Excellence in mental health - Two steps in the right direction

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Excellent news all around with the introduction of two important pieces of legislation that move us one step closer to getting serious about addressing the gaping holes in the mental health safety net.The Excellence In Mental Health Act represents an important move in the right direction between the ways that physical and behavioral health issues are addressed in America. Does it go as far as the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity And Addiction Equity Act? No. But it gets us closer. Paired with Sen. Al Franken's (D-MN) recently-introduced Mental Health In Schools Act — which encourages early intervention and community resources for mentally ill American children — the new legislation suggests that the Senate is starting to get serious about mental health.

Excellence in Mental Health Act
First, the Network was pleased to see continued energy around improving mental health services in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. A bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act last week to strengthen our nation's mental health services. The bill, introduced in the wake of the recent tragedy in Newtown, puts mental health centers on more equal footing with other health centers by improving quality standards and expanding access to ensure more people can get the mental health care they need. The bill is sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), along with a bipartisan group of colleagues including Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Let's keep up the momentum folks. We can only hope that this effort embraces some of the excellent work that has come out of the system of care movement. See our news story on Wraparound Milwaukee's Mobile Urgent Treatment Team.

Nice quotes from Linda Rosenberg of the National Council in this press brief from Senator Stabenow's website. Keep it up Rosenberg!

Mental Health in Schools Act


  1. Lyn Greene's avatar
    Lyn Greene
    | Permalink
    I have serious questions.

    1. Is there really an "EXCELLENCE IN MENTAL HEALTH ACT"?

    2. Is Relias Academy an important entity in certification for EXCELLENCE IN MENTAL HEALTH?

    3. Is RELIAS "THE" Federally recognized provider of CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE?

    4. Is this certification just another way to charge Mental Health Professionals for things that are not necessary (but SOUND necessary)?

    5. Are Mental Health Providers going to need this certification in order to successfully compete for Mental Health Professional jobs in the future?

    Please tell me what this is all about. Thanks, Lyn.

    Lyn Kanofsky-Greene, LCSW
    Sr. Licensed Mental Health Clinical Coordinator
    Psychiatry - Crisis Intervention Services 13B
  2. Victoria Gathers-Grossett's avatar
    Victoria Gathers-Grossett
    | Permalink
    Dr Patrin makes a valid point that give me something to think about.

    Thanks you

    Student USC Social Work
  3. George Patrin, MD's avatar
    George Patrin, MD
    | Permalink
    While I agree the two initiatives (The Excellence In Mental Health Act, Mental Health In Schools Act) are encouraging, introducing two pieces of legislation to move us to get serious about addressing gaping holes in the mental health safety net with early intervention and community resources, the focus and direction they embrace is flawed. The Acts suggest mental health problems will be addressed by putting even more money into "Mental Health Centers" and creating more behavioral health professionals. THIS APPROACH WILL NOT ADDRESS THE ROOT CAUSE OF POOR MENTAL HEALTHCARE in this country! Stigma and discrimination will remain preventing needy people from accessing services housed behind specialty doors. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) partially got it: "...we must work together to spend federal dollars more wisely (yes!GP)... (and) address our fragmented mental health system (to) ensure more patients have access to the care they need (yes!GP)..." BUT he goes on to say the need can and will be met "by offering (expansion of) current Community Mental Health Centers." Our problem is a fractured healthcare system providing care in silos the patient must wait for with referred access, and once authorized, travel to and pay a 'fee-for-service' to specialists interested in only one body organ (the brain-mind). Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) almost had it. He said: "Too often the stigma of mental illness prevents individuals from seeking diagnosis and treatment...we must ensure those who need treatment have access to it." But then he goes on to repeat the time-tested, and failed, mantra. "... we can't let community mental health centers ...fall through the cracks." Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) also almost had it right. She said: "...it is clear we need to take a serious look at our mental health system. Our current system is fragmented, and patients with serious mental illness all too often lack access to the care that they need." THAT'S IT! Unfortunately, she also goes on to say "Our bill will help address this problem by expanding access to mental health care...through our nation's Community Mental Health Centers." So what's the ultimate answer? Call for support of PRIMARY CARE CENTERS with integrated mental health teams in them. These centers (Primary Care Medical Homes) would address all issues on a same day basis with the appropriate specialty provider immediately available. Most of the mental health care can, and should, be done by the primary care team with mental health consultant oversight, on site. Very few must see the 'shrink' for more than an intake. We must stop building more specialty centers and build up the entry point. Connect behavioral health and primary care within the education systems as well to follow the same methodology and priority. Problem is, primary care clinicians are closing their practices because they are not able to practice their craft anymore in this country. The "Community Mental Health Centers" had better rewrite their mission statements, since they are getting the resources, and decide to become "Community Wellness Primary Care Centers" if these two Acts are going to really do something about the quality of mental health care in this country! If we don't get this, the community violence, work force disruption, and loss of life, especially to suicide, will continue.
  4. kathy's avatar
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    We need EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT/EDUCATION in the schools...educators and counselors.....it is an educator's job, not a social worker or medical job. Children not able to adjust find adjustment counselors...behaviorals problems often need behavioral training...psychologist/counselors....not medical or social workers....children need training/education to learn. Not medical or social workers not trained in education. Special education provides for students with difficulties.
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