PMHCA Upcoming Rallies

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Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association 
Upcoming Rallies to Stop the Proposed Cuts

There are many opportunities to make your voice heard at upcoming rallies to stop the proposed budget cuts.
Read about two opportunities below and check out our 
calendar and website for more chances to get involved. 
May 5:

“Occupy the APA”: Participants from around the country will gather on May 5, 2012, at 10 a.m. at Friends Center, 1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, in a peaceful effort to call attention to the American Psychiatric Association’s misguided plans to publish a new edition of psychiatry’s “Bible,” the DSM-5, that will inevitably lead to over-prescription of psychiatric drugs, according to its many critics. At approximately 12:15, we will march to the Pennsylvania Convention Center (12th and Arch Streets), where we will rally. Join us! (Occupy the APA is a big tent: participants will represent a spectrum of points of view. But we will be united by our belief that the DSM-5, which the American Psychiatric Association wants to make its next “Bible,” is not a “Good Book”!) Following are links to two sets of talking points (the first set of which was adapted from information provided by the Coalition for DSM-5 Reform, a psychologists’ organization that has amassed more than 13,000 signatures on a petition calling the DSM-5 into question): 

May 6:
“Imagining a Different Future in Mental Health!” Hear three inspiring speakers: Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic and Mad in AmericaJim Gottstein, Esq., founder of the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights; and Jacki McKinney, MSW, award-winning advocate and trauma expert. Their presentations will be followed by a Q&A session facilitated by Joseph Rogers, executive director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse. The doors open at 1:30 p.m.; the event will begin at 2:00 p.m. It will take place in the main chapel of the Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany, 330 S. 13 Street, between Spruce and Pine streets, Philadelphia. This event is free! All are welcome! 
Here is a link that leads to flyers about each of the events. 
The National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse is a consumer-run national technical assistance center funded in part by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
PMHCA’s 24th Annual Statewide Conference, Recovery Unlimited: Rising Above Challenges, will be held June 5- 7, 2012 at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel. For information about conference and registration, visit 


The views, opinions, and content on the Clearinghouse website and in anything posted on the website or in these e-mails or attached to these e-mails do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Ruth’s Place Open House

  Invitation to Ruth’s Place Open House
Thursday, May 3, 4:00–6:00pm
Rear 425 N. Pennnsylvania Ave.
(off Butler, behind Carpet Clearance Outlet)
On Thursday, May 3 from 4:00–6:00pm, Ruth’s Place Women’s Homeless Shelter will hold an open house for distinguished guests and supporters.  This event will include the honoring of the shelter with a resolution by the Luzerne County Council at 4:45pm.  Come celebrate the remarkable successes of the only 24-hour emergency shelter for women in Northeast PA, including case management, trauma counseling, and onsite outreach for employment, housing, and mental health.  
Light refreshments will be served.
The shelter is located at Rear 425 N. Pennsylvania Ave (off Butler, behind Carpet Clearance Outlet and next to City Mager).  No RSVP is necessary.  
If you’d like more information about this event, please call Director Kristen Topolski
at 822-6817, or e-mail
Ruth’s Place
Homeless Shelter for Women
PO Box 254
Wilkes Barre, PA 18703 570-822-6817

PCPA Spring Rally Schedule

There are a wide range of opportunities in May and June to come to Harrisburg and make it clear to the administration and General Assembly that large numbers of Pennsylvanians care deeply about maintaining access to community services. Stakeholders are keenly aware that in order to avoid the devastation of Pennsylvania’s community services, it is crucially important that members take action! In addition to PCPA Capitol Day on June 5, members are encouraged to consider attending other rallies.
PCPA Capitol Day – June 5
PCPA has partnered with the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania and other concerned associations and advocacy groups in a joint effort to come together on June 5 and fight for a budget that is realistic and offers the support required by Pennsylvanians receiving behavioral health, intellectual disability, and autism services. Please watch for an announcement that PCPA’s online Capitol Day web site is open! The online Capitol Day web site will feature everything needed to register, order Capitol Day t-shirts, make appointments with legislators, and get information and talking points. The legislative press conference/rally will begin promptly at 12:00 p.m. This event features legislators and other speakers to rally the crowd and share support for community services.
PARF Legislative Rally – May 8
The Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (PARF) is holding a legislative rally May 8 at 10:00 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda in partnership with PCPA, The ARC of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Waiting List Campaign, and Vision for Equality to call for adequate funding for community programs for people with intellectual disabilities. The rally will call on legislators to stop proposed funding reductions for individuals with intellectual disabilities and provide crucial support for the emergency waiting list. PCPA will participate in the PARF event and urges those members unable to attend Capitol Day on June 5 to participate on May 8.

