Nationally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) oversees ways to coordinate care for those with substance use and/or mental health needs. With the 21st Century Cares Act of 2016, the agency redoubled its efforts to reduce criminal justice involvement for individuals with Serious Mental Illness.
On Dec. 14, 2018, SAMHSA held what it called a virtual symposium of national experts – including NEOMED’s Mark Munetz, M.D., The Margaret Clark Morgan Chair of Psychiatry – called Building Bridges Between Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice. SAMSHA officials were live at SAMHSA, as were the keynote speakers. The panelists were scattered around the country for the event, which took place over an entire day.
The goal: To provide examples of how states, local communities and organizations can work together across systems to reduce the over-representation of people with serious mental illness and substance use disorders in criminal justice settings.
Top of mind for the symposium: What can be done to divert people with SMI from being incarcerated and instead, to help them to receive medical treatment and the supportive housing and jobs that they need? Another part of that question is, “Divert to what?” said Chanson Noether, the director of SAMHSA’s GAINS Center. If there is no viable option, the person will end up in jail.
Dr. Munetz was introduced as a co-developer of the well-recognized Sequential Intercept Model, a framework that communities can use to address a very complex problem involving multiple systems. The Sequential Intercept Model has been operationalized by the SAMHSA GAINS Center to conduct an exercise called Sequential Intercept Mapping — a process in which community stakeholders representing multiple systems (including mental health, addiction and all aspects of the criminal justice system) work and plan together. The exercise has been effective in helping behavioral health providers and justice systems speak a common language, said Noether.
One of the key problems, Munetz said in his remarks, is lack of access to Medication Assisted Treatment, used to help people with substance abuse disorder. At NEOMED, a national program called Project ECHO® that provides physicians with continuing medical education training is being used to support clinicians in providing this specialty care. For the past two years, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (funded by SAMHSA) has provided funding to NEOMED to support Ohio Opiate Project ECHO.
Read more about how Project ECHO uses videoconferencing technology to connect physicians, nurses and other clinicians with teams of multidisciplinary experts who provide the specialized knowledge they need to care for patients with complex conditions — whether using medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction; offering tele-mentoring for medical professionals who provide care to people with complex schizophrenia-spectrum disorders or first episode psychosis; or providing integrated primary and mental health care for co-occurring psychiatric and other health conditions.