National Council for Behavioral Health

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Meet the Medical Director Institute

2020 MDI Roster

In 2015, the National Council reached out to member organizations distinguished by outstanding leadership in shaping psychiatric and addictions service delivery to create a new entity: the National Council Medical Director Institute.

Drawing from the members’ diverse breadth of knowledge and experience, the Medical Director Institute advises National Council members on best clinical practices and develops policy and initiatives that serve member behavioral health organizations, their constituent clinicians, and the governmental agencies and payers that support them.

Led by Patrick Runnels, M.D and Joseph Parks, M.D., the group tackles complex issues that impact the health and well-being of all Americans. Its greatest value lies in their ability to identify solutions and create concrete calls to action to ensure that all Americans have access to a comprehensive, integrated continuum of care with the expectation of recovery.

Position Statements

Position statements are developed based on expert understanding of current accepted standards of care in behavioral health. MDI members are uniquely qualified to develop position statements based on their ongoing clinical and operational leadership roles in the field. They are all board-certified psychiatrists with multiple specialty certifications, including general psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and emergency psychiatry. Members practice within organizations that include freestanding community mental health centers, addiction treatment centers, academic centers and large multihospital systems. They have specialized experience in health systems policy, practice, and financing (including commercial insurance, Medicaid and Medicare).

MDI members possess demonstrated skill in applying multiple sources of evidence that determine the generally accepted standard of care including peer-reviewed studies in academic journals, consensus guidelines from professional organizations, and guidelines and materials distributed by government agencies.

Position statements of the MDI are passed by a two-thirds majority of the voting membership and require that more than 50 percent of MDI members register a vote.

Clozapine Blood Test Monitoring During the COVID-19 Emergency

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has forced behavioral health organizations and clinicians to make difficult decisions that balance the need for ongoing patient access to medically necessary services with infection control measures that protect patients and staff. The antipsychotic, clozapine, is a critical element of treatment protocol for many individuals who are prescribed the drug. However, administering clozapine during COVID-19 is challenging because it requires close medical monitoring and patient access may be more limited.

Access the position statement here.

Wit Case

On February 28, 2019, Judge Joseph Spero of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued the findings of fact and conclusions of law in Wit v United Behavioral Health (UBH), a class action brought against the country’s largest behavioral health insurer. In deciding the case, the court enunciated eight general standards of care applicable to service intensity/patient placement selection for behavioral health care and applied those standards to the guidelines and practices of UBH operations. Members of the MDI reviewed and discussed the eight standards as enunciated by the court and have issued a statement of their position on the issue.

Access the position statement here.

For more information on our position statement, please visit our Standards of Care toolkit page.



Mass Violence CoverMass Violence in America: Causes, Impacts and Solutions

While there is a modest link between mental illness and violence, there is no basis for the public’s generalized fear of people with mental illness. Having a psychiatric diagnosis is neither necessary nor sufficient as a risk factor for committing an act of mass violence. For that reason this report has a broader range of considerations and recommendations beyond the subset of all mass violence with a link to mental illness.

Access the Mass Violence in America report

Access the Executive Summary

Access the collected one-pager fact sheets

psychiatric shortage report coverPsychiatric Shortage: Causes and Solutions

Today, more people are seeking mental health care than ever before, but there aren’t enough psychiatrists to meet the growing demand. Yet, few thought leaders acknowledge this “silent shortage.” We must step up before the silent shortage becomes a thunderous crisis that reverberates throughout the U.S. health care system leaving millions without hope of recovery.

Access the Psychiatric Shortage report

Access the press release

Cover of Medication Matters reportMedication Matters: Causes and Solutions to Medical Non-Adherence

There is a medication gap in the United States that takes a toll on the quality of life and health of millions of people. Advances in medications have produced life-changing benefits for those with mental and substance use disorders, but too many people are not taking these medications as prescribed and their emotional and physical health suffers.

Access the Medication Matters report

Access the press release

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