In addition to the PCPA and PARF rallies, the following rallies have been scheduled and provide an opportunity to further support the advocacy community.

  • PA Brain Injury Coalition 2012 Legislative Day on May 2. The rally will take place at 10:00 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda.
  • “Keep Your Promise” Rally on May 2. The rally will take place at 12:00 p.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda and is sponsored by Visions for Equality. It is focused on the ID Waiting List.
  • Save PA’s Bridge to Stability & Self-Sufficiency Rally and Lobby Day on May 7.
  • The rally begins at 11:00 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda and is sponsored by PA Cares for All. It is focused on General Assistance budget cuts.

More information is available on the respective web sites of sponsoring organizations. Further questions may be addressed to Anne Leisure at

Copyright 2012 – Pennsylvania Community Providers Association
2101 N Front St, Bldg 3, Ste 200, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-364-3280 – Fax: 717-364-3287


No News is Not Good News

No News is Not Good News

In the case of the budget cuts proposed by Governor Corbett, no news is not good news. Despite an overwhelming public outcry and strong opposition from the public, mental health advocates, media, and legislators, Governor Corbett and his administration remain committed to enacting their drastic and devastating cuts to the community behavioral health system – the most significant since the system’s inception more than 50 years ago.

We need to continue making our opposition heard with legislators so that the budget introduced by the Governor is not passed. Below are some ways you can take immediate action.

Stay Informed

In addition to sending critical advocacy alerts, MHAPA posts daily updates and calls to action on our Facebook page and websitePlease follow us on Facebook to stay informed of budget–related events and activities across the state.

Contact Your Legislators

Contact your state representative and senator and let them know you oppose the Governor’s proposed cuts to the community behavioral health system.

The message is simple:
STOP the 20% cuts. STOP the Block Grant. STOP cuts to General Assistance.

Find your legislators here. Contact them by:
Sending A Postcard

Use a pre-printed postcard to share these simple messages with your PA House Representative and Senator and the Chairs of the Pennsylvania House and Senate Appropriations Committees. To order the free postcards, contact Sue Walther, MHAPA’s Executive Director, at717-346-0549, extension 1, or  Please be sure to provide your mailing address and the number of postcards you would like. See the postcard here.

Writing a letter

Read samples letters written and sent by advocates at Community Advocates of Montgomery County. Use these samples as a guide to help you tell your own story.  Click here for talking points. Click here for the sample letters from Community Advocates.

Making a Phone Call

After sending your letter and/or postcard, call your legislators’ offices. Ask if they received your letter and what their positions are on the mental health cuts. Let MHAPA know what you learn by contacting Sue Walther at 717-346-0549, extension 1, or Tell us who you spoke to and what their positions are. Click here to see a full summary of actions taken by one group of Community Advocates. If you have a like summary that you want to share, email it to Sue Walther.

Attend an Event

Advocacy organizations across the state are hosting events to bring together people against the cuts. Please gather your friends and family and attend at least one of these events. Two upcoming events are:
Monday, May 7Save PA’s Bridge to Stability & Self-Sufficiency Rally and Lobby Day in Harrisburg with PA Cares for All

Thursday, June 5Capitol Day with The Pennsylvania Community Providers Association, The Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, The Mental Health Association of Westmoreland County, and NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania

MHAPA updates its Facebook followers of budget related events across the area. Like us on Facebook and learn about these events—we also post them to the Budget page of our website.

Tell the Media

Send a copy of your legislator letter to your local newspaper—it makes an impact. Kathie Mitchell, Director of Community Advocates of Montgomery County, sent a letter to The Mercury in Pottstown.  The paper published it and Community Advocates received three phone calls as a result of the published letter.  

Let Us Know What You’ve Done

Let us know what action you’ve taken so we help to ensure that your voice is being heard. Contact Sue Walther at 717-346-0549, extension 1, or Click here to see a full summary of actions taken by Community Advocates. If you have a similar summary to share, email it to Sue Walther.

The Pennsylvania Waiting List Campaign

April  2012                                                                             



You Pay Your Fair Share. So Should They.
More than a dozen “close the loopholes” events are planned across PA. Find one near you.

It’s that time of year again – time to file your state and federal tax returns. At the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s web site, we have a new resource page showing you how your tax dollars are spent and why closing tax loopholes is such a big priority.
State and federal tax loopholes allow many large profitable corporations to avoid paying taxes, costing billions of dollars that could be invested in education, infrastructure and other services that make our economy strong. 
You pay your fair share of taxes. Don’t you think it’s time that corporations pay their fair share, too? 

Take a Stand on Tax Day.

