In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride moderated a round table discussion with four AFSCME mental health professionals from across the country. They represent a cross section of the more than 64,000 AFSCME mental and behavioral health care workers who provide essential services to our families and neighbors.

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride moderated a round table discussion with four AFSCME mental health professionals from across the country. They represent a cross section of the more than 64,000 AFSCME mental and behavioral health care workers who provide essential services to our families and neighbors.

A flurry of advocacy by Chicago union members provided a final push for enactment of a “labor peace agreement” to protect human service workers from management retaliation.  

 Last month, the Chicago City Council passed the AFSCME-sponsored Human Service Workforce Advancement (HSWA) ordinance by a veto-proof majority of 42-2.  

Something wasn’t adding up for Tyler Rioff and Jeff Heithmar, two wrongly terminated employees of McLean Hospital in Massachusetts who got justice through their union.

Rioff, a nurse, saw a paradox. On the one hand, McLean was a prestigious psychiatric center, part of the storied Mass General Brigham hospital system. But when Rioff started at McLean as a mental health specialist on an inpatient floor, he noticed that no one stayed long.

AFSCME’s United We Heal campaign has long been securing a voice on the job for behavioral health workers and helping them improve at their jobs. Now, the campaign is receiving federal support to the tune of nearly $900,000 to better prepare and train behavioral health workers in Oregon.

Many AFSCME members work in high-stress fields such as public safety, health care, emergency medical services and firefighting. Their jobs have become even more stressful since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many of these workers to put their and their families’ well-being at risk while serving their communities.

But when these everyday heroes face mental health issues as a result of the high-stress environment and duties that expose them to trauma, they are often expected to deal with such challenges on their own.

It’s time to change that.

After a nearly three-year battle to secure their voice on the job, the residential counselors and maintenance workers at SERV Centers of New Jersey in Mercer County voted unanimously to ratify their first contract.

These front-line workers, who provide the critical mental, addiction and behavioral services their communities desperately need, stood strong against years of SERV’s efforts to deny them their union rights and won a contract that will improve working conditions, staffing and consumer care.

Two new AFSCME-backed laws will benefit public safety personnel and focus on helping those suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental ailments.

President Joe Biden this week signed into law the Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Law Enforcement Training Act, which would provide first responders across the country the critical training they need to recognize the signs and symptoms in people suffering from a TBI or PTSD.

The hardworking behavioral health employees of SERV Centers of New Jersey in Mercer and Middlesex Counties won critical victories in their multi-year fight for a first contract when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) finalized an agreement detailing their employer’s violations of various labor laws. The workers and their union, AFSCME New Jersey Council 63, filed the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) due to SERV’s continued refusal to bargain in good faith with the residential counselors and maintenance workers who voted overwhelmingly for their union in November 2019.

Connecting to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline just got easier with Saturday’s launch of the 988 dialing code. Designated by Congress in 2020, the new code works like 911 and is a critical step forward in transforming the crisis care system in America. 

Residential counselors and maintenance employees for SERV Centers of New Jersey in Mercer County may soon be going back on strike after spending Thursday rallying outside a country club that hosted the 30th Annual Volley for SERV Tennis Tournament and Awards Reception.

The COVID-19 pandemic arrived at a time when our nation’s health care workers were already experiencing burnout. The National Academy of Medicine, in a report from 2019, said that 35% to 54% of nurses and physicians in the United States had “substantial symptoms of burnout.”

Then things got worse.

Deshonda Copeland, a senior residential unit specialist at Florida State Hospital, is a behavioral health worker and a member of AFSCME Florida. She says she strives to create a safe, clean and comfortable environment for all patients seeking services at the state-run mental health treatment facility. Copeland says it’s rewarding to witness the growth of her clients, adding she’s honored be a part of their journey toward improved mental health.

Every day, millions of Americans and their families face the reality of living with mental illness. During May, AFSCME joins the national movement to raise awareness during Mental Health Awareness Month.

AFSCME’s campaign to give behavioral health workers a voice on the job, United We Heal, supports the work of these members by advocating for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.

Save the Date! HUD/SAMHSA: National Mental Health Awareness Month Webinar Series

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are teaming up to present a series of FREE webinars this May to celebrate National Mental Health Awareness Month!

