Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

5 Years of Behavioral Health Innovation Paying Dividends (Part III)

April 30th, 2014

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve reflected about some of the innovative strategies that we’ve implemented with our behavioral health community partners over the last several years to improve the health status of folks with a serious mental illness.  So far, I’ve covered integrated health homes and improvements to the crisis system.

On the kids front, more than 1,500 Maricopa County youth who experience behavioral health challenges have benefitted from participating in “MY LIFE” (Magellan Youth Leaders Inspiring Future Empowerment).  Through this group- members get support from their peers and develop critical skills in leadership and mental health resiliency.  Their activities have been invaluable in the fight against stigma associated with behavioral health issues.

Minors in the juvenile justice system in Maricopa County have had access to culturally relevant substance use and disorder treatment programs.  Sixty-four percent of the participants in the 21-month program decreased or eliminated their substance use- and more than 70% report completing treatment without returning to the juvenile justice setting.  Magellan earned the SAMSHA Science and Service Award for implementing this program.

Behavioral Health Quality Service Review

October 31st, 2013

Objective evaluation is critical to assessing and improving the performance of any public health system- including the  behavioral health system that we manage.  One of the ways we assess our behavioral health system is to conduct a “Quality Services Review”, which identifies strengths, service capacity gaps, and areas for improvement at a system-wide level.

A couple of weeks ago a final Quality Service Review was published for our Maricopa County service area for folks living with a serious mental illness.  The final report summarizes the services provided and not provided, access to care, selected outcomes, conclusions, and recommendations.  The report indicated both positive trends in the current system of care as well as opportunities to enhance the system.

The report found both strengths and weaknesses in our system.  Strengths included a finding that services provided matched the individuals’ needs identified on their Individualized Service Plan 82% of the time. About 88% of individuals surveyed agreed that their service location was convenient and 84% agreed that service times were convenient. Individuals reported that about 81% of services were provided within 30 days once a need was identified.

Areas that need some work include progress notes.  Individuals’ needs in their assessment were consistent with the needs identified in the progress notes in about 59% of the cases.  About 69% of surveyed folks were reported that they were involved in meaningful daily activities.  While 95% had housing, only 9% were employed.  Respondents also reported the need for better service in the areas of supported housing and employment, living skills, family and peer support.  Of course- what I’ve described here is just a snapshot- and the full report provides a lot more detail.

We’ll be using the results of this Quality Service Review as well as follow-up analyses to help us as we continue to improve public health outcomes for folks living with a serious mental illness.  This was the first time that we used this type of system assessment…  and we’ve discovered a few areas that we need to improve in the tool.  We’ll be working with the contractor to make sure that the continuing version of the Review captures all the information we need to make a solid system assessment.

Guide to Community Prevention Services

October 22nd, 2013

Every so often- you run into a resource guide that stands above the rest.  I discovered one of those awhile back called the Guide to Community Preventive Services – and it’s a free resource to help you choose programs and policies to improve health and prevent disease in communities.  The easy-to-read resource guide answers questions like: 1) Which program and policy interventions have been proven effective; 2) Are there effective interventions that are right for my community; and 3) What might effective interventions cost and what’s the return on investment?  

There are modules on different public health topics- and the evidence-based information is printed in colorful, easy-to-read formats.  Subjects include much of our core strategic plan activities in health and wellness including: Adolescent Health; Alcohol; Asthma; Birth Defects; Cancer; Cardiovascular Disease; Diabetes; Emergency Preparedness; Health Communication; Health Equity; HIV/AIDS,STD’s, Pregnancy; Mental Health; Motor Vehicle Injury; Nutrition; Obesity; Oral Health; Physical Activity; Social Environment; Tobacco Use; Vaccines; Violence; and Worksites.  Learn more about The Community Guide, collaborators involved in its development and dissemination, and methods used to conduct the systematic reviews.

Behavioral Health Outreach Along the Border

October 11th, 2013

We have two Regional Behavioral Health Authorities working to improve and protect mental health along the border. Cenpatico and Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (CPSA) offer specialized programs to help combat substance abuse and prevent suicide as well as to help those with behavioral health issues.  

One of the CPSA-sponsored prevention activities near the border includes substance abuse and suicide prevention. Providers work with youth and families, behavioral health providers and first responders in the communities of Sahuarita, Amado, and on the Tohono O’odham Nation.  In addition, prevention work with populations similar to border populations has been conducted with the south side communities of Tucson. 

Another prevention program involves life skills training with 18 at-risk youth through the Southern Arizona Aids Foundation.  The drug-free community effort serves 300 residents in the town of Amado in partnership with the Pima County Community Prevention Coalition and 25 participants in the Youth Empowered for Success program at Tohono O’odham High School with Child and Family Resources and Arizona Youth Partnership. 

