CPEHN is proud to release our latest report, “Mind, Body, Spirit: Advancing Mental Health and Substance Use Equity.” This report builds upon the California Reducing Disparities Project draft Strategic Plan, which was produced in 2015 to highlight mental health disparities and community-driven policy solutions.
Mental health and well-being is a core component of overall health, but communities of color in California face myriad barriers to optimal mental health and necessary care. Decades of community disinvestment, over-policing, and poverty had produced toxic stress that pervade communities of color and immigrant communities. Coupled with a mental health care system that is often difficult to navigate, communities of color lack access to the right care at the right time.
Yesterday, the University of California at Berkeley released a study showing that 82% of Medi-Cal enrollees believe is very important for health plans to provide coverage for mental health and substance use care, but that only 47% believe their plan does provide this coverage. California has made significant strides in adding mental health benefits to the Medi-Cal program and ensuring the more Californians have coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Now, we must defend these important advances and improve access.
On Monday, House Republicans introduced legislation to gut mental health care for millions of Americans.
For individuals enrolled in Medi-Cal, the legislation will enact a per-capita cap, or a limit on federal spending for each Medicaid enrollee. For enrollees with significant health costs, including prescription drugs, on-going treatments, and hospitalizations, this will mean that costs above the cap must be covered by the state or by the enrollee. California stands to lose at least $20 billion, or one fifth of our Medi-Cal program, which will force the state to make dramatic cuts to eligibility and benefits.
The legislation also dismantles the Medi-Cal Expansion. Thirty percent of those newly eligible for coverage are living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders, the majority previously uninsured. While people who are currently enrolled in Medi-Cal will be able to remain covered, new enrollment will be frozen in 2020. Additionally, anyone with a coverage gap of more than one month will lose his/her coverage.
Additionally, beginning in 2020, the Essential Health Benefits requirement in Medicaid would be eliminated, including mental health and substance use treatment. California will have the option of whether or not to require Medi-Cal Managed Care plans to provide these benefits in light of decreased federal funding for the program.
For individuals enrolled through Covered California, income-based tax subsidies will be eliminated and replaced with an unspecified and discretionary fund for states. Additionally, for commercially insured individuals, the prohibition on discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions, including mental health conditions, will be eliminated. Individuals who have not maintained continuous coverage will be required to pay a 30% penalty beginning in 2019.
Many Californians face huge challenges in accessing substance use treatment services. Social and environmental factors including low socioeconomic status, low literacy, unemployment, discrimination, and other factors negatively impact our ability to lead healthy lives. Many people of color and Limited English Proficient populations additionally face a lack of culturally competent and linguistically appropriate services. Further, stigma and discrimination linked with accessing services also remain barriers to accessing treatment for many, especially those with previous criminal justice involvement.
California’s Medi-Cal 2020 1115(a) Waiver Demonstration Project provides new opportunities to expand substance use services to include a fuller continuum of care that includes withdrawal management, medication-assisted treatment, short-term residential, case management and care coordination with physical and mental health, and recovery support services. Drug Medi-Cal eligibility also expands to include single adults without children, which mean more people are able to receive substance use treatment services than ever before.
To address these barriers and disparities, communities of color – those most in need of services – need to be involved in the development and design of treatment options, and policymakers must consider the root causes of substance use disorders in vulnerable and underserved communities. That’s why CPEHN is engaging our communities to get involved so that the needs of underserved communities are included and addressed in the implementation of these new services. With stakeholder input from underserved populations, county departments of behavioral health can better meet the needs of the most vulnerable communities.
Please join our diverse coalition that has come together to plan and host a very special Mental Health Matters Day.
We have some exciting speakers and entertainment booked including Scott Budnick, founder and president of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and executive producer of "The Hangover" movie series, and Yashi Brown, a poet/spoken word artist and mental health advocate who has lived with bipolar disorder and author of "Black Daisy in a White Limousine: 77 Poems." Our event emcee will be Paul Gilmartin, former TV host of TBS' "Dinner and a Movie," stand-up comedian (Comedy Central Presents) and host of Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast.
Also, be sure to bring your picnic gear (folding chairs, blankets, etc.) and stay for our food truck party following the speaking program. We will have DJ Anointed opening the event and DJ Joseph One closing out our day.
