What do we do? We educate. We advocate.
Here are just a few of our highlights from 2016.
As of September, we screened over 10,000 individuals for mental health in Arizona with MHA’s online screening tool, which can be accessed here. The mental health screening (www.mhaarizona.org) is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether someone is experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. The tool includes screenings for depression, alcohol or substance use, anxiety, youth (for young people age 11-17), bipolar, parent, PTSD, psychosis, and work health survey. Following screening, individuals are provided with information, resources, and tools to discuss the results with a provider.
We have a new website and with it, we reached over 44,600 individuals enabling them to access information on our website, up from only 254 visits last year! We directly reached over 776 individuals through the use of social media which increases every day.
In the beginning of the year, we met with Arizona Legislators to discuss the following: criminal justice reform (including post-release issues of employment and support services along with the need for re-entry programs and services for former inmates), rewriting of our state HIPPA law, lifting the freeze on KidsCare, supplemental insurance needs, policy changes for SNAP and ABAWD (able-bodied adults without children), as well as budget issues and much more.
In April of 2016, we published an educational insert in the Arizona Republic’s Arizona Living Well section. This insert increased our efforts to educate and MHA of AZ was able to do so by reaching 381,000 readers regarding mental health issues in AZ. The education MHA provided highlighted the need for earlier identification of individuals with a mental illness and addressed how early intervention can lead to recovery and resilience. This education piece featured impactful stories from an individual and family currently impacted by mental illness. This piece defined mental illness and gave tips on how to ask for help and connected readers to community resources. It also addressed the prevalence of mental illness and the need for education and awareness. This piece touched on the seriousness of mental illness in children and the warning signs we should be looking for. Lastly, it focused on the demand and need in our community. This educational piece was powerful and gained the attention of many readers. One reader shared “There are families dealing with the same issues I am, and for the first time I don’t feel so alone.” Please read the full piece here it could possibly have the same impact on you or someone you know.
On May 20th and 21st, we held our annual conference, "B4Stage4: Starting the Conversation". It brought together individuals and family members living with mental illness, health care providers, and other mental health partners in public safety, education and faith communities. It discussed early detection and prevention of mental illness. Over 250 people attended, including 12 sponsors, many exhibitors and so much more! Paul Gionfriddo, our main Keynote Speaker CEO and President of Mental Health America, gave especially moving speeches. The speech topics centered on ideas relating to the integration of other services with behavioral health systems, prevention, early identification, and intervention in regards to mental illnesses. We also had individuals and family members impacted by mental illness share their stories of recovery. Click here for photos and power points from the event!
Below are just a few comments from our participants:
On August 16th, Mental Health America of Arizona, along with a few other mental health advocates and family members, gave powerful testimony in front of the AHCCCS (our state’s Medicaid office) Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. As a result, they approved fourteen oral antipsychotics along with three long lasting antipsychotic injectable to the statewide drug list without requiring prior authorization effective October 1st. The decision giving open access to these medications without a requirement for step therapy or "fail first" policies allows and empowers our physicians to get their patients the appropriate help at the right time. It will improve the quality of life of many individuals and their family members, lead to a greater quality of life for those we serve and save our overall system money.
On November 17th, we co-sponsored a video-conference “Behavioral Health in Rural Arizona: Assessing Network Strength”. In total, via all locations, 101 participants (23 via the internet, 22 on-site in Phoenix, and 56 at host sites in Nogales, Bisbee, Parker, Somerton, Prescott, Flagstaff, and Tucson) attended the video-conference. Dr. Michael Shafer from ASU’s Center for Applied Behavioral Health and Policy spoke about approaches to network adequacy. Dr. Michael McKinney from Cenpatico Integrated Care and Shawn Nau from Health Choice Integrated Care both spoke about assessing Arizona’s rural behavioral health networks and what each of their organizations are doing to meet this need. Lastly, Rep. Heather Carter from District 15 spoke about HB 2502 and the opportunities to increase access to tele-psychiatry through state legislative policy.
On November 22nd, we held another Association of Associations (A of A) meeting. The A of A is a network of advocates who come together to discuss mental health issues in our community and the advocacy needs surrounding them. Together, we work to see change. This last meeting addressed the potential implications of the recent election and was attended by 48 fellow advocates. The meeting was recorded and viewed by 50 additional advocates who were not able to attend our event in person. Speakers included: Emily Jenkins, Executive Director of Arizona Council of Human Service Providers, who spoke on state advocacy issues; Debbie Plotnick, Vice President Mental Health and Systems Advocacy at Mental Health America, who spoke on national advocacy issues and Shannon Groppenbacher, Policy Advocacy Director at Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems Inc. who spoke on the need and strength of working together to make the greatest impact. To view the recording of the meeting, click here.
Throughout the past year we also have: