Glenn Close Goes To Washington As An Advocate for Mental Health
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01-08-14 Category: Mental Health

Six-time academy award nominee Glenn Close is a long-time advocate for mental health. She co-founded the organization Bring Change 2 Mind with the Balanced Mind FoundationFountain House, and Garen & Shari Staglin of the International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO) to transform the negative stigma associated with mental illness. The foundation hopes to change the misconceptions about mental health disorders and make it easier for people with mental health disorders to seek help and get treatment.

Close began as a volunteer with Fountain House because she wanted to learn more about mental health to help her sister and nephew, who have both been diagnosed with disorders, and soon decided to found Bring Change 2 Mind to further aid those with mental health disorders. For Close, it is not enough to just be active with her foundation; she has joined congressmen on Capitol Hill to advocate for the latest bill to improve mental health care.

Excellence In Mental Health Act

On Wednesday, December 18, 2013, Close spoke at a news conference in Washington, supporting a bi-partisan bill, the Excellence in Mental Health Act, introduced by Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri that also has more than a dozen co-sponsors.

This legislation would provide federal Medicaid reimbursement to behavioral health centers, reducing fragmentation and providing another step toward parity for mental health services. It also will help improve the care offered by struggling community behavioral health care facilities that have had to deal with budget cuts and other financial difficulties that prevent them from providing the best care to the entire community.

The Mental Health Bill

The bill, which has already passed the Senate Finance Committee, would initiate a 10-state pilot program to provide Medicaid funding for centers that become Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers (CCBHCs) through meeting certain criteria and performing specific services, such as 24-hour crisis care, dual diagnosis treatment, expanded support to families, and substance abuse treatment.

These centers would receive the same type of Medicaid reimbursement funding as traditional health care centers. Advocates of the bill hope that this will strengthen the mental health services in the country and provide more access to those in need because even smaller centers will be able to accept Medicaid. It will also create a better system for communication between mental health facilities and other healthcare providers, such as VA hospitals and clinics.

Organizational Support

Over 50 mental health, law enforcement  and veterans’ organizations support this legislation. They include the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council for Behavioral Health, the American Psychological Association, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Mental Health America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Give an Hour, the National Association of Police Organizations, and the National Sheriffs’ Association.

In Response To Sandy Hook

The initiative began a year ago as a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newton, Connecticut. About 2,000 community behavioral health centers would qualify to meet federal requirements and be eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. Estimated cost of the proposal is approximately $1.6 billion over the next decade. The legislation was recently attached to a larger bill changing the reimbursement to doctors offering Medicare services, which is set to be debated sometime in the early part of the year.

At the press conference, Close said: “It is critical that people come out and talk about mental illness to reduce the stigma surrounding those living with mental illness. This legislation is so important in the effort to expand access to mental health services and improve the quality of treatment available. With reduced stigma and discrimination, and increased access to quality care, people living with mental illness can get the treatment they need.”

Other Hollywood Supporters

Close is not the only person from Hollywood to show support for this bill on Capitol Hill. When it was first introduced in February 2013, David O. Russell, director and screenwriter of Silver Linings Playbook, joined the senators in support of the bill.

It is important for those with mental health disorders to receive the treatment they need, but unfortunately less than half do. It is essential to provide easy and affordable access for mental health conditions to improve the number of people in treatment; otherwise, those with mental illness will continue to have a poor quality of life and can become a danger to themselves and others.

Mental Health Disorders

Those with mental health disorders are more likely to be victims of violent crime rather than committing it. However, if a person does not receive treatment soon after the first psychotic episode, he or she is 15 times more likely to commit an act of violence than if they enter a treatment program. Veterans are a vulnerable population, with 22 veterans a day committing suicide and at least 25 percent of those returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan having some type of mental health disorder. With this legislation, hopefully more people suffering from a mental health disorder, veterans and non-veterans alike, will be able to get the help they need.

At Sovereign Health Group, we offer evidence-based treatment programs for mental health disorders, combining experiential and expressive therapeutic activities. Our Mental Health Program offerings include individual and group psychotherapy, yoga, meditation, equine therapy, art therapy, music therapy, nutritional counseling, and more.

We treat each patient individually and holistically, including treating all co-occurring conditions, to provide the best care and reduce the risk of relapse. To find out more about our mental health treatment program, click here or call our Admissions team at (866) 819-0427.

Blog post by: Marissa Maldonado

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