In recognition of May as National Mental Health Month, the Modern Medicaid Alliance is showcasing both Medicaid’s critical role in providing mental health services for enrollees and the work of our partners to provide supportive services and reduce the stigma around mental illness.
Nearly 52 million adults across the U.S. are affected by mental illness each year, and Medicaid is the single largest payer for mental health services in the country, serving 26% of all adults living with a serious mental health disease.
This year, the observance carries added significance as communities work to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and the additional challenges that impact health and wellness, including isolation and increased stress.
Addressing Behavioral Health Challenges
Centene Corporation announced its support for National Mental Health Month through several initiatives that empower providers and individuals to address behavioral health challenges, including substance use disorder (SUD).
The organization is committed to providing solutions to help individuals overcome behavioral health challenges and resulting conditions such as SUD. Centene is continuing to offer support through a number of programs and partnerships, including:
- Centene OpiEnd, an evidence-based program that uses predictive modeling to identify members at high risk of developing an opioid addiction and connect them with care providers.
- Partnership with YWCA to engage teenage girls from low-income families, especially communities of color, to teach them about the impacts of trauma and develop relationship and leadership skills.
- Suicide Safer Care Program, a program developed in collaboration with the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved and Concert Health to provide trainings to health centers on evidence-based practices for suicide prevention in primary care.
Delivering Mental and Behavioral Health Services in Schools
School psychologists are uniquely trained to deliver high-quality mental and behavioral health services in schools to ensure all students have the support they need to be successful in school, at home, and throughout life.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) offers various resources to highlight the problem with unaddressed mental health needs in schools and how school psychologists can help provide services. A recently updated white paper from NASP — “School Psychologists: Qualified Health Professionals Providing Child and Adolescent Mental and Behavioral Health Services” — showcases the expertise of school psychologists in meeting the needs of children and adolescents throughout the country.
Disseminating Best Practices
Throughout the month, Mental Health America (MHA) has hosted “Advocacy Mondays” to provide virtual opportunities for advocates to learn about the issues they care about most and take information to officials, community leaders, and loved ones. Each week, MHA highlighted different topics related to mental and behavioral health:
- May 3 – 8 – COVID-19 Relief Funding and Workplace Mental Health
- May 10 – 14 – Maternal and Perinatal Mental Health
- May 17 – 21 – Crisis Services and Suicide Prevention
- May 24 – 28 – Peer Support and Equity
Supporting Youth Mental Health
In 2019, Blue Shield of California launched the BlueSky Initiative to enhance access, awareness, and advocacy of youth mental health supports in collaboration with the California Department of Education and leading nonprofit organizations. BlueSky supports California youth mental health by providing access to clinicians in middle and high schools, training educators on the signs of mental health issues, and empowering youth with in-person and online mental health support resources.
The initiative recently partnered with DoSomething.org to launch a first-of-its-kind digital mental health guide for youth, created for youth by youth. The guide provides young people with peer-to-peer tips on self-care, managing stress from digital learning during the pandemic, and supporting the mental health of fellow classmates.
While COVID-19 has exacerbated mental health challenges across the country, Modern Medicaid Alliance partners are stepping up to help those in need. The Modern Medicaid Alliance and our partners will continue to develop and share resources for addressing mental illness, and work to ensure Medicaid is strong and sustainable to continue covering mental health services for a growing number of Americans.