The Mental Health Services Act – Then and Now

For a variety of reasons, I am being asked much more than ever about the thinking behind various provisions of the mental health services act when we are writing it in 2003 and how that relates to some of the challenges we now have.

Not surprisingly, most of the challenges we now are seeing involved issues we anticipated when we wrote the Act.  We have posted all of the preliminary drafts of the MHSA on our website in case anyone is curious about how the language evolved from the first draft in May 2003 to the final language in September.

The Act still looks like it correctly identified what was needed to fulfill our goals.  But many parts of it have not been implemented the way it was envisioned and a lot has changed from what we knew in 2003 when it was written. In 2006 I had a different way of viewing how would be implemented and significantly underestimated how challenging it would be for state agencies to regularly update regulations which I thought could be an ongoing process with updates every three years. I also significantly underestimated the delays and challenges in developing outcome data.

In this blog I will speak to some of the issues and some of the solutions.  Mostly what is required is a recognition that we have not revisited the guidelines (which led to regulations), all of which were developed before the applicable parts of the act had been implemented.

Now that we have had many years of implementing each part of the act is time to revisit the guidance (leading eventually to updated regulations) through a series of separate workgroups, that can move us more firmly in the direction that I think we all know is where we need to go.

Continue reading The Mental Health Services Act – Then and Now