The National Alliance on Mental Illness released a report this month that included policy recommendations for states to consider including educating the public, families and peers about mental illness and incorporating behavioral health screening into primary care.  The good news is that we’re on the mark here in Arizona as we’ve already begun to implement most of the national recommendations.

This spring we began rolling out Mental Health First Aid, which is an evidence-based public education program designed to teach non-professional people about mental illness.  The program teaches a five-step process to assess a situation, select and implement appropriate interventions, and help a person in crisis or who may be developing the signs and symptoms of mental illness.  We’ve also taken steps to integrate behavioral and physical healthcare by hosting the Arizona Integrated Models of Care in Behavioral Health and Primary Care Forum which brought together people from the behavioral and community health fields.

We’ve also creatively found other ways to increase of peer support organizations participation, developed greater transparency for consumers to choose treatment options that are best for them with our on-line dashboard, opened opportunities for consumers to help transform the behavioral health system with our Raise Your Voice forums, and released a toolkit on Integrating Culturally Diverse Communities into Planning for and Responding to Emergencies.