In his State of the Union address, President Biden called on Congress to help address America’s ongoing mental health crisis.

Over the last few weeks, employees at Lines for Life, a 24-hour crisis line nonprofit based in Oregon’s largest city, voted by an overwhelming majority to join Oregon AFSCME.

A New York City congresswoman and an AFSCME member are urging Congress to approve legislation that would help the nation combat the addiction crisis stemming from the widespread use of opioids and stimulants.

The U.S. Department of Labor has launched a new website that aims to provide American workers the information they need to address common workplace concerns. The website is billed as a “compliance assistance tool,” one that covers workers’ rights and labor laws, as well as various other work-related topics.

AFSCME members mourn the death of Sister Deidre Silas, a front-line worker and investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, who was killed on the job while investigating a report of children in danger.

On Jan. 11, Silas was assigned to visit a home in Thayer, a small town in central Illinois. Hours later, responding to a 911 call, local police arrived at the home to find that she had been stabbed to death. Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell said six children were present in the home at the time of the death.

When Brandy Fishback, a behavioral health case manager, and her co-workers decided to form a union with Oregon AFSCME Council 75 earlier this year, they hoped to work with their employer to fix safety issues and lower a nearly 20% turnover rate that was hurting client care.

More than 250 social and health service workers in New York City officially joined AFSCME District Council 37 this week, following a strong organizing push and voluntary recognition from management.

Following months of advocating on behalf of workers in the nonprofit sector, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido applauded the signing of Intro. 2252.

“I’m here because I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who voiced solidarity with behavioral health workers holding a 24-hour unfair labor practice strike on Labor Day.

Gov. Murphy made clear to the residential counselors and maintenance employees of SERV Centers of New Jersey in Mercer County that management’s bad faith contract negotiations, lies, misuse of their budgets, failure to maintain safe working conditions and intimidation were a clear issue of right versus wrong that he would help end.

Sharon McLean, a residential counselor with SERV Centers of New Jersey in Mercer County, knows well the challenges workers like her face in trying to organize a union.

McLean was invited to share her knowledge and perspectives at a pre-Labor Day Facebook roundtable organized by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler.

Last week, residential counselors and maintenance employees for SERV Centers of New Jersey in Mercer County held a rally for a fair contract. They are still without a contract as management continues to do everything possible to silence the voice of front-line behavioral health workers – even while they are central to helping our communities rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, after another session of SERV negotiating in bad faith, the workers gave notice that they will hold a 24-hour strike on Labor Day after 97% voted in favor. 

Almost two years since overwhelmingly winning their election, residential counselors and maintenance employees for SERV Centers of New Jersey in Mercer County held a rally for a fair contract. They are still without a contract as management continues to do everything possible to silence the voice of front-line behavioral health workers – even while they are central to helping our communities rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new study in Nature Portfolio looks at the mental health impact that COVID-19 restrictions have had on different age groups.

Our nation’s behavioral and mental health workers have helped families and communities deal with every imaginable crisis, including the opioid crisis, gun violence, homelessness and the coronavirus pandemic. But for far too long, their work has not been fully appreciated.

This week the National Council for Mental Wellbing released their Minority Mental Health Awareness Month Poll Results in partnership with Morning Consult. For minorities seeking treatment for mental health challenges, "cost is not the only barrier; access to care also represents a significant hurdle."

With respect to mental health and treatment for mental health challenges, the survey found that over the past 12 months, many people have neglected seeking treatment. According to the findings:

State-Operated Living Alternatives (SOLAs) are community-based homes for adults and children with developmental disabilities. Clients in SOLAs receive individualized support from counselors to manage their medications, reach personal goals, shop for groceries and build relationships within their community.

When workers at Central City Concern-Blackburn (CCC-Blackburn), a facility just barely a year old with a turnover rate of over 20%, felt their voices were not being heard around safety issues, they took matters into their own hands and decided to form a union with Oregon AFSCME Council 75.

Nearly 250 behavioral health workers at Care Plus NJ, Inc., who formed a union through NUHHCE District 1199J, AFSCME, have overwhelmingly approved a new four-year contract that helps them continue their education, rewards them for their hard work throughout the pandemic, and contains no changes to their health insurance contributions or require other givebacks.

