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New Legislation Seeks to Improve Access to Community Mental Healthcare
Date:10/18/2007

al health organizations to provide comprehensive primary care and specialty mental health services in the same setting.

"Only 32 percent of the nation's community mental health providers are able to afford the resources and staff they need to provide onsite medical treatment for hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and other medical conditions, according to a National Council survey," said Charles Ingoglia, the National Council's Vice President, Public Policy. "But it's ironic to address mental illnesses and let patients die from unattended medical conditions! We must treat the whole person and provide integrated mental and physical healthcare where it is easiest for patients to access."

The Community Mental Health Services Improvement Act also provides for innovative programs to address workforce needs in designated mental health professional shortage areas. The act calls for loan forgiveness and repayment as well as expanded education and training to support the recruitment and retention of qualified mental health workers, especially for racial and ethnic minorities.

"Mental health is hardly a lucrative profession. Years of inadequate funding for compensation and training programs have perpetrated a behavioral health workforce crisis!" said Linda Rosenberg. "It's a crisis we must resolve now if we are to continue to provide quality mental healthcare. We must be able to provide robust education programs and pay competitive salaries to attract and keep a skilled workforce. The Community Mental Health Services Improvement Act will go a long way to help," she noted.

S. 2182 also provides for grants to integrate treatment for individuals with a serious mental illness and co-occurring addiction disorders; to help the community mental health system improve information technology; and to establish facilities for tele-psychiatry and patient education in rural and other medically underserved areas.

The National Council for Community Behavioral
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SOURCE National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
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