Kentucky among 20 states to receive funding for mental health

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a $ 15 million award to Medicaid agencies in 20 states, including Kentucky, for planning grants that will support the expansion of medical services. community-based mobile crisis intervention for Medicaid beneficiaries.


What would you like to know

  • Twenty states will receive $ 15 million
  • Funding made possible thanks to the American rescue plan
  • Mobile crisis intervention units assess situations on site
  • The goal is to provide support, not to send people to jail

Mobile Crisis Teams are made up of qualified professionals trained to defuse and treat people in crisis and work to assess and stabilize people facing behavioral health emergencies in the least restrictive setting and divert people with mental illness from the prison and emergency services.

Funding is provided by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and will help provide these services around the clock, helping people on Medicaid who are experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis outside of a hospital. or an establishment.

“These services will definitely save lives and could also help reduce reliance on law enforcement when people experience a behavioral health crisis,” said Emily Beauregard, executive director of the association at Kentucky Voices for Health nonprofit. “This funding, in turn, will go further to prevent unnecessary incarceration of people with mental illness or substance use disorders and to provide them with access to treatment and care.” “

The funding helps integrate community mobile crisis intervention services into Medicaid programs, a component of building a sustainable, public health-focused crisis support network.

The funding will also enable states to develop, prepare and implement community-based mobile crisis intervention services eligible under the Medicaid program, assess current services, and strengthen capacity and information systems. to guarantee access to services 24 hours a day.

“I think mental health is a hot topic right now and has always been an issue, but COVID has really brought it to the fore more because everyone is struggling with anxiety from it or depression or the stressors that cause it, ”said Darcy Miller, regional director of emergency services at New Vista in Lexington, a mental health center serving an area of ​​17 counties in central Kentucky. “If you’ve ever struggled with mental health issues, that will only make it even more intense. We’re able to shine a light on behavioral health and substance use because we have the infrastructure, but the funding has taken a lot of hits over the years. With this type of funding, we can support and develop it so that we can provide a response that meets people in the community and where they live.

Miller said mobile crisis units include at least one law enforcement member, usually in civilian clothes, and this funding could avoid putting police in a situation where they have to act as a social worker.

“It is not their role, but they are asked to play this role,” she said. “If they have access to someone with training in behavioral health, they can make the call together or they can call and see them – it will change the outcome for that person, whether it’s jail or hospitalization.” , or things get out of hand, it can really help reduce these problematic issues. Miller said members of the Lexington Police Department and other agencies in the 17-county New Vista area have participated in crisis intervention training to learn more about mental health, substance use and issues. intellectual and developmental disability issues.

Mental Health America, Kentucky executive director Marcie Timmerman said the funding is beneficial in many ways, but will play an important role in responding to mental health crises in rural Commonwealth areas and will continue to go to jail. to be the typical solution.

“The further away you are from services, the harder it is to find and hire qualified people,” she said. “With this funding we should at the very least be able to provide a mental health assessment. It is not the same as calling 911. Mobile Crisis Units are there to assess, respond to and possibly resource mental health issues and receive support instead of always being taken to jail or prison. to the hospital.

Kentucky has 14 regions of community mental health centers. It will soon be announced where the funding will be allocated.


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