Working to improve the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families
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ACTION ALERT! – Nov. 3, 2013
Action Alert: Olmstead Plan Falls Short on Mental Health
Your Comments Needed Now!
Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan was released last week. The plan is supposed to be a framework for how to ensure that people with disabilities in Minnesota (including people living with mental illnesses) have the supports and services to live in the community in the most integrated settings possible. This work will have far reaching implications for our community, yet people with mental illnesses and the community mental health system receive very little attention in Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan. You can read the plan, here.
The plan continues to demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding about people with mental illnesses, their needs, and the continuum and array of mental health services and supports needed to make the principles of Olmstead a reality for our community. The plan makes no mention of expanding community services used by people with mental illnesses such as ACT, ARMHS, IRTS, crisis residential, etc. There is no discussion in the plan about expanding the use of evidence-based practices such as Illness Management and Recovery (IMR), family psychoeducation, or Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment (IDDT). It also doesn’t mention the major cuts that were made to mental health services in recent years, including reductions to adult mental health grants in the 2013 legislative session to fund an increase in ARMHS payments. Expanding those services that work and rebuilding our fragile community mental health system needs to be part of the plan.
Many of the proposals in the plan seek a one-size-fits-all approach for people, regardless of their disability. This doesn’t work well for children and adults living with mental illnesses who face a unique set of challenges, which require a distinct approach. It also fails to understand core concepts for the mental health community – resiliency and recovery. The plan also fails to address the fact that recent policies to restrict the ability of people with mental illnesses to access supports they need through programs such as the Personal Care Assistance (PCA) services and CADI waivered services. Changes to eligibility and funding for these programs has resulted in many people with mental illnesses getting no or limited services.
The factors that have led to so many youth and adults living with a mental illness ending up in our criminal justice system are not included in the plan. There was a section in an earlier plan that included efforts to address these issues, including discharge planning, but it is not in the final plan.
The section on education has very little focus on the fact that children in the EBD category have poor outcomes and often end up in very segregated settings.
There has been very little engagement with the mental health community throughout the Olmstead planning process and we are worried that people with mental illnesses will not be well served by these recommendations. NAMI Minnesota has repeatedly urged the Olmstead Subcabinet to create a separate section of the Olmstead plan dedicated to people with mental illnesses that is based on input from and collaboration with the mental health community.
We need people to send in comments to the Olmstead Subcabinet urging them to revisit the plan to ensure it meets the needs of children and adults living with mental illnesses. Please send in your comments by November 9th.
Here is a sample letter:
Dear Olmstead Subcabinet Members:
I (live with a mental illness/have a family member/am a mental health provider) and am very concerned about the impact of the Olmstead Plan on people with a mental illness. The plan should recommend greatly increasing access to services that specifically support people with mental illnesses in the community, such as ACT, ARMHS, IRTS and community support programs. I (put in here if you use any of them and what impact they have had).
We also need more housing programs such as Bridges and supportive housing (mention here if you are waiting for housing assistance or if you have it how it has helped). (If you are a parent of a child in school, mention the EBD issue and how it should be addressed in the plan). I was/am on the (put in here if you have used the PCA program or CADI waiver and if you experienced a loss in hours or support and what that has meant to you).
Feel free to mention any of the following:
What prevents or has helped you or your loved one with a mental illness from living in the community – in terms of housing, employment, treatment, supports? What services and supports do you wish you had?
If you or your loved one use (or have used) PCA services or a CADI waiver – how have they helped? Have you had hours reduced or been kicked off the program?
End the letter by including one of these points:
The Olmstead Plan should recognize that people with mental illnesses can recover and a goal of the plan should be to support people’s recovery.
The Olmstead Plan should support expanding and improving our mental health system. It should measure how many more people are able to access community mental health services.
The Olmstead Plan should ensure that people with mental illnesses are not forced to utilize services that are not designed for them or appropriate for them.
The Olmstead Plan should not support policies that will restrict the ability of people with mental illnesses to access services, such as PCA services or CADI waivers.
You can send comments using the contact form on the Minnesota Olmstead Plan website ( http://bit.ly/14fcGSL) or by sending an email to email@example.com.