NEW YORK: New York Expanding Mental Health Services for Coronavirus Frontline Workers:
- New York is expanding its efforts to provide mental health services to frontline workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- The services, which will be free of cost, are being offered in conjunction with Kate Spade New York Foundation and includes a 24/7 hotline available to workers.
- In addition, Co-pays, deductibles and any other out-of-pocket costs for mental health services for frontline pandemic workers will be waived by state insurance regulators.
COLORADO: Mental Health and Financial Security are Two of the Top Concerns among Coloradans during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Healthier Colorado and The Colorado Health Foundation on Thursday released new results from a statewide survey about the coronavirus outbreak. The survey looks at the concerns, needs, experiences and attitudes of Coloradans as they navigate through this unprecedented time. Nearly half (43%) said they believed the worst was yet to come.
- Here are some of the key findings from the survey: A majority of Coloradans say the stress and worry from the coronavirus outbreak has impacted their mental health.
- More Coloradans are worried about paying for necessities of daily living like housing, food, utilities and prescription drugs. Coloradans overwhelmingly feel the government should do more to make health care more affordable, support individuals who cannot afford food and housing, and provide paid sick and family leave.
- Most people feel there are significant changes ahead to the way we live, socialize and work, even after the coronavirus outbreak is under control. More than half of those surveyed, about 53%, reported that their mental health has worsened due to stress and anxiety over the pandemic.
CHARLESTON, WV: City of Charleston to hire first mental health coordinator: The City of Charleston announced it will hire its first mental health coordinator. The position will be funded with Community Development Block Grant funds, according to a news release from the city. The coordinator will work as a part of Mayor Amy Goodwin's CARE Office and will be responsible for coordinating the work of a mental health response team comprised of the city of Charleston's staff, mental health experts, homeless shelters and social service providers, the release said. The CARE Office will reach out to up to 30 individuals or families each month and address mental health and social service needs.
GENESEE COUNTY, MI: Genesee County won’t ask voters for mental health tax: County commissioners say additional funding for mental health services is needed but aren’t ready to ask voters for a new millage that would cost property owners more than $90 million over the next 10 years. Commissioners took no action on a request from Genesee Health System to ask voters for a 0.94-mill property tax in November, a proposal that would pay for a new around-the-clock mental health crisis center and increased funding for county police departments. The proposed property tax would have funded a stand-alone crisis center and the creation of a crisis intervention team to staff it. The GHS millage would have set aside 70 percent of raised revenue -- estimated at $9.1 million in the first year -- for mental health crisis, stabilization and prevention, reducing the burden on the county jail and improving care, Russell said. Twenty percent of the tax would have been allocated to the county Sheriff’s Office and 10 percent allocated to villages, cities and townships that maintain their own police departments.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI: Grand Rapids expands mental health partnerships: The Grand Rapids Police Department is exploring options to improve mental health response. Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington announced his intent to expand mental health partnerships as part of the city’s ongoing efforts to improve public safety outcomes. Washington, Police Chief Eric Payne and Fire Chief John Lehman intend to leverage a combination of nonsworn behavioral and mental health professionals within the organization and partnerships with behavioral and mental health professionals from other governments, authorities and nonprofit organizations. Washington said he hopes to pilot the expanded partnerships by focusing on responses to those experiencing homelessness, building on the early success of the city’s Homeless Outreach Team. The goal is to integrate police, fire and mental health professionals to connect individuals more effectively with the services and support that can lead to transitional and/or permanent supportive housing.
CHARLES COUNTY, MO: St. Charles County firefighters create mental health initiative for trauma survivors: Firefighters came together to create a nonprofit mental health initiative for bystanders of traumatic events after seeing the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder firsthand. Through the new Central County Fire and Rescue Community Crisis Assistance Program (CCAP), people can receive free counseling with licensed professionals in the aftermath of physical and mental trauma, according to a release from the department. Training is underway to teach volunteers to identify situations that could cause post-traumatic stress and how to refer someone for assistance. Every CCFR employee can activate the program in the aftermath of an emergency incident. CCFR said that firefighters came up with the idea after bystanders rescued two people from a burning home in June. Realizing that the bystanders were at risk of post-traumatic stress from the experience, the firefighters spent days brainstorming how to help them recognize symptoms and begin the healing process. From that, CCAP was born. Since it launched on June 27, it already has helped six local residents who stepped into traumatic events to help their neighbors. The program is funded by donations and helps families in need, conducts community education and outreach efforts and supports local community organizations.
