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What to Expect from the Excellence in Mental Health Act

What to Expect from the Excellence in Mental Health Act

Published August 31, 2018 by TBH

Many tragedies that take place in the United States today could be prevented if our population had better access to mental health care. Thanks to the Excellence in Mental Health Act, more people in some states will be able to access the mental health services they need, and four senators are working hard to expand the act even further.

Read on to learn about the Excellence in Mental Health Act and whether your state is involved in this powerful legislation.

What is the Excellence in Mental Health Act?

Passed in 2014 by congress, the Excellence in Mental Health Act aims to improve American access to mental health services and treatments. Research from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that fewer than half of Americans with severe, chronic mental illness, and only one in 10 Americans with addiction disorders, receive any kind of treatment. Many of those who don’t receive treatment end up incarcerated, in homeless shelters, and in inpatient psychiatric units.

The Excellence in Mental Health Act establishes federal guidelines defining Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). CCBHCs provide comprehensive outpatient mental health care to any individuals who need the services, regardless of income. The services CCBHCs must provide for those with mental health and addiction needs include:

The initial act was passed as a two-year pilot program, taking place in a handful of states who developed a comprehensive plan for supporting mental health.

Early Results

In April and July 2017, the Excellence in Mental Health Act was implemented in eight states: Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. So far, every participating state has reported positive results from the CCBHCs.

The vast majority of clinicians report that their states have been able to afford to hire more mental health professionals as a result of the act. As a result of expanded services, the clinicians are seeing more patients than ever. New support the states can offer thanks to CCBHCs include:

These early results, measured just six months into the two year program, are very promising. With further time, these states will no doubt be able to continue to improve outcomes for clients, with more mental health clinicians getting involved.

Will the Mental Health Excellence Act Expand?

In late 2017, four senators introduced a bill to extend funding and expand the Mental Health Excellence Act to an additional 11 states that previously submitted mental health expansion plans to the federal government but were not selected for the preliminary program. The bipartisan act is supported by a long list of organizations, including the National Association of Social Workers, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

If this act expands to more states, mental health professionals will enjoy increased access to behavioral health and addiction services in their communities and be better able to serve their clients. To help this act pass in congress, write your senators and encourage them to support this important mental health bill.