NAMI Idaho Resources

NAMI Idaho Position Papers

NAMI Idaho's public positions on federal, state, or local legislative policy issues are consistent with NAMI National Public Policy Platform which can be found on their website.

Important Facts on Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are neither character flaws nor bad behavior, but neurobiological diseases that affect an individual’s behavior, functionality and human relationships. The prevailing scientific judgment is that “severe mental illnesses” are brain disorders, which, at the present time, are neither preventable nor curable. However they are treatable, manageable and recoverable with combinations of medication, supportive counseling, and community support services, including appropriate education and vocational training. The causes of mental illness are complex and currently not fully understood but there is clearly a genetic component to some serious mental illnesses. Although stress or drug and alcohol abuse can precipitate or aggravate mental illness episodes, they are not the primary causes of mental illness.

Mental Health Services in Idaho

1) Idaho citizens and their families do not have adequate access to quality, coordinated and efficient mental health and substance use disorder services. NAMI believes all children and adults living with mental illness in our state should be able to receive the right care at the right time and in the right place to maximize their potential for lives of resiliency, recovery and inclusion.

2) The state of Idaho has chronic continued underfunding of behavioral health services. Our state always ranks nationally near the bottom in per capita funding. This was worsened by the budget cuts of 2010 and other years. Although Idaho has made significant recovery from the recession, only a few service cuts have been restored. Significantly, the Regional Mental Health Clinics can mostly only provide services to those who are in acute crisis, or ordered by the Court to receive services. This strategy handicaps programs and services which could enable persons living with mental illness to sooner achieve stability and recovery. Our citizens need earlier treatment to maximize their potential to craft a life with hope, stability and productivity.

3) NAMI Idaho supports SB 1224A passed by the Legislature in 2014 which integrates the substance abuse and mental health system into a Behavioral Health system with Regional Behavioral Health boards. This transformation and the Regional Boards should emphasize prevention, early diagnosis and intervention, and recovery services in the community settings. Creating viable regional or local delivery systems can more efficiently utilize existing and future resources. This treatment system will be less expensive than only treating crises, will reduce hospitalizations and incarcerations due to mental health symptoms.

Workforce and Medicaid Reimbursement

1. In order to effectively meet the mental health needs of its residents, Idaho must establish a stable and excellent behavioral health workforce.

2. Idaho is a mental health professional shortage area; low Medicaid reimbursement rates create a disincentive for qualified mental health professionals.

3. Medicaid reimbursement rates for all mental health providers must be adequate to ensure the availability of quality services in all regions.

Revenue and Budget

1. NAMI Idaho strives to protect Idaho’s children and adults from any further deterioration in mental health services resulting from revenue shortfalls and budget cuts through its advocacy at the state legislature and at state agencies by increasing understanding of the nature and prevalence of mental illness in our state, by illustrating the costs of untreated mental illness, by illustrating consequential cost increases arising from limitation of mental health services to crisis intervention, and by emphasizing the efficacy of early treatment and the possibility of recovery.

2. NAMI Idaho is committed to the support of legislators and legislation seeking to increase state revenue specifically directed to increasing the level of services now being provided to those persons living with mental illness.

Medicaid Mental Health Managed Care

1. NAMI Idaho believes that the primary focus of Idaho’s Medicaid mental Health managed care system should be to improve access to quality mental health and substance abuse treatment throughout all of Idaho while insuring the quality of services and providing measurable accountability. If implemented properly in can help to manage the cost of providing behavioral health services.

2. NAMI Idaho recognizes that creating an efficient and effective Medicaid managed care system is extremely complex and therefore needs the involvement and oversight of members, families, advocates, providers, the Division of Medicaid, the Department of Health and Welfare and the Legislature.

3. NAMI Idaho believes that the program will be most cost effective if the focus is on preventative and recovery-oriented community based activities, as a part of comprehensive, integrated health care including hospitalizations.

