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Conversion Ban Therapy Bill Passes Senate.

On March 28th, Massachusetts took another step closer to banning the harmful practice of conversion therapy. HB140, "An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors", sponsored by Rep. Khan, passed the Senate 34-0 with 5 abstentions. The legislation, which bears 116 cosponsorship signatures, now includes definitions of "health care provider", "sexual orientation", and "sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts". The House and Senate versions of the bill will be reconciled before it makes its way to Governor Baker's desk.

Advocates gather to testify at the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities public hearing on March 5th at the State House in Boston.

Beacons from the Hill:

Substance Use is Preventable.

​Substance use is preventable.

The most common substances used by teens is alcohol and marijuana. The younger an individual is the first time they use alcohol or drugs, the more likely they are to struggle with addiction later in life. The Children's Mental Health Campaign is working to expand prevention and early intervention of unhealthy substance use by youth.

Boston Children's Hospital Turns 150.

Thank you for your partnership!

For 150 years, Boston Children's has cared for children through compassionate health care and innovation. For 13 years, Boston Children's & the Children's Mental Health Campaign have used those principles to help make sure kids get the mental health care they need.

MHAP for Kid's Open House in New Bedford.

Congratulations, Health Law Advocates on MHAP for Kids expansion!

On March 25th, Health Law Advocates hosted advocates, policymakers, community members, and families at their New Bedford Open House Event for the launch of the 4th Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids site and to welcome staff attorney, Allison Knight, to the New Bedford Family Resource Center. The Campaign thanks Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey for supporting this important work to ensure that kids and teens have access to the services and supports they need!

Our Legislative Priorities.
PPAL's New Blog.

Don't miss Parent/Professional Advocacy League's newest blog post!

"Keeping him safe, getting what he needed was the top priority. Sometimes it was the only priority."

"'Oh, no!' I groaned inwardly. 'I can’t believe I forgot this again.' The dentist’s office had just called to let me know that I was supposed to be there for my appointment. I had intended to go, I’d even mentally reminded myself the day before. But my son refused to get on the van for school that morning and it had been another horrible morning. Until they called, the appointment had vanished from my mind."
In Honor of Autism Awareness Month.

Dylan Dilor presents "My Brain Works Differently: Autism And Addiction" in North Adams, Massachusetts in 2018.