During May – Mental Health Awareness Month – AFSCME members are joining the national movement to raise awareness about mental illnesses and the behavioral health industry.

Representing more than 50,000 professionals in the nation’s behavioral health industry, AFSCME members are at the forefront of helping to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.

In 2019, 5,333 working people were killed on the job and an estimated 95,000 died from occupational diseases, according to the 30th edition of the report released today. That means every day, on average, 275 U.S. workers die from hazardous working conditions. And this was before the devastating COVID-19 pandemic that has been responsible for far too many worker infections and deaths in our country.

Alicia Craig is a case manager at Human Services Center in New Castle, Penn.

She works with children and adults, guiding them toward the services they need and monitoring those services to make sure they’re being provided correctly and appropriately. She’s out in the community, in the schools and in doctors’ offices, interacting with clients one on one.

A new report exposes how New Jersey’s top behavioral health providers have prospered while leaving the state’s patients and their own employees behind.

The report, “A Crisis of Accountability,” was released by AFSCME Council 63NUHHCE District 1199J and AFSCME’s United We Heal movement of behavioral health workers.

New Report Details Broken Promises of New Jersey Behavioral Health Providers

Report Comes on the Heels of Important Legislation Protecting Workers’ Rights and Improving Standards for Consumers

Unorganized workers joined AFSCME members, leaders and legislative allies during a recent virtual town hall to celebrate a critical victory for the United We Heal behavioral health organizing campaign in New Jersey, answer questions and discuss what comes next.

A new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted people’s mental health and raised new barriers for those suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders.

Among the key conclusions:

Behavioral health workers across New Jersey are starting off the new year with a huge legislative victory that was years in the making.

After passing both the Assembly and State Senate without a single vote in opposition, Gov. Phil Murphy signed S2708, a critical labor peace bill, on Jan. 15.

AFSCME members and United We Heal activists have been working hard for far too many months to help pass necessary additional COVID-19 economic relief legislation. Because the Republican-led Senate blocked every effort to include emergency funding for states, cities and towns in this time of crisis, AFSCME President Saunders called the overall bill “a slap in the face to front-line public service workers and communities across the country.”

The people who live at the Abbott Road house in Ithaca, New York, vary in age, in race and in their backgrounds. However, what they all have in common are intellectual, emotional or developmental disabilities serious enough that they require full-time care to fulfill their most basic needs.

They also all rely on Lucy Eddy, a direct support assistant, to care for them and to ensure they live with a sense of dignity.

Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults rate their mental health positively, representing a nine-point decline from 2019 according to Gallup's annual November Health and Healthcare survey. This is the lowest rate recorded since the survey began in 2001. 

The 2020-2021 school year is full of uncertainty and mental and emotional stress for parents, teachers, caregivers, and students due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We navigate re-openings, hybrid class structures, virtual learning, outbreaks and re-closures, all events that can cause or deepen depression, anxiety and fear.

In behavioral health, you are at the front lines of crisis situations— but when was the last time workers gave themselves space for care and strategies to help?

That is why AFSCME, the union for more than 50,000 professionals in the behavioral health industry across the country, hosted a free online workshop through the United We Heal campaign to help you overcome stress, set boundaries and build collective well-being.

After initially resisting and using anti-union tactics like captive audience meetings, management at the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School (the “O School”) in Chicago has voluntarily recognized AFSCME Council 31 after employees filed for a union election.

The O School is a residential treatment center and therapeutic school for children and adolescents with challenges such as autism or emotional and behavioral disorders. Once their union is certified, mental health counselors at the O School will head to the bargaining table.

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt of a column that ran in the Seattle Times. To read the entire column, go here.

“Not long ago, when the pandemic first hit, society had an ‘aha!’ moment.

Last summer, Minnesota behavioral health workers began holding summits, forming committees and developing plans to advance priorities such as organizing new worksites and tackling issues within the industry. When the coronavirus pandemic struck this spring, the workers decided not to put that hard work in hold just because they couldn’t see each other face to face.

They moved their engagement online – and it has thrived. These sessions have transformed into online support groups and provide opportunities for workers to strengthen their bonds – and their union.

