Innovative behavioral health home services providers across Minnesota, including Western Mental Health Center in Marshall, are improving care for Medicaid enrollees who have serious mental health issues.

Western Mental Health Center was among the first 13 behavioral health home services providers to be certified by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). These behavioral health homes, and another 13 subsequently certified, make a positive difference by:

•Using a multi-disciplinary team to deliver holistic, coordinated care;

•Addressing individuals’ physical, mental, substance use and wellness goals; Engaging and respecting individuals and families in their health care, recovery and resiliency;

•Respecting, assessing and using the cultural values, strengths, languages, and practices of individuals and families in supporting individuals’ health goals.

Today, DHS Assistant Commissioner Nathan Moracco visited Western Mental Health Center to see the behavioral health home services model in action. “Western Mental Health Center is an outstanding example of the behavioral health home services model that helps health care providers focus on what individuals really need,” Moracco said. “This is so important because all too often, people with serious mental illness experience barriers to accessing care, multiple health conditions and even early death.”

Moracco added that Western Mental Health “represents the type of innovative program that resulted from passage of the Affordable Care Act.”

Sarah Ackerman, executive director of Western Mental Health Center, said: “Our behavioral health home services model has been able to provide a whole-health approach for those with serious mental illnesses. This team-based approach to care has allowed us to keep patients out of the emergency rooms, prevent hospitalizations and find homes for individuals and families who would have been homeless. This model has helped us create trusting relationships with clients to help them gain access to resources that they wouldn’t have sought out otherwise. The service has improved our clients’ overall health.”

One key component of the Western Mental Health Center approach is the Community Support Program, which is designed to assist individuals who have long-term mental health problems to live as successfully and independently as possible in their own communities. The center collaborates with county social service agencies to improve the ability of adults with serious and persistent mental illness to:

•Work in a regular or supported work environment

•Handle basic activities of daily living

•Participate in social and leisure time activities

•Set goals and plans

•Obtain and maintain appropriate living arrangements

•Attain and maintain health insurance benefits

•Learn about mental illness, treatment and recovery.

The center’s Mobile Crisis Team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide support in the home or community to adults, children, and families who are experiencing a mental health crisis. Services include:

•Telephone crisis intervention

•On-site response to assess and stabilize a crisis situation

•Individual and family education

•Referrals to other local services

•Crisis prevention planning

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Western Mental Health Center improves outcomes for Medicaid enrollees