Video Conference

Saturday my niece, Teresa Nichols, interviewed me about my online vision. She has an MBA and her own Cincinnatti based marketing business.

Sorry to my deaf and hard of hearing readers. I tried editing the automatic closed captioning, but found it overwhelming. The interview is over an hour long. As a writer, I found myself editing what we actually said, and decided to leave it alone.

Been Busy

Friday: Attended NAMI Advocacy Training. Saturday: Prepared parents' income tax return. Sunday: Finished our income tax return. Monday AM: Fed son & got him to school.

No wonder I’m exhausted! Friday I attended a NAMI California Regional Meeting in which we participated in NAMI Smarts for Advocacy Training.

NAMI Smarts for Advocacy is a hands-on advocacy training program that helps people living with mental illness, friends and family transform their passion and lived experience into skillful grassroots advocacy.

Basically, we learned how to turn our story of lived experience with mental illness into a two-minute pitch to ASK for specific change, such as voting for or against a particular piece of legislation, on behalf of those of us with lived mental health experiences.


[Had to go pick up my son from school… He made it through two hours… Now back home sick to his stomach, needing to be in close proximity to a bathroom… Even took him to an acupuncturist last week hoping for an answer, a fix… Beginning of June have appointment with pediatric gastroenterologist… Poor kid.]

Here’s my scribbled and scrawled practice sheets:

Kitt O'Malley's Story Practice Sheet for NAMI Smarts Advocacy Training. Basically illegible handwriting. I will try to decipher in the text that follows.

So, my notes are not exactly neat and tidy. Here’s my transcription of them for those who cannot read them (I know I can’t):

My Introduction

Hello, I’m Kitt O’Malley from Mission Viejo, CA. I’m a member of NAMI Orange County, CA, part of America’s largest grassroots mental health organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As someone who lives with bipolar disorder, I’d like to share my story with you and ask for your support of [ASK – here I would ask for something specific in support of those living with mental illness and their families].

What Happened

I was an honors biochem student at UCLA when I became suicidal. I had high hopes of someday becoming a neurosurgeon, but had to quit UCLA due to my illness. I still managed to get an education and become an LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) in my 20’s. Over the years I was treated for depression using psychotherapy and antidepressants. My work history during these years was one of many starts and stops, constantly overworking until I again became depressed. Finally, at the age of 39, it became clear that I had bipolar disorder. Still, I tried balancing the demands of coping with bipolar disorder with parenting and working in commercial real estate. By the time I was 41, I was hospitalized for a breakdown.

What Helped

A combination of medication, supportive psychotherapy, and the support of my family, especially my husband, enabled me to achieve stability. I benefited from excellent hospital and partial hospitalization programs in which group activities offered both structure and peer support.

How I’m Different Today

Today I am an active mental health advocate through my volunteer work with NAMI and through the use of social media, including blogging. I have found purpose in this work, even if I’m no longer making the big bucks.

What is the Need or the Problem?

Far too many people do not receive the treatment that I sought and received.

What Will Help Others

We need public education to fight stigma which keeps people from seeking help, and better day programs and hospital programs for those living with serious mental illness.

My “ASK”

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. Can I count on you to [ASK – here I would ask for something specific in support of those living with mental illness and their families]? Thank you.

Orange County Health Care Agency Behavioral Health

After this training, four Orange County Mental Health/Behavioral Health Directors gave presentations on the services provided by the county, including those programs made possible through the California Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). Then we broke into four groups, each group meeting with one of the four county mental health leaders, and had the opportunity to ask questions and give feedback as stakeholders in mental health services.

Thank you, Mary Hale, Deputy Agency Director Orange County Health Care Agency Behavioral Health Services, Jeffrey Nagel, PhDMental Health Services Act (MHSA) Coordinator, Anthony Delgado, LCSWAdult & Older Adult MHSA FSP Programs, and Jason Austin, MA, LMFTBehavioral Health Services Navigation Administrative Manager.