Four behavioral health workers talked about the challenges they’re facing during the COVID-19 pandemic on a press call hosted by the AFL-CIO on Friday.

One of them was Mike Yestramski, a psychiatric social worker at Western State Hospital and president of AFSCME Council 28/WFSE, which represents approximately 45,000 public service workers throughout Washington state.

Front-line workers across the U.S. are heading into hospitals and other high-risk zones knowing that the likelihood of being infected with COVID-19 is incredibly high. For hospital workers in New Jersey, these risks have been all too real – and made worse by what they say are the slow an inadequate responses from hospital administrators and the New Jersey Department of Health.

Awol Alhassan, a human services technician at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital and president of Local 2218 (AFSCME New Jersey), is among those who has COVID-19.

In response to the current coronavirus crisis, most state and local governments are requiring closures of non-essential businesses and schools, prohibiting large gatherings, and requiring quarantines for travelers, in addition to encouraging social distancing. A majority of states have declared mandatory stay-at-home orders for all but non-essential workers.

Two hundred and nine behavioral health workers in Oregon are making great progress on their 2020 New Year’s resolution to secure a strong voice on the job.

Following two mail-in ballot elections, registered nurses, residential and crisis counselors and others who work at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare’s respite and residential programs overwhelmingly said yes to joining Oregon AFSCME (Council 75).

The CDC released its mortality report including the most recent data related to suicide in the U.S. for the year 2018. According to the new data, suicide remains the tenth leading cause of death, and the rate of suicide in 2018 increased by 1.4 percent. In 2017, the last year the CDC released mortality data, there were 47,173 suicide deaths; in 2018 there were 48,344: an increase of 1,171 additional deaths.

According to leading suicide prevention organizations, the three key steps we can take to lower the suicide rate:

Knowing that your unborn fetus has congenital heart disease causes such pronounced maternal stress, anxiety and depression that these women's fetuses end up with impaired development in key brain regions before they are born, according to research published online Jan. 13, 2020, in JAMA Pediatrics.

This underscores the need for behavioral health to be part of health coverage plans!

AFSCME members pushed Congress hard to fund the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Workforce Loan Repayment Program, which is aimed at helping lessen the burden of crushing student loans for full-time workers who treat or support patients with substance-use disorders.

Fifty-two New Jersey behavioral health workers have decided to become part of the AFSCME family.

Last month, the residential counselors and maintenance employees voted 77% in favor of joining AFSCME New Jersey Council 63 after enduring an anti-union campaign waged by their employer, the nonprofit SERV Centers of New Jersey.

The House has passed an AFSCME-backed bill to increase workplace safety for health care and social services workers.

A new study found that an hour in talk therapy with a trained counselor costs much more, and takes more time, than swallowing an inexpensive antidepressant pill. But for people with a new diagnosis of major depression, the costs and benefits of the two approaches end up being equal after five years, a new study shows.

The analysis, conducted using real-world data on treatment costs, positive and negative health effects, and impacts of treatment and depression symptoms on productivity, could help guide future care and insurance coverage.

Check out some great video by clicking here!

Alonzo Thornton is a third-generation Army veteran. In 1984, he joined the Army as a combat medic.

“In the military, we had people who watched our backs,” he says. “It was a system where I would watch your back, you would watch mine. If I had to rescue someone, then I knew I had a soldier back there who would make sure I was safe.”

new study found that after exposure to short-term air pollution, children were more likely to go to the emergency room for anxiety and suicidal thoughts or attempts. Other research has also linked long-term pollution exposure to anxiety and depression in young people. 

LAS VEGAS – Nevada state employees who provide a mental and behavioral health care services filed for recognition today as AFSCME with the Government Employee-Management Relations Board of the State of Nevada, becoming the second group of state workers to do so.

AFSCME Local 2767 members at the McFarland Mental Health Center in Springfield were being repeatedly subjected to violent attacks by high-risk patients.

Staff continually alerted management to the alarming pattern of attacks but their pleas for safety improvements for workers and patients alike fell on deaf ears.

McFarland is a state-run psychiatric hospital treating approximately 150 patients at a time, including individuals held as an alternative to incarceration after having committed a crime but found not guilty by reason of insanity or mentally unfit to stand trial. 

