Nevada is number one

Lisa Davis is a certified drug and alcohol counselor who will take her master’s in social work at Our Lady of the Lake University in August.

To be exact, The State of Mental Health in America report (2018) shows Nevada as number one at failing to provide its citizens with appropriate and accessible behavioral and mental health care services for adults and youth. In other words, Nevada ranks the highest in the country for mental health needs and lowest in providing the necessary options to address our mental health crisis.

An individual experiencing a mental health crisis will likely be directed to an ER, jail or an inpatient hospital ward, none of which address the specific underlying issue to the current crisis. This becomes a cycle, and this cycle, on an average, costs taxpayers $485 million a year. Nevada is a fast-growing state that cannot compete with the rising costs and lack of services.

Without a serious overhaul to our current way of managing individuals during a mental health crisis, mental health costs will continue to rise, and our community will continue to see negative impacts. In order to attempt to address the state’s lack of care for its citizens, Assembly Bill 66 is being proposed at this year’s Nevada Legislature. AB66 would create crisis stabilization centers in Washoe and Clark counties. In conjunction with adding stabilization services, data will be collected to understand how to provide continued and ongoing support.

Recommendations include utilizing the “Crisis Now” model that uses crisis services and centers to provide short-term and cost-effective care that is appropriate to the individual’s current crisis. The centers will have up to eight beds, and the duration of stay is no more than 14 days. The centers will be open year-round and open 24/7. Two case managers will be provided to implement evidence-based treatment and protocols and provide education and referrals that are specific to the crisis intervention. Crisis Now is now being implemented in Maricopa County, Arizona. In 2016, the results from the Crisis Now model equates to a savings of $260 million in psychiatric inpatient costs and $37 million in hospital expenses. The Crisis Now model relieves police officers, ER rooms and individuals experiencing crisis from unnecessary extra steps, costly stays, and timely boarding.

The rationales behind AB66 are to effectively treat our most vulnerable population that most often falls through the cracks and then cycles through our systems. Individualized treatment connects the person to their community; empowering the person to understand what is happening, seek services necessary and to become an effective and productive member in our community. By approving AB66, we can be more effective in the treatment we provide to all individuals. Nevada’s focus on mental health needs to be on providing more options and promoting healthier citizens!