National Dialogue on Mental Health 2013

On June 3 the White House hosted a National Conference on Mental Health to draw attention to this important topic and to reinforce support for increasing access to effective services. President Obama also used the venue to launch a National Dialogue on Mental Health. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will sponsor a series of events this summer to continue that dialogue and is helping to coordinate and/or highlight the activities of other groups and associations. SAMHSA contacted us about the initiative, and CSWE has agreed to be a contributing partner. As a start, we would like to draw attention to what CSWE accredited programs are doing to “increase awareness of mental health issues, to promote mental and emotional health, and to identify local strategies to reduce negative attitudes and help individuals in need to access treatment.”

Your Program’s Connections to the Initiative

We know that social workers provide the majority of mental health services in the United States and that many accredited social work programs have robust mental health initiatives within their curricula and through events and activities in their communities. Social work programs do an excellent job of emphasizing mental health needs across the lifespan and in diverse populations and develop impressive community and interprofessional partnerships.

Please contact CSWE about your program’s specific mental health promotion and stigma-eliminating activities and events. We will highlight those activities in our report to SAMHSA, use the information in our other government relations activities, and post it on the CSWE website to generate ideas and sharing between programs.  

Reporting Your Program’s Activities and Events

From June 16 through Friday, August 30, please send information about your mental health activities and events to ebascug@cswe.org. Also let us know how your activities link to the goals that SAMHSA has identified (italicized in the first paragraph). We will post activities on the CSWE website and will note the posted results in the August issue of CSWE Full Circle

Reported Activities (updated 06/26/2013)

University of Hawaii Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work is employing four levels of learning strategies for promoting holistic well-being and eliminating stigma in its program: providing theoretical and evidence-based instruction on the intersection of health and mental health in classroom settings, providing opportunities for discussions with members of diverse and stigmatized communities, participating in community events on mental health and stigma, and encouraging students to lead various community projects related to stigmatized populations.

University of Minnesota, Duluth, has a Health Resources and Services Administration grant to provide clinical scholarships to MSW students who are committed to working with high need and high demand populations. The program's focus is on encouraging students to return to rural populations and American Indian populations. As part of the grant the school has been networking with mental health providers in the community and providing interdisciplinary community training. 

University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work has received more than $11 million from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and other states and foundation funders to develop social work treatment for cognitive and social impairment in schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. These treatments are based on cognitive remediation approaches, which are the first of their kind to be applied to people with schizophrenia and autism.

Texas State University (TSU) has chosen Minds Matter: Exploring Mental Health and Illness as its Common Experience topic, which is a campus-wide, year-long topic for discussion and study. For the coming academic year the university will host special events and speakers on the issue of mental health. The TSU School of Social Work will host several faculty and practitioner panels with persons with lived experiences and raise awareness in various mental health issues such as "Spirituality and Mental Health," "Experiential Interventions With Mental Health Clients," and "Relating the DSM5 to Spanish-speaking Clients."

Faculty (Irene Chung and Kam Man Kwong) from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College were invited to various activities and conferences that are aligned with the mental health initiative. Irene Chung attended the White House Asian American Pacific Islander Briefing on Suicide and Mental Health. Kam Man Kwong delivered a keynote speech at a 1-day symposium, Depression Among Asian Americans: Cultural Specific Prevention and Intervention Strategies, hosted by NJ Asian American Association for Human Services.

State University of New York - Plattsburgh is highlighting the issue of stigma in various ways. In addition to offering an elective course, Social Work and Mental Health, the Social Work Department has collaborated with the New York State Office of Mental Health Anti-Stigma Project. Also the Social Work Student Association has participated in community events such as the annual Stomp Out Stigma walk and Suicide Awareness and Prevention events on campus.

Related CSWE Initiatives

Recovery to Practice Initiative
Social Work and Integrated Behavioral Healthcare Project