Many members of Congress are intent on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), (Obamacare). NAMI Mass strongly opposes repeal and recently joined the Massachusetts Coalition for Coverage and Care.
The two goals of the coalition are to:
The coalition will increase knowledge about the progress that Massachusetts has made because of the state’s health coverage law (Chapter 58) and the ACA, broaden understanding of what is at stake if the ACA is repealed and/or replaced, and identify actions that the state and others can take to protect coverage and care for residents of the Commonwealth.
We need to let U.S. Senators and Representatives from other states know that if the ACA is repealed, people with mental health issues will suffer. Please talk to your family and friends living in other states and ask them to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives to support the ACA.
When people do not have access to mental health or substance use care, many seek help in emergency departments where they can wait for days, or even weeks, for psychiatric care. Others end up out of school, out of work, in jail, on the streets or-tragically-die by suicide.
Mental health and Substance Use Coverage
The current requirement that health plans cover mental health and substance use disorders and at the same level as other health conditions (parity) remains critical as we seek to better address mental health needs and lower the annual economic cost of mental illness.
Extended Coverage for Young Adults until age 26
The ACA allows families to cover young adults through age 26 on their health plans. This is an important option since 3 out of 4 individuals with a mental health condition have symptoms by age 24.
Health Plan safeguards
Once a person is covered, there are safeguards to ensure quality coverage and that a person can’t be dropped from their plan (rescission) or turned down for renewal just because they are ill or using services (guaranteed renewability). People cannot be charged more based on their health status, have annual or lifetime limits on their coverage or be subject to exorbitant deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses.
Medicaid (or MassHealth) and Mental Health
The ACA extended coverage to approximately 20 million people across the country and many of them have mental health conditions.
Please thank your U.S. Senator and Representatives from Massachusetts for supporting the ACA, and talk to your family and friends in other states to ask them to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives to support the ACA so people with mental health and substance use needs don’t suffer.
“NAMI Mass changed my life.”
It all started when Allie was 11. Her parents moved from the small town where she was raised to a strange, big city. Her beloved grandmother died. She started attending a new school and burst into tears on her first day of sixth grade. The bullying started immediately. “Cry baby,” they taunted. She started having panic attacks. Her grades suffered. Her parents, deep into alcoholism, left her feeling alone and isolated.
“I ate my lunch in the guidance counselor’s office but I received no guidance. It was the first time I ever felt alone, and I began to shut down. I kept to myself, but it didn’t quiet the other kids. The only thing I could do was completely shut down into a depression and stay there until I graduated high school.”
And even when she met and married Rick, the toxicity of her family infiltrated her relationship and led her to attempt to take her own life.
“I gave no sign that ending my life was where I was. I only knew what I had seen in movies and decided on pills and alcohol to do the deed.”
After being treated for the suicide attempt and a three-week stay at a psychiatric facility, Allie entered a six-week outpatient program. Rick thought she was cured and that the whole episode was behind them. But it wasn’t. Allie still felt isolated, and the panic attacks returned. Rick didn’t understand. He thought she’d “get over it.” Their marriage was in tatters. They fought. She told him to divorce her. Rick agreed to go to couples therapy, but he just wasn’t receptive to talk therapy. They hit a dead end.
And then Allie found NAMI Mass.
At the suggestion of her therapist, Allie started spending Thursday nights at a NAMI Connection recovery support group meeting. She met people there who understood her issues and cared about her. She then attended a NAMI Peer-to-Peer class where she realized she was not alone, and where she found ways to express her feelings through words and photos. She went on to become a NAMI In Our Own Voice presenter, sharing the story of her recovery journey.
Rick joined a NAMI Family Support Group.
“He became much more understanding and compassionate around my anxiety, mania, and depression. I now feel open to discuss with him when I feel manic and to let him know how things are going. He wants to help me through it now.”
One in five people in our state suffers from mental illness. NAMI Mass is there for them—and for their families and caregivers—to improve the quality of their lives through education, training, support, and advocacy.
Please make a difference and give as generously as you can. Thank you and best wishes for a healthy, joyful, and peaceful holiday season.
Tom Scurfield, NAMI Mass Board President
Laurie Martinelli, NAMI Mass Executive Director
Now that the elections are over, it is time to turn out attention to passing mental health reform.
Along with our common commitment to improving the lives of individual and families affected by mental illness, one of NAMI’s strengths is its diversity. We are a nonpartisan grassroots movement—with advocates of every political stripe in both “red” and “blue” states.