Orange County Behavioral Health Information & Referrals 855-OC-Links (625-4657) or TDD Number: 714-834-2332

855-OC-LINKS [625-4657]  (8 am – 6 pm)
TDD Number: 714-834-2332 (8 am – 6 pm)
OC Links LIVE CHAT at (8 am – 6 pm)

Stuck to the Couch

Kitt Stuck to Couch

Another brief update as I’m taking it easy, trying to get myself over yet another bout of gastroenteritis. (I do not suffer nearly as much as my son does, but it has me struck me down, glued to the couch, not wanting to stand or make any sudden movements.) Anyway… This upcoming weekend I am training with NAMI to become a Provider Educator, that is one of their panel members who teach mental health providers what it is like to live with a mental illness or be a family member of someone living with a mental illness. Since I’ve been licensed in California as a Marriage and Family Therapist (back in the day the license was MFCC for Marriage, Family and Child Counselor) dating back to July 1990, even though I haven’t practiced in over twenty years, I attended the training as a provider (and hopeful future NAMI provider trainer) and received FREE (yahoo! free!) continuing education units (CEUs) towards my license renewal. What a deal! Usually you have to pay for CEUs. You wonder what I’ve done in the last twenty years, if not psychotherapy. Well, heck, go check out my LinkedIn profile.

NIMH Outreach Connection: December 2014

Read the Latest Outreach Connection from NIMH

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NIMH Director Insel

NIMH Director Thomas Insel, MD
It’s that time of year when I like to reflect on what progress has been made in our field over the course of the past 12 months. In my latest blog, I share what I believe to be the most exciting achievements in mental health research for 2014. Topping the list is the RAISE(Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode) research program. It was a watershed moment when, in the fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriation bill, Congress set aside funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Community Mental Health Block Grant program for dissemination of evidence-based interventions for first episode psychosis similar to those tested in RAISE. SAMHSA and NIMH are collaborating to take full advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to move research into practice swiftly in contrast to the widely reported 17-year lag in adoption of evidence-based treatments by clinicians. Congress reaffirmed its commitment to this effort with continuation of this set aside in the recently enacted FY 2015 appropriation. We estimate that RAISE-like programs, called Collaborative Specialty Care (CSC), will be available in at least 29 states by October of 2015. While states are beginning to implement these models, or expand upon existing programs, outreach to individuals who experience first episode psychosis will be critical so they know about treatments that can help in the earliest stages of their illness. This issue of Outreach Connection features an example of how Partners are working to make communities aware of the RAISE approach. Your work engaging youth and young adults, families, providers, and other key stakeholders is all the more important now as states’ efforts get underway. The Voices of Recovery video series is a good example of a number of educational resources from the RAISE Connection program that can be used for outreach to the community. NIMH wishes you all the best this holiday season and as always commends you for your efforts to improve the lives of all those affected by mental illness.


Getting Research Out

Outreach Partners inform their communities about the latest NIMH research through social media and other venues.

NIMH Science News Photo

The DC Behavioral Health Associationshared NIMH science news reporting findings about schizophrenia’s genetic profile with executive directors of mental health provider organizations at its regular membership meetings.

To highlight suicide prevention research and efforts, NAMI New Hampshire featured Dr. Insel’s Greeting from OPP’s Fall 2014 Outreach Connection in its e-newsletter.

NAMI New Hampshire E-newsletter

The Pennsylvania Behavioral Health and Aging Coalition postedNIMH research findings on genetic regions linked to schizophrenia in its e-newsletter.

Older PA science news

CTSI Enews

The Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI), the co-Outreach Partner in Southern California, featured the latest issue of Inside NIMH in its Mental Health News You Can Use e-newsletter.

NAMI Virginia Research News

NAMI Virginia created a quarterly research e-newsletter to highlight NIMH-funded research findings and share announcements about studies seeking research participants.

Pushing Out Resources

Outreach Partners get NIMH materials and information directly in the hands of community members through a variety of forums.

NIMH Older Adults and Depression

NAMI Indiana used large print and regular print NIMH materials for a training session to senior housing case workers about mental illness and the elderly.

The NIMH video on the symptoms and treatment of depression was shown at a suicide prevention workshop at the annual conference of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, Inc.

NIMH Depression Video
MHA LA Bullying Prevention Summit

NIMH materials on suicide anddepression were made available to middle school students by Mental Health America of Louisiana at a school assembly about bullying prevention.

