The Heart and the Hub of Behavioral Health
Billed as the nation’s most effective advocate for behavioral health prevention, early intervention, science-based treatment, and recovery, the National Council for Behavioral Health wears many hats that serve one cause: mental health. Whether it’s by effecting federal change by pushing through much-needed policies on the Hill or stifling mental health stigma with science or social media, the National Council is a best friend to behavioral health providers and vendors alike—even if they don’t know it (you likely do).
In a recent interview with everythingEHR’s Mental Health News Radio, Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, commented on the changing landscape of mental health. “One of the most exciting things about our world right now is that people are talking about mental health in ways I never expected, even two or three years ago,” she says.
No doubt a nod to the tireless hours Rosenberg and countless others have been clocking, the National Council sits on many accomplishments over the past few decades. To name but a few of those: the organization helped pass the federal parity law, worked to integrate behavioral care into primary care services, and championed the Mental Health Excellence Act—all on behalf of its 2,700 member organizations and the millions of people that they serve.
Guiding the National Conversation on Mental Health
Through its educational and advocacy efforts, the National Council works to educate the public, and the nation’s policymakers, on the most pressing mental health issues of our day. Part of that work is done through social media or other outlets of national scope. Another important way they spread their messaging is their annual conference—a conference like no other offered today.
“Linda Rosenberg is at the forefront of creating policy that affects every person with a mental health problem: effectively everyone in the united states,” says Kristin Walker, CEO of everythingEHR. “There are many, many mental health conferences available today. However, the National Council’s annual conference is where policy meets activism meets education. They have very high standards as to who they’ll invite to present at these conferences because they mean business—the business of behavioral health and the advocacy surrounding stigma eradication.”
This past year’s conference illustrates its varied educational offerings and avenues for awareness. According to Rosenberg, one of the most common compliments and complaints they hear about the conference is that there is just so much going on. But that’s purposeful. “We try to use every kind of venue and communication we can to get our mental health message across,” she explains.
That was evident in the films and live theater that were showcased as well as the personal stories told. Also on tap were focused discussions on the hot-button issues integral to behavioral health providers today: payments, financing, delivery of mental health, addiction, and recovery services.
With each annual conference, Rosenberg says she seeks to address a multitude of mental health issues in a way that’s not just informational and engaging but also a bit provocative. To that end, this year’s conference addressed how race, class and privilege intertwine with mental illness and addiction. Also on tap were issues of privacy vs. liberty as well as the newest frontier in mental health: the brain.
“It’s finally acceptable now to care about your brain the way you do your body,” says Rosenberg, who notes that the organization plans to offer a continued focus on this subject as new science rolls out on the emerging topic.
Inside its conference walls and beyond through year-round efforts, the council takes seriously its reach and its voice:
- pushing for integrated care so that mental health starts being seen as important to quality as life as blood pressure (an issue the council has pushed for over a decade);
- investigating millenials’ role in reducing mental health stigmas;
- leading the public service campaign Be One in a Million, to increase training for mental health first aid;
- expanding access and funding for mental health care through the Excellence in Mental Health Act; and
- teaming up with health heavyweights such as Dr. Oz to explore unchartered behavioral health frontiers.
Working Together for a Better Future
Whatever aspect of mental health and addiction the National Council has on its mind, Rosenberg is leading that fight. And as the healthcare industry continues its metamorphosis via technology, she’s keeping her eyes ahead, on the future.
“I am a huge promoter and fan of technology and cannot use almost any of it,” she says. “But I know enough to know that if you look at any industry, they have been transformed by technology. We know it’s going to happen, and it is happening—from EHRs and sharing information all the way to the use of smartphones to monitor the state of your health and the importance of telehealth, for extended reach.”
This is the future of mental health care, says Rosenberg, and the National Council is intent on educating the entire behavioral health community on the greatest potentials technology has to offer. The experts at everythingEHR play their part by studying every EHR vendor in the market and pushing for better products for behavioral health providers. Scott C. Lloyd, president of MTM Services in Holly Springs, NC, has also offered his consultation, training, and project management support in the behavioral health industry (for more than 25 years) for both care providers and consumers, “with the mission of improving timely access to and the overall quality of care that consumers and families receive while also improving the quality of work life of those who deliver the care.”
Because of the policy changes it effects and the heart it has for improving mental health, everythingEHR and MTM Services are both proud to serve with the National Council for Behavioral Health. As Lloyd explains, such champions of mental health are needed.
“Now, more than ever, as national healthcare reform continues to present significant challenges for behavioral health providers as they shift from a ‘volume of services’ provided funding model to a fully integrated ‘value of care’ shared-risk funding model, MTM Services is proud to be strategic partners with organizations like the National Council for Behavioral Health who are vital to the industry,” he says.
“MTM Services has proudly partnered with the National Council for 20 years to strategically support the excellent advocacy efforts that Linda, Chuck, and Jeannie provide every day; they refuse to accept the status quo,” Lloyd continues. “The National Council’s efforts raise awareness of the funding and support needs of the behavioral health industry. Working together, the National Council and MTM Services have brought about significant changes and improvements for behavioral health providers nationally by parlaying awareness into action!”
Walker echoes that sentiment: “We made a decision a long time ago to align ourselves with organizations that effect change, real change, when it comes to all aspects of behavioral health. That means we strive to support Linda Rosenberg and the changes at government levels around reducing mental health stigma, affecting treatment decisions, and all the other avenues the National Council continues to work toward to improve the lives of everyone affected by mental illness and addiction.”