Controversy surrounds the inclusion of nutritional supplements in mental health treatments, with much research proving inconclusive. A major new review now explains which supplements have shown the most promise for specific mental health conditions.

Great article from the Chicago Sun Times on how how 

Summers in New Jersey are the perfect time to visit the state’s famous beaches, reconnect with friends and family and, most importantly, enjoy the warm weather. For two dozen United We Heal activists a recent Saturday in August was also the perfect time to dig into how the legislative process can have a positive, or negative, impact on their efforts to improve their industry.

New research has explored the link between sleep apnea and depression and suggests that the former may be one reason that depression treatments fail.

Past research has show that people who report high levels of boredom propensity have a higher chance at having an avoidant disposition, making them more likely to experience depression and anxiety. But what happens in the brain when we get bored, and how can this help us find ways of dealing with boredom? 

Prozac and Zoloft are common antidepressant drugs. Although they have similar effects on the body, their specific uses, side effects, and dosages are different. And behavioral health professionals work with clients very often who take, have taken or will take these medications.

Becky Grupa comes from a family of seven brothers and sisters. She grew up outside Minneapolis and remembers riding the bus to school with her sister Victoria, who is autistic.

“She couldn’t speak, so instead she had her crying spells if she was in pain or frustrated, and some kids made fun of us,” she recalls.

The hardest thing about growing up with Victoria, though, Becky says, was “putting myself in her shoes.” The experience would prepare her for a career serving young people in her community.

Nearly a hundred union and nonunion behavioral health workers gathered at the offices of District 1199J, NUHHCE for a summit the union hosted along with AFSCME New Jersey Council 63 and the United We Heal campaign. There they shared best practices for the challenges they face across the industry and developed specific solutions that can be used to solicit the funding necessary to meet these challenges.

Check out a brand new episode from the Next Wave Podcast #NoFilter. Follow along with us in ‘Beefing with the Boss Part 2’ as we continue to unfold the opposition our members faced when they decided to step up in their union. These Volunteer Member Organizers don’t back down as they face tough challenges from management while trying to improve working conditions.

Health care legislation that is a priority for AFSCME is beginning to advance in Congress, thanks in part to pressure from members.

Last week, the health subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on several critical health care bills facing funding shortfalls, including the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act. 

Last week, AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) welcomed some of the newest behavioral health providers to join the union and gain a voice for their clients and themselves. A dozen Mental Health Practitioner Leads and Mental Health Practitioner Clinical Specialists at the Harborview Medical Center joined AFSCME to tackle the issues of discrimination, safety and fair pay.

Last week, a Congressional committee approved a bill that would include $25 million to fully fund a new federal student loan repayment program for some behavioral health workers whose jobs involve treating substance use. The passage of the bill out of committee brings thousands of AFSCME behavioral health workers one step closer to relief from crushing student debt.

There are 10 personality disorders in total, which are usually grouped in three categories: A, B, and C. The disorders within each category share some traits and symptoms.

To raise public awareness of mental illness, May was designated Mental Health Month 70 years ago (it began as Mental Health Week). Since then, the organization behind its creation, Mental Health America, has been a force for educating the public about this urgent problem.

During National Nurses Week, we celebrate the heroes who, with skill and compassion, care for the sick. This year, we’re honoring their hard work and dedication by supporting the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, a bill that seeks to raise the bar on safety standards and protect nurses from preventable incidents of violence at work. 

Workers and community came together in the spring sun to share stories, grieve, and commit to a safer future at a recent Workers’ Memorial event at Western State Hospital (WSH) in Washington.

A field of flags represented the 1,090 reported assaults in 2018.

Joined by Representative Mari Leavitt and Senator Steve Conway, memorial attendees celebrated the dedication and service of the staff of WSH.

Workers Memorial Day is this Sunday, April 28, when we honor workers killed or injured on the job. On this day in 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was formed.

For almost half a century, OSHA has been charged with helping to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for men and women across this country. But under the Trump administration, OSHA is failing us. As we observe Workers Memorial Day, it’s clear that we can do more – much more – for worker safety.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has developed fact sheets that can help family and support networks better understand what bipolar disorder is and how to support their loved ones with the diagnosis. 

