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Deadline for AMHCA Award Nominations Is May 17

Give credit where credit’s due—nominate someone for an AMHCA award! The nominee can be yourself, a peer, or an AMHCA state chapter. Every year, AMHCA bestows awards on several individuals and AMHCA state chapters at the Annual Conference in July. 

Individual Awards:

  • Dr. Linda Seligman Counselor Educator of the Year
  • Graduate Student of the Year
  • Legislator of the Year
  • Mental Health Counselor of the Year
  • Outstanding Community Service
  • Poster Session Award
  • Professional Service and Leadership to a State Chapter
  • Public and Community Service
  • Researcher of the Year

State Chapter Awards:

  • Membership
  • Service to Consumers
  • Service to Members
  • Outstanding Chapter Website
  • Outstanding State Chapter

For your nomination to be eligible, please submit a complete nomination packet of required information to AMHCA, Attn: Melissa Hobson, 801 N. Fairfax St., Suite 304, Alexandria, VA 22314 by the deadline: May 17, 2013.

Student Travel Scholarship Deadline Extended
The AMHCA Foundation will accept applications for the 2013 Student Travel Scholarship through April 7 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. 

This scholarship recognizes an outstanding graduate student in mental health counseling and awards a $1,000 travel grant to attend the 2013 AMHCA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.
Mental Health–Substance-Use Services in Hospitals Increase After Parity Law

The 2008 so-called “Parity Act”—the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act—increased access to mental health and substance-use services in hospitals. 
Yet consumers continued to pay more out-of-pocket for substance-use admissions than for other types of hospital admissions, according to a new Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) report.

The report, “The Impact of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act on Inpatient Admissions,” is one of the first of its kind to look at hospital spending, utilization, prices, and out-of-pocket payments for mental health and substance-use admissions for those younger than age 65 with employer-sponsored health insurance. 

Between 2007 and 2011, spending on hospital admissions for mental health and substance use grew 
faster than spending on medical/surgical admissions. In 2011, spending on mental health and substance-use admissions was driven by an uptick in utilization.

The Parity Act enhanced the 1996 Mental Health Parity Act by extending parity to substance-use treatment. Under the Parity Act, large group health plans were required to make behavioral health coverage rules similar to medical/surgical benefit rules. Large group plans were also required to make co-pays, deductibles, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums for behavioral healthcare equivalent with the most common medical/surgical treatments.

Key Findings:

  • Substance-Use Admissions Surge: In one of the first analyses of the law’s impact, HCCI found substance use admissions grew by 19.5 percent in 2011 for people younger than age 65 and covered by employer-sponsored health insurance. By comparison, between 2010 and 2011, mental health admissions grew by 5.9 percent, and medical/surgical admissions declined by 2.3 percent for this population.
  • Out-of-Pocket Spending After Parity Law: In 2011, out-of-pocket payments for mental health admissions more closely aligned with payments for medical/surgical admissions. However, the amount spent out-of-pocket on substance-use admissions remained higher than payments for medical/surgical admissions. Out-of-pocket payments for substance-use hospital admissions grew at twice the rate of out-of-pocket payments for mental health or medical/surgical admissions between 2010 and 2011.
  • Spending Growth: Spending for mental health and substance-use admissions was determined more by increased utilization than by rising prices. In 2011, prices for mental health admissions grew at 5.5 percent, and prices for substance-use admissions grew 7.9 percent. In comparison, utilization growth in 2011 reached 5.9 percent for mental health admissions, and rose nearly five-fold for substance-use admissions, from 4 percent in 2007 to 19.5 percent in 2011.

The report reflects the national healthcare spending of more than 40 million people with employer-sponsored health insurance between 2007 and 2011. The report data are from large health insurers who collectively represent almost 40 percent of the U.S. private health insurance market.

Source: Download the issue brief, or learn more about the Health Care Cost Institute

Policing and Mental Health Experts Develop Violence-Prevention Model

In the wake of the shooting deaths in Newtown, Conn., in December, the Police Foundation convened scientists, mental health practitioners, policy-makers, and researchers to review existing research and best practices focused on risk assessment and intervention to prevent mental-health-related gun violence. The Police Foundation is a nonprofit police research organization.

The group assembled the first iteration of a Community Crisis Early Intervention System to help avert future tragedies and to get those suffering with mental illness the help they need. The group hopes to provide the police and the communities they serve with practical, no-cost to low-cost recommendations that can be quickly implemented. 

The group issued three recommendations for police chiefs or sheriffs to know about preventing mental-health-related gun violence:

  1. The police should create local partnerships with mental health service providers, school officials, and appropriate community groups to develop a mental health crisis response capacity;
  2. Police chiefs and sheriffs should use the bully pulpit afforded them to keep community focus on the need for mental health services and convene local service providers and community members to enhance knowledge about local needs, services, and the science of mental illness and gun violence; and
  3. Police chiefs and sheriffs should adopt policies and practices that help reduce the availability of firearms to people in mental health crisis, institutionalize mental health training for their officers, and facilitate community-wide “mental health first aid” training for all community members.

The group will continue its work to provide the police, community members, and local policymakers with evidence-based tools that build on these recommendations and sharpen the focus on preventing mental-health-related gun violence. 

In addition to the Police Foundation, the following organizations participated in the roundtable discussion: American Psychological Association; National Institute of Mental Health; US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, Civil Rights Division, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and FBI Behavioral Science Unit; International Association of Chiefs of Police; Police Executive Research Forum; Mothers Against Drunk Driving; National Council for Behavioral Health; Office of New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; U.S. Department of Homeland Security; New Haven, Conn., Police Department; and the Montgomery County, Md., Police Department. 

Researchers came from George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia, and West Virginia University.