UAB Mental Health Awareness Policy Action Plan Presentation

1 Policy Action Plan 2 Health Policy Topic and Advocacy Goal The proposed policy topic involves increasing public awareness of mental health to increase access to mental health prevention and treatment services. According to NAMI (2021), one in five adults and 1 in 6 youths between 6 to 17 years get a mental illness/disease every year. However, only a half of this population receive mental health treatment. This has led to increased cases of suicide, mass shootings, homicides, and other vices associated with mental health instability. The primary goal for mental health awareness advocacy is to ensure easy and affordable access to mental health care. In this case, enforcing parity and equity in access to mental healthcare is crucial and will require policy solutions that ensure mental health care services are integrated into primary care. In addition, the goal is to reduce incidences of suicide or suicide attempts and protect individuals with mental health problems from harm, including stigma and associated discrimination. Lastly, the other advocacy goal is to create an understanding of mental health by advocating for stronger leadership in the mental health sector at the local, state, and national levels. Legislative Authority and Rationale for Addressing the Problem Congress is the legislative authority that is targeted to promote policy change to meet the identified advocacy goals. In this case, a bill must be taken before Congress for discussion and voting by the senators and the voting members of the House of Representatives. The policy will then be adopted when Congress passes the bill/legislation. There are various reasons why the mental health problem should be addressed. First, addressing the problem will help reduce morbidity and mortality associated with mental health illnesses. This will give mental health patients a chance to live meaningful lives since they can easily access the care and support they need. In addition, changing the mental health policy is expected to eliminate the inequalities in access to mental health care, including discriminative policies that limit health care access by 3 immigrants, ethnic minorities, and refugees; economic barriers, information barriers, and others (Alegria et al., 2018). Lastly, mental health policy is likely to address the biological, social, and political factors that influence one’s mental health and health-seeking behaviors. Historic Review, Landmarks, and Outcomes In history, the system showed no effort in protecting and providing treatment for people with mental health problems. However, Mental Health America is the most recognized nonprofit that addresses the needs of people living with mental illnesses. Since 1909, the organization has been committed to promoting mental health by offering prevention and treatment services while supporting patients to ensure recovery (MHA, 2021). One of the key legislations focusing on mental health was the National Mental Health Act of 1946 that allowed the federal government to prioritize the people’s mental health (Grob, 2016). The other significant legislation that made strides in improving access to affordable treatment is the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996. This law stopped the imposition of unfavorable mental health benefits compared to limits imposed on surgical and medical insurance benefits. Mental health parity and addiction equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) has also helped reduce discrimination against people with mental health and SUD problems by insurers by ensuring they receive similar insurance benefits as those received by people with medical problems (Frank, 2018). Considering that the current laws and policies have failed to address the gaps in mental health access fully, more mental health policies continue to be enacted to ensure patients with mental health illnesses access quality and affordable care. Stakeholders and their Views on the Issue The major stakeholders in mental health access policy development include various government agencies, healthcare providers, Congress, advocacy and lobby groups, not-for-profit organizations, insurance payers/providers, and patients. These stakeholders have varying 4 perspectives on the issue of concern. One of the key stakeholders is Congress, especially the senators and included members of the House of Representatives. For instance, the targeted stakeholder for this course is Senator Patty Murray, the current chairperson of the U. S Committee on Health, Labor, Education, and Pension. Considering her background as an educator and experience in health issues, we share similar views. The senator could help push the policy changes in the Senate health committee. The other stakeholders include government agencies such as the CMS, HHS, and AHRQ, and others who will play a key role in supporting policy change to improve access to mental health care services. For instance, these agencies are highly focused on improving the health and wellbeing of Americans, making them potential supporters and funders for the policy. Other stakeholders include professional associations and advocacy groups such as the Mental Health America (MHA), NAMI, APA (American Psychological Association). These organizations share similar views on mental health and are likely to play a key role in lobbying and advocating for mental health policy change. Finally, the patients are crucial stakeholders who will benefit from the policy change, making them key supporters of the course. In terms of alliances, the patients, the general public, healthcare