The fact sheets provide an overview of bipolar disorder among youth and young adults. They also offer guidance on how to provide support, and recommendations for treatment.

May is Mental Health Month, a time to raise awareness of mental illness and educate the public.

Help spread the word by sharing our graphic on Facebook and Twitter and by letting your friends and colleagues know about United We Heal.

With a labor-friendly governor and legislature in place, working people in New Mexico won big in the new state budget. To help reduce turnover and retain behavioral health and mental health staff at the state Department of Corrections, a 10 percent raise was included in the budget. This is a significant step toward achieving the goal of ensuring that the state continues to hire and train workers for those critical positions.
Behavioral health workers are building political power in Oregon. They’re pushing state legislators to adopt policies and programs to benefit the people they serve.

AFSCME is the union for 50,000 professionals in the behavioral health industry in 29 states across the country, and more are joining every day. We are a community of clinicians, caretakers, social workers, therapists, case managers, alcohol and drug counselors and more. We put the needs of our clients first, and we advocate for a better, safer workplace for all.

Here are some of our stories.

Shawn Dougherty is a correctional substance abuse counselor at the Carl Robinson Correctional Institution in Connecticut. He is also a member of AFSCME Local 391 (Council 4). On Tuesday, he testified on Capitol Hill about the need for lawmakers to fund the Loan Repayment Program for Substance Abuse Treatment Workers.
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill to allow Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) in Oregon and Oklahoma to continue operating through at least June.

A new report from the United Hospital Fund and the Milbank Memorial Fund finds that too little attention has been given to the children and families who are suffering devastating consequences due to our country's opioid crisis. 

State-employed nurses in Nevada take care of some of the most vulnerable community members and deserve safe workplaces so they can provide the best possible care. The nurses at a state of Nevada adult mental health facility came together earlier this month and presented management with a list of workplace safety issues they would like resolved.    

AFSCME strongly supports a bipartisan bill unveiled in Congress today that would expand mental health and addiction services in communities across the nation.

Called the “Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act,” it seeks to expand past efforts by the federal government to respond to the increasing demand for mental health and substance use disorder services across the country.

Oregon behavioral health workers connected with each other and built power during a recent AFSCME Strong blitz, which was part of a broader national effort to bring together workers in that industry so they can jointly fight for their patients and their communities.

TRENTON, N.J. – Members and leaders from AFSCME New Jersey are working after hours to elevate the behavioral health industry by visiting the homes of those who know it best – members who provide valuable behavioral health services across the Garden State.

Whether you’re a union activist, a young AFSCME member eager to learn more, or just want to keep your fingers on the pulse of the labor movement, AFSCME’s got a brand-new podcast for you. It’s called #NoFilter.

Pro-worker members of Congress have re-introduced a bill that seeks to reduce workplace violence faced by emergency responders, behavioral health workers, nurses, physicians and other health care and social service workers.

Practicing transcendental meditation can help reduce or even reverse the symptoms of PTSD and depression in a new study of young people. 

The findings, which appear in the journal Psychological Reports, indicate that participants who started practicing transcendental meditation saw notable improvements in their symptoms.

On March 31, behavioral health clinics in Oregon and Oklahoma stand to lose funding for mental health and addictions services with the expiration of the bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act.

In the largest study of it's kind ever, international researches led by the Univertsity of Edinburgh, found hundreds of genes that can now be linked to increased risks of depression, shedding light on the origins of the condition and highlighting personality types that could be at risk.

According to a report in Science Today, after the study that involved two million people, scientists "studied information pooled from three large datasets of anonymised health and DNA records and pinpointed 269 genes that were linked to depression."

A report in Medical News Today says that new research suggests that bullying, including on social media, could alter the brain structure of adolescents. As bullying can greatly increase physical and mental health risks, "the prevention of high school bullying could result in lifetime benefits of over $1 million per individual" according to the study.

Read more by clicking here. 

A global team of researchers has found the first common genetic risk factors associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a complex condition affecting around one in 20 children.

The team analysed genetic information from over 20,000 people affected with ADHD and over 35,000 people without the condition, the largest genetic study of ADHD to date.