In collaboration with Campesinos sin Fronteras in Yuma County, Cenpatico has recruited and trained 4 promotores (Health Outreach Workers) to facilitate “placticas” in public places like community centers, libraries and in community members’ homes.  These “placticas” range in subject matters like diabetes and depression, the importance of managing your blood pressure.


Men’s Health Week Time to Think about Our Health

June 13th, 2013

This week is Men’s Health Week – the worldwide event happens every year before Father’s Day calling attention to the issues that affect men’s health. Many groups take the opportunity to talk about men’s health – we should be thinking about our health every week.  The top health issues that impact men’s health are also some of the easiest issues to prevent.  Heart disease and cancer are leading causes of death for men.  The best way to fight heart disease is exercise and sensible eating.  Our Healthy Living website has some interesting ideas on being active and choosing healthy foods. 

If you’re 50 or older or at higher risk, make a pledge to yourself and your family get checked for prostate and colorectal cancer. Men’s Health Week is the perfect opportunity to schedule an appointment.   

Stress also leads to health problems in men, including depression.  If you’re suffering from depression, it’s harder to be physically active and eat well. Sometimes a chat with a professional can put you back on track or a doctor may prescribe medication to help put your life back in balance. Most employers offer an Employee Assistance Program that will offer free or low cost access to a mental health professional.  The parity law also makes your regular health insurance provide access to mental health care. 

If you’re still smoking, stop.  Every puff of a cigarette or cigar takes time off your life. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance – quitting isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. If you need help, call the ASHLine at 1-800-556-6222. 

Finally, consider getting a physical this year to identify hidden health conditions.  If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your family.

Mental Health Month Kickoff (opening pitch!)

May 1st, 2013

Guest Blog by Claudia Sloan; Communications, Cultural Competency, Workforce Development in the Behavioral Health Services Division

Today is the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month… and in honor of that the Arizona Diamondbacks in collaboration with the Mental Health Awareness Coalition is hosting an event during tonight’s D-backs game against division rival San Francisco Giants.  At the game and all month long, the mental health care community will be out in force to help you learn the facts about mental illness and show you that recovery is possible.  For more information about people in recovery and May’s Mental Health Awareness events, please visit One in Four.

Programs that Advance Health Equity

April 25th, 2013

If you live in or have visited the rural towns and cities in Arizona, it’s not a surprise that many of these rural locations don’t have enough healthcare providers. Based on current provider shortage data from the federal HRSA, we need an additional 170 primary care providers and 54 mental health providers to adequately care for its underserved populations. 

April is Minority Health Month and a great time to highlight one of our programs that addresses provider shortages and improves health equity in rural and underserved areas. The First Things First Early Childhood Therapist Incentives Program provides stipends and loan repayment to Speech & Language Pathologists, Occupational and Physical Therapists, Child Psychologists, and Mental Health Specialists who provide early childhood development services in rural and underserved areas.  

The program currently has 30 providers participating and will be accepting applications until June 15 for providers in 9 rural counties.  Visit the First Things First Early Childhood Therapist Incentives Program for eligibility and application details.  This program is one of several incentives that can help bring more providers to undeserved areas of the state. Visit the workforce programs web site for information on other programs.

Troubled Teens: At Risk and Not Overlooked

February 19th, 2013

Our Vision at the Arizona Department of Health Services is ”Health and Wellness for all Arizonans”. Part of that Vision for folks living with behavioral health issues or a mental illness means achieving and maintaining self-reliance and independence.  To get there, some individuals simply need outpatient services occasionally.  Some need wrap-around community or home-based services.  Others need more intensive treatment in a licensed residential setting.  Our goal is always to provide the most effective kind of evidence-based treatment for that person.

For example, our home and community-based wrap-around services have been so effective that we’ve reduced care in licensed high-level Residential facilities by 75% in the last couple of years in Maricopa County.  We did this by building up home- and community-based wrap-around services like in-home counseling, high needs case management, home care training, peer support, respite, family support, and skills training.  However, outpatient treatment and home and community based services can’t always provide the level of treatment folks need, and some people need the more intensive treatment that only a  licensed and regulated residential facility can provide. 

A series of reports in the Republic this week suggests that some residential treatment facilities in our state are substandard.  While no regulated facility is perfect, our teams of inspectors are well-trained and highly-motivated to ensure each of our licensed residential treatment facilities meets our standards. Those that don’t must implement an immediate corrective action plan. Additionally, the DHS team has been overhauling many of its regulations to make sure our standards focus on the most important components of care.

