Modern Medicaid Alliance Partners Support Mental Health

Everyone deserves access to effective and affordable mental health support and counseling. As the single largest payer for mental health services, Medicaid plays a critical role in the lives of millions of Americans with mental health conditions – and it’s more important than ever that we continue to strengthen this vital program.

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Modern Medicaid Alliance is showcasing Medicaid’s role in providing mental health support through the work of our partners to help those living with mental health challenges.

Advocating For A Crisis Standard Of Care

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is leading efforts to urge policymakers to invest in a crisis system that provides people with someone to talk to, someone to respond, and somewhere to go. In 2020, this advocacy helped lead to the enactment of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which created a nationwide three-digit number (988) to assist people experiencing a mental health or suicidal crisis.

Now, NAMI is working with federal, state, and local officials to implement the crisis standard of care in every community to ensure everyone in crisis gets the help they need, when they need it. Medicaid agencies will play an enormous role in helping develop and strengthen state crisis care systems.

Supporting Youth Mental Health in California

Blue Shield of California is helping increase access, awareness, and advocacy for mental health support for California youth through its BlueSky Initiative. Launched in 2019, the BlueSky Initiative boosts access to mental health support for youth in two ways: funding school and community programs and providing educational resources for educators and parents.

BlueSky’s program includes providing access to clinicians in middle and high schools, training educators to spot signs of mental health issues, empowering students with culturally affirming mental health support resources, and supporting career development for professionals pursuing careers in mental health. In just a few years, BlueSky has increased access to mental health across 20 middle and high schools in California — conducting nearly 8,000 individual, family and group sessions.

For more information about the BlueSky Initiative, check out our Medicaid Spotlight piece from March.

Fostering Dialogue Around Mental Health

Throughout Mental Health Awareness Month, the Association of Behavioral Health and Wellness has hosted a series of Twitter chats around critical mental health topics:

  • May 4, Teen Mental Health with Stamp Out Stigma
  • May 11, Veterans Mental Health with National Council of Mental Wellbeing
  • May 18, LGBT+ Mental Health with To Write Love On Her Arms
  • May 25, Mental Wellbeing with Kaiser Permanente

Addressing Youth Isolation in Schools

Centene is a driving partner in solving the problem of social isolation in schools through No One Eats Alone Day, created in partnership with the nonprofit Beyond Differences. Mental wellbeing is especially important now as young people continue to experience stressors from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Centene health plans across the country helped raise awareness by hosting virtual and in-person events throughout the spring to encourage inclusion and teach children how to combat isolation. 108 schools across 10 states hosted activities, engaging at least 48,500 students in educational and fun activities.

Preventing Adolescent Substance Abuse

The School-Based Health Alliance recently developed a toolkit with a wide variety of resources designed to support school-based health professionals in implementing Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) and creating culture shifts targeted to preventing adolescent substance use.

Research has shown that adolescence is a critical time to prevent later addiction. Implementing the SBIRT model with adolescent patients can:

  • Help delay initiation of use with teens who have not tried substances;
  • Increase the motivation of teens who do use to cut back or abstain; and,
  • Help teens experiencing a substance use disorder get help through specialized treatment.

Supporting Mental Health and Addiction Recovery

Molina Healthcare of California recently launched a new partnership with WEconnect Health Management to support members struggling with substance abuse and mental health challenges. This partnership enables in-network providers to leverage the WEconnect Recovery mobile app to help support patients in their recovery.

With the WEconnect app, Molina members can receive personalized resources straight to their phone, such as daily reminders, access to online support groups, and the ability to track their rewards to stay active and engaged on their recovery journey. Through this innovative and collaborative partnership with WEconnect, Molina members in California also have access to exclusive peer support services they need for their unique path to recovery.

For more information about the partnership between Molina and WEconnect, check out our recent Medicaid Spotlight piece.

While COVID-19 has exacerbated mental health challenges across the country, Modern Medicaid Alliance partners are stepping up to address these challenges and support those who need it most. The Modern Medicaid Alliance is committed to working together to improve access to mental health support for every patient who needs it and will work to ensure Medicaid is strong and sustainable to support the millions of Americans who rely on it.

Download our Medicaid & Mental Health Toolkit to learn more about how Alliance partners are addressing mental health challenges across the country, and click here for more information about our Medicaid Spotlight initiative.