A total of 279 behavioral health professionals at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare in Portland, Ore., voted overwhelmingly in recent weeks to join Oregon AFSCME.

They become the latest in a wave of therapists, case managers, peers, support staff and other dedicated care providers who are uniting through AFSCME’s United We Heal campaign to fix a broken system.

Workers at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare are finding out just how empowering it is to organize for a voice on the job–to communicate and find common ground with their coworkers with the goal of forming a union.

But the struggle isn’t risk-free. Last month, Daneen Pray, who had worked at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare in Portland, Oregon, for 17 years, was fired. She has been an activist and a strong supporter of the union.

A new study conducted by the New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC) recommends replicating best-practice models in Vermont, Texas and Rhode Island, which emphasize sharing information among all the elements that go into successful treatment and recovery.

The report hits hard on calling for continuity of care — encouraging at least six to 12 months of treatment, acknowledging the brain takes much longer than a 28-day program to heal.

AFSCME members in Washington state are demanding solutions to ensure worker safety after one of their co-workers – sister Christa Butters – was assaulted by a patient who had a history of violence.

With almost 13% of teenagers in the U.S. experiencing at least one reported episode of major depression it is a problem that easily takes all parts of behavioral health community to handle. But new research finds that the benefits of taking on that challange stretch beyond just the teenagers. 

Before she began her career in behavioral health, Vialante Vieira had been in a drug and alcohol recovery program at Volunteers of America Oregon in Portland. Her experience at VOA gave her more than a path back to normalcy; it also helped her find her calling.

A new study conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has revealed more about the organization and function of a brain structure that may serve a key role in linking stress detection to the development of adaptive behaviors.

They found that, during stress, dopamine (a major modulator of brain function) triggered a reduction in inhibition of the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus (PVT). Notably, the disinhibition produced by dopamine made the PVT more sensitive to aversive outcomes.

We know that access to care is critical to helping ensure people don't just get and stay health but that patients have the oppertunity to ask for help or be identified as at risk. But many rural areas are finding hospital care harder and harder to come by. 

Here is a list of the 85 rural hospitals that closed between January 2010 and July 2018, as tracked by the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program.

When a pregnant woman comes to Hennepin Healthcare who’s using or suspected of using opiates, inpatient social worker Liz Foltz springs into action.

There is a national debate underway about the regulation of health insurers and insurance benefit standards. To reduce regulatory burdens, the Executive Branch enacted changes that weaken essential health benefit requirements, which require coverage of mental health and substance use services. The Executive Branch has also proposed regulations that will expand the availability of health plans that can discriminate against people with mental health and substance use disorders.

AFSCME-represented workers at Volunteers of America Oregon (VOA) have reached a tentative agreement after 18 months of contentious negotiations that sparked multiple protests from workers and their union, including a May 14 sit-in that resulted in multiple arrests.

At the urging of United We Heal and AFSCME, the U.S. House has passed a student-loan repayment bill that will help those who provide substance-abuse treatment throughout the country. Our union is now focused on making sure the bill passes the U.S. Senate and is fully funded.

In an article in the Washington Post, Amy Ellis Nutt writes that, "suicide rates rose in all but one state between 1999 and 2016, with increases seen regardless of age, gender, race and ethnicity, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In more than half of all deaths in 27 states, the people had no known mental health condition when they ended their lives."

It was while growing up that Mike Yestramski found his life’s calling.

“Like a lot of people in the behavioral health field, I had my own experiences growing up through family and friends who struggled with behavioral health problems,” he says. “I saw a lot of good that can be done but I also saw a lot of areas for improvement, and I wanted to be part of that improvement.”

In a column in U.S. News, David Levine points out that "two distrubing trend lines are currently crossing in the area of mental health care. One line, tracking demand for such care, is rapidly rising....The other trend line, measuring the number of mental health care providers in practice, is barely holding steady.

Since the 1960s, Outside In has been an integral part of Portland, Oregon’s, social services thanks to building one of the region’s largest homeless programs. Now, the hardworking behavioral health professionals who work at Outside In are among AFSCME’s newest sisters and brothers.

Over two days last week, workers at Outside In voted to form a union with Oregon AFSCME Council 75. A total of 128 workers will make up the bargaining unit, with the majority coming from Medical and Youth Services.