On Tuesday, April 17, citizens from across Pennsylvania will mark Tax Day by calling on state and federal lawmakers to end these tax giveaways. Find a Tax Day event near you in the list below and come on out. You can also sign our Better Budget Petition and send a message to Governor Corbett and the Legislature to close loopholes before making more cuts that hurt middle-class families and children.
If you want to learn more about any of the Tax Day events below, contact Kate Atkins at 215-563-5848 x 16 or
Tax Day Actions: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Bethlehem (CLEAR Coalition)
4:30 p.m.: Rep. Justin Simmons’ District Office, 3606 Route 378, Suite A, Bethlehem, PA

Erie (CLEAR Coalition)
4:00 p.m.: Outside Giant Eagle, 1338 East Grandview Blvd., Erie, PA

Greensburg (CLEAR Coalition)
4:00 p.m.: Outside Giant Eagle, Hempfield Square Shopping Center, 6204 Route 30, Greensburg, PA

Harrisburg (Better Choices for Pennsylvania)
12 p.m.: Outside Harrisburg Post Office, Federal Square, 228 Walnut Street, Harrisburg, PA

Johnstown/Altoona (CLEAR Coalition)
3:30 p.m.: Outside Toys R Us, 620 Galleria Dr, Johnstown, PA

Levittown (PennAction)
4:00 p.m.: Outside Wells Fargo, Levittown Shopping Center, 175 Levittown Parkway, Levittown, PA

Norristown (SEPA Coalition)
12:00 p.m.: Outside Main Post Office, 28 East Airy Street, Norristown, PA

Philadelphia (Fight for a Fair Economy)
3:00 p.m.: Meet at Love Park, 16th Street and JFK Blvd, Philadelphia, PA for a March to Comcast Headquarters
8:00 p.m.: Outside 30th Street Post Office, Philadelphia, PA

Pittsburgh (Fight for a Fair Economy)
12:00 p.m.: Market Square, Pittsburgh, PA

State College (CLEAR Coalition)
3:30 p.m.: Outside Comcast Building, Benner Pike, State College, PA

West Chester (CLEAR Coalition)
4:30 p.m.: Outside Giant Grocery Store, 1502 W. Chester Pike, West Chester, PA

Wilkes-Barre (CLEAR Coalition)
11:30 a.m.: Outside Toys R Us, 620 Kidder Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA

Williamsport (CLEAR Coalition)
12:00 p.m.: Outside Comcast Building, 1020 Commerce Park Drive, Williamsport, PA

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is a non-partisan policy research project that provides independent, credible analysis on state tax, budget and related policy matters, with attention to the impact of current or proposed policies on working families.

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center,  412 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101 | 717-255-7156

From Housing to Recovery


1 in 4 American adults live with a diagnosable mental health condition.  Do More for 1 in 4 by becoming a member of Mental Health America.  For $5/month you can help the 60 million Americans with a mental health condition find information, support and treatment.  Visit to learn more. 

Join us at the 2012 Zarrow National Mental Health Symposium and MHA Annual Conference!  Sponsor opportunities still available – 1,000 attendees expected!
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NIMH Blog: From Paresis to PANDAS & PANS

For the original article, please see NIMH.

Director’s Blog
March 26, 2012

From Paresis to PANDAS & PANS

Thomas Insel

In a visit to a mental asylum in 1912 you would have seen many patients with “general paresis.” The word “paresis” is Latin for weakness. General paresis was a form of psychosis with delusions, hallucinations, and memory problems often of rapid onset and thought to be due to a general constitutional weakness. At least that was the explanation until 1913, when general paresis was shown to be caused by syphilitic infection of the brain. The first treatments were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1917. The advent of antibiotics 30 years later led to the virtual eradication of neuro-syphilis, as the disorder came to be called, in this country.

The idea that mental or behavioral disorders could be due to infection is, therefore, not new but it remains surprisingly difficult to accept. When I was in training in the 1970’s, peptic ulcer disease was the prototype of a “biopsychosocial” disorder, with stress and a Type A personality considered the causes and psychodynamic therapy recommended as the treatment. Although helicobacter pylori was identified as the cause of peptic ulcer disease by Australians Robin Warren and Barry Marshall in the 1980’s, there was very little awareness (within the mental health community) that the disorder could be cured with antibiotics until Warren and Marshall received the Nobel Prize in 2005.

We may be looking at a similar reluctance to accept an infectious cause of pediatric sudden onset obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – in a debate that has been ongoing for almost two decades. In the early l990s, pediatrician Dr. Susan Swedo identified a subgroup of children whose OCD symptom onset didn’t fit the typical pattern. Instead of emerging gradually over weeks or months, they experienced ferocious bouts of compulsive behaviors and other symptoms “overnight and out of the blue.” As a pediatrician, Swedo’s familiarity with the ways of infectious agents and autoimmune mechanisms, together with her careful observations in the child psychiatry clinic of the NIMH Intramural Research Program, sparked the surprising hypothesis that a strep infection could trigger OCD symptoms via an autoimmune process.