This bipartisanship is a hallmark of NAMI and it is also a welcome hallmark of mental health reform legislation. We are fortunate to have strong champions across the aisle in Congress, such as U.S. Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) and U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).
These champions and many other Congressional leaders worked together over the past two years to pass Representative Murphy’s bill, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act”, by an overwhelming vote of 422-2. The Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee unanimously passed a similar bill.
With a common understanding that mental illness affects children and adults across the nation, members of Congress have shown unprecedented unity in supporting early intervention for first episode psychosis, crisis intervention services, evidence-based practices such as Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), suicide prevention and integration of health, mental health and substance use care. We are encouraged that President-elect Donald Trump, during the presidential campaign, took the position that “[t]here are promising reforms being developed in Congress that should receive bi-partisan support.”
NAMI calls on Congress to finish the important and significant work on mental health reform in the upcoming session. NAMI also stands ready to work with President Trump and the new Congress to address America’s largest and costliest public health crisis—the lack of effective mental health care.
Questions? Please contact Angela Kimball (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Bill filed by State Senator Jason Lewis to Create Center of Excellence
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 29, 2016
Boston, MA—In a State House press conference at 1:00 p.m. on May 2 (Room 428), law enforcement officials from several Massachusetts communities will join Senator Jason Lewis (D-Fifth Middlesex District) and representatives of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass) to rally support for the Senator’s bill to improve police training for incidents involving people who are in a mental health or substance use crisis.
“Police have become the first responders for people experiencing crises related to mental illness and substance use,” said Senator Lewis. “Without appropriate training for officers, these encounters can lead to tragedy—people ending up in jail or, in the worst cases, injury or death. As soon as people who need care enter the criminal justice system, recovery becomes more difficult, as does maintaining their own health, getting and keeping jobs, and maintaining appropriate relationships. This all contributes to furthering the cycle of behavioral health problems.”
The proposed Center of Excellence in Community Policing and Behavioral Health will function to:
Serve as a clearinghouse for best practices in police response to people with mental illness and substance use disorders;
Develop and implement Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for all veteran and new recruit municipal police officers;
Provide technical assistance to cities and towns to develop collaborative partnerships between law enforcement and human services providers that maximize referrals to treatment services.
In Massachusetts, more than 50% of people who have a drug use disorder also have a mental health condition. At the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction, which houses approximately 1,100 men, 46% of new admittances in 2015 self-identified with a history of mental illness and more than 2,000 required medical detox, according to Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, a founding member of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, who will attend the press conference.
“Providing local law enforcement with the appropriate tools to divert non-violent individuals suffering from mental illness or substance abuse away from the criminal justice system and into necessary community-based treatment has the ability to change countless lives,” Sheriff Koutoujian said.
Only 17% of police departments in Massachusetts have access to the resources and training necessary to respond effectively to behavioral health and substance use crisis calls, according to NAMI Mass data. As a result, too many people with mental illness wind up in the state’s prison system. Now, with the spike in opioid addiction and subsequent arrests, the criminal justice system is being overwhelmed with nonviolent people who are really in need of treatment.
“The Center of Excellence is needed so that police officers in all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth can get the training and support they need to make sure that people with mental illness and substance use disorders are connected with needed services in their communities, rather than languishing in a jail cell,” said June Binney, director of the Criminal Justice Diversion Program at NAMI Mass, who noted nearly a quarter of all state correctional inmates—and as many as half of all county jail inmates—are receiving some mental health services.
“The Commonwealth cannot adequately address the opioid crisis without also focusing on mental health needs,” Senator Lewis said.
Ellis Strategies, Inc.
email@example.com | 617-278-6560
About the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass):
Founded in 1982, NAMI Mass is a nonprofit, grassroots education, support and advocacy organization. It is the state’s voice on mental illness, with 21 local chapters and more than 2,000 members. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people with mental health challenges and their families by educating the public; fighting stigma, discrimination and stereotypes; and promoting recovery. To that end, the organization offers free, peer-led programs that provide resources, insights, coping skills and genuine support.
Efforts to Decriminalize Addiction Must Include Mental Health (NAMI Mass Position Paper)
Police get mental-health intervention training Boston Herald
In light of recent events and media reports regarding Arbour Health System facilities, NAMI Mass decided to return Arbour’s 2016 Walk corporate sponsorship donation. Anyone with questions about this decision should contact Karen Gromis, Walk Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Saturday, October 3, 2015, NAMI Mass hosted an affiliate leaders meeting in Framingham to discuss all of NAMI’s Education and Support Programs. It was a fabulous meeting with over 10 Affiliates represented. Here is a photo of the NAMI Mass staff who presented at this Affiliate Leaders Meeting, along with our Board President, Steve Rosenfeld.
