Legislative Update October 2020

  • Friday, October 16, 2020 4:42 PM
    Message # 9308335
    Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    The FMHCA Government Relations Committee and FMHCA Board of Directors voted to meet with legislators about drafting a COVID-19-related mental health bill that would address 491 board licensees being excluded from a statute that lists professionals that the court can appoint for certain types of mental health evaluations as well as the issue of registered interns needing a licensed mental health professional on the premises when conducting telehealth.  I have attached a summary.

    Joel Miller, the CEO of AMHCA, provided a state and national policy update today shared below:

    Hi Folks.  Here are happenings from this week on the federal/state behavioral health policy front.  There is little to report on concerning the on-and-off negotiations to secure a deal on a new Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Package before the election.  There are mixed messages galore.  If an agreement is reached on a new bill, it will likely contain increased funding for mental health programs through SAMHSA.  The main action in Congress the past week has been all about the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on the Barrett nomination to the Supreme Court.


    Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Drug Overdose Deaths on Pace for Record Year

    • The United States is on track to reach another grim milestone during the coronavirus pandemic, data shows.
    • The country saw an increase in fatal drug overdoses in the first months of 2020, putting it on pace to hit a new all-time record, according to preliminary figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    • From January to March, data show 19,416 people died from drug overdoses. That’s almost 3,000 more than in the same quarter last year.
    • Also in the 12-month span leading up to March 2020, health officials say the country saw more deadly drug overdoses compared to the same time period before March 2019. That year, the death toll rose to a record peak of almost 72,000.
    • With an uptick in fatal overdoses, the CDC estimates the country had 75,500 drug-related deaths from March 2019 to March 2020.

    SAMHSA Releases New Issue Brief on “The Opioid Crisis and the Hispanic Population: An Urgent Issue”

    • SAMHSA has released a new issue brief, which presents recent data on prevalence of opioid misuse and opioid overdose death rates in the Hispanic/Latino population; contextual factors and challenges to prevention and treatment; innovative outreach and engagement strategies to connect people to evidence-based treatment; and the importance of community voice.
    • You can view the brief here


    ALEXANDRIA, VA: Alexandria launches Narcan delivery program: The City of Alexandria has launched a delivery program to assist residents in obtaining Narcan, a nasal spray that can save the lives of those experiencing an opioid overdose. The program’s goal is to provide additional access to Narcan and reduce the number of deaths related to opioid overdoses. The region’s increase in deaths related to opioid overdoses raises City officials’ concerns that individual and collective stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic may be linked to increased substance use.

    BURLINGTON, VT: Burlington police add positions focused on children's mental health, diversion from jail: The Burlington Police Department is emphasizing mental health and diverting children from the criminal justice system through the addition of two positions. The two new positions, a juvenile crisis counselor and juvenile diversion coordinator, will function similarly but will focus on those under 18. The positions are being funded from a grant through the Governor's Crime Commission.

    LOS ANGELES, CA: LA Takes Step Toward Pilot Program To Take Police Out Of Some Mental Health Calls: The L.A. City Council unanimously agreed to move forward with setting up a pilot program that would take police out of some mental health crisis calls. The council voted to direct staff to prepare requests for proposals from nonprofits that would run the program. It would involve sending out unarmed civilians who are trained to handle people going through a substance abuse or mental health crisis. The LAPD does have a special unit that pairs cops with social workers to handle mental health calls — but they can only deal with some of those calls. The council is looking to model L.A.’s response after the nationally renowned Cahoots program in Eugene, Oregon, which sends out teams made up of a medic and a crisis worker.

    VANCOUVER, WA: Vancouver police in pilot program that aims to address mental health crises: The Vancouver Police Department announced that it is partnering with a community-based organization to start a pilot program aimed at improving access to mental health services and treatments. The city will share grant funding with Sea Mar, a federally qualified health center, to add three full-time mental health responder positions to assist Vancouver police officers in the field “in an on-call capacity during peak (police response) hours,” the police department announced in a news release. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs awarded nearly $315,000 to Vancouver to establish the pilot program. The health professionals are expected improve proactive outreach to the communities most needing the services, help with safety planning and foster more positive relationships. The police department says they will add capacity to the “current crisis model” and reduce response times for mental health evaluations while in the field. These efforts should help promote treatment and divert people from spending time in jail, officials said. The intent of the Enhanced Mobile Crisis Response Team is to provide citizens experiencing a mental health crisis with the opportunity to receive care where they are. It is also designed to divert some citizens from incarceration who have committed low-level crimes while suffering a mental health crisis. 

    ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD: Anne Arundel government and school system officials release report to address mental health challenges for students: Anne Arundel County government and school system officials released the findings of a year-long collaborative task force on mental health in a meeting with the school board on Wednesday night. Officials from multiple agencies and organizations came together to produce the report and in the face of a pandemic and racial unrest — incorporated those challenges too.Committees focused on discrimination, trauma, social media, parental substance abuse, stress and other issues. It also recommended upping advertisement for suicide and mental health hotlines and text lines. Another recommendation was to expand the number of mobile crisis and crisis intervention teams for schools during the day. You can view the findings here.

    ERIE COUNTY, NY: Erie County Offers Free, Virtual Naloxone Training After Increase in Overdoses Amid Pandemic: As of October 8, there have been 105 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths in Erie County with 126 suspected opioid-related overdoses deaths waiting for confirmation. If all those deaths end up being confirmed, the county will have surpassed last year’s numbers with three months in the year. Throughout the remainder of 2020, Erie County is sponsoring a series of free, virtual trainings on recognizing the signs of opioid overdoses and how to use naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose. In addition to the virtual trainings, Erie County operates a text for naloxone program and provides businesses with an emergency naloxone box.

