March 2021 Behavioral Health Monthly Newsletter

A monthly wrap-up of news from the Behavioral Health Division at DHS. Subscribe to the newsletter

This issue:

Medicaid behavioral health report suggests steps states, nation can take to recover from COVID-19

Medicaid Forward logoA group of Medicaid leaders and national behavioral health experts has issued Medicaid Forward: Behavioral Health, a report that offers states options to consider to promote the health and well-being of Medicaid enrollees and expand access to behavioral health services. The report notes that Medicaid will be central to the nation’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnesota is included as an example in incentivizing screening and referrals between primary care and behavioral health providers.

The Medicaid Forward Behavioral Health Executive Working Group included Neerja Singh, PhD, LICSW, LADC, the Behavioral Health Clinical Director for the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The group was convened by the National Association of Medicaid Directors.

Medicaid Forward: Children’s Health is expected to be released in April 2021, followed in July by Medicaid Forward: Long-term Services and Supports.

Red Lake videos depict role of traditional practices in achieving, maintaining sobriety

Red Lake Nation logoDHS is featuring on its website a link to “Red Lake Recovery Stories,” a group of videos in which three tribal members that work at Red Lake Chemical Health share their stories of recovery from substance use disorder.

The videos depict how the featured individuals use culture, traditional practices, and the teachings of others to help them stay sober. Each person now works as a counselor in Red Lake Medication Assisted Recovery Services.

The videos were produced by Red Lake Chemical Health with support from In Progress, a non-profit arts group in St. Paul, through a contract with DHS using funds provided by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Training scheduled on how to help people apply for disability benefits

disability iconDHS’s Social Security Advocacy team will be issuing an open request for proposals this summer for individuals and agencies interested in helping Minnesotans apply for Social Security disability benefits starting January 1, 2022.

DHS pays contracted individuals and agencies when they help an individual get approved for and maintain their Social Security benefits. DHS also covers mileage, medical and vital record expenses. This RFP will be open for one year so individuals and agencies have up to a year to apply to be a contracted DHS advocate.

A special training about Social Security disability benefits is set for 1:30 to 3 p.m. April 29, 2021. The training is designed for those working with American Indians in Minnesota.

The training, which will cover how the SSA defines disability and how to help someone apply for benefits, will be presented by Minnesota’s Disability Determination Services, the agency that determines a person’s medical eligibility for these benefits.

Register for the training.

Questions can be addressed to Catie LeMay, DHS’ Social Security Advocacy Tribal Coordinator, 651-238-1677.

Minnesota opens four call centers for national suicide prevention line

Minnesota callers seeking support through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will now receive fast, localized support thanks to the opening of four new call centers in Minnesota.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a network of more than 160 call centers around the country. Callers are routed to a call center near them based on their phone number, but calls that are not answered by a local call center are usually routed to a national backup center.

Minnesota callers will now receive local assistance thanks to $1.2 million in funding allocated to the program by the 2019 Minnesota Legislature.

“It is paramount that we prioritize the mental health needs of Minnesotans, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic has presented many unprecedented challenges. We know that this has been an incredibly difficult time for Minnesotans,” said Governor Tim Walz. “These four new call centers will ensure Minnesotans receive fast access to trained counselors locally. If you need help, please reach out. The Lifeline network is a free and confidential resource available 24/7 to everyone.”

Minnesota has been without a locally based National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center since spring 2018, when Minnesota’s only National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center shut down due to a lack of funding. In 2019, more than 32,000 calls from Minnesota were made to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The four new call centers in Minnesota are operated by:

  • Carver County
  • Greater Twin Cities United Way
  • First Link
  • First Call for Help

Each call center covers designated counties within Minnesota. Calls are routed to the call centers based on the first five digits of a caller’s phone number, making sure callers get the most localized support available.

The Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, supports people who call for themselves or someone they care about. People call to talk about many topics, including substance use, economic worries, relationships, mental and physical illness.

The Behavioral Health Monthly newsletter comes from the Behavioral Health Division at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. We welcome your feedback!

For more information about Behavioral Health Services in Minnesota, visit: children’s mental health / adult mental health / substance use disorder

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DHS nicotine team works to educate, prevent, monitor

–Paul Fleissner, Director of the Behavioral Health Division at DHS

It doesn’t have a catchy name or a cool acronym, but the Nicotine Treatment / Point of Sale Prevention and Control section of DHS’s Behavioral Health Division gets the job done.

This team conducts the tobacco inspections that are required to establish the state’s tobacco retailer violation rate (RVR) and complete the Annual Synar Report, which is part of the state’s block grant requirements.

head shot of Paul FleissnerEach state is required to maintain an RVR of 20% or less – or risk losing up to 10% of its Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG) funding. Minnesota has had an RVR under 10% for 15 consecutive years. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has waived penalties for three years to allow states to ramp up to meet the new T-21 requirements, which make it illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product to anyone under 21.

Congratulate and Educate (C&E), which was created within the Nicotine Treatment / Point of Sale Prevention and Control section and first implemented in 2014, partners with local law enforcement and public health departments. C&E is an educational tobacco compliance check program that educates tobacco retailers about the importance of keeping commercial tobacco out of the hands of underage individuals as well as current state and federal tobacco laws.

The section also runs the FDA Tobacco Inspection Program. In 2009, Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, and the FDA contracts with states to conduct tobacco inspections to determine retailer compliance with the federal law. Over the past nine years, this section has completed approximately 40,000 tobacco inspections under this program. These point-of-sale tobacco prevention and control efforts, along with additional efforts implemented by the Department of Health and other partners, have helped to keep the state’s tobacco retailer violation rate low.

Additionally, in 2018 this section began working to increase the number of substance use disorder (SUD) / opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment programs in the state offering nicotine treatment to their clients. Some accomplishments to date include:

  • Surveying all DHS-licensed SUD inpatient programs to get a baseline of nicotine treatment services offered.
  • Contracting with three SUD and three OUD treatment programs to make nicotine treatment available to their clients.
  • Developing additional grant programs to encourage and support nicotine treatment services within OUD treatment programs.
  • Winning the Government Innovation in Minnesota award for work on the 2018/2019 Nicotine Treatment Pilot. The award is given by the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

To learn more about DHS’s work to keep commercial tobacco and other nicotine products out of the hands of underage individuals and increase access to nicotine treatment in OUD and SUD treatment settings, contact Collin Frazier or visit the tobacco section of our website.

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