The 2013 Minnesota Legislature was good to mental health programs and services, much to the relief of advocacy organizations and families. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Minnesota) and other advocates and groups are pleased; citing gains on everything from to stepped up early identification and treatment to help with housing to more restrictions on use of seclusion and restraint in schools.
A thorough summary of the session can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/MH-2013-Session NAMI is especially pleased with the increased funding for school-linked mental health grants, increased number of services covered under Medical Assistance for children, and increased funding for employment supports and housing subsidies for people with mental illnesses. That’s a reversal from earlier in the session when the organization was a leader in efforts to challenge deeper proposed health and human services cuts.
“Early identification and treatment are crucial to minimizing the impact of mental illnesses on people’s lives,” said Sue Abderholden, NAMI Minnesota’s executive director, “and this legislature has funded efforts to help with this.”
Children’s mental health saw many gains. Funding will increase for schoollinked mental health services by $7.434 million the first biennium and $9.814 during the second biennium. Case management services will be offered to young adults between 18-21 who had received children’s case management. A transition plan must be developed before discontinuing children’s case management services.
Coverage would be added for additional services under MA such as family psycho-education, mental health treatment plan development and clinical care consultation. Family peer specialists would be added to the types of mental health practitioner services covered by a children’s mental health provider. Having them on staff creates a family-driven mental health system and provides great support to families, according to NAMI.
Funding for mental health first aid training for people who work with youth is another plus. Lawmakers also provided funds for in-reach community-based service coordination for a child or young adult up to age 21. This helps a young person who has a serious emotional disturbance who has frequented emergency rooms two or more times in the previous consecutive three months or has been admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit two or more times in the previous consecutive four months, or is being discharged to a shelter.
Many children in foster care live with serious mental illnesses, needing more help than can be typically provided through a family foster home. Legislation passed this session would provide intensive treatment in foster care.
Lawmakers have also passed legislation requiring a review of the state’s only hospital for children with mental illnesses to determine need, service model and other future changes.
Mental health crisis services also got help, with funding increased by $1.5 million for the biennium for both children and adults. Financial support was also provided for Text4Life, a text message-based crisis line.
Parenting skills will now be covered under Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Services (ARMHS). Coverage policy and payment rates will be restructured to improve access to ARMHS.
In adult mental health, the 10 percent low needs CADI cut for people with a serious mental illness living in a corporate foster care program run by a mental health organization will be eliminated. Another gain is that people with schizoaffective disorder will be eligible for case management services.
Lawmakers made a number of changes to help the mental health work force, including a 5% payment rate increase for mental health providers under MA, fee-for-service starting Sept. 1, 2014 and a 1% payment increase for home and community-based services providers starting in 2015. The 1.67% payment rate cut to providers that was scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2013 won’t happen.
A future event to watch for is a summit involving the higher education and mental health communities to look at how to increase the number of people working at all levels of the mental health system. Goals include ways to improve training and create a more culturally diverse mental health workforce.
For people seeking work, there were gains including a one-time $1 million increase for the Extended-Employment Program for People with Serious Mental Illnesses, an ongoing $1 million of increase to vocational rehabilitation programs.
Several housing programs for youth and adults were funded, including $4 million for the Homeless Youth Act which provides funding to organizations offering street outreach, drop-in centers, emergency shelter, transitional living programs and/or supportive housing for runaway, at-risk and homeless youth.