Ongoing Public Policy & Advocacy Issues
While each year specific issues take a front and center role in the mental health arena, some issues remain consistent. MHA of Georgia works year-round to ensure a better outcome for all the issues involving mental health consumers’ fight to live in recovery.
Community Services – Through changes brought about due to the Department of Justice Settlement, Georgia has greatly improved in the adult mental health services that are available in the community (visit the GA Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities’ website for a complete listing). Crisis Stabilization Programs (CSP), Mobile Crisis Services and Peer Supports are just a few of the services making it easier to remain connected in your community while receiving mental health treatment. The focus of the DBHDD is moving to Living in Recovery.
Early Intervention – Research has demonstrated that the earlier that mental illnesses can be identified and treated, the better the outcomes for the individual. A focus on early intervention means that mental health services should not simply target adults who have already received a diagnosis, but should begin with children’s mental health services that promote identification and immediate treatment of possible mental health needs. It is not unusual for a child to wait a period of ten years from early signs and symptoms to diagnosis and treatment. This is not acceptable, and needs to change to produce better outcomes throughout the lifespan.
Supportive Housing – People with mental illnesses can successfully live in the community. Supportive housing gives them their own home while also providing a wide variety of services to support recovery. Studies have shown that supportive housing leads to improvements in mental health symptoms, reduced hospitalization, and an improved quality of life.
Supported Employment – A guiding principle of the Supported Employment system is the use of all available resources and strategies to meet the needs of workers and employees. People with mental illnesses value the opportunity to work and contribute to their own recovery. Work helps bring focus to a day, a sense of accomplishment and an opportunity to engage in social gatherings.
Telemedicine – In rural parts of Georgia where there is limited access to mental health services, telemedicine can fill in the gaps and provide people with treatment that does not require that they leave their communities. This is an important solution to access problems in mental health treatment.
Transportation – To live in recovery, people with mental illnesses must have a home, work, and the ability to travel back and forth between each. In addition, doctor visits often require travel to keep an appointment. Transportation is a challenge even in Metropolitan Atlanta, and becomes more difficult in surrounding areas – especially rural locales.
Unrestricted Access to Mental Health Treatment – Advances in mental health treatment, including counseling, medication, nutrition, exercise and other therapies, allow people with mental illnesses to lead productive lives in their communities. One treatment does not work the same way for all people. Mental health professionals and consumers of mental health services must work together to determine the best choice of treatment that takes into account the individual’s specific needs and goals. This necessitates a holistic view of mental health that provides people with access to various different treatments that can promote recovery and well-being.