Saturday, January 26, 2013

Now is the Time: Sebelius, Hyde, and Insel Begin National Dialogue on Mental Illness




HHS Secretary Sebelius held a public phone call on Jan 16 regarding the expansion of mental health (MH) treatment, especially for kids. This was the day after President Obama's "Now is the Time" [pdf] plan was released. The recorded 30-minute phone call is available until Feb 15 and can be listened to by calling 888-568-0013 (no codes or anything).

Here are some of the points I noted while listening:
  • 60% of people with mental illness and 85% of people with substance use disorders do not receive help
  • failure to receive help is largely due to stigma and people not asking for help [umm, what about failure to access help due to insurance barriers and inadequate and inaccurate provider directories?]
  • Project AWARE to train 5000 MH professionals to help identify MH problems in school age kids
  • to help eliminate stigma, she will be initiating a year-long "national dialogue" about mental illness, focusing on young people
  • mentioned a Healthy Transitions program for young adults


Then SAMHSA Director Pam Hyde entertained questions from callers. My telegraphic notes are below:

  • peer specialists (Pam called them "peer professionals")
  • surrogate parents and their MH needs
  • workforce issues
  • correlation of violence w psych meds; toxic practices w/in MH; stigma of coercive treatment; fear guns removed w/o reason 
  • veterans' advocate in Michigan: how do we determine who is at risk and who is not; removing vets' guns; how to reach people in gangs
  • APRN public health nurse: expanding nurses' scope of practice to treat people with mental illness can improve access
  • hope for expansion of voluntary, and not involuntary, treatment; "open dialogue" concept from Finland
  • ACLU: training police to deal better w MH symptoms, esp in kids, so they don't enter the justice system
  • NFFMH: concerns about cuts to existing programs for families

NIMH Director Tom Insel was also present, and said additional questions and comments can be sent to this email: externalaffairs@hhs.gov.