Pictured are from Left to right: seated is Bernice Drumheller, standing behind her is NAMI Mass staff; Steve Shea, Laurie Martinelli, Florette WIllis, Steve Rosenfeld, Eliza Williamson, Nancy Parker, Megan Wiechnik, Ilya Cherkasov, and Judi Maguire.
COMPASS will guide people through the complex mental health system to find appropriate services
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2015
Boston, MA – Mental illness affects one in five people. Now, NAMI Mass, the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is launching a new support structure designed to help people and their families navigate the complexities of the mental health system in Massachusetts.
NAMI COMPASS is the new name for the organization’s revamped helpline. With the support of grants from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and the Department of Mental Health, NAMI Mass has overhauled its helpline – leveraging the latest technology – to provide individuals and families vital assistance finding the right mental health resources. Calls are answered by trained “navigators” who will provide personalized information on:
• Peer & family support
• Discharge rights
• Police & legal system
• Substance use treatment
• NAMI education programs
“People calling into NAMI COMPASS will speak to a live person, who has real-life experience dealing with mental illness. These volunteers have been trained and are ready to provide support in a setting that is safe and confidential,” said Laurie Martinelli, executive director of NAMI Mass.
State Representative Ruth B. Balser (12th Middlesex District), who has made mental health public policy a top priority of her legislative agenda, says the kind of person-to-person assistance NAMI COMPASS will provide is invaluable.
“The NAMI Mass COMPASS provides an essential service—answering questions about mental health services, employment, housing and the criminal justice system. I will be sure to let my constituents know about the NAMI Mass COMPASS and I hope others will pass on this information too.”
People can contact COMPASS by phone: 617-704-NAMI (6264), or by email: COMPASS@namimass.org.
Ellis Strategies, Inc.
email@example.com | 617-278-6560
CEOs Against Stigma Seeking to Reduce No. 1 Cause of Workplace Disability
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 23, 2015
Boston, MA—Mental illness affects one in five adults and is the leading cause of workplace disability. Unlike physical illness, mental illness carries a stigma that prevents many people from discussing their condition at work—leading to high turnover, low productivity and increased employer costs. NAMI Massassachusetts, the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is launching a statewide campaign called CEOs Against Stigma to end workplace stigma and create healthier, more productive workplaces.
On June 26 at 11:00 a.m., NAMI Mass will hold a press conference to officially launch the campaign and announce the first 25 CEOs to participate. The press conference will be held in the Human Resources Training Room at the Logan Office Center (LOC), One Harborside Drive, East Boston. Massport CEO Thomas Glynn, who is one of the first 25, is hosting the press conference.
Funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, CEOs Against Stigma recognizes that ending stigma requires top-down leadership to change misconceptions about mental illness—including depression and substance use—so employees have the opportunity to speak freely about the conditions that affect them and their immediate families, and seek support.
The campaign is open to all Massachusetts companies with at least 50 employees. CEOs are asked to sign a pledge that “encourages communication and understanding to foster a stigma-free workplace.” It also includes a commitment to bring NAMI’s In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presentations into the workplace. Recognized by a leading national mental health researcher as the most effective anti-stigma program in America, IOOV presentations feature two people sharing their personal stories of recovery.
NAMI Mass chose to focus this anti-stigma campaign on the workplace, in part, based on results from a 2014 statewide survey of 800 Massachusetts voters, which NAMI Mass commissioned to gauge attitudes on mental illness. The results show that while 92 percent of people would advise people with mental illness to tell their families about it, and 76 percent would advise telling their friends, only 27 percent would advise telling their co-workers. (To read the full survey, click here.)
“Every day, we see how stigma interferes with a person’s willingness to get treatment,” said NAMI Mass Executive Director Laurie Martinelli. “The research shows that in the workplace stigma not only discourages people from getting help, it also has a huge impact on productivity.”
Three CEOs are among the speakers to be featured at the press conference:
Evan Rockefeller, an occupational therapist and NAMI IOOV presenter, will share his personal story of work-related stigma. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder sixteen years ago, Rockefeller discusses the challenges he faced in the workplace.
NAMI Mass will also release its position paper, “Bad for Business: The Business Case for Overcoming Mental Illness Stigma in the Workplace.”
View the campaign website at: http://ceos.namimass.org.
