Advocacy

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NAMI St. Louis is part of America’s largest grassroots mental health organization–the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  We are passionate about improving mental health treatment and services for those who live with mental illness and we do this through our advocacy program.

The Advocacy Committee to the NAMI St. Louis Board of Directors guides and supports our advocacy efforts.

Our vision is that all persons, including those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, have the opportunity to achieve their human potential and to live the highest possible quality of life.

Jacqueline Hudson currently serves as Director of Advocacy for NAMI St. Louis and can be contacted at jhudson@namistl.org or 314-775-1600.

2017 Advocacy & Public Policy Priorities

NAMI St. Louis is an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI St. Louis’ 2017 advocacy and public policy priorities outlines four objectives that support our goal of ensuring that people living with mental health conditions receive the services and supports they need to experience resiliency, recovery and wellness. NAMI St. Louis will also take positions on specific mental health issues or legislation as it arises.

  • Increase availability of integrated models of children’s behavioral healthcare
  • Ensure open access to all mental health medications in Medicaid
  • Enforce mental health insurance parity
  • Provide stable and adequate Medicaid funding

Increase availability of integrated models of children’s behavioral healthcare.
Although 1 in 5 youth live with a mental health condition, less than fifty percent receive needed services. Undiagnosed, untreated, or undertreated mental health conditions can affect a youth’s ability to learn, grow, and develop (National Alliance on Mental Illness [NAMI], 2016a). Because there is a severe shortage of child psychiatrists in Missouri (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry [AACAP], 2016), many children with behavioral health issues are treated by primary care providers who have little or no formal education in this area. NAMI STL supports funding a Pediatric Psychiatry clinic through Show-Me ECHO to provide best practice education and mentoring to primary care providers (see below for more information).

Ensure open access to all mental health medications in Medicaid.
The right medication is key to recovery for many children and adults with mental health conditions. People need choices because individuals react differently to different medications. Preferred drug lists, prior authorization and other restrictions pose substantial risks for people with serious mental health conditions. Medication failures can lead to emergency room visits, hospitalization, school failure, job loss‐‐even incarceration or suicide. NAMI STL supports the current protective language in statute for psychotropic medications under Medicaid (RSMo 208.227).

Enforce mental health insurance parity.
Health insurers are denying mental health care at nearly 2 times the rate of other medical care—often with no explanation—according to a NAMI survey (NAMI, 2015). The federal parity law requires most health plans to provide equivalent coverage for mental health and medical care, but without appropriate enforcement, insurance companies do not comply. This leaves people unable to get the mental health care they need. NAMI STL supports legislation that helps to enforce mental health parity.

Provide stable and adequate Medicaid funding.
Medicaid provides vital community-based, mental health services for low-income children and adults who live with mental illness. Medicaid helps people stabilize and recover, reducing reliance on hospitalization and other public services. NAMI STL supports the Mental Health Crisis Intervention Project to provide Medicaid services to a demonstration group of young adults who may delay or reverse progression towards disability as a result.  Awaiting approval from the federal government.

What can Missouri do to increase access to integrated children’s behavioral healthcare?

1) Restore $1.5 million in increased funding to the Department of Higher Education Budget, Missouri Telehealth Network for FY2017. ECHO utilizes videoconferencing technology to provide education and training to primary care providers concerning specific chronic, complex conditions. ECHO improves health outcomes and reduces overall costs.

2) Implement a Pediatric Psychiatry ECHO, which utilizes part of the funding mentioned above, to increase use of evidence-based practices to identify and treat children & adolescents with ADHD, depression, and anxiety in primary care settings, as well as increase primary providers’ comfort level with prescribing psychotropic medications.