Why Aren’t Those Who Need Mental Health Care Able to Receive it When Needed Most?

stockvault-locked99163Over and over again we hear of tragedies that might have been averted if only people had access to quality mental health care.  The Daily Beast does an excellent job of covering the latest such tragedy involving Gus Deeds stabbing his father, Virginia politician Creigh Deeds.  According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch Gus Deeds did receive a psychiatric evaluation on Monday, the day before the stabbing, but was release due to lack of a psychiatric bed across the entire western Virginia region.

In Tennessee the department of mental health is evaluating their budget for the next several years. They are considering eliminating peer support centers from this budget by closing 45 programs affecting people across the entire state. However, according to a post at Hope Works a previous commission seems to make contradictory recommendations:

  • Set up an ongoing process to educate all providers at all levels within the behavioral health system in the state of Tennessee to the role of Peer Specialists and the value of their unique contribution.
  • Standardize and improve certification training requirements for Peer Specialists, including a testing component to ensure basic competency.
  • Implement a system of training for supervisors of Peer Specialists.
  • Develop a forum in which to address the ongoing dilemma of utilizing grant-funded dollars and Medicaid fee-for-service funding to provide peer support services.
  • Assist behavioral health care providers in developing the necessary infrastructure to provide and expand Medicaid-funded peer services.
  • Provide financial incentives to the behavioral health provider community to implement the models of providing peer support services.
  • Broaden scopes of services to allow proposed peer support models to be integrated into new and existing programs, e.g., addressing educational requirements, when appropriate.
  • Give consideration to expanding the utilization of Peer Specialists in future RFPs, scopes of services and/or agreements with managed care organizations.
  • Provide a balance between the best practices carried out in today’s Peer Support Centers with the social integration and linkage to available community resources that were highly valued and experienced by participants in the previous Drop-in Center model.
  • Identify and/or develop an instrument to measure the efficacy of peer support services.

As stated in last week’s post, the civil rights battles for mental health parity has moved to the states.  Are you ready to join in?

Your Turn

  • What is the biggest mental health access challenge in your state?
  • What are some of the steps you have taken in your state to address the disparity between access to mental health coverage and other medical conditions?

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