This proved more complicated than syphilis or helicobacter. Part of the problem has been that strep is very common in childhood, making it methodologically difficult to prove a causal connection between the microbe and the OCD symptoms. The onset has not always been linked precisely with a strep infection and the critical increase in antibodies to strep has not been evident consistently. Nevertheless, immune-based treatments have proven successful, leading to the growing acceptance of the concept of Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS).

Fortunately, the field is moving toward consensus on some of the larger issues, such as a broader concept of “acute and dramatic” onset of the same profile of psychiatric symptoms identified in PANDAS – but of unknown cause. There is also consensus on the need to establish a centralized registry to facilitate data analysis, so that causes and appropriate treatments can eventually be pinpointed.

This rapprochement recently took form in criteria for a broadened syndrome of acute onset OCD, published last month by Swedo, James Leckman at Yale and Joel Rose at Johns Hopkins. Their proposed Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) builds on and subsumes PANDAS. It embraces youth who experience acute onset of OCD or anorexia symptoms, mixed with a varying profile of other neuropsychiatric symptoms – cause unspecified.

Meanwhile, to strengthen evidence in support of immune-based treatment for the subset of youth whose illness is strep-related, Swedo, Leckman, and Madeleine Cunningham of the University of Oklahoma, and colleagues, are collaborating on a multi-site, double blind,placebo-controlled trial. It is testing intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) for OCD symptoms in PANDAS. IVIG, an infusion of normal antibodies, restores normal immune function by neutralizing errant antibodies. A similar pilot study testing IVIG and another immune-based treatment more than a decade ago found that all treated children with PANDAS improved, with more than half completely cured or experiencing only subclinical symptoms after one year.

Despite doubt in some quarters, hints of possible involvement of infectious agents and/or autoimmune processes in other serious brain disorders, such as autism, have spurred interest in PANDAS as a model for a type of illness process that may be more informative than widely assumed.

MRI scans of a PANDAS patient
MRI scans of a PANDAS patient, showing reduced inflammation in the caudate nucleus(area circled just to the left of black area in center of brain), part of the basal ganglia, following IVIG treatment. Evidence suggests that this brain structure is targeted by errant anti-brain antibodies, triggered by a strep infection, in PANDAS.


Swedo, SE, Leckman JF, Rose, NR. From Research Subgroup to Clinical Syndrome: Modifying the PANDAS criteria to describe PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome). Feb 2012, Pediatrics & Therapeutics.

Cuts to Mental Health Services


Governor Corbett’s proposed budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year includes devastating cuts to community mental health programs.  It is imperative that you contact your “State” Representative and Senator and urge them to restore these harmful cuts.  Let them know that persons with mental illness rely on these services to help them remain in the community, and avoid institutional settings.  We also suggest that NAMI Affiliate Presidents meet with their area state legislators in their district offices (see tips for meetings).  
The Governor’s budget proposes consolidating 7 programs (including community mental health services and the Behavioral Health Services Initiative) into a single, “flexible” Human Services Block Grant for counties and then slashes funding by 20%.  In addition to the 20% cut in funding, there is no guarantee that the block grant funds will be used to provide mental health services.  Legislators must vote on the Governor’s proposed budget.  
One of DPW’s initiatives is to reduce the number of people living in institutions and when appropriate, place them in less costly, community settings.  We applaud these efforts.  However, it is critical that legislators restore funding for community mental health services, or individuals may end up back in institutional settings, including state hospitals, inpatient psychiatric facilities or state prisons.  The proposed budget cuts jeopardize the lives of those who rely on community mental health services. 
This is a very difficult budget year and it is extremely important that you contact your legislators, tell them why community mental health services are important to you and ask them to oppose the proposed cuts.
The budget issues will remain active until the budget is passed by your state Representatives and Senators (usually around June 30th).  The following actions are suggested to help have an impact on changing the Governor’s recommendations for cuts to community mental health programs.

We have provided a Sample Letter which will help you to tell your story and the impact these cuts may have on your family. Personal stories are important and are a way to help illustrate for legislators and the Governor, the importance of the services targeted for cuts. For NAMI PA Affiliates and others, we have also provided an outline for requesting a meeting in local offices of local state elected officials. These meetings, are an important part of the total strategy for helping legislators to better understand the impact of the Governor’s proposed cuts. 
Please open the above link to access the NAMI PA website and the resources listed below.  If you cannot open directly through link than simply go to and click on the “Call to Action” at the top of the page!  Thank You!
Talking Points        Sample Letter        Steps for Legislator Meetings
List of the Types of Services Impacted by Cuts        Overview of the Proposed Budget
Find your Legislator        OMHSAS budget      Governor’s budget