ICYMI: Headlines for You.
"The number of young people visiting U.S. emergency rooms with psychiatric problems is rising, driven largely by a surge in teens and minority youth seeking urgent help for mental illnesses, a new study suggests. Between 2011 and 2015, there was a 28 percent increase in psychiatric emergency department (ED) visits among young people ages 6 to 24, the study found. Visits spiked 54 percent for teens, 53 percent for African-American youth, and 91 percent for young Hispanic patients. Suicide-related visits climbed more than two-fold during the study period"
"Is medical marijuana safe for children and teens? Depending on who you ask, you may get very different answers. On one side, pro-marijuana websites, marijuana companies and dispensaries are keen to promote the numerous (often unproven) benefits of using marijuana for medical reasons. On the other side, many public health agencies, community organizations and pediatric providers warn about the risks of marijuana use during childhood and adolescence, making it quite challenging to form an unbiased opinion."
"After closed-door talks crumbled last summer, Beacon Hill is hitting reset on its pursuit of sweeping health care legislation, with one major difference: This time, Governor Charlie Baker, a former health insurance executive, will push his own plan. His proposal, expected to be unveiled this spring, would come almost a year after the House and Senate couldn’t reconcile controversial and drastically different versions of legislation designed to buttress community hospitals and rein in medical spending statewide."
"As clinicians, we witness firsthand the barriers patients face when they need mental health care—barriers with deep roots in our culture and in the systems that dictate how we treat patients and pay for care. Mental health has long been sidelined from physical health, a problem compounded by the fact that fear can prevent many patients from talking to their primary care doctors about mental health concerns or seeking specialized care. Ignoring the problem isn’t working—things must change. To improve care and save lives, Well Being Trust is working with Providence St. Joseph Health, other leading health systems, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to take the first steps. We strongly believe that transforming the clinical care system is one important component of improving mental health and stopping the alarming rise in deaths of despair from drug or alcohol misuse or suicide."
"If A=B, and B=C, does A=C? Well, not always, but in the case of stress, racism and preterm birth, one researcher thinks there’s a definitive case to be made. The jarring statistics are already out there: African-American women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women. Additionally, African-American women are nearly twice as likely to give birth prematurely as white women, which leads to low birth weight, believed to be responsible for nearly 20 percent of infant deaths. Finally, black infants are twice as likely to die as white babies in the United States."
"However, the proposed changes by the USDA would place greater burden on states to meet these requirements in order to waive the time limit. We encourage you to submit a comment urging the Department not to move forward with these proposed changes, which would put the health and economic security of hundreds of thousands of people at risk. The proposed changes would require states to demonstrate a higher unemployment rate than is currently needed to waive the time restriction. The changes would also limit the duration of the SNAP ABAWD time limit to one year or shorter."
"Only the trajectory of depression symptoms that demonstrated the highest mean scores and variability over time predicted suicide attempt in high-risk young adults, according to a study analyzing the most important clinical predictors of suicide attempt. “Despite years of mental health research, our ability to predict suicidal behavior is only slightly better than chance,” Nadine M. Melhem, PhD, from the department of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told Healio Psychiatry."
"In April 2016, Venus Lockett was about to give a speech at an event she’d volunteered for near her home in Atlanta. She was already stressed. The previous night, she had stayed up late making her presentation, and then deleted it by mistake. As she stepped up to the podium to give her remarks, she noticed that her words were slurring. She tried to speak into the mic, but the words that came out didn’t make sense."
"A multimillion-dollar settlement in the nation's deadliest drug crisis brought no relief to Jodi Barber, whose 19-year-old son died of a prescription drug overdose. He became addicted to painkillers after breaking his collarbone. "The pain is always going to be there as a parent," said Barber of Orange County, California. "Knowing that it was preventable really hurts. All these deaths are preventable and that hurts." Anger and hope tinged survivors' reactions Tuesday to news that Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, had reached a $270 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma. Numerous lawsuits accuse the company of minimizing the addiction risk and pushing doctors to up dosages even as overdoses climbed. The Oklahoma settlement comes two months before the case was set for trial."
"The kind of thing we have done instinctively in our workplaces for two decades — sending a quick email instead of setting up a meeting — has until recently eluded many doctors. Electronic consultations, or eConsults (sometimes called eReferrals), are a growing way for primary care doctors and specialists to communicate with each other securely. They can help patients avoid additional visits to specialists and free up capacity in crowded health systems, reducing waiting times for others. Studies have found that a large proportion of referrals to specialists — upward of 40 percent in some cases — are not needed."
"You know, I think most patients aren't boring. I think the boring patients are the ones who want to keep you at bay. They're the ones who go off on tangents after tangent after tangent. They - when you try to redirect them, they, you know, try to run away. I think that people are so afraid of showing the truth of who they are that they don't realize that if they stopped running, that I would be very interested in them. If you show me your humanity, you will be the most interesting person in the world. But if you hide, I'm going to get really bored."
"Consumer health advocates continue to build networks of powerful, diverse consumer voices to ensure that all communities can increase their influence in local, state and national health policy decisions. We recognize that explicitly integrating health equity into systems of advocacy is a newer approach for many white-led health advocacy organizations who are seeking meaningful ways to conduct this work. This is also the case for Community Catalyst – a white-led national health advocacy organization with a commitment to health equity. Community Catalyst is on the journey to making sure this commitment becomes a reality in all aspects of our work. We value learning from those doing this work in states and communities around the country and sharing these learnings within our networks."
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