Policy reform is key to strong behavioral health systems

Many in our field of work know the National Council for Behavioral Health, which represents 2,500 member organizations that serve adults and children living with mental health and addiction conditions. I am very happy to say that Bournewood Health Systems can now count itself among this group, which collectively is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to integrated, high-quality care and treatment and every opportunity for recovery and full participation in community life.

 

In fact, this is exactly Bournewood’s mission. And by joining this national organization, we are not only making a public commitment to our word, we now have the power of numbers behind us to impact the policy changes that need to take place on the national and state levels that strengthens our services. For real reform, it is imperative that we look at services in the context of how we deliver them, how they are paid for and most importantly, how we can involve every corner of society in making sure that no one with a mental health or substance use condition is left behind.

 

I am particularly excited about a new initiative recently launched by the National Council. It’s called the Behavioral Health + Economics Network, known as BHECON. In the coming months, diverse stakeholders across the country will gather in a series of forums to look at and promote policy reforms to strengthen states’ behavioral health delivery systems. I am pleased to say that Massachusetts is one of the five states where these forums will be held in the coming months. We will keep you updated on the details.

 

 

This work is aligned with Bournewood’s strategic priorities and my “Three Pillars” approach to sustaining growth and clinical excellence: ensure state-of-the-art treatment; maintain an efficient and accountable organization; and advocate and impact policy. Our affiliation with the National Council will reinforce and strengthen our work to be the best in the behavioral health field.

 

On another more serious and urgent note, the opioid epidemic seems like a runaway train, but we must keep going, we cannot give up. As a nation and a Commonwealth, we are experiencing the devastation of this crisis that continues to claim tens of thousands of lives from unintentional overdoses. So many people are suffering from the pull of addiction that ruins lives, families and our communities. It was disheartening to learn that in our Commonwealth, opioid deaths have increased in the first six months of 2016 over the same time period last year.

 

Holding on to hope and continuing the work on education and awareness are our allies in this battle. The City of Newton is one of many communities committed to increasing public awareness and on Oct. 6 will

 

produced by James Wahlberg and the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. “If Only is a short film intended to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug misuse. View the trailer here. There will also be a panel discussion. Mark your calendars for this important event and conversation.

 

The more we talk about it, the more people will know and understand. And right now, the combination of knowledge and awareness ─ and hope ─  is our best shot for breaking the deadly cycle of opioid abuse.

 

 

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