National Council for Behavioral Health

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America is experiencing a mental health crisis.

Elevated suicide rates, increased reports of death from stimulants and news outlets spotlighting mass violence remind us that it’s not enough to just talk about the problems; we need to talk about the solutions. The National Council for Behavioral Health and Cohen Veterans Network (CVN) are partnering to shed light on what we can do to create greater access to mental health care.

The Report

In the summer of 2018, CVN and the National Council partnered to produce America’s Mental Health 2018, a survey involving 5,000 American adults  with a secondary analysis of state mental health resources that measured attitudes and access to mental health care in America. Now, we are using the report’s findings to encourage change that will remove common, identified barriers to care.

The survey found that while 76% of Americans consider mental health as important as physical health, five key barriers often prevent people from getting the care that they so desperately need:

  • Cost – One in four Americans have had to choose between getting mental health treatment and paying for daily necessities.
  • Distance – Nearly half (46%) of American adults have had to, or know someone who has had to, travel more than one hour roundtrip to get to their most recent mental health care appointment.
  • Knowledge Gaps – 46% of those who have never sought treatment would not know where to go if they needed to seek mental health services for themselves, a family member or a friend.
  • Wait Times – 96 million American adults (38%) have had to wait longer than one week for mental health services.
  • Stigma – 52% have tried to “grin and bear it” instead of seeing a doctor when feeling depressed or mentally unstable, many due to fear of stigma.

The Solutions

How can we begin to remove barriers to care? Check out the resources we’ve developed to help you get on the path to removing these barriers in your community through advocacy “how-to” toolkits, awareness building tools and more!

Overview of Data and Findings

Blog Series

Printable & Shareable Infographics

 

Slides and Talking Points

Toolkits for Policy Action

Use these Community Change Toolkits to start sharing information, advocating, and learning more about how to open up access in your community!

Policy Updates

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) – CCBHCs provide a comprehensive range of mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services to vulnerable individuals. In return, CCBHCs receive a Medicaid reimbursement rate based on the anticipated costs of expanding services to meet the needs of these complex populations. CCBHCs must provide nine types of services, with an emphasis on providing both mental health and substance use care, 24-hour crisis care, evidence-based practices and care coordination, thus expanding mental health and SUD treatment access through a mandated increase in accountability, capacity, cost savings, coverage, efficiency, sustainability and standard of care. Congress has currently extended the CCBHC program until May 22, 2020. Learn more about the state of the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767) and write to your legislators.

Medicare Workforce Expansion – Mental health practitioner reimbursement in Medicare legislation would allow marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs) to directly bill Medicare for their services. These are very common professions in community behavioral health settings, many of whom also are trained to provide SUD services and are high-touch with the patients, meaning that adding them to the Medicare billable network will dramatically expand access to care for older adults and individuals with disabilities, who are often at the highest risk for mental health problems yet are the least likely to receive mental health services. To help the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 286/H.R. 945) move quickly to passage, we need your help in showing broad support for legislation by gathering co-sponsors for the legislation. Learn more about the state of this legislation and write to your legislators.

Contact your Federal Legislators

Download the Congressional Directory of health staff and contact your federal legislators today (updated as of 6/4/2020)! This list will be updated quarterly, so be sure to get the most recent information before conducting advocacy outreach.