Monthly Archives: November 2015

RAPID RESPONSE TO THE ADDICTION CRISIS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE—AND THE NATION

At a town hall meeting this past August in Keene, New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton referred to opiate addiction as “the quiet epidemic.”

Just three months later, the quiet has become deafening. This past week, New Hampshire’s legislative executive council approved Governor Maggie Hassan’s call for a mid-November special session focused solely on addressing the state’s approach to opiate addiction. The New Hampshire Board of Medicine voted into action emergency rules that compel providers to adhere to practices that comply with federal guidelines for best practices for prescribing opiates, including a thorough risk assessment for addiction prevention. Chris Christie’s impassioned New Hampshire speech humanizing the face of addiction has gone viral. Patrick Kennedy is brought his message to New Hampshire at a special forum on November 10 to highlight the need for swift and urgent action to enforce the Mental Health and Addiction Parity Act so that insurers implement provisions mandated by law. Recently, NH residents named drug abuse as the second most important issue in the state behind jobs and the economy.

The noise is getting louder. The volume is turning up.

In his message at Fedcap’s Solution Series on October 28, Patrick Kennedy stressed the need to address the problem comprehensively—looking at the lifespan of addiction—from prevention to treatment to recovery to sustained recovery through employment and the support of a community of peers.

This is doable.

In New York City, Fedcap stood up an innovative service model called WeCARE, in a very short timeframe—providing comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment, health/behavioral health care, vocational training and employment. Today 50,000 people are served annually. There are models that exist that can be leveraged.   We do not need to delay.

The opiate addiction problems in New Hampshire and the rest of the country will not be solved overnight. But by rapidly leveraging existing models that have a proven record of success, aligning our strategic efforts, partnering with lawmakers, treatment centers, healthcare providers, and employers, we can meet this crisis head on.

What are your thoughts?

A Call to Action: A Conversation with Patrick Kennedy

Fedcap Solution Series: A Conversation with Patrick Kennedy: Changing the National Discourse about Mental Health Issues and Addiction.

Patrick Kennedy

        Patrick Kennedy

“There is a vacuum of leadership in this country. There is no roadmap for this nation on the single greatest public health crisis that we have as a nation…We think of [mental health issues and addiction] as a medical issue, as a human services issue, but we often miss what is most important to the people in recovery, and that is the opportunity to have the same self esteem that, as we know in our culture, comes from what you do for a living, and the fact that you are employed.”    -Congressman Patrick Kennedy, October 28, 2015, Fedcap Solution Series, NYC

On Wednesday, over 75 business leaders, thought leaders and public policy change agents came together—live and streaming from all over the world—for a ground-breaking conversation with Congressman Patrick Kennedy about the economic, emotional, and systemic gaps in the discourse on mental health and addiction in the United States. Among those joining us was New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, who, during her introduction of Congressman Kennedy, cited the painful statistic that one in five New Yorkers is facing mental health issues and/or addiction and she asserted that “nearly every individual is affected—every family, workforce and classroom.”

C MCCray SS

Chirlane McCray

“If you have your health, you have everything. And there is no health without mental health.”   Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York  City   

New York City is a microcosm of the greater nation. We know that over 20 percent of the adult population in the U.S.—approximately 44 million people—suffers from some form of mental illness. We also know this number does not represent the much larger percentage of people who go undiagnosed and untreated. Especially vulnerable are our military veterans and our prison population.

In his remarks, Congressman Kennedy called for the reassessment of our current treatment system, which offers unrelated and disparate diagnoses and does little to assess or prevent risk of mental illness or potential addiction. Instead, he calls for a holistic, integrated platform for treatment beginning with ongoing assessment in childhood via primary care and including continuity of care beyond initial treatment. This continuity of care would be folded into our classrooms, workplaces, and communities. Undergirding integrated care is the de-stigmatizing of mental illness and addiction recovery. In Congressman Kennedy’s vision, mental illness would be treated the same as physical illness with the same compassion, care, treatment, and support of the individual—both clinically and culturally.

To listen to the entire Solution Series, please visit this link.

I agree with Congressman Kennedy. It’s time to turn up the volume on the conversation about prevention, assessment, and the de-stigmatizing of mental illness and addiction recovery. But it’s also time to act. We at Fedcap are in a position to not only influence the conversation but to call together national business, non-profit, and practice community leaders in a common voice. We can weave the rare, but powerful existing models and help integrate them via our work in the education, workforce development, occupational health, and economic development sectors with whom we have existing and powerful relationships. I see us focusing on four key areas:

  1. Continuity of care: Once integrated into the workplace, we can call on our business partners to ensure that they include continuity of care beyond initial treatment.
  2. Implementation of existing vehicles for care: We can help our partner organizations assess and support the implementation of the Mental Health and Addiction Parity Act.
  3. Support for ongoing tracking of care: We can call for major insurers to track their insurance mental health claims
  4. De-stigmatizing mental illness and addiction recovery: We can continue to tell the stories, through a variety of media, of the successes, strengths and bottom-line results that occur by integrating those treated for mental illness and recovery into the workforce.

I welcome your thoughts and ideas. Now that we have imagined what’s possible, we can create what’s possible.

Keep an eye out for the roll-out of Mayor deBlasio’s roadmap for mental health and addiction action plan coming before the end of this year.

Congressman Kennedy’s book, A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Recovery was released on October 5, 2015, and is now available at your local bookseller and online at www.amazon.com.