Category Mental Health Reform

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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Once in the Door: What the ACA Does for You

Ron Manderscheid, Ph.D.
Executive Director, NACBHDD

Ron Manderscheid

Earlier this week, I outlined seven ways that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) helps get individuals with mental health conditions in the door to access mental health services.

Today, I’ll examine the ways in which the ACA helps individuals retain access and benefit from individualized, consumer-centered care and services.

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A Foot (or Seven) in the Door: The Affordable Care Act

Ron Manderscheid, Ph.D.
Executive Director, NACBHDD

Ron ManderscheidIt is said that a problem well-stated is half-solved. In my last post, I identified the significant economic, geographic, service system, and interpersonal challenges that can slow or thwart entirely the ability to get needed prevention, diagnosis, and treatment services for behavioral health conditions. I pointed out how, as a result, few people with mental health problems ever get either behavioral or physical health care services, resulting in shortened lives by as many as 25 years.

In this post, I examine ways in which the challenges to accessing behavioral health care can be overcome. In particular, I look at ways in which implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a real and vital tool to help people with mental conditions get, retain, and benefit from individualized, consumer-centered care and services.

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