Mental health advocates in Georgia say a lack of care is leading to the crisis

The Georgia Mental Health Policy Partnership is comprised of 14 organizations representing the majority of Georgia’s mental health and substance abuse peers, consumers, families and partners., Jeff Breedlove spoke from the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse.

The 2022 Unified Vision for Transforming Mental Health and Substance Use Care in Georgia is part of a multi-year legislative process. last year, A unified vision emphasized the need for better mental health services The state is coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since then, Georgia has risen to 48th below last for access to mental health services.

More: Georgia improves its mental health rankings – with data collected before Covid. But challenges remain

Attention from not only behavioral health groups, but also lawmakers, including state House Speaker David Ralston, led to the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act.

Now, advocates are seeking additional funding to expand programs that have proven effective.

“We need to focus on peer-led, recovery-based programs,” Breedlove said. “House Rule 1013 It was not the beginning, but the end. There is still work to be done on equity to ensure state agencies are interpreting legislative intent, to continue to build a peer-led workforce, and to do more in emergency crisis and response.

The largest provider of mental health services in Georgia is the criminal justice system. County jails and prisons are overflowing with people who are not receiving proper mental health care, state Rep. Gregg Kenard (D-Lawrenceville) said last year.

“One could argue that we criminalize mental health,” he said.

Lack of funding means many responders in rural Georgia can’t even afford to be part of a pilot program, Breedlove said.

The Georgia Council on Substance Abuse aims to work with the state to expand the program. Recovery community organizationsIt is an independent, not-for-profit organization led and managed by representatives of local recovery communities.

These organizations organize recovery-focused policy advocacy activities, conduct recovery-focused community education and outreach programs, and/or provide peer-based recovery support services.

“We have 40 of them in Georgia, but 40 is not enough to serve 159 counties,” Breedlove said.

49% of Georgia high school students report experiencing high levels of anxiety, 40% report experiencing depression, and 11% have intentionally harmed themselves in the past year, according to Unified Vision.

According to Peter Nunn, a member of the board of directors of the Georgia chapter of the American Suicide Prevention Foundation, the three basic components of a unified vision are:

  • Early detection and prevention
  • Manpower
  • Equality

Inadequate supplier networks are a major problem for each of the three entities, Nunn said. Insurers’ networks are a critical middle ground between getting insurance coverage and accessing medical care, but many insurers try to excuse inadequate networks and point to a general lack of behavioral health care providers, Nunn said.

Related: With few other resources, people with behavioral health problems receive treatment in jails and prisons

“This move, however, is nothing more than rhetoric used by insurers to distract attention from what appear to be willful violations of network adequacy obligations,” Nunu said, citing a study by an actuarial firm that confirmed the children of Georgia. He has been forced to go out of network for behavioral health care more than 10 times Instead of being forced to go out of network for general medical care.

Now, the reason is that insurers don’t have enough networks. Behavioral health care providers for Georgia children.

“We’re asking him to expand the programs in mental health and addiction services,” Breedlove said.

This story comes to Reporter Newspapers/Atlanta Intown through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a nonprofit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

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