ACMI strives to improve the care and well-being of approximately 18% of Seriously Mentally Ill persons who are CHRONIC, who (a) repeatedly receive inadequate or no care. And (2) who endlessly cycle through our emergency rooms, psychiatric and medical hospitals, residential treatment programs, scattered-site homes, halfway houses, our streets, and our jails. We believe long-term supportive housing, treatment, and improved systemic accountability will bring about better clinical outcomes. Better clinical results can be achieved at a lower cost to society. Ignoring the suffering of this population only leads to poor outcomes, both for the CMI and the community in general. Accordingly, we have accomplished the following and will continue this endeavor until all Chronically Mentally Ill persons receive treatment appropriate to their individual needs.
We have . . . . . . . . .
1. Advocated further development and expansion of the “Beacon Home” concept (residences with trained staff inside the home 24-hours per day and 7-days per week. Staff facilitates medication compliance, nutrition, hydration, hygiene,
doctors’ appointments, transportation, etc., and from which residents are not immediately evicted for rule violations, hospitalizations, or even incarcerations). This concept has been piloted/tested in multiple homes over the past 5-years with much-improved well-being for their residents. We encourage regulators and qualified providers to provide these services for persons who need this level of care.
2. Worked with families, law enforcement, providers, regulators, and our legislature to develop a well-regulated “Secure Residential Treatment Facility” for Chronically Mentally Ill persons who repeatedly and unsuccessfully have cycled through our medical and penal institutions and our streets. Those CMI who meet these criteria will be placed involuntarily in such a facility (from which they cannot leave at their discretion) by a court based on extensive clinical valuation and legal due diligence.
3. Helped many families navigate our byzantine public mental health care system to get the best care currently available for their loved ones through the Regional Behavioral Health Authority, AHCCCS, and various providers – a donation of hundreds of volunteers (unpaid) hours by individuals on our Board of Directors. We continue to provide such help for desperate families, partly through regular Stakeholder meetings held weekly for the past three years.
4. Partnered with families and legislators to work on and support many legislative bills. As a result of ACMI’s advocacy, groundbreaking legislation was passed to improve the well-being of Chronically Mentally Ill persons, as follows:
SCR-1018 (2021): A Senate Concurrent Resolution expressing legislative “support for community-based efforts to provide clinically appropriate care to individuals with chronic mental illness.”
HB-2754 (2019): Authorizes and provides $3,500,000 to build a “Secure Residential Treatment Facility” described in item number 2 above.
SB-1059 (2020): Clarifies existing law that persons with Serious Mental Illness cannot be denied treatment because they exhibit co-occurring substance use disorder symptoms.
SB-1716 (2021): (a) Requires improved audio & visual surveillance at the Arizona State Hospital (“ASH”), (b) requires ASH to report specified information on its operations, annually, to the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, and the Governor and (c) establish a “Joint Legislative Psychiatric Hospital Review Council” to “review, analyze and make recommendations” regarding capacity, access and care at ASH and elsewhere, and, by December 31 of 2021 and 2022, to “submit a report of its findings and recommendations” to the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate and the Governor.
SB-1030 (2021): Places persons held at ASH under the jurisdiction of Superior Court, instead of a Psychiatric Security Review Board, to evaluate potential discharges from ASH into community treatment, which should result in more rigorous evaluations and safer releases from ASH.
SB-1786 (2021): Creates a “Mental Health Transition Pilot Program” for up to 500 eligible Seriously Mentally Ill inmates per year who, upon release from incarceration, will receive mental health services including “case management, housing, psychiatric management, drug testing” for at least 90-days to compare their recidivism rates with other Seriously Mentally Ill inmates who do not receive such services in this program.
5. ACMI presented educational webinars with respected, well-known experts in the field on the following topics:
a. Involuntary treatment, SMI and arrests, Guardianship, HIPAA, Evictions, Psychiatric medications, Treatment for co-occurring disease, First episode centers, Bedlam, Substance use and the adolescent brain, Psychiatric assessment, Population health, and the ASU Morrison study on the cost of not housing the CMI appropriately.
6. ACMI has distributed resources on our site and mental health news and information on ACMI blogs.