One in 5 Americans personally know someone who has been addicted to opioids, according to a survey released by the Federal Reserve Tuesday.

Exposure to opioid addiction was more common among whites, at all education levels, than minorities, the survey found.

These results were part of the Federal Reserve's annual report on the economic well-being of U.S. households.

To understand how the opioid crisis relates to economic well-being, the survey asked questions related to opioids for the first time, the report said.

Nine labor activists, including Oregon AFSCME Executive Director Stacy Chamberlain, were arrested this week while participating in a peaceful sit-in in support of Volunteers of America (VOA) Oregon workers, who are bargaining their first contract.

Monday’s sit-in was an act of civil disobedience in support of the workers, who have been negotiating for more than a year following an organizing drive with Oregon AFSCME.

About five years ago, pediatricians at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville found that more and more of their inpatient beds at the children’s hospital were occupied by children and adolescents with mental health issues, especially those who had come in because of suicide attempts, or suicidal thoughts. These patients were known as “boarders”: They were waiting for psychiatric placement because it wasn’t safe for them to go home.

Gov. Phil Murphy's administration Wednesday delayed a new payment system for some private mental health providers who've warned the change could disrupt services to thousands of people discharged from New Jersey psychiatric hospitals.

The proposed system of paying for community support services -- the one-on-one casework that helps 5,500 seriously mentally ill people maintain their independence -- will go live in July 1, 2019 instead of July 1 this year, department spokeswoman Ellen Lovejoy confirmed.

Fawn Ricciuti started using opioids a decade ago, when she was enrolled in a New Jersey pain management program. What followed is the kind of story that’s been told thousands of times over the past few years as America’s opioid epidemic has grown: Her casual use of opioid painkillers over time turned into full-blown addiction.

Diagnoses of clinical depression — also known as major depression — have risen by 33% since 2013, according to a new report from health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield.

A study by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield has found that 3.5 percent of their insurance policy holders suffer from major depression — and women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed.

Suzanne Kunis, Horizon's Behavioral Health Solutions Director, said the disproportionate diagnoses stem from a mix of postpartum depression and women being more likely to report their symptoms.

CMS' new rural health strategy unveiled May 8 aims to improve access to healthcare for 20 percent of people living in rural areas and ensure CMS policies and programs are not negatively affecting rural care.

"For the first time, CMS is organizing and focusing our efforts to apply a rural lens to the vision and work of the agency," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a press release. "The Rural Health Strategy supports CMS' goal of putting patients first."

Individual regions of the brain have to team up to get things done. And like in any team, the key to working together is communication.

Duke researchers used brain imaging to identify how patterns of brain connectivity -- the ability of different brain regions to talk to each other -- can affect a person's likelihood of developing common forms of mental illness.

The U.S. Senate has passed its bipartisan Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act to help behavioral health care providers – like psychologists and psychiatric hospitals – adopt electronic health records.

On Saturday, workers across the nation who lost their lives on the job will be remembered in ceremonies marking Workers Memorial Day.

Only about half of teenagers with depression receive a diagnosis before they become adults, and about two-thirds go without help, according to a report that has spurred the release of revised guidelines on depression screening and management for children from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The updated guidelines, GLAD PC (Guidelines for Adolescent Depression in Primary Care), include a new recommendation that all children aged older than 12 years be screened for depression at least once per year.1

The CMS has revealed that physicians may be overprescribing psychotherapeutic medication to children on Medicaid or CHIP, which may be due to inadequate access to behavioral health specialists.

The U.S. is experiencing a shortage of child psychiatrists, and many don't accept Medicaid, according to a new study from the CMS' Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation released in the April edition of the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research.

Nearly 200 employees at UCAN, a youth services agency in Chicago, won their union election when the ballots were tallied on March 20 after an intensive anti-union campaign waged by their employer. They fought for a better future for themselves and for the youth they serve everyday – and they won.

For Grace Bronkin, the excitement of being away from home for the first time to start her college career was overshadowed by episodes of sadness. She had first experienced them in high school, but they got progressively worse after she began living on campus.

"I think with all of the new pressures of being away from home and drinking and stuff it really got out of hand," Bronkin, 22, said.