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Featured Podcast

Into the Fold: Issues in Mental Health by Hogg Foundation for Mental Health
Episode 6: Peer Support as Innovative Disruption by Chacku Mathai

About Us

The STAR Center is one of the five National Technical Assistance Centers funded by SAMHSA to support mental health systems transformation. The purpose of the overall program is to provide technical assistance that facilitates the restructuring of the mental health system by promoting recovery and consumer directed approaches.

Each NTAC is organized by SAMHSA to focus on specific topic areas of concentration that can be offered through virtual training and technical assistance or product development for the whole country while also offering direct training and technical assistance to specific states, territories or tribal governments. The STAR Center is charged with supporting four target states/territories Rhode Island, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. read more...

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The STAR Center is funded by a grant from the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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Links to resources in languages other than English.

What is Cultural Competence?

Additional Resources:

Building Bridges, LGBT Populations: A Dialogue on Advancing Opportunities for Recovery from Addictions and Mental Health Problems

Community Conversations About Mental Health Toolkit

Hogg Foundation Report on Eliminating Disparities through Integrated Health

HHS Plan to Reduce Disparities

Institute of Medicine on Eliminating Disparities

Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy

Behavioral Health United States 2012

The Dynamic System of Power, Privelege and Oppression

Gender: Power and Privelege

Five Faces of Oppression

Oppression and Privilege Framework

Difference, Power, and Privelege

A Structural Analysis of Oppression

STAR Center News

STAR Center Webinars:

Self-Care is Primary Care

Date: Tuesday, January 27, 2014
Time: 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET


Patricia E. Deegan, Ph.D

Patricia E. Deegan, Ph.D, is a principal with Pat Deegan & Associates, LLC. For over 30 years she has been a thought leader and disruptive innovator in the field of behavioral health recovery. Pat founded a health information technology company run by and for people in recovery. We build web applications that help individuals recover after a diagnosis of mental illness. Our flagship products are an online Recovery Library and a web application that helps individuals, families and psychiatrists engage in shared decision making to find the best treatment for recovery. Pat is an activist in the disability rights movement and has lived her own journey of recovery after being diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager. She is an Adjunct Professor at Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine and received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Duquesne University.


When we think of primary care, we think of the office, nurses and physicians we visit for our annual physical and routine health needs. In this webinar Patricia E. Deegan, PhD will flip the notion of primary care and argue that self-care is primary care. Using examples from her own recovery and that of others, she will explain how flipping healthcare in this way defines new roles for individuals, families and staff. New skills and new measureable outcomes will also be described.

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Title: One Size Does Not Fit All: Closing the Health Disparities Gap for African-American Communities

Date: Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Time: 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET


Dr. Nicki King, California Reducing Disparities Project Director, UC Davis Department of Human Ecology

Dr. Nicki King obtained her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently residing in Davis, California, she is a Youth and Family Development Specialist in the Department of Human Ecology at UC Davis. She currently leads the African American project of the California Reducing Disparities Project, and has had a long career conducting evaluations of human services and education programs. She has held both academic and administrative positions with the University of California. Prior to joining the University, Dr. King worked as a social scientist at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Her areas of research interest include evaluation of programs serving transition-aged youth, career development and educational investment, access to health care, educational equity and social justice.

Dr. King has a history of volunteer involvement and community service that includes issues such as cultural competence, non-profit board membership, mental health, educational equity, social justice, fundraising, women's health, work with pregnant teens, and youth mentorship projects.

Jim Gilmer, M.A., Co-Chair of the CMMC, and the Co-Coordinator of the African American/People of African Descent Strategic Planning Work Group

Jim Gilmer is the Co-Chair of the CMMC, and the Co-Coordinator of the African American/People of African Descent Strategic Planning Work Group which are both components of the California Reducing Disparities Project, administered by the Department of Public Health/Office of Health Equity. He serves on the Services Committee of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. Jim was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of Mental Health America/California, and he is one of the founding members of the Racial and Ethnic Mental Health Disparities Coalition.

In Ventura County, Jim is the Co-founder of Multicultural Community Ventures Initiative which is collaborative of ethnic organizations and small businesses focusing on social equity in the arts, music, cultural enrichment, and community development. Cyrus Urban Inter-Church Sustainability Network (CUISN) was co-founded by Jim and local ministers to provide technical assistance for ethnic faith-based organizations.

Jim Gilmer is a member of the Black American Political Association of California (Ventura County Chapter); NAACP; Black & Brown Alliance of Ventura County, CAUSE, LULAC, and the Community Advocacy Committee.

He holds a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management, Leadership, Administration, Marketing, & Theology (Urban Ministry Emphasis) from Azusa Pacific University. He has over thirty years experience in resource development, fundraising, youth development and working with the homeless.