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA: Awarded grant to integrate EMS into long-term opioid use disorder care: A California county has received a two-year, $450,000 grant to evaluate a pilot program that partners EMS providers with outreach workers to improve care for those with opioid use disorder (OUD). The CARESTAR Foundation awarded the grant for Contra Costa County's CA Bridge Program at the Public Health Institute, which formed an alliance between the California Department of Public Health, Contra Costa County EMS, American Medical Response, the Contra Costa County Department of Public Health and UCLA to tackle the opioid crisis. This is the first county-wide pilot in California where EMS responders start buprenorphine treatment for OUD directly from the ambulance, and then outreach workers connect with patients within the community to provide longer-term resources," said CA Bridge EMS Director Dr. Gene Hern. "Improvement in this area of care is critical right now, given that the number of deadly opioid overdoses in many California counties is rising drastically."
MISSOULA COUNTY, MT: Mobile Crisis Team Underway: The Missoula County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council received a $125,000 grant from the state Department of Health and Human Services to fund a mobile crisis team to respond to calls for people in mental health crisis, which currently fall on the shoulders of law enforcement. The grant will help fund a 10-month pilot crisis team, which will consist of two mental health professionals with basic medical training to assess and assist a person in crisis, and a peer-support specialist and/or case manager to ensure the person receives follow-up treatment and mental health services. Missoula County and the City of Missoula approved matching funding for the project, which, coupled with other grant funds received earlier this year, totals $380,000. Data from the pilot project will be used to inform future funding decisions. When the mobile crisis team is up and running, people will be able to call 911 and have a mental health team dispatched to the scene. Depending on the situation, the dispatcher may send both police and the mental health team, or just the police if they need to go out and secure the scene first. A case manager will then follow up with the person after the phone call. The county is aiming to have the mobile crisis team active by September, and will contract with a mental health provider to deliver mobile crisis services through an RFP process expected to start next week.
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, CA: State Grant Will Expand Mental Health Services For At-Risk Kids In Santa Barbara County Schools: A state grant is going to fund the expansion of mental health services in Santa Barbara County’s schools. The $4 million dollar grant will be used by the Santa Barbara County Education Office and the county’s 20 school districts to help kids in crisis. There will be a special focus on aid for students who identify as LGBTQ, students who have been suspended or expelled, and foster youth. The four-year program will including having mental health experts available to help children and their families. The funding from a state commission will also pay for what’s known as Mental Health First Aid training for teachers and school staff.
ALABAMA: Alabama officials launch ‘Stop Judging, Start Healing’ campaign to address mental health: A new resource is available to support the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Public Health’s “Stop Judging, Start Healing” campaign. An informational PowerPoint brings awareness and exposure to ending the stigmas of opioid use disorder, HIV, viral Hepatitis, substance use disorder and mental illness. The program is also designed to give supporting information to enhance the healing process for the people experiencing these stigmas, as well as the people who support them. The “Stop Judging, Start Healing” campaign was created to educate and bring awareness to create a state of mind where people with mental health disorders are valued and treated with dignity and where stigma and barriers to treatment and recovery are eliminated.
ILLINOIS: State launches new mental health initiatives: The Illinois Department of Human Services announced three new mental health programs designed to provide additional support for Illinois residents. These new resources will be provided by community organizations through the Living Room Program, Transitional Living Centers and the Transitional Community Care and Support Programs. To achieve successful transition of individuals leaving the IDHS state-operated psychiatric hospitals, IDHS is contracting with community mental health centers and non-traditional service providers to develop capacity and to deliver clinical services and non-traditional supports. The initiatives include:
Living Room Program: This program is for those in need of services and supports designed to divert crises and break the cycle of psychiatric hospitalization. The program provides a safe, inviting, home-like atmosphere where individuals can calmly process a crisis event, as well as learn and apply wellness strategies to prevent future crises. It is staffed by recovery support specialists. Individuals seeking services are screened for safety by qualified mental health professionals upon entry and exit. Individuals experiencing psychiatric crises may self-refer or may be referred by police, fire, emergency departments, or other organizations with which an individual experiencing such a crisis may come into contact. Transitional Living Centers: These centers are a housing resource for individuals who have mental illnesses and need a place to stay while they work with a community mental health center to find permanent housing. Priority is given to individuals who are ready for discharge from an state-operated psychiatric hospital, but need housing. This is not residential treatment, but truly housing, with services and supports being provided through traditional avenues. Transitional Community Care and Support Programs: Eligible individuals are those who are in a state-operated psychiatric hospital and preparing to be discharged. The hallmark of the program is the development of engagement specialists who work in recovery support specialist roles within community mental health centers and who will be coming to state-operated psychiatric hospitals for face-to-face engagement with individuals while they are hospitalized. This will facilitate linkage and establish a trusting relationship with a provider of community-based services for state-operated psychiatric hospital patients during their inpatient stay. The program will include funding for non-traditional supports, such as cellphones, food, clothing, transportation, and other resources necessary for individuals to succeed as they transition to communities. In addition, agencies will provide clinical consultation to the state-operated psychiatric hospital treatment team during treatment and discharge planning to ensure treatment needs are anticipated and addressed prior to discharge
MICHIGAN: Michigan picked for CCBHC pilot project funding community mental health services: Michigan has been picked to partake in a federal pilot program that funds mental health and addiction services in community health clinics — an approach that's helped to keep those needing treatment out of jails, hospitals and off the streets. The pilot is tied to legislation enacted in 2014 from Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, to offer reimbursement for community-based mental health treatment. The program established new federal criteria for participating clinics to meet quality standards and offer a broad range of services, including 24-hour crisis psychiatric care, counseling and integrated help to treat substance abuse, and physical and mental health issues. Michigan was not selected for the initial round of eight states for the pilot project in 2016 but has now been selected, along with Kentucky, for an expansion authorized under the federal coronavirus relief or CARES Act. Twelve centers included in Michigan’s proposal will be part of the demonstration, Stabenow said, and receive funding for two years through Medicaid, the government health program for mostly low-income individuals.
