Watching and listening to the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) as they met and reported on progress for their respective areas of responsibility was exciting. I found out about this meeting on December 14, 2017 from reading Pete Earley’s blog this morning. I was successful in moving through all the instructions for joining the meeting and there they were giving their names and credentials and reports. Our very own NAMI Executive Director, Dr. Mary Giliberti is a member of this prestigious committee. The committee has 13 federal members and 10 non-federal members.
Their charge has five areas of focus:
· Strengthen federal coordination to improve care
· Access and engagement: Make it easier to get good care
· Treatment and recovery: Close the gap between what works and what is offered
· Increase opportunities for diversion and improve care for people with SMI and SED involved In the criminal and juvenile justice system
· Develop finance strategies to increase availability and affordability of care
They were approving their first release of its 2017 Report to Congress. They have five more years to recommend reforms.
There were recommendations on first episode psychosis with 250 programs funded and monitored throughout the U.S. moving it forward so that it is available nationwide; on expecting SMI and SED screening to occur in all primary care settings; make trauma-informed, whole person health care the expectation in all our systems of care for people with SMI and SEM; emphasis on prioritizing early identification and intervention for children, youth and young adults; plus 44 additional recommendations. The effectiveness of the distribution of federal Block Grant funds was also mentioned. That last item perked up my ears since that is the source of funding for the Iowa Office of Consumer Affairs.
Reports from the Department of Labor spoke to the importance of and increased employment as part of recovery. Another federal department representative spoke about fully enforcing parity to ensure that people with SMI and SED receive the mental health and substance abuse serves they are entitled to, and that benefits are offered on terms comparable to those for physical illnesses. In addition, pay for psychiatric and other behavioral health services at rates equivalent to other health services. I was really impressed by the report on chronically homeless who said that money alone will not decrease homelessness. He noted that health and housing go hand in hand and spoke about the critical need for permanent supported housing. Housing is an essential prerequisite for effective treatment and a life in recovery. (Don’t get me started on this topic for it was a main obstacle for my ACT clients when I worked as a community mental health nurse.)
You can download the report from the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) and in five years, the final report to Congress. A shortcut to keeping up with the committee would be to subscribe to Pete Earley’s blog. Pete chastised the Department of Justice for not including the Federal Bureau of Prisons talking about their practices of keeping inmates with SMI in solitary confinement and then releasing them to the streets without treatment. Maybe he did not blast them, but for sure he was not happy and he was on fire.
This morning, December 15, 2017. Peter Earley’s blog congratulates Dr. Giliberti and the chairwoman, Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, for their leadership and point on remarks. Google Peter Early and join his blog.
Three people from the public signed up to testify. One was a woman in New Jersey who is a caretaker of her sister who suffers from PSTD. She had a well-informed testimony and made substantial recommendations. She is a NAMI member and talked about the support provided her from her NAMI involvement. Dr. Giliberti encouraged the committee to think of ways to communicate with individuals to report how their lives are changing because of this work. She wants to see accomplishments in five years not just recommendations.