Acute care needs, state programs were 2016 focus for mental health advocates

The 2016 Minnesota Legislature again invested in our state’s mental health system. While last year the new funding focused on community-based services and […]

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The 2016 Minnesota Legislature again invested in our state’s mental health system. While last year the new funding focused on community-based services and supports, this year’s increases largely focused on acute care needs and state-operated programs.

Funding was provided for Minnesota to move forward and be one of eight states to be a demonstration site for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). Without the language and funding, Minnesota would have lost its opportunity to develop “one-stop” shops for children and adults with mental illnesses and their families. The CCBHCs hold out great hope for a seamless system where the mental health, substance use, and health care needs are addressed all in one place.

The criteria for eligibility for the crisis housing fund was changed so that people who have a serious mental illness, not just a serious and persistent mental illness, can have their rent paid for while they are in residential treatment for up to 90 days. Funding was included to continue the Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center’s integrated care project.

The legislature also increased funding for the very effective School-Linked Mental Health program by $33,000 in the fiscal year 2017 and $1.45 million per year in the next biennium. The foster care and adoption and relative care rates were increased by 15 percent in the next biennium. Additional funds were made available for both the Homeless Youth Act and Safe Harbor for sexually exploited youth.

The bulk of the new funding will go to state-operated programs. Funds were increased to provide a competency restoration program at St. Peter (12 beds) which will open up beds at Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center, increase staffing at the Community Behavioral Health Hospitals so that all the beds are used, keep the Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Hospital open, and to increase clinical oversight and fund a nursing pool at Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center (AMRTC). A direct appropriation to increase staffing at the Security Hospital in St Peter (MSH) was not made, but language was added at the last possible moment to allow the commissioner may move these appropriations to ensure a safe environment at the Minnesota Security Hospital
and other hospitals in direct care and treatment stateoperated services. Any reallocation of the appropriations under this subdivision must be reported in the new report that will be required.

Due to the questions about how funds are used the Department of Human Services is required to submit a quarterly report to the legislature on AMRTC, MSH, and CBHH. The report shall contain information on the number of licensed beds, budgeted capacity, occupancy rate, number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordable injuries and the number of OSHA recordable injuries due to patient aggression or restraint, number of clinical positions budgeted, the percentage of those positions that are filled, the number of direct care positions budgeted, and the percentage of those positions that are filled.

Three important provisions were included in the Education Section. They are to increase funding to expand the number of schools using Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, provide
funding for staff development grants for Intermediate School Districts and Cooperatives to reduce the use of seclusions and restraints and provide
matching funds.

Some important provisions did not pass such as a rate increase for community mental health providers and requiring four hours of training for police on mental health and de-escalation. Minnesota continues to be a leader across the country in its commitment to investing funding to build a mental health system.

-Sue Abderholden, MPH, is executive director of NAMI Minnesota





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Mental Wellness