Community Forums Offer Voice in Community Mental Healthcare
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Here in Michigan, our weather proves this continually. If we didn’t plan for the impending change of tomorrow, it would pummel us.
Our healthcare system works the same way. On the national level, the advent of the Affordable Care Act and the Excellence in Mental Health Act – thank goodness – are altering the way our healthcare system operates from the inside out. An additional shift toward integrated care and payment reform are structurally altering the way that services will be provided at the local level.
At the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority (DWMHA), we want to make sure that these changes result in the best care for the people we serve: those with severe mental illnesses, substance use disorders, serious emotional disturbances, or developmental disabilities. Change is inevitable– progress should not be optional.
In order to meet this goal, the Authority’s Board of Directors has developed the Best Practices Task Force, co-chaired by two board members, Dr. Cheryl Munday and Terrence Thomas and composed of Authority staff and leaders from our mental health provider partners and Wayne State University.
The Best Practice Task Force charge is to, “Provide system design recommendations to myself and the Board of Directors that will move service systems to a nationally recognized, locally good fitting, best practice model that maximizes behavioral health outcomes for those we serve, through optimally efficient use of available resources.”
Through the end of July, the Task Force is holding a series of community forums to uncover any cracks in the current system, or to predict where those cracks might occur, so they can be promptly addressed. Each session begins with an informative film screening about the changes taking place in the DWMHA system. The two major shifts are payment reform and the movement to a “Behavioral Health Home.”
Together We Are Better
According to Dr. Carmen McIntyre, Chief Medical Officer at DWMHA, “For individuals living with chronic behavioral health conditions, like many of the people we serve at DWMHA, a behavioral health provider might be the best fit for their Health Home. This is where the Behavioral Health Home comes into play. In terms of payment reform, the currents are moving to a system that incentivizes treatment outcomes, rather than pure payment for services.”
At the DWMHA we believe that by listening to the people we serve we can greatly improve the outcomes and maximize the limited public dollars available.
We need to hear from you. Your input is vital as we continuously look to improve community mental health and substance use service to our community.
DWMHA is committed to being:
* consumer and community focused
* data driven and
* evidenced based
Don’t Be a Leaf Blowing In the Wind
Our community forums engage participants on a variety of topics related to the system improvement including: what is and isn’t working about the way the current system is managed, how a new model might affect different stakeholders, structural design recommendations, critical issues and populations to address.
Community insights thus far have included concerns over the practicality of integration. John Lewis of Children’s Behavioral Action Team, for instance, recommended “real collaboration and coordination between physical and behavioral health care providers, rather than just consultation.” Joan Barefield, a consumer and employee at DWMHA recommended more social supports for individuals with mental illnesses saying, “It’s not just a mind thing, it’s a heart thing. It’s emotional. They need that social element.” Additional needs such as clear communication of services and rights, clubhouses for youth, and better transitional services from childhood to adulthood, have been voiced along the way.
The Best Practices Task Force will take all feedback gathered at the eight community forums held around Detroit-Wayne County and will then be able to refine its recommendations to the Board of Directors. Each session is recorded and stored in order to review and continue extracting information. At the end of these sessions, the recordings will also be available on DWMHA’s website.
Mental healthcare is an issue that affects us all in some way: it might be someone in your family, place of worship, friend or a neighbor. At some point you will know someone who is struggling with a mental illness, developmental disability or substance abuse.
We are hoping that providers, community stakeholders, consumers, civic members, advocates, businesses, educators, law enforcement judicial members and people from the faith based community will attend these forums. The more voices that are present, the more impact the Task Force will be able to have on those who often do not have a voice.
The Best Practices Task Force informational resources are posted on the DWMHA website http://www.dwmha.com. Community members are also able to send in ideas to the Task Force online. With the communities input we can build the structures that safeguard us from the ever changing winds of tomorrow.
To view the calendar of forum dates, visit:
To view a list of community resources related to the system change, visit http://www.dwmha.com/BestPracticeTaskForce.aspx
If you or someone you know needs help, contact DWMHA’s 24-Hour Help Line at 800-241-4949 or visit us online at www.dwmha.com
Tom Watkins is the president and CEO of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority (www.dwmha.com). He has served the residents of Michigan as state superintendent of schools and state mental health director. Follow Watkins on twitter @tdwatkins88
Community Forums Offer Voice in Community Mental Healthcare was originally published on wchbnewsdetroit.com