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NAMI Minnesota
1919 University Ave. W., Suite 400
Saint Paul, MN 55104

phone: 651-645-2948
toll free: 1-888-NAMI-Helps
(1-888-626-4435)
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email: namihelps@namimn.org

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Best Mental Health Investments for 2015

NAMI Minnesota's Legislative Goals

Through bipartisan efforts and strong advocacy, the mental health system in Minnesota has improved over the last decade. We have the foundation – meaning that we know what works. Now we need to stabilize, expand and improve. Below find NAMI Minnesota's legislative goals and best investments for mental health for 2015. Also, sign up for NAMI Legislative Updates, here.

Human Services
1. Increase rates. The rates for many mental health services do not reflect the work that is being required. Rates need to be increased to ensure that providers are financially stable and can continue to provide services and treatment in the community. We have lost certain types of providers (Adult Rehab Mental Health Services (ARMHS) and a community mental health center closed down last spring.) A full report on the rates will be released in January.

2. Increase access to crisis services. Crisis services have a proven to be effective in preventing hospitalizations and stabilizing people in the community. Mobile crisis teams and crisis homes are not available statewide. Additional funding is needed to go statewide and private insurance should be paying for crisis services. There needs to be some additional work done to develop uniform standards for crisis services and to train teams on working with children. Also, it would be helpful to have one crisis number (in addition to county numbers) and expand the texting for life program.

3. Expand the school-linked mental health program. This very successful program is not yet in every school in Minnesota. Early intervention and eliminating barriers to access are key to helping our youth have good mental health. Building on this positive experience we should look at embedding mental health professionals in other venues such as youth shelters and day care centers.

4. Fund first episode programs. First episode programs provide intensive treatment and services so that young people experiencing their first psychotic episode do not become disabled by their illness. While some services can be billed to insurance, some funding is needed so that the model can be carried out in Minnesota.

5. Fund protected transport. Protected transport is a new mode of transportation that was added last legislative session. No funding, however, was made available. This will provide a more dignified and less expensive way to transport people with mental illnesses during a mental health crisis.

6. Add clubhouses to Medical Assistance. Several states fund the services provided in clubhouses that meet international standards.

7. Expand Intensive Residential Treatment Services. IRTS programs need to be changed in order to better meet the needs. This includes expanding the hours for intake and provide funding for 24 hours a day, seven days a week service. Add other services to address the needs of certain populations, such as those with co-occurring health conditions. We also need to make sure that there is funding to pay for the room and board costs of IRTS.

8. Eliminate co-payments for smoking cessation products under fee-for-service. People with mental illnesses have some of the highest smoking rates. Co-payments are a disincentive for quitting.

9. Change Community First Services and Supports so eligibility doesn’t require constant supervision. This especially impacts the mental health community.

10. Expand ACT, FACT and Youth ACT. These programs are evidence-based and provide intensive services to people with serious mental illnesses.

11. Create Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities. We need options that provie more intensive services for children.

12. Adopt the Mental Health Workforce committee’s recommendations. The report is nearly complete and there are some excellent recommendations including paying for psychiatric residency slots, requiring private insurance to reimburse for mental health trainees, expand the Diversity Social Work Advancement Program to other disciplines, expand telemedicine, and expand the health professionals loan forgiveness program.

13. Enact recommendations from MI&D report. The report issued last spring has important recommendations that should be implemented, including requiring regular reviews by the Special Review Board and expanding community placement options.

Housing
1. Increase Funding for the Bridges Housing Program. In 2013 the legislature approved an additional $400,000 for the Bridges program. MHFA provided a competitive RFP for the funds and received 12 proposals, requesting a total amount of $1.4 million in order to serve 187 households per month at full utilization. One grantee accepted applications for one day only and received about 100 applications for only 12 vouchers.
2. Increase Funding for Supportive Housing. Supportive housing is an effective and inexpensive way to assist people with serious mental illnesses to live in the community. Supportive housing often provides housing stability, prevents homelessness and even hospitalizations. We are recommending an increase of $5 million.

Employment
1. Fund an Additional Ten IPS Projects. At the end of 2013 there were only eight IPS supported employment providers serving just six counties in Minnesota. By the end of 2014, 17 additional IPS projects will launch or expand, bringing the number of counties with access to this service to 24. To increase the number of IPS providers, additional funds are needed to employ more employment specialists and VR counselors, in addition to state staff to manage the program.

Education
1. Increase Funding to Reduce the Use of All Restraints and Seclusion. The use of prone restraints was reduced by 41% in three years and the number of children it was used on dropped by 20% to 159 children. Just five students accounted for nearly 30% of the use of prone restraints. Fifty-nine percent of these children received a free or reduced lunch and 80% were classified under the Autism Spectrum Disorders or Emotional and/or Behavioral Disorder special education categories. The use of other types of restraints and the use of seclusion dropped statewide.

2. Increase Funding for PBIS. Make state funding available to schools who no longer receive grant funding for PBIS to continue their work and increase funding to allow 40 additional schools to implement PBIS. Increase the number of school support personnel, particularly in high poverty schools. There have been 473 schools trained in implementing PBIS; only 24% of schools across the state are implementing PBIS.

Criminal Justice
1. Increase Training Funds for Law Enforcement. Training for law enforcement on mental illnesses and dealing with a mental health crisis often results in better outcomes for the individual and prevents someone from going to jail. While some community colleges have begun including coursework on mental illnesses for people studying law enforcement, many police officers have little training. The “gold standard” for police training is called Crisis Intervention Team Training (CIT), which is a 40-hour class that provides intensive training for police (and now in Minnesota prison staff) on mental illnesses and crisis response. Police forces need funding to afford the training and especially for smaller forces for paying for substitutes while an officer is at a training.