Members and staff of the CAC, as well as representatives from, NAMI, KU and WSU met together December 8, 2011 for a planning and strategizing session. It was made clear that the state of mental health services throughout the state will most likely be changing if proposals to the legislature are approved in the coming session. Under the current proposals the existing SRS, as well as some other agencies would be reorganized into three departments, with mental health services falling under the Department for Aging and Human Services. Likewise, the current Medicaid system will be switching from a fee for service format to a managed care format with consumers eventually having a choice between three providers. The hope is that the system will provide better care at a lower cost. It was also reported that funding for CRO’s as well as SAMHSA state network grants may not be renewed.
This climate of change brings with it both obstacles and opportunities. The obstacles include trying to survive and thrive in the current climate of change, uncertainty and financial cutbacks. The opportunities include the possibility of building a funding base less dependent on state government, the chance to influence and be a positive part of the many changes coming about in mental health care, and the hope that the final outcome may be a system, of agencies and entities that the better serve and promote recovery among mental health consumers.
Among the actions taken by the council were decisions to proceed with seeking grants from private and government agencies; to pursue affiliating with the National Association of Peer Specialist (NAOPS) and to seek out additional ways to encourage the increased use of Certified Peer Specialist in facilitating recovery; the formation of a committee to meet with the Mental Health Coalition with the hope of including funding for the CAC as a part of the funding request to the legislature. The committee will also follow up with individual legislators to try and secure passage of the funding. A second committee was appointed to look into additional fundraising activities including fundraising events, corporate sponsorships, and direct appeals. The Board expressed its gratitude to NAMI, KU and WSU for their participation, input and assistance with transportation and looks forward to continuing cooperation.
The CAC board members and staff continue to remain positive amidst the ever-changing financial climate. It will mean at least some short term changes in traditional programming. Regrettably the Recovery Conference will not take place this year and the fate of the leadership academy is on hold for the time being and much of the communication and work must now be done via teleconference. Work continues however, on the Trauma Informed Care and peer support initiatives and perhaps most importantly in advocacy for consumer participation at the national, state and local levels.
Now is the perfect time to get involved! Write your state legislators and others in authority and encourage friends and relatives to do the same. Let your voice be heard that funding for consumer initiatives is money well spent. Be active in your local CROs, NAMI and other groups, Volunteer to help with committees and projects, present your creative ideas for funding and programming, as well as your words of encouragement to Board and Staff members or post them in the forum. Your voice and actions can make a positive difference in the lives of many. Now is not the time to lose hope, but to redouble our efforts. Thank you for your hard work, encouragement and support.