The Mental Health Association of Maryland incorporated the NIMH men and depression brochure into a training event for older adults.

NIMH Men and Depression brochure
MAMH Elder Summit

The Massachusetts Association of Mental Health distributed NIMH materials at a Summit on Elder Behavioral Health, which brought together a range of stakeholders to dialogue on the challenges serving the growing aging population.

The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska providedNIMH materials in Spanish to pre-kindergarten through public high school staff for distribution to educators and families.

Stock Photo-Girls Standing Near School Bus

The Mental Health Association Oklahoma co-hosted a girls’ and mothers’ conference for the African American community in Tulsa. NIMH resources were distributed to supplement the open discussion on issues facing teen girls, including depression, suicide, and addictions.


The University of North Dakota Center for Rural Healthhighlighted the availability of NIMH publications in its e-newsletter.

The Puerto Rico Outreach Partner, the Institute for Psychological Research, distributed NIMH publications as part of outreach activities to University of Puerto Rico students.

University of Puerto Rico Outreach
NIMH Social Phobia Pub

As part of its “back to school activities,” the East Texas Area Health Education Center disseminated NIMH materials about depression, social phobia, and anxiety to its partners across the state of Texas.

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Tackling Disparities

Outreach Partners conduct outreach projects addressing mental disorders among children and adolescents, or mental health disparities.

MHA MT Youth Diversion Project

Mental Health America of Montana Youth Crisis Diversion Project

Rural and frontier communities in northeast Montana have been significantly impacted by the oil boom of Bakken Oil field in Montana and North Dakota. While the influx of jobs and job-seekers has been a positive for these largely underserved communities, there are also downsides. With stressed infrastructures and families, youth in a psychiatric crisis often end up in a jail or detention setting rather than a nurturing environment focused on utilizing the strengths and resources of the youth, family, and community. In response to this growing challenge, Mental Health America of Montana (MHA of MT) has created the Youth Crisis Diversion Project (YCD) to work directly with law enforcement, youth probation, youth mental health, schools, and other community stakeholders who may determine a youth to be at risk and in need of temporary safe diversion associated with a mental health crisis. Most diversion interventions are six hours to 24 hours in length and involve MHA of MT YCD workers engaging the family and community resources to secure a mental health provider and support services to maintain the youth in the community.

YCD on-going activities in these communities include the development of “safe” local solutions within each county and community; recruitment of staff who have diversity and expertise with families and children who have been involved with the children’s system of care; and collaboration with community stakeholders who are “first responders” to youth in mental health crisis. MHA of MT is collecting data about the youth served by this new project, and an evaluation of YCD is planned to begin next year.

MHA of MT has used NIMH materials and information as part of its outreach and training activities to stakeholders in these communities. For example, recently YCD trainers distributed NIMH publications and showed the Development of the Young Brain video at three law enforcement trainings on children’s mental health, and how to best stabilize and provide safety for youth in crisis.

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Promoting Research Opportunities

Outreach Partners are informing their communities about NIMH-funded trials actively recruiting participants.

NIMH Participants Guide

NAMI Alabama promoted NIMH studies at a number of community events in partnership with Hispanic and African American serving organizations. Participants received copies of the NIMH’s A Participant’s Guide to Mental Health Clinical Research and were encouraged to check out study information on the NIMH Clinical Trials webpage.

MHA DE Newsletter

The Mental Health Association in Delaware used content from the NIMH A Participant’s Guide to Mental Health Clinical Research to create a newsletter article about participating in clinical trials.

Mental Health America of California shared an NIMH DIRP announcement about a severe mood dysregulation trial recruiting participants on its Facebook page.

NIH Clinical Research and You

SC CTSI shared through itsenewsletter an NIH Record article about the NIH Clinical Research and Youwebsite which puts clinical research into familiar terms, and offers resources for potential participants to explore clinical research.

NAMI MN Clinical Trials Item

Through its e-newsletter, NAMI Minnesota linked to a list of studies in Minnesota seeking participants on

NAMI New York State’s (NAMI NYS) 2014 Education Conferencefeatured a session by NIMH DIRP staff on the importance of participating in NIMH Clinical Trials. Participants learned the benefits of research participation and the role it plays in understanding and improving care for psychiatric diseases.