Mental Health Matters Day State Capitol, West Steps Sacramento, CA May 24, 2016
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Los Angeles County Council and Urban Los Angeles Affiliate, are coordinating their second annual diversity conference on Saturday, April 9, 2016. Cultural anthropologist and sought after professor of African Studies and Human Development, Dr. Erylene Piper-Mandy will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Piper-Mandy will address the paradigm shifts necessary to move toward institutionalizing culturally‐relevant practice. Other presenters include renowned experts like internationally recognized psychologist Dr. Steven Lopez of USC, whose cultural competency model is currently being funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); Dr. Cheryl Tawede Grills, clinical psychologist who has studied internationally to identify African‐centered models for treatment engagement for African Americans; Dr. Terry Gock, expert in Asian and Pacific Islander mental health, who has championed recognition of community defined practice as evidence based practice, nationally among organizations like SAMHSA and the American Psychological Association; and addiction psychiatrist, Dr. Dan Dickerson of UCLA, principal investigator of an NIH funded research grant for Drum-Assisted Recovery Therapy for Native Americans (DARTNA).
The Community Health Advocate School at Augustus F. Hawkins High School in Los Angeles is hosting this year’s conference, entitled Bridging the Cultural Divide - Beyond Evidence-Based Practice in Diverse Communities. The 2016 NAMI Diversity Conference is made possible by contributions from transformative sponsors, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and LA Care Health Plan, and through the generous support of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Prevention Institute (PI) and The College for Behavioral Health Leadership are co-hosting Summit 2016 - Population Health: Leadership for Building Healthier Communities this April 6-8, 2016 in San Diego. Conference participants will seek to identify and address opportunities for improvement, promote emerging consensus, contribute to the evolution of behavioral health and wellness, and positively impact the health of communities.
This past week was National Mental Illness Awareness Week, and on October 10, health advocates around the globe observed World Mental Health Day. These events draw attention to the prevalence of behavioral health conditions and seek to combat the stigma that surrounds them. Communities of color in the United States face significant mental health disparities and greater barriers in getting the treatment they need. Fortunately, one way the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is improving the health care system is by requiring most health plans to offer free depression screenings as a preventive health service.
Topic areas to be discussed include: a historic perspective on mental illness across cultural and social groups, substance use disorders, mental health and resiliency among veterans and military families, mental health and the justice system, and California’s new strategic plan to reduce mental health disparities. The agenda is comprised of interactive presentations, panel discussions, networking activities, a poster session, as well as an optional working group over the lunch hour.
The FREE symposium is jointly hosted by the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity, the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Kaiser Permanente, and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Breakfast, lunch, and parking will be provided. Expected attendees include leadership and staff of community-based organizations and local health departments, healthcare providers, faculty and students.
As part of our weeklong recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, today we will talk about how the environment in which we live impacts our mental health. In particular, we’ll focus on the most pressing environmental crisis confronting California – the historic drought we’ve experienced over the past few years.
A couple weeks ago, The Fresno Bee published a terrific feature on how the drought is impacting mental health in East Porterville, an unincorporated community in Tulare County. The article does a great job of highlighting some of the health repercussions of the drought in a community of roughly 7,500 residents, three-quarters of whom are Latino. The main thrust of the piece, however, is about the mental health impact of the drought on this community.
“In a town whose problems already include air pollution, water contamination and poverty, the drought has spurred a growing health crisis, worsening respiratory conditions and burdening those with other illnesses.
It gets worse.
… In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies published a guide about protecting public health during a drought. The guide refers to studies in Australia and India that showed elevated levels of suicide among farmworkers living in rural areas affected by severe and extended droughts.
Among those most at risk for drought-related health effects, it says, are “people living in rural or remote areas who depend on water from private wells and small or poorly maintained municipal systems, the quality of which is more susceptible to environmental changes.”
Each Mind Matters is California’s Mental Health Movement. We are millions of individuals and thousands of organizations working to advance mental health. The mental health movement certainly didn’t start with us, but Each Mind Matters was created to unite all of us who share a vision of improved mental health and equality.
Even though most of the things we need to be mentally healthy are universal — like safe housing, supportive relationships, and good health care – a one-size-fits-all approach to mental health care just isn’t enough. We know that people from ethnic and cultural communities are, in general, less likely to receive necessary mental health services, and those who are in treatment often receive poorer-quality care. Other groups like veterans, LGBTQ communities, or people who live in rural areas may be at elevated risk, have less access to resources, or feel isolated. But there is reason for hope as well: new approaches to healing and supporting people in times of distress, as well as changing conversations about mental health, have been developed by California’s many ethnic and cultural communities. In addition, leaders from five of these groups outlined by the California Reducing Disparities Project have created resources to help change attitudes and improve mental health outcomes in a way that is meaningful to each community.