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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

National Council, The Hill, Janssen Host Event on State of Mental Health Care

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On Tuesday, the DC-based newspaper The Hill hosted an event with the National Council and Janssen to explore current innovations and challenges in the delivery of mental health care around the U.S. Panelists at the event, titled “The State of Mental Health Care: Challenges and Solutions,” highlighted the important role of Medicaid in ensuring access to care and shared information about how states are working with consumers, family members, hospitals and jails to help connect people to treatment.


“Doing Nothing is Not an Option”

Linda Rosenberg, National Council President & CEO, opened the forum by reflecting on the progress our field has made in recent years—and how far we have left to go. “Doing nothing is not an option. The battle for health care as a right is far from over,” she remarked. Linda noted that this week’s news about the failure of the Senate health bill to move forward marked a reprieve for people who would have been devastated by the bill’s cuts to Medicaid and essential health benefits. Yet, with the Senate continuing to debate additional revisions to the bill, advocacy is needed now more than ever to preserve access to mental health care.


Perspectives from the States

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and New Jersey Representative Leonard Lance shared their perspectives on how federal health reform efforts affect states. “Bring us in [to the debate]; we administer these programs,” said Governor McAuliffe. McAuliffe singled out a number of innovations within Virginia’s mental health system that have transformed the way people access care, including its efforts to ensure that all clients have same-day access to services, an initiative supported by the work of MTM Services, a National Council Strategic Partner. McAuliffe also highlighted Virginia’s move to screen all inmates for mental health needs at the time of booking and spoke about the importance of diversion from jail to treatment.


Excellence Act and CCBHCs: An Investment in the Safety Net

Representative Lance (NJ-07) cited his 2014 Excellence in Mental Health Act, co-authored by Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) as an example of a needed federal investment in states’ community-based treatment systems. The Excellence Act demonstration established Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics responsible for expanding individuals’ access to services while being supported with a payment rate that covers the cost of these capacity expansions; program activities are currently underway. “As we discuss revisions to the Affordable Care Act, I want to make sure mental health is at parity with physical health,” he said.


National Council Member Dennis Hobb Highlights Efforts to Avoid Rehospitalization

Dennis Hobb, Executive Director of the McClendon Center, a National Council member organization in Washington, DC, noted the important role that community services play in helping to reduce hospitalization and avoid the cycle of re-hospitalizations. The McClendon Center has initiated an array of activities to help connect consumers in crisis to care and ensure they receive comprehensive services. Hobb was joined on the panel by Dr. Altha Steward, President-Elect of the American Psychiatric Association, John Snook, Executive Director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, Teresa Pasquini, mother and mental health advocate, and Fred Osher, Director of Health Services and Systems Policy at the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Panelists spoke about the array of challenges facing people and families as they attempt to access services, including lack of funding, HIPAA regulations, stigma, and more.

To see more of the conversation and view a recording, join us on Twitter using #StateofMH. The National Council thanks Janssen for its generous support of this event and The Hill for raising the profile of this important issue.