We inspect residential treatment facilities once a year, and more often than that when there are complaints. When we’re inspecting facilities, our teams make decisions based on evidence. We talk to the residents and the staff; we look at patient and personnel records (including videotape); we observe facility practices and examine physical evidence. We require two forms of evidence to substantiate an issue. This practice helps us separate legitimate complaints and concerns from those that are baseless or intentionally fabricated.

We also receive dozens of reports every day as part of our regulatory oversight of all of our licensed facilities. We carefully and promptly evaluate each report and respond accordingly. Many of the reports that we receive are routine and pose no health or safety problem. When we receive a report that could pose an immediate safety concern, we send staff to the facility immediately like we did with an assisted living facility over the weekend.

Successful residential treatment facilities are pro-active, follow their policies and procedures without fail, are meticulous in reporting and documentation, and seek ongoing education. They’re not afraid to admit a mistake. Our job is not just to ensure that facilities comply with our standards, but also to maximize their effectiveness. That’s why our licensing teams also focus on ways to improve our licensed facilities.

Unlike newspaper reporting, our actions as an agency must be based in fact and rooted in the evidence demonstrated by a comprehensive review of the facility. Folks can view factual information about the more than 7,400 facilities licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services by visiting

Show Your Love

February 14th, 2013

Valentine’s Day isn’t just a day of romance, flowers and candy.  The CDC Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative launched a campaign asking all women of childbearing age to Show Your Love by taking good care of themselves.  It’s a national initiative to educate women and couples on the importance of preconception health. Preconception health refers to a woman’s health during the years she can have a child.  A mother’s health before she gets pregnant can affect the health of her baby.  

Women who’d like to become pregnant are urged to “Show Your Love” to your future baby by adopting healthy behaviors now.   Women who are not planning a pregnancy now are encouraged to “Show Your Love” to themselves so they’ll be healthy and have a fulfilling future.  About half of all pregnancies in our country are unplanned, which increases the chances of having a poor birth outcome such as preterm birth, low birth weight, high birth weight, or stillbirth.  Many women become pregnant when they’re not in the best health or while engaging in behaviors that could harm a pregnant woman or her baby.  It makes sense to be healthy at all stages of life. 

The Show Your Love website includes posters, educational videos, TV PSAs and health checklists for use by health care providers and community partners who want to educate the women and couples they work with about the importance of preconception health.  Preconception health is impacted by a number of health issues addressed by various ADHS programs – chronic disease, oral health, nutrition, physical activity, smoking, STD’s, immunizations and mental health.  The Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health website includes additional preconception health tools. Also, please feel free to email the Bureau at: .

Get Trained in Mental Health First Aid Today

December 19th, 2012

The tragedy in Connecticut has reminded us all about how important mental health and mental health treatment is to ensure that we have a society that functions in a way that we’d all like.  To be truly effective, a behavioral and mental health system needs to make sure parents, teachers, doctors and emergency department staff, firefighters and first responders, law enforcement, and correctional staff just to name a few, are able to identify when there might be a problem and what to do to get help.  One of the evidence-based tools that can really help is called Mental Health First Aid.  

Mental Health First Aid is a novel, evidence-based public education program designed to teach people a five-step process to assess a situation, select and implement appropriate interventions and help a person in crisis or who may be developing the signs and symptoms of mental illness. The groundbreaking training equips people to provide initial help until appropriate professional, peer or family support can be engaged. Participants also learn about risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses such as anxiety, depression, psychosis and addiction. 

Mental Health First Aid is an interactive 12-hour course that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders.  It introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. Those who take the 12-hour course are certified as Mental Health First Aiders.  At the end, they have the skills, resources and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care. 

After the tragic shootings in Tucson in 2011, our behavioral health team including Stephanie Uetrecht, Ali de la Trinidad, Cielo Mohapatra, Anne Rock, Kathy Bashor, Claudia Sloan, Bob Sorce  and Dr. Laura Nelson coordinated with our Regional Behavioral Health Authorities and Providers to put together a series of Mental Health First Aid courses across the State to build Arizona’s awareness infrastructure.  Throughout 2011, the teams certified nearly 100 Trainers, who in turn have trained thousands of community members over the course of this year.

As a result, Arizona has among the most robust number of instructors in Mental Health First Aid in the country.  If you or your team want to get involved and certified as a Mental Health First Aider can visit the Mental Health First Aid website and even find an instructor in your community.  Simply go to the website above, put in your city and zip code, along with the diameter in miles that you want to search- and you can find the Trainers we trained in 2011 that can help bring your team up to speed.