    NEVADA COUNTY, CA: Nevada County Sheriff To Pair Therapists With Deputies On Mental Health Calls: The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office will now team up a licensed therapist with a deputy to respond to certain 911 calls that are not crime-related. Sheriff Shannan Moon plans to launch the new mobile crisis team by the end of the year. Dispatchers will assign some non-criminal, mental health calls to a deputy and therapist paired up in a patrol car. The pilot program is in response to calls for change across the country in policing. Moon says it will reduce the risk of deadly confrontations with people in mental health crisis.

    ROCKFORD AND WINNEBAGO COUNTIES, IL: Rockford, Winnebago County to pair police with mental health experts: Law enforcement in Rockford and Winnebago County will begin trying a new approach next month when responding to mental health crises that emphasizes treatment over arrest. Rockford and Winnebago County sheriff’s police are teaming with Rosecrance to create a three-month pilot program. In what is called a “co-responder model,” police officers will respond to mental health emergencies alongside Rosecrance crisis-intervention specialists. It is hoped that the program will divert people experiencing a psychiatric crisis away from the criminal justice system, where they don’t belong, and into treatment. The pilot program will begin Nov. 1. Mayor Tom McNamara said changing how the region responds to mental illness was among the most common themes heard during a series of more than 20 public and private listening sessions held by the city this year. Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea said the co-responder approach is being adopted around the country to give law enforcement an alternative to arresting someone experiencing a psychiatric episode or contemplating suicide. The co-responder unit would be comprised of specially trained units that include two officers from the city, two deputies from the county and two Rosecrance crisis response workers.

    DELAWARE: State program expands access to youth behavioral healthcare: The Delaware Children’s Department has launched a program that links pediatric primary care providers with free psychiatry consultations and assistance to streamline behavioral healthcare for children and youth. Implemented in 2019, the Delaware Child Psychiatry Access Program is a beneficial resource for primary care providers serving young people with behavioral health needs. Its goal is to remove barriers to behavioral health care and provide quicker services to patients when they need it, as well as empower primary care practitioners.DCPAP supports pediatric practitioners by offering consultations and trainings by a child psychiatrist, and referrals to resources and services by a behavioral health care coordinator. The goal is to empower health professionals to treat their patients within their practices,” said Dr. Richard Margolis, DCPAP project director and medical director for the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services. “We want primary care providers to take advantage of these free services and look forward to helping them with their practices’ behavioral health needs. Integrating behavioral health care with primary care provides better access – and comfort – to our young patients and their families.” Pediatric primary care providers enrolled in DCPAP can request a consultation with a board-certified child psychiatrist or behavioral health resources to help them address their patients’ needs. These services aim to help expand providers’ skill and comfort in managing their patient’s behavioral health disorders in their office, as opposed to referring their patients to limited psychiatry services that may take months to access. So far, 175 pediatric primary care practitioners have registered for the program.

    FLORIDA: Governor and First Lady announce $5.2 million for panhandle children and mental health:Governor Ron DeSantis and the First Lady made an announcement in Panama City regarding recovery, children, and mental health. The First Lady announced that the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida will be receiving a $5.2 million grant to assist with rebuilding child care facilities in the panhandle. That money will also help to expand upon the telehealth services already here. “This is going to be providing mental health screenings, evaluations for families, and providers. As well as the equipment, the training, it’s going increase capacity for a lot of these facilities,” said Casey DeSantis, Florida’s First Lady.


    Pew Research Releases New Recommendations on Combatting the Opioid Overdose Crisis

    • A new report from Pew outlines strategies to strengthen policy efforts across the continuum of prevention, harm reduction, and treatment to address the risks of polysubstance use can slow the rates of drug overdose deaths in the United States.
    • You can view the report here

    Google Launching Online Hub for Veteran Mental Health Resources

    • As the pandemic continues to take a toll on veterans’ health with military suicides on the rise, Google is launching a new online hub offering authoritative resources to veterans (and their friends and family) who are contending with mental health issues.
    • Serving Veterans aims to pull into one place reliable information and support tools for post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and other problems.
    • Google worked with employees who are veterans as well as nonprofits and outside veterans groups to build the virtual forum.
    • The company also built Health Heroes, a mental health check-in app for frontline workers, in collaboration with the University of North Carolina.

    CLASP Issues New Report on How State Medicaid Programs Can Advance Equity in Maternal Mental Health

    • A new report from CLASP offers guidance to state Medicaid offices on the steps needed to advance equity in maternal health, particularly for people of color.
    • You can view the executive summary here
    • You can access the report here


    ROUTE FIFTY: Why We Need to Pay Attention to Police Officers’ Mental Health

    CNN: People of color face significant barriers to mental health services

    STAT NEWS: New California law should serve as a national model for mental health care reform

    NEW YORK TIMES: For Pregnant Women, a Push to Head Off Depression Before It Starts

    ED SURGE: The ‘Enrichment Gap’ Is Widening. Students’ Social-Emotional Development Is at Risk

    WALL STREET JOURNAL: A Hidden Cost of Covid: Shrinking Mental-Health Services

    Joel E. Miller

    Executive Director and CEO

    American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)

    1 file
  • Sunday, October 18, 2020 11:25 AM
    Reply # 9311013 on 9308335
    JAY SCHRADER (Administrator)

    Thanks Aaron.  Great summary from AMHCA about stuff that impacts mental health counselors all over the country.

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