesh out people’s understanding about what it meant when a child really did have a problem,” said Gary Blau, a clinical psychologist with the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “It’s different than just being a phase of sort of the traditional ups and downs of growing up. There is a difference between that and having a significant mental health problem.”

The difference often is when behaviors last for a prolonged period of time or affect other people. “Feeling very sad or withdrawn” isn’t enough, unless it has persisted for at least two weeks. “Severe mood swings” alone aren’t a warning sign on the list unless they “cause problems in relationships.”

The list was tested against children with diagnosed mental disorders to see if it would accurately forecast their conditions. A resulting study found that many of these children wouldn’t be detected by the symptom list. On the other hand, the study found that the list wouldn’t mistakenly identify children whose behaviors were normal pangs of growing up.

“As we wrestled with that, we realized there would be a potential for confusion or even harm if parents were worried when they didn’t need to be worried,” Jensen said. “And so what we did was we erred on the side of making sure that this child really has a problem” if he meets any of the action list criteria.

A report in the journal Pediatrics lists the action signs and the science and psychology behind them. Jensen said the word suicide was replaced with “seriously trying to harm or kill yourself, or making plans to do so,” because parents didn’t necessarily identify the term with children.

The list will make it easier for parents to decide whether to seek help for their children, Jensen said, because they only need to answer “yes or no” to the action signs. They don’t need to evaluate whether their kids meet complex diagnostic criteria for mental disorders.

“If you have five or six or seven things to weigh, decisions are very difficult, but if you have a simple yes-no decision, it becomes much easier,” Jensen said. “That’s what the Cancer Institute did when they created warning signs like 20 pounds of unexplained weight loss” as a predictor of cancer.

Out of 15 authors of the report, Jensen and one other researcher reported financial relationships that could present conflicts of interest. Jensen has been a paid consultant for drugmakers Shire and Janssen-Ortho. While the list could certainly hasten the rate at which children receive psychiatric medication, Jensen said it was not developed with any corporate interests in mind.

Advocates for three national patient organizations spoke in favor of the action list. They said they hope it would make it easier for teachers and doctors to believe parents when they express concerns, and for troubled children to receive faster treatment.

“Children may go as long as 10 years without intervention,” said Ruth Hughes, the chief executive for CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). “Just think about what that timeframe is in a child’s life.”

Article sources:

The “Action Signs” Project – Mayo Clinic Research Institute



What a Difference a Friend Makes

The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Mental Health Campaign for Mental Health Recovery aims to encourage, educate, and inspire people between the ages of 18 and 25 to support friends who are experiencing mental health problems.

Discrimination and stigma have made it harder and harder for people with mental illness to keep a job, secure a home, get health insurance, and find treatment. This site is designed for people living with mental illness—and their friends. You’ll find tools that support the recovery process, information on different types of mental illness, and real-life stories about support and recovery that illustrate how friends can make all the difference.

Recovery is more likely in a society of acceptance, so this initiative is meant to inspire young people to serve as the mental health trailblazers, motivating a shift toward acceptance and getting rid of negative attitudes about mental illness.

Serious mental health conditions in this age group are almost twice as common than in the general population, yet young people have the lowest rate of seeking help. With greater social acceptance and the right support and services early on, this group has the potential to minimize future disability and change the way people deal with mental health conditions.

Please visit http://www.whatadifference.samhsa.gov

If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of seriously harming themselves or someone else, call 911.


Serving Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Missaukee, Roscommon and Wexford Counties in northwest Michigan
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