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The Problem

We can prevent and mitigate mental illness. Prevention builds on strong communities to protect individuals from declines in mental health. Prevention also reduces substance use, improves education outcomes, and boosts work productivity. Because individuals don’t get sick and are able to stay engaged in the community, communities can have more control over their resources and help more people. Policy should help communities have access to prevention.

Mental Health America's Recommendations:

  • Cover Community-Based Prevention.  As of 2010, preventive services in primary care are covered, but now we know that behavioral health prevention is often most effective in the community. Task an agency or independent body with recommending evidence-based community prevention services, and mandate payment for these services across public and private programs and health plans. 
  • Foster Innovation and Realize Savings.  Ensure that innovative Medicaid funding models, like Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), capture savings to all federal programs, and allow for collaboration with states to capture savings to their programs as well. Right now innovative funding models only look at savings to Medicare and Medicaid and miss savings to other programs when comprehensive community-based services enable people to thrive.  Any state or federal funding model, innovative or fee for service, should allow:
  • Preventive services to be provided in schools, homes, and communities.
  • Evidence-based psychoeducation and support to be provided to individuals other than the beneficiary, such as parents and teachers.
  • Services to be provided to groups. The Medicaid Free Care Rule should be expanded to all health plans, so that when a cost-saving service is given to a group at no charge to individuals, health plans can still be billed for the services provided to the members of their own groups.
  • Promote Positive School Climate.  Track improvements in school climate or social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools.  Most schools only track standardized test scores, but strong school climate and SEL are necessary for children to excel academically.  If schools are recognized for improving school climate and SEL, they will be better equipped to foster more productive students and greater academic achievement.

Contact MHA’s Executive Vice President of Policy, Mary Giliberti, for questions, collaboration on mental health legislation, or other MHA recommended policies and bill language, at (703) 797-2583 or