MeHAF Provides $500,000 in Grants to Improve Health Care Services for People Experiencing Serious Mental Illness

MeHAF Provides $500,000 in Grants to Improve Health Care Services for People Experiencing Serious Mental Illness

The Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) announced that four nonprofit community mental health organizations have been awarded two-year grants of $125,000 each to improve how basic primary care services are provided for people experiencing serious mental illness.  The MeHAF grants are part of the foundation’s long-term commitment to improve the coordination of primary care services with behavioral health services, medical specialty care, and oral health.

“Based on recent research, we now know that Maine people with serious mental illness die 25 years younger on average than their peers without serious mental illness.  However, their higher rates of premature death are not the result of their mental illness, but rather stem from undetected or poorly treated physical health conditions,” said MeHAF President and CEO, Dr. Wendy Wolf. “Through this new grant program, mental health providers will team up with primary care professionals to ensure that people with mental and behavioral health problems receive coordinated, comprehensive high quality care for their mental and physical health conditions.”

The four grant recipients have also been selected by Maine Department of Health and Human Services to serve as new ‘Behavioral Health Homes” for their patients with serious mental illness. “A ‘Behavioral Health Home’ is not a place but a new way that organizations will coordinate patient care and vital community services.  People with serious mental illness will receive screening for physical health issues when they visit their community mental health center.  If health issues are identified, patients will be directly connected with a primary care provider,” explained MeHAF Senior Program Officer Dr. Becky Hayes Boober, who oversees this new grant program.

Behavioral Health Homes at these community mental health centers will rely on a wide range of providers in a care team that may include a nurse care manager, clinical team leader, peer support specialist, health home coordinator, psychiatric consultant, and a medical consultant.

Behavioral Health Home Grants:

Piscataquis County
Charlotte White Center, Dover-Foxcroft. Contact: Margaret “Meg” Callaway, 564-2464.
Project will link adults with serious mental illness and children with serious mental disturbance with many primary care providers in the area.  Physical health screenings, coordinated referrals and follow up, care coordination, wellness, and self-management activities will be conducted.

Kennebec and Somerset Counties
MaineGeneral Community Care/Mid Maine Behavioral Health. Contact: Emilie Van Eeghen, 861-3414.
Four community mental health and substance abuse treatment organizations will implement two models of Behavioral Health Home in Kennebec and Somerset Counties using common protocols, system support tools, and regional coordination. The four organizations are Crisis & Counseling Centers, Kennebec Behavioral Health, Motivational Services and MaineGeneral. They are working with Kennebec Regional Health Alliance, Redington Fairview Healthcare and a network of primary care practices.
Cumberland County
The Opportunity Alliance, Portland. Contact: Patricia McKenzie, 874-1175.
The BHH in Portland will meet the primary care, behavioral health, and community living needs of those living with severe and persistent mental illness and other chronic health conditions. Services include comprehensive care management, care coordination through individualized treatment plans, health promotion, transitional care, individual and family support, referral to community and social support services, nurse education, primary care, and a full continuum of behavioral health services.

Androscoggin County
Tri-County Mental Health Services, Lewiston. Contact: Catherine Ryder, 755-0036 x 124.
A team-based approach will be used to coordinate and integrate services for people with severe and persistent mental illness by incorporating services of a Nurse Practitioner into the Bartlett Street Community Mental Health Center in Lewiston and by integrating care with area primary care providers and community supports.  The project will promote wellness and a whole-health approach. In year two,  TCMHS will launch a Behavioral Health Home for children and eventually expand to five offices in four counties.


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