Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Community Forum on Mental Health Reform

I arrived late, and just got access the net, so now I am blogging live from the Community Forum that MSPCC is holding in Worcester this morning.  Matt Noyes  from Health Care for All and Emily Blair from MSPCC began by reviewing the impact of CHAPTER 321 (AKA a bill relative to Children's Mental Health) on the future of child mental health practice in Massachusetts.  The law, in many ways, is about establishing a process, that involves committee reports and  deadlines, setting goals for change , but leaving the hard questions about the allocation of resources for future advocacy.  There will be many opportunities for us to participate in the process-  the Campaign is currently engaged in a process of engaging participants from around the state in the process going forward.   This law is not the be-all and end-all of our problems with in helping children and families - rather it is a opportunity for us to work with the State to build a better system. The rooms was packed with people from many of the agencies engaged in work on Children's Mental Health within Worcester County.  

Matt and Emily gave a nice presentation, pointing out the the legislation would need to be monitored carefully to be sure that it was actually being implemented.  I went through the details of the bill in an earlier post, and won't repeat it here. They saw the major tasks of the Children's Mental Health Campaign as:
MONITORING IMPLEMENTATION:  The Campaign will be the public monitor to insure that the State is actually doing what is supposed to happen. 16 sections of the law require some sort of public monitor, and we need to translate the language into specific objective, and to determine who will be held accountable for progress. The Campaign needs to work this out with Secretary Bigby, and will be forming task forces to address each of these 16 points.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS:  We were surprised that this bill actually passed. 7000 bills were introduced; only 2% of the “bills of substance” passed. This bill lost only one major of it's major components:  the part about the payment for collateral meetings, so important in the provision of services to children.   So, that portion of the original bill will be reintroduced in the next legislative session. We will all need to be there to support it.
The Campaign has also begun to encourage EOHHS to help with the case management process by creating a directory that monitors the availability of beds for children with mental health problems statewide.  Hospital social workers spend a lot of time looking for beds, requiring individual phone calls around the state.  
Finally, they have recognized the need to encourage the development of improved capacity for care throughout the Commonwealth.   Currently, MBHP manages care for the most vulnerable kids on MassHealth and even they had have trouble finding the resources to help their families.  They have started an “access committee” and created a performance issue to measure the ability of families to identify appropriate providers. We need to work on creating a capacity to meet this demand.
BRANCHING OUT:  Today's meeting was part of an effort to work on  establishing a listening network. We spoke of the need for reaching to other groups, in the 4 corners of the Commonwealth as well as within a number of racial and ethnic groups.  Task force groups, advisory groups and other groups have all are an opportunity for participation.

There were lots of questions, about co-morbidity and co-payment, workforce development and inclusivity of project development.  In the course of the questions, it was pointed out that there are several opportunities for folks from Central Mass to get involved, in Boston and in Central Massachusetts:

Children's Mental Health Campaign
Regional Forum:  Framingham Legislation Forum
Blumer Room, Memorial Hall, 
Friday, Oct 24, 9-10:30 AM
State Meeting:  9th Floor, 30 Winter St, Boston
Tuesday, Nov 18, 9:30-11 AM

Children's Mental Health Interagency Forums:  
These local regularly scheduled meetings are an opportunity to iron details of collaboration on cases shared between multiple agencies.  
Regional Meeting:  Worcester Regional DCF Office
First and Third Monday of the month.
Contact Kimberly Ferrecchia-Rivas for more information
Local meetings at North County (DMH Fitchburg), Worcester local (Worcester DCF office)  and in the South County (Whitinville DCF office) every month.  
Contact Richard Breault or Rasa Chiras for more details.

Integrated Levels of Care Meeting 
Convened by the Mass Behavioral Heal Partnership, this group is working to design what an integrated mental health care system would look like in Central Massachusetts.
Friday, 17 Oct, 10-12 PM
MBHP, Central Mass
120 Front Street, Suite 315,  Worcester, MA
Contact Elizabeth O'Brien for more information.

As I have said before, there is clearly too much going on.  And I have yet to share my stories from the AAP meeting last weekend.

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