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Public Policy

2017 Public Policy Priorities

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Mississippi (NAMI MS) is a grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for Mississippians affected by mental illness. Through education, support, and advocacy we strive to eliminate the pervasive stigma of mental illnesses, effect positive changes in the mental health system, and increase the public and professional understanding of mental illnesses. To this end, NAMI MS advocates for policies that increase access to appropriate treatment and supports that enable children and adults to achieve their hopes and dreams. NAMI MS has established the following policy priorities for the 2017 legislative session.

1. EXPAND ACCESS TO QUALITY MENTAL HEALTH CARE.
People living with mental illness confront a number of barriers to high quality mental health care, ranging from funding to availability of this care where they live. NAMI Mississippi will work to:

  • Expand use of Medicaid for mental health services, including injectable medications, to allow those living with mental illness to receive a range of modern treatment and supports that can promote stability, recovery, and full engagement in families, school, work, and community.
  • Maintain and increase funding for community mental health services offered through the Department of Mental Health to ensure that those who are uninsured and living with mental illness have access to timely and appropriate treatment. This includes hospital, crisis, and recovery supports not covered by Medicaid or private insurance.
  • Ensure enforcement of mental health parity in private health insurance plans so that people living with mental illness can receive equivalent coverage for mental health and medical care, obtain more detailed information about their mental health coverage under these plans and the criteria for coverage decisions, and identify mental health providers who can offer clinically effective treatments that are appropriate to their needs.
  • Ensure that Mississippians with mental health needs can access timely, high quality care as needed regardless of geographic region or cultural background, including expansion of community-­‐based and mobile mental health services.
  • Fund evidence-­based practices to meet the mental health needs of older adults.
  • Promote the increase of quality and integration in the treatment of co-occurring substance use disorders and mental illnesses and encourage expansion of Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment (IDDT).
  • Expand transportation options to ensure that people with mental illness can access the mental and medical health care, employment opportunities, and other supports to live full and productive lives.

2. ADDRESS THE MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS OF VETERANS
Veterans, and their families, often do not access the full range of medical and mental health services that can help them lead productive lives after their tours of service. NAMI Mississippi will work to:

  • Ensure that veterans have access to the same full range of integrated diagnoses, treatment services, and supports across a continuum of care as should be available to all people with serious mental illnesses, regardless of service provider.
  • Urge federal, state and municipal governments to make special efforts to address homelessness in the veterans’ population through better dissemination of information and coordination of programs that provide treatment, support, assistance, and housing options.

3. ENHANCE THE CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM.
Children should have access to evidence-­based treatments and support so that they can do well in school, home and the community. NAMI Mississippi will work to:

  • Increase school-­linked mental health services and embed mental health professionals in other venues such as youth shelters, day care centers, etc.
  • Ensure quality discharge planning that involves parents when children are transitioning from inpatient care.
  • Address issues with the intersection of child protection and intensive children’s mental health services.
  • Implement recommendations to improve crisis homes for children and youth.
  • Fund early childhood evidence-­based treatments, mental health programs, and consultation.

4. PROVIDE PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS WITH SUPPORTIVE HOUSING OPTIONS.
People need safe affordable housing in order to focus on recovery. NAMI Mississippi will work with the Department of Mental Health and other stakeholders to:

  • Expand supportive housing options for people with mental illnesses; including increased funding for supportive housing and the availability of wrap-­around services.
  • Develop individualized treatments plans for persons with serious mental illnesses who are homeless so that they are integrated into existing systems of care and related health and human service systems.
  • Support Housing Assistance reform to expand housing options and improve quality.
  • Expand the crisis housing fund to ensure people do not lose their housing when they are receiving inpatient care.
  • Develop housing options for youth/young adults with a mental illness.

5. REDUCE AND SUPPORT INDIVIDUALS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS WHO ARE ENGAGED WITH THE
JUVENILE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS.

Too many children and adults who live with a mental illness end up in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. NAMI Mississippi will work to:

  • Support law enforcement training on mental health.
  • Increase the use of jail diversion programs and mental health courts, including the development of Crisis Intervention Teams in cities and regions throughout the state.
  • Ensure that all juvenile courts operate using the principles of mental health courts.
  • Ensure access to mental health services in the prisons and transition services for prisoners before they are released.
  • Require mental health training for probation officers.
  • Require mental health training for 911 operators.
  • Support early juvenile record expungement for youth whose involvement in the juvenile justice system was for reasons related to living with a mental illness.
  • Reduce use of segregation in the prisons.
  • Protect privacy of people in a mental health crisis when police body cameras are used.

6. SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH CAREGIVERS.
About 3 out of 4 of the estimated 8.4 million Americans who provide care to an adult living with mental illness experience high emotional stress as they struggle to get the services and supports their loved one needs. NAMI MS will work to:

  • Expand family support groups and classes across the state to provide information, access to resources, and a community of support for caregivers.
  • Develop one-­day training program, including stipends to cover travel expenses, for family members and frontline provider staff on effective strategies for coping with mental illness and caregiving for those with mental illness.
  • Provide respite care for people living with mental illness.

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