Governor Brian Sandoval has directed the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to take immediate action on five recommendations included in the initial report submitted by the Governor's Behavioral Health and Wellness Council. Implementation of these recommendations will result in nearly $3.5 million in additional mental health service programs. These programs will be paid for by tobacco settlement monies and will be presented at the June 19 Interim Finance Committee meeting.
"In December 2013, I established the Governor's Behavioral Health and Wellness Council and asked that it examine ways to further improve and strengthen the support and delivery of mental health services in our state," said Governor Brian Sandoval. "I am pleased with the diligence and detail of the initial report and have directed the Department of Health and Human Services to immediately pursue five of its recommendations."
To address the Council's recommendations to provide targeted early intervention and stabilizing services to a number of the highest users of mental health services, DHHS will create an intervention team to work with law enforcement on the street, and fund additional housing through Mental Health Court.
* Mobile Outreach Safety Team (MOST) -- This team of mental health clinicians will partner with law enforcement to address mental health crises on the streets. MOST will provide immediate intervention, assessment, de-escalation, and referral to outpatient services to those in need. MOST will operate 8 hours a day, 7 days a week in Southern Nevada and will help alleviate the backlog of people waiting in emergency rooms for mental health services. The total cost for the intervention team will be $459,513.
* Housing -- Stable housing is a significant contributor in the success of a person with mental illness. DHHS will fund an additional $750,000 each year to the mental health courts to increase their capability to provide housing for group homes, long-term care, supported living arrangements, and intensive supported living arrangements.
To address the Council's recommendation to increase short-term crisis triage services for those with co-occurring disorders, DHHS will provide the state's share of funding to increase capacity at the Westcare community triage center in Southern Nevada.
* Community Triage Center (CTC)--Additional funding of $255,500 expands bed capacity from 36 to 50 beds in Southern Nevada. The additional beds allow more patients in need of mental health services to go directly to the triage center and bypass the long waits and backlog in emergency rooms, also avoiding unnecessary inpatient admissions.
To address the Council's recommendation to increase the number of psychiatric inpatient beds in Southern Nevada, DHHS will increase the Medicaid reimbursement rates for psychiatric medical care.
* Increase Psychiatric Reimbursements -- Nevada Medicaid has submitted a request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to increase the reimbursement rate for inpatient psychiatric treatment from approximately $460 to $944 per day. This action has already caused several hospitals to make plans to expand their inpatient psychiatric beds capacity.
To address the Council's recommendation to expand mobile crisis for children, DHHS will provide $1,951,740 in additional resources to address needs of children in crisis.
* Mobile Crisis for Kids -- The Division of Child and Family Services is expanding its mobile crisis program for kids. The mobile crisis team will consist of 19 staff in the south, and 8 in the north. The team will intervene at the point of the crisis at home, school, or another location to provide psychiatric evaluations, medication monitoring, respite care, or other services needed services to help avoid hospitalization.
"These work programs will help us continue to aggressively address the mental health needs of Nevadans," Governor Sandoval added. "I would like to thank the Council and its members for their hard work and commitment to the well-being and overall health of our state. I look forward to working with lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and behavioral health providers on these important issues."
This funding is in addition to the nearly $17 million added during the 2013 legislative session for new home visiting programs, an assisted outpatient treatment program, 10 new beds for the Lakes Crossing Forensic Hospital, 21 new beds for the Southern Nevada Mental Health Campus, and housing support for reentry to the community from correctional facilities. Funding was also added to support several recommendations from nationally recognized consultants after their review of Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital.
By Executive Order, the Governor's Behavioral Health and Wellness Council must submit a report to the Governor on or before May 31 and December 31 of each year.