Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health’

Diane Van Maren, Former Mental Health Consultant for Darrell Steinberg, Appointed to NAMI California Board of Directors

Posted: Aug 13, 2014 | Posted by Kassy Perry | Comments Off on Diane Van Maren, Former Mental Health Consultant for Darrell Steinberg, Appointed to NAMI California Board of Directors

SACRAMENTO—On Sunday, August 3rd, 2014, Diane Van Maren, former health and mental health consultant for Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, was appointed to the Board of Directors of NAMI California.

Van Maren’s appointment follows her recent retirement from state service, where she served as a consultant to Senator Darrell Steinberg on policy relating to health and mental health. Van Maren worked for Senator Steinberg for two years, and was a key consultant to numerous major pieces of mental health legislation passed during the Senator’s term, as well as legislation to expand the Medi-Cal Program and to implement the federal Affordable Care Act in California.

“Over an illustrious career, Diane Van Maren has developed an unrivaled knowledge and capacity to get things done. She was crucial force behind the scenes in securing mental healthcare as Medi-Cal benefit, and ensuring hundreds of millions in new funding for crisis mental health care. Diane will be a great asset to NAMI California and for those living with mental illness,” said California Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg.

Before working for Senator Steinberg, Van Maren served for 18 years as a senior consultant for to the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee formulating key policy initiatives and fiscal details in the areas of heath, mental health, public health and developmental services.

“Mental health wellness is a key attribute for all of us to be successful as individuals, as families and as a broader community. Due to stigma and discrimination, mental health assistance and services have been under-funded from the start and the need for assistance and services is often misunderstood and not fully valued.

“I sought a position on the NAMI California Board because I believe NAMI California is poised with its Strategic Plan and leadership to effectuate considerable change in this paradigm. The expertise and strong voice of consumers and family members offers the opportunity to influence State policies regarding implementation of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance changes, school and educational policies, and prevention and early intervention strategies. With my background in both health and mental health policy I believe I can offer NAMI guidance and policy assistance to broaden NAMI’s influence, seek additional funding opportunities and achieve policy changes. I think it is a very exciting time and I’m thrilled to join NAMI California’s Board as it leads into the future,” said Van Maren of her appointment.

Jessica Cruz, Executive Director of NAMI California, sees Van Maren’s addition to the board as a major step forward for NAMI California’s advocacy program. “Diane brings unrivaled expertise and institutional knowledge to our board at time when we are rapidly growing as an organization and expanding our advocacy efforts. She will be able to provide needed expertise and guidance as we broaden our efforts to impact mental health legislation at the State and Federal Level,” she said. “With the departure of Senator Steinberg due to term limits, we are extremely pleased that the person he trusted most on mental health policy is now a part of our brain-trust here at NAMI California.”

NAMI California is the state’s organization of the country’s largest mental health advocacy organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Our 19,000 members and 67 affiliates include many people living with serious mental illnesses, their families and supporters. NAMI California advocates on their behalf, providing education and support to its members and the broader community.


Mental Health America of California Response to Connecticut Shooting

Posted: Dec 20, 2012 | Posted by Kassy Perry | No Comments

by Rusty Selix, Executive Director

Besides the use of assault style weapons the other commonality of all of the recent mass shooters is that they all appeared to have mental illness and most were suicidal. That means that they were suffering from depression or a related serious mental illness and in most cases those mental illnesses were not being treated in a timely or effective manner as few people know they have mental illnesses and many who do know still don’t seek treatment. One of the simplest, most effective and cost saving ways we can address this problem is to ensure that at every point of entry to our health care system people are regularly evaluated for possible mental health problems with initial diagnosis and treatment available at the same time and place as the initial visit to a primary care office.

A simple survey of fewer than 10 questions which can be scored by computer will accurately identify those who are likely to have a mental health problem. Having a mental health professional on site at primary care offices to evaluate those individuals whose score indicates a need and provide initial consultation or guidance gets that care started in a timely and effective way that reaches a far greater number of people than any other approach.

Studies now demonstrate that this not only saves lives and improves mental health but it also saves money and improves physical health as those with untreated mental illnesses are at much greater risk of developing major chronic physical disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

There is an emerging movement for health plans to integrate this early identification and treatment for mental health into their primary care practices and in some states such as Minnesota it has now become a universal practice.

In California it is happening in only a few places. Perhaps this latest tragedy will be the wakeup call needed for policy makers health plans and providers to take the steps necessary to make this a consistent and universal practice throughout the state.

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Case Study: Access Coalition

Posted: Dec 17, 2010 | Posted by Kassy Perry | No Comments

Mental Health Makes “Cents”

Before celebrity spokespersons ruled consumer advocates became king. Organizations promoting more funding for treatment and cures for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer were rarely ignored by policymakers. Not so for mental illness. Although one in five was affected, disparate stakeholders and an unorganized constituent base struggled to impact a divisively partisan legislature on what many considered to be a taboo subject. When California’s Medi-Cal program opted not to add a new class of antipsychotic medications to its formulary, saying they were too expensive, mental health advocates became the underdog with a cause. Scientific evidence of medical efficacy was undisputed but policymakers did not recognize the fiscal benefits of the new drugs.

PCG commissioned a study scientifically proving the economic benefits of the new treatments and coalesced previously divergent stakeholders by illustrating their combined ability to reach individual goals with a joint message. Law enforcement leaders, consumer advocates, medical professionals and pharmaceutical manufacturers formed the Access Coalition, providing a credible and commanding voice in delivering a sound fiscal argument to lawmakers. PCG conducted media outreach, featuring compelling consumer success and horror stories, alongside fiscal arguments, to powerfully show how the new medications could change lives and save state resources.