Ellis Strategies, Inc.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 617-278-6560
About the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass):
Founded in 1982, NAMI Mass is a nonprofit, grassroots education, support and advocacy organization. It is the state’s voice on mental illness, with 21 local chapters and more than 2,000 members. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people with mental health challenges and their families by educating the public; fighting stigma, discrimination and stereotypes; and promoting recovery. To that end, the organization offers free, peer-led programs that provide resources, insights, coping skills and genuine support. NAMI Mass has been chosen by the National Alliance on Mental Illness as the Outstanding State Organization for 2015.
Recognition highlights organization’s exceptional work
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 2, 2015
Boston, MA—Of the 50 state organizations that comprise the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Massachusetts chapter, NAMI Mass, is being recognized as the Outstanding State Organization for 2015. The NAMI Board of Directors applauds NAMI Mass for “exceptional efforts on the state level in carrying out the NAMI mission as defined by the NAMI Standard of Excellence.”
“The NAMI national organization is a godsend for millions of families whose lives are changed forever by serious mental illness,” said NAMI Mass Board President Steve Rosenfeld. “Their recognition spurs us to work even harder. There’s so much to do, and even outstanding isn’t good enough.”
In her letter of congratulations, NAMI National Governance Committee Chair Janet Edelman praised NAMI Mass for its strong leadership and noted select achievements, including:
NAMI Mass is in the process of implementing an aggressive strategic plan which includes the Build It Together initiative—focused on increasing the diversity leadership at the state level and within its 21 affiliates, which are spread across the state.
“Making NAMI’s programs accessible to all the communities we serve is a vital component of our mission,” said Laurie Martinelli, executive director of NAMI Mass. “We are working hard to remove roadblocks that prevent us from being diverse and inclusive.”
The Outstanding State Organization Award will be presented at the 2015 NAMI National Convention, July 6-9 in San Francisco.
Media Contact: Matt Ellis; Ellis Strategies, Inc.; email@example.com; 617-278-6560
About the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass): Founded in 1982, NAMI Mass is a nonprofit, grassroots education, support and advocacy organization. It is the state’s voice on mental illness, with 21 local chapters and more than 2,000 members. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people with mental health challenges and their families by educating the public; fighting stigma, discrimination and stereotypes; and promoting recovery. To that end, the organization offers free, peer-led programs that provide resources, insights, coping skills and genuine support. NAMI Mass has been chosen by the National Alliance on Mental Illness as the Outstanding State Organization for 2015.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) will host a series of public stakeholder sessions as a follow-up to the stakeholder engagement kick-off meeting on April 6, 2015. This series of focused conversations will be an opportunity for MassHealth to seek input on its efforts to enhance the health care experience for MassHealth members, improve health outcomes and discuss reforms to make the MassHealth program more sustainable. We welcome all members of the public who wish to share their ideas with MassHealth and help us work through design challenges. Listening sessions will be conducted on Customer Service Experience, Payment Reform, and Behavioral Health and Long Term Services and Support. The details of the stakeholder sessions are listed below. Please note that these sessions are open to all members of the public.
The Executive Office of Health and Human Services has scheduled a series of public stakeholder listening sessions as follow-up to the April 6th stakeholder engagement kick-off meeting. We encourage your participation and hope that you will join us for one or more of the sessions listed below. Please direct any questions and requests for accommodations to MassHealth.Innovations@state.ma.us
|Customer Service Experience||May 8, 2015||2:00-4:00||Ashburton 21st floor||One Ashburton Place, Boston|
|Payment Reform||May 22, 2015||2:00-4:00||Transportation Building||10 Park Plaza, Boston|
|Behavioral Health, and Long Term Services and Supports||June 12, 2015||2:00-4:00||Ashburton 21st floor||One Ashburton Place, Boston|
|Customer Service Experience, Payment Reform, Behavioral Health, and Long Term Services and Supports||June 23, 2015||10:00-12:00||North Shore location TBD||North Shore location TBD|
|Customer Service Experience, Payment Reform, Behavioral Health, and Long Term Services and Supports||June 25, 2015||10:00-12:00||New Bedford Free Library||613 Pleasant St., New Bedford|
|Customer Service Experience, Payment Reform, Behavioral Health, and Long Term Services and Supports||June 29, 2015||2:00-4:00||Springfield Public Library – Mason Branch||765 State Street, Springfield|
|Customer Service Experience, Payment Reform, Behavioral Health, and Long Term Services and Supports||July 7, 2015||10:00-12:00||Worcester Public Library||3 Salem Square, Worcester|