Mark O. Spencer Member, California Reducing Disparities Project African America Strategic Planning Work group

Mark O. Spencer attended Ventura Junior College in the late 1990's and in 1998-2000 transferred to Chapman University majoring in Public Relations Communications. In the spring of 2000 won Internship into the Chapman Public Relations department of education. Mark was also a project member for a public relations campaign for The Council on Aging Orange County, a campaign for public knowledge. He also interned at Big brothers Big Sisters Orange County. Since leaving the educational system he has become a real estate professional and among other things is an active fundraising partner for Conscious youth promoting Health environmental responsibility (CYPHER). In 2012 took the role of special events co coordinator for entertainment and community building in Oxnard California. Co-founder David G. Cameron memorial Lavlife future foundation. As an Unfadeable Records recording artist he has released three Cd's since 2007. Mark is founding member of UX8 music, and worked as a chief promoter at squad works promotions. Other activities include being an active member at the Cal State Channel Islands (CSUCI) staff Development Committee, California state initiative program for suicide prevention called your voice counts campaign for suicide prevention, 2012 -2013 recipient of Ventura county arts in public places grant. Co-founder Hip Hop collective Group (HHCG), Member of The UBUNTU Business Network, and committee member of UBUNTU multicultural building fund campaign, California state initiative program- beyond the Beat and Lyrics documentary-film planning committee. Most recent activities include participation in the California Reducing Disparities Project African America Strategic Planning Work group in Oakland California.


Building on their 2012 report We Ain't Crazy! Just Coping with a Crazy System, the California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP) recently released the Strategic Plan to Reduce Mental Health Disparities which was developed in partnership with the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) and workgroups from five populations - African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders (API), Latinos, Native Americans, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) communities. The California Mental Health Services Agency (CalMHSA) also developed a video called Beyond the Beat and the Lyrics, and a Facilitator's Guide to increase dialogue and understanding of the impact of stigma and discrimination on the mental health status of transition age African-American men. Join us for a provocative and informative webinar presentation on recommendations for systems transformation to reduce disparities in California and how these may apply or be considered in your community.

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Recent STAR Center Meeting

Building Resilience Through Trauma Informed Communities: How Do We Get Started?

Date: Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Time: 1 - 2:30 p.m. ET

Dorothy I. Height/Benning Neighborhood Library
3935 Benning Rd. NE
Washington, D.C. 20019

Moderator: Chacku Mathai, CPRP, Director, STAR Center
Panelists: Leah Harris, M.A., Director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery; Iden Campbell McCollum, CPRP, Executive Director of The Campbell Center;

A movement to create Trauma-Informed Communities is well underway across the United States and Canada. A Community Resilience Cookbook was recently created to highlight these initiatives and offer interested communities some resources and suggested ways to move forward. Continue the conversation about Community Resilience in the DC Metro Area.

Meeting Handouts and Resources:
ACEs Infographic
Reflection Questions

Recent Webinar

Reflections on Ferguson: How a Trauma-Informed Lens Can Make A Difference

Date: Friday, December 19, 2014
Time: 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET


The recent tragic events in Ferguson, MO and across the country have brought the issues of community safety, health, dignity, and wellbeing to the forefront. Tragic events in the community can lead to reactions of grief, anger, and continuing trauma that are similar to the traumatic experiences shared by consumers and peers with diverse backgrounds who have experienced prejudice and discrimination in their communities. During these challenging times, what do consumers and peers have to offer to help communities heal? Is the trauma-informed lens that we use to understand our personal experiences effective in supporting others going through similar experiences when tragic events occur? What do trauma-informed communities look like and how might we get started?


Leah Harris, M.A., Director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery

Leah is a mother, storyteller, and activist. She has been a nationally-recognized leader in the mental health consumer/survivor movement for over a decade. Leah is the daughter of two parents who were diagnosed with mental illness, both of whom died young as a result of their disabilities. This depth of her personal experience fuels Leah's commitment to ensuring human rights and recovery for all people who experience emotional distress and crisis.

Chacku Mathai, CPRP, Director, STAR Center;

Chacku Mathai is an Indian-American, born in Kuwait, who has over twenty-eight years of experience in mental health and addiction community based services in a wide variety of roles in local, state and national initiatives. He currently serves as the Director for the NAMI STAR Center, one of five National Technical Assistance Centers funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of the overall program is to provide technical assistance to facilitate the restructuring of the mental health system by promoting recovery and consumer directed approaches. Chacku's personal experiences as a youth and young adult in mental health and addiction recovery in New York launched Chacku and his family towards a number of efforts to advocate for improved services and alternative supports in the community.