MINNESOTA: Minnesota launches pioneering Medicaid program to combat homelessness: Minnesota officials this week launched an innovative program that aims to help thousands of people who are poor or have disabilities to find their own homes and avoid living on the streets. The program breaks ground in that it uses funds from Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, to pay for a wide range of housing-related services for people at risk of becoming homeless. It will help people search and apply for housing, negotiate leases and ultimately prevent evictions by identifying tenant problems before they become crises, among other services. State officials said they expect the benefits package — called Housing Stabilization Services — will help about 7,000 people on Medicaid find and retain housing within the program’s first three years. The initiative took several years to prepare and reflects a shift in the way policymakers and state agencies are approaching the problem of homelessness. Health and housing programs historically served many of the same people, but they have been administered separately by a patchwork of nonprofits and government agencies with different funding sources. Yet a growing body of research shows a link between health and housing: that a person’s overall health improves once they find a stable place to live. Other states are pursuing a similar model, but Minnesota is the first to receive federal approval to offer housing support services in its basic publicly funded Medicaid program. The new benefit comes as state and local officials struggle to find practical solutions to the affordable housing crisis, which has become more visible during the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, police cleared a sprawling homeless encampment at Minneapolis’ Powderhorn Park, which had swelled to several hundred people, citing increasing crime and health concerns. In Hennepin County alone, officials estimate there are about 80 homeless camps, most with just a few tents. The camps have grown in size and number, outreach workers say, because many homeless people fear catching the coronavirus in a shelter. In response, Hennepin and Ramsey County officials launched an unprecedented effort to move hundreds of homeless people at risk for the coronavirus to hotels, but they are still struggling to bring social services to a hard-to-reach population of people sleeping outside who have mental illness and substance abuse issues. The process for creating the new benefits package was set in motion five years ago, when the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a critical bulletin outlining how Medicaid could cover housing-related services. Those who qualify for the new services would get help finding a place to live, making sure a home is safe and ready for move-in, as well as assistance negotiating with potential landlords. But unlike many short-term housing programs, the support does not end once a person moves into a home. The program also pays for a variety of tenant services, such as early identification of behavioral problems and tenant training designed to prevent evictions. The new Medicaid benefit does not cover the cost of rent, but it would help cover tenant services that are provided by a patchwork of organizations across the state.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Safe Station program goes mobile to connect homeless with addiction, mental health services: With the original services of the once-innovative Safe Station program now available through the Catholic Medical Center, the Manchester Fire Department has begun a new phase of Safe Station. It’s gone mobile. Three times a week, a team that includes firefighters, mental health workers and shelter managers has been visiting homeless camps in the city. Fire Chief Dan Goonan said the effort is to get some 175 homeless camp residents more connected with the help they need to fight problems such as substance abuse or mental illness. And they try to convince them to move to shelters, an effort that he acknowledged is not going so well during the summer. The demand for the service may be increasing. Experts predict a 40% rise in homelessness nationwide, much of that due to economic problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2016, the Manchester Fire Department created Safe Station, making every fire station an access point for drug users to be linked to treatment, services and medical care. It was replicated in locations nationwide, and Goonan hosted President Donald Trump and other top officials to showcase the program. But Safe Station notoriety has been fading. Gov. Chris Sununu’s Doorways program leaned away from fire stations as entry points for services. And earlier this year, Catholic Medical Center assumed the formal Doorway function. Goonan said he created the mobile response team with federal CARES Act money and $265,000 annually provided by Sununu to address homeless issues. After a few visits, the people in camps realized the crisis team was there to help, he said. Conversations started. Nurses helped people with injuries. At least eight were hospitalized for psychiatric problems. At least 16 applied for government benefits. On July 1, a headcount found 173 people in 31 camps, including the four camps where officials had been supplying toilets, sinks, food deliveries, police coverage and trash pickup. The city discontinued those services late last month. The goal is to encourage camp residents to move to the shelter, but on July 1, the shelter was hosting only 18 people who came from the camps. Goonan said four out of every five people in camps are suffering from mental health problems.
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