MHA TX IRP Posting

Mental Health America of Texas posted study information aboutNIMH DIRP studies currently recruiting in its “Stop Suicide” Daily online news.

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Taking Research to the Community

Partners provide opportunities for NIMH scientists and grantees to present their findings at local meetings and conferences.

NAMI NJ Conference: Michelle Burns

NAMI New Jersey’s 2014 Annual Meetingfeatured NIMH grantee, Michelle Burns, PhDof the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, addressing her research on behavioral intervention technologies.

NAMI NYS Glatt presentation

The NAMI NYS 2014 Education Conference featured NIMH research in a number of sessions, including a presentation about the NIMH RAISEstudy and the keynote by NIMH grantee, Stephan Glatt, PhD, Director of the Psychiatric Genetic Epidemiology and Neurobiology Laboratory at SUNY Upstate Medical University. In addition, Dwight Dickenson, PhD, of the NIMH DIRPClinical Brain Disorders Branch led a workshop about his schizophrenia research.

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Outreach Connection is a service of the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Outreach Partnership Program (OPP).


Pre-Solicitation Notice for OPP Proposals

The NIMH Outreach Partnership Program Pre-Solicitation Notice – HHS-NIH-NIDA-SSSA-RFP-15-34for all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico is available on the FedBizOpps website.

New from NIMH

NIMH PPD Facts Image

NIMH’s Postpartum Depression Factsis now available in Spanish.

NIMH Website Goes Mobile

NIMH Goes Mobile

With NIMH’s new mobile-friendly website, visitors can access NIMH information and resources anywhere, anytime, and on any device—from desktop computers to tablets and mobile phones.

NIMH Staff Honored

NIMH Director Receives Distinguished Scientist Award

NIMH Dr. Insel at Child Mind Institute

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and NIMH Director Thomas Insel were both honored at the Child Mind Institute’s fifth annual Child Advocacy Award Dinner.

Susan Amara

Susan Amara, PhD Receives Julius Axelrod Prize

The Society for Neurosciencerecognized Dr. Amara’s crucial research in understanding the pathophysiology of mental illnesses and her exemplary efforts in mentoring young scientists. Dr. Amara is the Scientific Director of the NIMHDivision of Intramural Research Programs (DIRP).

Upcoming Observances & Resources

National Drug Facts Week
(January 27-February 2, 2015)
Check out National Institute on Drug Abuse resources available to educate your community about addiction.

American Heart Month
(February 2015)
Consider using the NIMH Depression and Heart Disease brochure.

Brain Awareness Week
(March 16-22, 2015)
NIMH offers educational resourcesthat can be used in schools and other community settings to help explain how the brain works. The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction brochure is available to help explain the changes in the teen brain. Consider using videos about the developing brain and the brain’s wiring in 3D in your activities.

National Autism Awareness Month
(April 2015)
Take a look at the NIMH publication, A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder, and other NIMH resourceson autism.

National Partner Activities

Social Media

The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation blogged about a recently launched NIMH-funded studyto develop and test a personalized, computer-based suicide risk screening tool to help emergency departments identify troubled teenagers.

NAMI National blogged about theMental Health Block Grant program for First Episode Psychosis, and highlighted the NIMH Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode(RAISE) study in an accompanyingfact sheet.

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association tweeted the availability of a meeting summary of an NIMH meeting on childhood irritability.


The Children’s Mental Health Networkhighlighted recent findings from theRAISE study in its e-newsletter.


The Depression Bipolar Support Alliance interviewed two NIMH DIRP scientists for its Educational Podcast Series: Daniel Pine, MD, addressing anxiety and depression in children and adolescents, and Ken Towbin, MD, discussing the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children.


NAMI honored NIMH grantee Lisa Dixon, MD, MPH, Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University Medical Center. Among her accomplishments, Dr. Dixon is a principal investigator for the NIMH RAISE study.

NIMH Twitter Chats

Thank you for promoting NIMH’s recent Twitter Chat on Seasonal Affective Disorder. The chat reached over a million accounts.

