Category Mental Health Reform

Care for Your Mind’s 2013 Best Of List: Mental Health Policy Advancements

It’s that time of year again when the “Best Lists” come out. The mission at CFYM is to facilitate discussion by sharing the views of experts in the community. In that spirit, we are summarizing the “Ten Best” list from the National Institute of Mental Health to create our own “Five Best List.” We want to hear from you. Read the post and tell us what you believe are the best advances in policy and advocacy during 2013.

Mental Health Advocacy Begins with Science

Director Thomas Insel of the National Institute of Mental Health makes the argument that science leads to better policy. We are encouraged that scientific advances shift the conversation towards more self-directed treatment plans. It is the empowerment of treatment ownership that fosters advocacy and ultimately leads to a life of thriving, not just surviving.  We’ve compiled our top five list below, with the corresponding NIMH rank in parenthesis.

5. (10 on the NIMH List):  “Nobel Prize—This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (and Lasker Award) recognized NIMH grantee Thomas Südhof for his discoveries of how neurotransmitters are released from the pre-synaptic terminal.”

This research includes better understanding on how neurons in the brain communicate. We don’t know where the research will lead, but better knowledge about how molecules translate bio-chemical messages, give us reason to hope for advances in treatment options.

4. (9 on the NIMH List): “Beyond Magic Bullets—Several important new trends emerged this year in non-pharmacological treatments, sometimes from pharmaceutical companies. In April, a Nature commentary that included authors from the pharmaceutical giant GSK described “electroceuticals,” heralding a new era in treatment development focusing on devices to deliver electric signals rather than drugs to alter the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain.”

Many peers have reported successful outcomes with this type treatment. We are encouraged that pharmaceuticals are exploring options outside of strict pharmacology protocols.

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First Kennedy Forum Panel Spotlights Past and Future of Mental Health Care

kennedy forum logo

Care For Your Mind is here today at The Kennedy Forum, and the daylong conference kicked off early this morning with the first panel discussion that looked at the historical significance of President Kennedy’s mental health initiative. This month marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of the Community Mental Health Act, a law that provided federal funding for community mental health centers in the United States. In addition, it helped raise the conversation around mental illness in this country.

Mental Health and the Civil Rights Movement

The discussion focused on exami...

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CFYM to Attend The Kennedy Forum

kennedy forum logo

On Thursday, leaders from the mental health advocacy community will gather in Boston, MA for the Kennedy Forum, a conference established to advance the national conversation around mental health care and advocate for policies that will improve our nation’s mental health care system. Panels and conversations at the conference will focus on creating new avenues for treatment for those affected by mental illness and other disabilities.

Honoring President John F...

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Participate in Largest Expansion of Mental Health Coverage in a Generation

healthinsurance2The government may not be open for business, but the market exchanges and 24 hour phone lines are operating today!

Marking today’s opening of the health exchanges, Care for Your Mind shares information and resources about who has to have insurance, what’s involved in enrollment, and what we know about mental health care coverage.

Millions more will now have access to mental health care

If you’re looking for health insurance, you have some new options! Today the health exchanges are open for business. That’s because today is the first day of the enrollment period for the health exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to enable the purchase of health insurance.

Here we are providing links to information covering the individual mandate, enrollment in a health exchange, and what is currently known about mental health coverage. Do you know how the ACA is changing health care?

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How Can We Improve Timely Access to Mental Health Care Services?

Shortage of mental health care providers

In Tuesday’s expert perspective, Dr. David Baron provided insights into innovative treatment models that have been implemented throughout the country. These models range from rural areas in West Virginia to large urban cities such as Philadelphia and seek to provide broader access to mental health services. At first blush it might appear that these two geographic locations have little in common in regards to access to mental health care...

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A Conversation with David Baron, MSED, DO

david_baronDavid Baron, MSED, DO

Professor and Vice Chair, and Chief of Psychiatry, University Hospital, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

Care For Your Mind: As the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are implemented, what are the big changes you see for mental health care?

David Baron: Mostly, they are positive changes. More people will receive services whether under expanded Medicaid or purchasing insurance: this will enable them to seek care that they might not have had previously. The key will be making sure there are enough professionals to provide the care that people need and, of course, helping people to understand what kind of care they are entitled to.

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Beyond the ACA, Part Two: Change the Culture of Care

Ron Manderscheid, Ph.D.
Executive Director, National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Directors

Ron ManderscheidPreviously on Care for Your Mind, I asked: “If you or a family member needed care today for a mental health or substance use condition, would you be able to get it?” We’ve explored obstacles that stand in the way of accessing mental health care, and we explored how the Affordable Care Act improves access and quality for people with conditions like depression and other mood disorders.

In yesterday’s post, we explored three ways to change the structure of community-based mental health care. Today, we look at how we can change the processes and attitudes through which community-based mental health care is delivered.

Changing the Culture of Care

Improving access to behavioral health care isn’t only about making changes in how care is structured. It’s also a matter of the content and quality of the care.

Professionals should be able to identify people who need care early. Consumers should be engaged in their care. And consumers need to know that the care they seek is going to be effective. That’s why we need change—and advocacy—regarding processes of care.

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Beyond the ACA, Part One: Make Mental Health Part of Overall Health

Ron Manderscheid, Ph.D.
Executive Director, National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Directors

Without access to care, sustained recovery is not possible.Ron Manderscheid

That’s why each opportunity to break through barriers to access is critically important. When access to care becomes universal, millions of people with mental conditions who don’t get care today will get care. That care will be grounded in evidence-based practices and focused on the whole person, not a diagnosis.

Problems will be caught early; symptoms will be mitigated early in their course. And, ultimately, we can help make recovery not a potential outcome, but rather the expectation.

But change doesn’t happen overnight. Overcoming barriers to behavioral health care access requires persistent action and effort to target and sustain new ways of framing, delivering, and sustaining services and supports.

Behavioral health is part of overall health.

Slowly but surely, policy makers and researchers are reuniting brain and body in their thinking. That reunion has begun to help break down barriers to access, reduce the stigma that still surrounds mental health problems, and promote prevention and early opportunities for intervention. And it’s about time!

But to create an environment in which access is open to all, that policy and research reunion needs to be matched by a comparable reunion in program and practice. A number of structural changes—each an opportunity for our action and advocacy—can become the building blocks for full access to behavioral health care as part of overall health care.

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