Medicaid Redesign

1. NAMI Idaho supports a redesign of our Health Care delivery system to meet the immediate and future needs of our citizens. The current system is not sustainable.

2. 41,000 persons in Idaho have a serious and persistent mental illness that impairs their functioning in society. More than half of these are uninsured and have no access to care. Many of these have disabilities and chronic health conditions.

3. In 2013 the present Idaho indigent system spent $53 million on approximately 5,000 people. Maintaining the status quo of that program would cost Idaho taxpayers $1,172 billion over the next 10 years for the small number served by indigent care. These figures were reported by the Milliman Study to the Governor’s Workgroup in August, 2014.

Early Intervention for First Episode Psychosis

1. The majority of individuals with serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, experience the first signs of illness during adolescence or early adulthood. There are often long delays between symptoms onset and the receipt of evidence-based interventions.

2. Approximately 100,000 adolescents and young adults in the United States experience First Episode Psychosis (FEP) each year (calculated from McGrath, Saha, Chant, et al., 2008) With a peak onset occurring between 15-25 years of age. Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia can derail a young person’s social, academic and vocational development and initiate a trajectory of accumulating disability. Youth who are experiencing First episode psychosis (FEP) are often frightened and confused, and struggle to understand what is happening to them. They also present unique challenges to family members and clinical providers, including irrational behavior, aggression against self or others, difficulties in communication and relating, and conflicts with authority figures.

3. Psychiatrists have long believed that the earlier the treatment of mental illness begins, the better the outcome. Much research has been done on methods of early detection before symptoms begin. It is also documented that with repeated psychotic breaks, a person with mental illness frequently recovers to a lower level of function than before the break.

Community Crisis Centers

1. NAMI Idaho believes that Community Crisis Centers can be ONE effective component of an overall Behavioral Health System

2. Currently, law enforcement, jails and hospital emergency departments are often the default provider of crisis intervention for Idahoans experiencing behavioral health crises.

3. NAMI Idaho believes that community crisis centers would improve the mental health services in the state, would reduce the burden on law enforcement and would reduce the waste from the unnecessary utilization of jails and emergency rooms.

4. The creation of behavioral health community crisis centers will provide a place for individuals with mental illness and/or substance abuse use disorders, in their time of need, to receive immediate health care assistance rather than being directed to jails or emergency rooms.

5. Community Crisis centers can provide effective and efficient behavioral health services to individuals in crisis with services that meet their specific needs at the time and in a way that is accessible to them. Community Crisis Centers can help individuals get referred to other needed community services.

6. Community crisis centers should be expanded and funded in multiple communities to effectively reach the greatest number of persons throughout the state.

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training

1. NAMI Idaho supports CIT training of law enforcement officers and other emergency responders to protect their personal safety and to assist them in appropriately responding to people living with mental illness.

2. NAMI Idaho endorses the Memphis model of CIT training and the efforts of the Idaho CIT Workgroup to establish state-wide standards of law enforcement training pursuant to this model.

Suicide Prevention

1. Suicide is a serious preventable public health problem that negatively affects communities and individual community members.

2. Idaho Suicide rate has consistently been among the highest in the Nation.

3. In 2011 (the most recent year available) Idaho had the 11th highest suicide rate, 39% higher than the national average. In 2013, 308 people completed suicide in Idaho.

4. The tragedy of these deaths is that lives lost to suicide may have been saved through increased awareness, education, and prevention and intervention strategies.

Parity in Mental Health and Substance Use Care

1. NAMI Idaho believes that:

  •  Mental health is essential to overall health
  •  Mental illness should be treated with the same urgency as other health care issues
  •  Treatment works and people can recover

2. Parity is the recognition and treatment of mental health conditions and substance use disorder as equal to other health conditions and should receive parity in insurance coverage.

3. The federal Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act (MHPAEA) was enacted in 2008 and represented a significant step forward in addressing pervasive discrimination against people living with mental illness or substance use disorders in health insurance.