OH Twitter Chat

NIMH’s next Twitter Chat will be held on January 12, 2015 at 11AM. Join us on Twitter to discuss participation in clinical research.

Studies Seeking Participants

The NIMH DIRP in Bethesda, MD is seeking participants for the following trials. Spread the word.

NIH Clinical Center

Depression Research Studies Enrolling Participants
Several studies are identifying the physical traits of adult depression and investigating medications that rapidly reduce symptoms. For info and eligibility criteria go to webpage.

Descriptive Study of Severe Irritability
(Outpatient: 1 day evaluation, and may include follow-up visits until age 25) This study describes, over time, the moods and behavior of children and the associated brain changes. Participants must be in treatment with a physician, medically healthy, and not currently hospitalized, psychotic or suicidal. Symptoms include chronic anger, sadness, or irritability, along with hyperarousal (such as insomnia, distractibility, hyperactivity) and extreme responses to frustration (such as frequent, severe temper tantrums). The study procedures include research and computer tasks, neuropsychological testing and brain imaging. Recruiting ages 7-17. [02-M-0021]

About the Program

The Outreach Partnership Program, a nationwide initiative of the National Institute of Mental Health Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison (OCRPL), works to increase the public’s access to science-based mental health information through partnerships with national and state nonprofit organizations. The core component of the program consists of55 Outreach Partners representing all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In addition, over 80 non-profit organizations participate in the program as National Partners, including professional, consumer, advocacy, and service-related organizations with a nationwide membership and/or audience.


The Outreach Connection provides a vehicle to share how the Outreach Partners and National Partners are disseminating NIMH research across the country. If you have feedback about the newsletter, please

NAMI Advocacy Update: December 2014

December 19, 2014 email entitled NAMI Advocacy Update: December 2014

Congressional Budget Bill a Mixed Bag

This past weekend Congress passed the “Continuing Resolution – Omnibus” spending bill (HR 83) for the remaining months of fiscal year 2015 which runs through Sept. 30, 2015. The measure is now waiting for the President’s signature. This bill contains good news and bad news for mental health. The good news: HR 83 provides a small increase in funding for mental illness research. Bad news: the bill includes a small reduction for mental health services.

Read more.

Mental Health Investment By States Slowed in 2014

NAMI just released a report highlighting what went on in state legislatures in 2014 across the country when it comes to mental health issues. The report, State Mental Health Legislation 2014 shows that investment in mental health services slowed from last year and that when progress was made around specific policy issues much of the legislation felt like it only skimmed the surface.

Read more.

Write to your Governor and State Legislators! Urge them to make mental health care a priority. Click here to send a message.

NAMI Submits Comments on NIMH Strategic Plan 

On December 11, NAMI submitted comments on the proposed five-year plan for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The plan includes a range of ambitious goals for mental illness research including:

  • Defining the biological basis of complex behaviors.
  • Charting mental illness trajectories to determine when, where, and how to intervene.
  • Striving for prevention and cures.
  • Strengthening the public health impact of NIMH-supported research.

View NAMI’s comments on the NIMH 2015 Strategic Plan.

View the NIMH Strategic Plan.

Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill Fails, but Mental Health Screenings for Active Duty Passes

Legislation to bolster veterans’ suicide prevention has failed in Congress after outgoing Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) placed a hold on it. Known as the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act (HR 5059), the $22 million bill would increase access to mental health care and expand the VA workforce. Coburn said the bill d uplicates existing VA efforts, but NAMI will work with other advocacy organizations to work towards its reintroduction and passage in the next Congress.

At the same, Congress did include an important new set of requirements for the Department of Defense (DoD) to undertake annual mental health screenings for Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve service members as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4435). This legislation has cleared both houses of Congress and will soon be signed into law by the President.

The final agreement on the defense bill includes a Senate provision – sponsored by Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) – that requires DoD to provide a person-to-person mental health assessment for Active Duty and Selected Reserve members each year. The amendment would also require the Secretary, through 2018, to provide person-to-person mental health screenings once during each 180-day period in which a member is deployed.

Happy holidays! We grateful for your advocacy year-round!