Ten New ISMICC Members Chosen For Advisory Committee: Judge Leifman Joins Panel

(9-1-20) Ten new members have been named to serve on the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee that advises federal officials and Congress about mental health and addictions.

I am one of four original members asked to continue serving on the advisory committee. I am delighted that Miami-Dade Judge Steven Leifman is one of the new appointments.

HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar II and Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz are responsible for naming advisory members. Those asked will serve a three year term. The law that created ISMICC requires both federal and non-federal ISMICC members to issue a final report to Congress on December 2022. Congress can reauthorize ISMICC or let it expire after that report is issued.

The nonfederal members are: (returning members bold faced.)

  • Trinidad de Jesus Arguello, Ph.D., LCSW, PMHRN-BC, Director, Compostela Community and Family Cultural Institute
  • Yasmine Brown, M.S., Chief Executive Officer, Hope Restored Suicide Prevention Project, LLC
  • Ron Bruno, Founding Board Member and Second Vice President, CIT International
  • David Covington, LPC, MBA, CEO/President, RI International
  • Pete Earley, Author
  • Dainery Fuentes, Ph.D., School Psychologist, Polk County School Board
  • Brian Hepburn, M.D., Executive Director, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
  • Jennifer Higgins, Ph.D., CCRP, Owner, CommonWealth GrantWorks
  • Johanna Kandel, B.A., Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness
  • Steven Leifman, J.D., Associate Administrative Judge, Miami-Dade County Court, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida
  • Adrienne Lightfoot, Peer Program Coordinator, DC Department of Behavioral Health
  • Amanda Lipp, B.S., Director and Filmmaker, Lipp Studios
  • Winola Sprague, DNP, CNS-BC, Medical Director, Children’s Advantage
  • Rhathelia Stroud, J.D., Presiding Judge, DeKalb County Magistrate Court
  • Katherine Warburton Williams, D.O., Medical Director and Deputy Director of Clinical Operations, California Department of State Hospitals

ISMICC will hold its next meeting September 29, at 1 p.m. EST at SAMHSA headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. It is a public meeting and public comments are allowed.

The original nonfederal members who are no longer on ISMICC include:

Linda Beeber, American Psychiatric Nurses Association.

Clayton Chau, M.D., Orange County, California.

Maryann Davis, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Paul Emrich, Ph.D, undersecretary of Family and Mental Health Services, Chickasaw Nation.

Mary Giliberti, J.D. Mental Health America.

Elena M. Kravitz, peer support advocate.

Kenneth Minkoff, M.D. ZiaPartners.Inc.

Elyn R. Saks, J.D., Ph.D, Sakes Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy and Ethics, USC Gould School of Law

John Snook, J.D. Executive Director of the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Connie Wells, consultant, mental health advocate.

The 21st Century Cures Act, which created ISMICC, lists specific categories of nonfederal membership.

Non-federal Membership: The ISMICC shall also include not less than 14 non-federal public members appointed by the Secretary of which:

  • At least two individuals who have received treatment for a diagnosis of a SMI;
  • A parent or legal guardian of an adult with a history of SMI or a child with a history of SED;
  • A representative of a leading research, advocacy, or service organization for adults with SMI;
  • At least two members who are one of the following:
    • A licensed psychiatrist with experience treating SMI;
    • A licensed psychologist with experience in treating SMI or SED;
    • A licensed clinical social worker with experience treating SMIs or SEDs; or
    • A licensed psychiatric nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant with experience in treating SMIs or SEDs.
  • A licensed mental health professional with a specialty in treating children and adolescents with a SED;
  • A mental health professional who has research or clinical mental health experience in working with minorities;
  • A mental health professional who has research or clinical mental health experience in working with medically underserved populations;
  • A state certified mental health peer support specialist;
  • A judge with experience in adjudicating cases related to criminal justice or SMI;
  • A law enforcement officer or corrections officer with extensive experience in interfacing with adults with a SMI, children with SED, or individuals in a mental health crisis; and
  • An individual with experience providing services for homeless individuals and working with adults with SMI, children with a SED, or individuals in a mental health crisis.

The publication of the new nonfederal members did not specify which person filled which specialty.

By law, the initial and final ISMICC reports to Congress must include: (1) a summary of advances in serious mental illness (SMI) and serious emotional disturbance (SED) research related to the prevention of, diagnosis of, intervention in, and treatment and recovery of SMIs, SEDs, and advances in access to services and support for adults with SMI or children with SED; (2) an evaluation of the effect federal programs related to serious mental illness have on public health, including public health outcomes such as (A) rates of suicide, suicide attempts, incidence and prevalence of SMIs, SEDs, and substance use disorders, overdose, overdose deaths, emergency hospitalizations, emergency room boarding, preventable emergency room visits, interaction with the criminal justice system, homelessness, and unemployment; (B) increased rates of employment and enrollment in educational and vocational programs; (C) quality of mental and substance use disorders treatment services; or (D) any other criteria as may be determined by the Secretary; and (3) specific recommendations for actions that agencies can take to better coordinate the administration of mental health services for adults with SMI or children with SED.

The original non-federal members of ISMICC listed five areas of focus in their first congressional required ISMICC report. Those five were: strengthening federal coordination to improve care, making it easier to get good care, closing the gap between what works and what is offered, increasing opportunities for diversion and improving care for people with SMI and SED who are involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems, and finally, developing financial strategies to increase availability and affordability of care. Hopefully, the new ISMICC members will agree that those five areas should remain a priority. It is also possible that if a new president is elected, the membership of ISMICC could change.

You can read the original members recommendations to Congress here. 



About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.