Keris Jän Myrick, MBA, MS, Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs, Center for Mental Health Services, SAMHSA

Keris is a national mental health leader and non-profit executive, known for her innovative and inclusive approach to mental health reform and the public disclosure of her personal story of lived experience with serious mental illness. Most recently, she has been President and CEO of Project Return Peer Support Network, a Los Angeles-based, peer-run nonprofit, which manages more than 100 self-help groups in Los Angeles County, a peer-staffed Warm Line, a Spanish-language community peer and family center and Peer Run Crises Respite Home. In addition, she has been the President of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and an advisor to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Office of Minority and National Affairs (OMNA), providing assistance with the psychiatry component of the SAMHSA/CMHS Recovery to Practice project. Ms. Myrick has a Master of Science degree in organizational psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology of Alliant International University. Her Master of Business Administration degree, with an emphasis on marketing, is from Case Western Reserve University.

Cathy Cave, Training Director, Mental Health Empowerment Project

Cathy Cave, Training Director, Mental Health Empowerment Project, has more than 25 years' experience as an administrator, facilitator, and consultant specializing in cultural competence and disparities elimination, trauma-informed services and supports, and leadership within child welfare, juvenile justice, disaster response, mental health, and substance abuse services. She currently provides technical assistance to the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care. She is the former Director for Cultural Competence for New York State Office of Mental Health. As a consultant, she uses her survivor, family, community and provider perspectives to facilitate organizational change to improve service quality at local, state and national levels.

View Webinar Recording
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Cathy Cave- Presentation
Leah Harris- Presentation
Keris Jän Myrick- Presentation
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Community of Practice:

STAR Center Community of Practice on Collaborative Leadership: Featuring an Interview with Lauren Spiro

Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Time: 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET

Every day we are faced with opportunities to make a real difference in our communities. Do we offer our unique contribution or just keep it to ourselves?

Lauren's Dialogues of Discovery model is a testament to the power of dialogue to transform consciousness and an invitation to explore topics such as: How to redefine who you are, how to fill the emptiness in your soul, and how to learn to forgive - ourselves as well as others who have harmed us. Lauren will discuss how to discover your vision of how you want the community or the world to be and what specific steps you can begin taking towards that vision.

This month's Community of Practice features an interview with Lauren Spiro. Fueled by a vision of an America where every individual is respected and included as a valued member of the community, Lauren's work focuses on developing our capacity for compassion, appreciating the vast creativity of the human mind, and building pathways so everyone may come home. She is the co-founder and co-director of Emotional CPR. She co-founded two non-profit corporations and is the associate director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery. She consults on several Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's contracts and her memoir, Living for Two: A Daughter's Journey From Grief and Madness to Forgiveness and Peace was published in 2014. She has an M.A. in Clinical/Community Psychology. For more information see www.Laurenspiro.com

Join the STAR Center Community of Practice on Collaborative Leadership and Action for a featured interview with Lauren Spiro to hear more about Lauren's view of her own leadership style, her personal standards for leadership and how we can best support and develop leadership with each other.

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Archive of Webinars:

Intentional Peer Support as a Framework for Building Diverse Communities

Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Time: 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET


Eva Dech, Training Manager

Eva has been involved in human rights and social justice activism and advocacy for over two decades. After years of developing and working within peer support, she came to believe the path to healing and recovery was through relationships, creating opportunities for empowerment, and building connected, inclusive, and supportive communities.

Steven Morgan, Operations Manager

Steven Morgan has worked in peer support services for the past decade, during which time he has helped create and manage several peer-run and alternative mental health programs. Steven has a passion for creating instruments of social change, a love of organizational development, and a belief in the transformative power of community.


Please join us for an overview and discussion of Intentional Peer Support as a framework for building community and embracing diversity. IPS is a way of thinking about and inviting powerfully transformative relationships among people. By focusing on the tasks and principles of mutual support, practitioners learn to use relationships to see things from new angles, develop greater awareness of personal and relational patterns, and support and challenge each other in trying new things.

For over ten years, IPS has been training people working in human services all over the world on why and how to build mutual relationships that are energizing, co-creative, and explorative. It is a trauma-informed approach that focuses on staying connected, paying attention to worldview, shifting from helping to learning, and above all, creating relationships that open up new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing.

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Promoting Family Wellness using WRAP®

Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Time: 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET


Matthew Federici

Description: Through this webinar, Matthew will discuss his recovery experience personally, professionally and as a family member despite challenges in the mental health system care. He will be supported by speakers in his own family from the experiential perspectives of the wellness journey in the family during difficult times and beyond. A key resource in his presentation is how the evidenced based Wellness Recovery Action Plan applies in the context of the individual's and the family's journey of recovery. Through this webinar participants will be able to:

  • Understand the key concepts and action plans of WRAP
  • Describe how WRAP may benefit a families wellness
  • Identify next steps to learning and sharing WRAP with other families
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Star Center Resources:

Justice Materials link
Archive of Star Center Resources

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