Community Mental Health programs
Throughout MHA’s 106 year history, we have been the only organization to prioritize the individual over interest groups as we advocate for legislation that affects the lives of people with mental health conditions and their families. That priority continues today, at a time when we focus on prevention, early identification and intervention, access to integrated care, and insurance parity for people with mental health conditions. Our expert staff and Public Policy Committee members produce well-researched policy statements on a wide range of issues – from civil liberties to children’s mental health – for public use. We work with policymakers to advance federal legislation, regulations, and agency activities that promote these priorities and position statements.
State Policy: MHA is the national headquarters for a network of more than 200 affiliates around the country. Our affiliates work with state and local policymakers to develop and pass laws, regulations, and policies to promote mental health. MHA and our affiliates meet through the Regional Policy council to exchange ideas about best practices and barriers to regional, state, and local policy efforts and agency activities. Our state advocacy priorities include Medicaid expansion, integrating primary and mental health care services, and building peer supports, including recovery-oriented curricula. A full list of our priorities can be found in the Policy & Advocacy section of our website.
Health care reform has been at the forefront of state and federal policy in recent years. The MHA Regional Policy Council (RPC) produces a constructive partnership with our affiliates and other stakeholders to initiate, advocate for, and implement federal and state policies that positively affect people living with mental health and substance use conditions. In 2014, the RPC focused on implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). MHA dove deeply into issues of network adequacy, treatment and medication access, criminal justice and violence prevention, and development of the peer workforce.
In 2015, we are focused on public policies to advance prevention, screening and early identification, and earlier interventions to promote recovery “Before Stage 4” in the chronic disease process. The RPC will develop a National Legislative Agenda that identifies state policy initiatives to help advocates and policymakers work together to ensure that access to adequate mental health care is possible. We will also develop a toolkit to help MHA affiliates and other interested stakeholders be successful in their state advocacy efforts. Additionally, the RPC will issue reports on critical mental health issues related to the ACA and MHPAEA as they are brought forth.
MHA’s first annual Parity or Disparity: The State of Mental Health in the Nation report identifies a common set of data indicators for mental health that gives a more complete picture of mental health status in America. This report established a baseline from which we can document the successes and failures of both federal and state initiatives aimed at implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Each year, the report will highlight a timely issue.
Ensuring people with mental health conditions are heard, MHA hosts a Capitol Hill Day each year to bring advocates to Congress to meet with the key decision-makers. Beginning with an in-depth training session on how to advocate to members of Congress, the day culminates with in-person visits to federal legislators on Capitol Hill. Since 2012, MHA advocates have joined with the National Council for Community Behavioral Health for Hill Day. In 2015, Capitol Hill Day will occur on June 2 and 3, in conjunction with the MHA Annual Conference.