TAMHO - Behavioral Health News & Events Volume 2 Issue 2

B E H AV I O R A L H E A LT H NEWS & EVENTS Volume 2, Issue 2 Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations (TAMHO) April 2014 Message from the Executive Director Advocacy. We often hear about the importance of advocacy in the human services world. I have heard it said recently that the political climate has become so divided that advocacy efforts are a waste of time. I have come to believe that when the system is divided, advocacy is more important than ever. Throughout this issue you will find examples of how advocacy has recently changed the opinion Ellyn Wilbur or decision of policymakers. One such example is Executive Director the continuation of Peer Support Center funding. TAMHO When it appeared that this funding would be cut from the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services budget, hundreds of individuals contacted their legislators to explain that Peer Support Centers are places where people work on their individual recovery with the support of others with lived experience. They explained that for 3,500 individuals that are served by a Peer Support Center each day, it is a place of hope and healing, and their lives would be negatively impacted without them. As a result, Peer Support Center funding was included in the Governor’s Budget. We are hopeful that the General Assembly will keep the funding in place. There are two great recent examples of the impact of advocacy on the National stage. First, when it was proposed that certain categories of medications that are used to treat individuals with mental health or substance use disorders would be stripped of their protected Medicare Part D status, meaning that certain medications would be not be covered for people with Medicare, more than 1,000 members of the mental health and addictions community contacted leaders in Congress. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decided not to proceed with their plan. And finally, the recent passage of the “Excellence in Mental Health Act” is a great example of the importance of advocacy. This Act would increase access to mental health and substance use services, while creating high standards for community services. After decades of funding cuts, this $900 million infusion of funding will create demonstration sites in eight states. The passage of this Act comes after hundreds of advocates across the country have met with their Congressional representatives to make sure they understand the impact of this Act and the hope that comes with it. We must make sure that our local and national policymakers understand what is at stake for people in need and that they hear about it directly from their constituents. When our system seems divided, the budget is insufficient, and the political mood is somber, we must remember that it is even more important than ever to advocate for what we know is important. It is our right and it is our responsibility. TNCODC and TDMHSAS Partner in Conducting the 2014 Co-Occurring Disorders Symposium Tennessee initiates the launch of a statewide integrated system of care AUTHOR & CONTRIBUTOR: Kenneth Minkoff, MD, ZiaPartners, Inc., San Rafeal, California (Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard) [Consultant & Speaker: TNCODC/TDMHSAS 2014 CoOccurring Disorders Symposium] On April 1 (no fooling!), in Nashville during the 2014 Co-Occurring Disorders Symposium, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), in partnership with the Tennessee Co-occurring Disorders Collaborative (TNCODC), launched a process to develop an integrated system of care statewide. For the past two years, TNCODC has been working across the state to provide education and increase awareness of the importance of addressing the needs of individuals, families, and communities with any combination of mental health and substance use issues. As a result of the work of the Collaborative, and as a result of the success of the TAMHO data warehouse in providing more accurate information about the prevalence of co-occurring disorders, some important facts have emerged. First, individuals and families with co-occurring mental health and substance issues (who also commonly have health issues and a myriad of social problems such as legal, housing, parenting, and disability issues) are associated with poor outcomes and high costs, and therefore need to be a priority for system level attention. Second, not only are these individuals and families doing poorly, there are a lot of them; according to our data (which is probably under-reported) over 60% of individuals in either MH or SA services have a current or previous Inside this issue: TAMHO ADVOCACY DAYS 4 COALITION DAY ON THE HILL 5 STATEWIDE HAPPENINGS 6 NATIONAL HAPPENINGS 6 TAMHO MEMBER ORGANIZATION HAPPENINGS 9 GOVERNOR HASLAM ANNOUNCES REVISIONS TO STATE BUDGET 12