professionals, and advocacy groups are likely to come together to advocate for policy change. This is because mental health problems affect almost every individual either directly or indirectly. This could help ensure patients and their families’ voices are heard, prompting the legislators to make policy changes. Plan Activities Stakeholder Engagement Activities According to Lemke & Harris-Wai (2015), stakeholder engagement involves planning and implementing activities to influence stakeholders. In this case, stakeholder engagement activities will involve selecting stakeholders to engage, informing the stakeholders about 5 proposed policy changes, making consultations through public meetings, empowering and collaborating with stakeholders to join in the course. The engagement activities are expected to occur in various stages of policy-making processes, such as the agenda-setting, analysis, and policy formulation phases. Development and Distribution of Message Materials Effective communication is important in the policy advocacy process since it ensures stakeholders get positive and accurate information (Kitterman, 2020). In this case, messages focusing on encouraging health-seeking behavior and promoting mental health awareness such as “You are not alone” “share it” is crucial since it will help families and patients with mental illnesses understand it is okay to come out and seek help. This information will be disseminated through various channels, including organizations’ websites, social media, newsletters, emails, press releases, publishing on local newspapers, and hosting mental health promotion events and fairs. These activities will take place during the advocacy and lobbying phases of policy change. Lobbying and other Legislative Activities The lobbying process will take place during the first phases of policy change, including agenda setting, analysis, and policy formulation stages. This will involve activities such as contacting and meeting the selected legislator (Senator Patty Murray) to discuss the proposed policy issue. This will help understand where they stand on the issue and ensure they understand how mental illnesses impact the community/state. The aim of lobbying is to gain support from the senator as the advocate of the course. Follow-up meetings will follow to ensure the issue is taken seriously. 6 Legislative Activity The legislative activities will involve gathering all the facts of the issue of concern, public meetings and gatherings for citizen participation and stakeholder engagement, policy drafting, and discussions activities. Other activities will involve attending various legislative sessions to show support and follow-up the proposed changes until the policy is adopted/passed by Congress. Strategic Leadership Role As a nurse leader, one of the leadership roles will involve demonstrating leadership skills during the policy change process to ensure the needs of patients with mental health problems are incorporated. In this case, I will emphasize ethical decision-making to avoid disparities that hinder access to mental health care. Collaborating and partnering with other healthcare professionals, professional bodies, government agencies, and patients will help make consultations to find the best way to promote policy changes that meet patient needs. On the other hand, the other leadership role will involve contributing to mental health reforms to address the identified challenges in the current policies. As a nurse leader, I will demonstrate leadership by advocating for mentally ill patients through showing commitment, engagement, and support for the proposed course. Advocacy is a crucial nursing role that ensures nurses voice the needs of vulnerable patients. According to Farrer (2015), nurses regularly interact with patients making them best placed to advocate for them through engaging and participating in policy debates. This will play a crucial role in ensuring mental health care needs are fully addressed in the proposed policy changes. 7 References Alegría, M., Nakash, O., & NeMoyer, A. (2018). Increasing equity in access to mental health care: a critical first step in improving the service quality. World Psychiatry: Official Journal of The World Psychiatric Association (WPA), 17(1), 43–44. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20486 Farrer, L., Marinetti, C., Cavaco, Y. K. & Costongs, C. (2015). Advocacy for health equity: a synthesis review. The Milbank Quarterly, 93(2), 392–437. https://doi.org/10.1111/14680009.12112 Frank, R. G. (2018). Reflections on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act After 10 Years. The Milbank Quarterly, 96(4), 615–618. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0009.12346 Grob, G. N. (2016). Community mental health policy in America: lessons learned. Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 53(1). Kitterman, T. (2020). How to deliver meaningful, safe messages about mental health. PR Daily. Retrieved from https://www.prdaily.com/how-to-deliver-meaningful-safe-messagesabout-mental-health/ Lemke, A. A., & Harris-Wai, J. N. (2015). Stakeholder engagement in policy development: challenges and opportunities for human genomics. Genetics in Medicine: Official Journal of The American College of Medical Genetics, 17(12), 949–957. https://doi.org/10.1038/gim.2015.8 Mental Health America. (2021). Mental Health Policy. Retrieved from https://mhanational.org/policy-issues National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2021). Mental Health by the Numbers. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/mhstats

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