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Repairing a Broken System: Improving Care through Education and Consultation

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Improving Care through Education and Consultation. The American Psychiatric Association (APA), the largest leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States, was recently awarded a $14.2 million grant to help improve the behavioral healthcare system. The grant was funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to initiate a project called the Clinical Support System for Serious Mental Illness (CSS-SMI).

The CSS-SMI project intends to establish app-based and digital technologies to help enhance clinicians’ and other health providers’ ability to provide care to people with serious mental illness (SMI). The APA hopes that the project will help to promote best practices in the delivery of care to individuals with SMI through education and consultation services.

Benefit to Clinicians

The CSS-SMI project aims to provide interstate consultation services and learning opportunities for clinicians who provide care to people with serious mental illness, comprising physicians, recovery specialists, nurses, etc. App-based technologies and the web are planned to be utilized to advance best practices in caring for people with SMI, comprising the application of the PsychPRO mental health registry by APA.

“This grant will allow the APA to take a leading role in addressing serious mental illness in this country,” according to APA President, Altha Stewart, M.D. “Serious mental illness affects an estimated 9.8 million adults each year. The CSS-SMI project will help us disseminate best practices for treating people who have serious mental illnesses and increase their access to care. I am excited to see the project unfold over the next five years.”

Impact of SMI

Mental illnesses are widespread in the United States. Approximately one in five U.S. adults, representing nearly 44.7 million adults, had a mental illness in 2016. Mental illnesses affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and differ in their degree of severity.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) categorizes mental illness into two main categories: Any Mental Illness (AMI) and Serious Mental Illness (SMI). While AMI includes the entire spectrum of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, SMIs are conditions that interfere considerably with a person’s ability to function in his or her daily life.

People who have SMI may have symptoms such as delusions, distortions of perception or reality, unusual behaviors, and hallucinations. Examples of SMIs include psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Of the 44.7 million adults who had a mental illness in 2016, more than 4.2 percent, or 10 million Americans aged 18 or older, had an SMI.

The challenges faced by people who are dealing with SMI include persistent symptoms and can impair their functioning throughout life. Their pervasive symptoms can contribute to their noncompliance with treatment, a greater risk of premature death, and a higher possibility of criminal justice involvement compared to individuals without SMI.

Fixing the Broken Behavioral Healthcare System in the U.S.
Apart from the grant programs, SAMHSA is also taking other steps to transform the behavioral healthcare system to provide better care to individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders. SAMHSA is building up the way it supports training and technical aids in the mental health treatment approach and recovery support system.

SAMHSA is part of a blue-ribbon panel that detailed the problems within the U.S. behavioral healthcare system in a report issued to Congress. The findings of this Report are quite surprising:

  • Fifty to 90 percent of people who need treatment do not receive it.
  • One in 20 people with schizophrenia dies by suicide
  • People with mood disorders such as bipolar or depressive disorders have a suicide rate that is 25 times higher than that of the general population.
  • Of the 2.6 million people who have an SMI and a co-occurring substance use disorder, only 14.3 percent receive specialized care.
  • Compared to people without any kind of mental illness, those who have SMI die about 10 years earlier.
  • Seventy percent of people with SMI are unemployed and want to work, but only 2 percent receive employment support.
  • About two million people who have SMI are arrested for minor offenses each year.

You can watch the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee’s 2017 Report to Congress here.

Treatment for SMI is Must
If you or someone you know is dealing with any serious mental disorder, it is important to seek professional help; the sooner the illness is diagnosed, the earlier you can receive treatment that can transform your life. Pharmacological (e.g., mood stabilizers, antidepressants) and psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and psychotherapy can help a person overcome symptoms of their mental illness and adopt more positive thoughts and behaviors.

At AKUA Mind & Body, our clinical team understands that focusing solely on mental health can help one recover from their life-estranging mental health problems. We offer specialized treatment programs for men and women with trauma, mental health issues, and substance use disorders in northern and southern California. To learn more about our treatment programs, call on our 24/7 Admissions helpline for a confidential assessment.


24/7 ADMISSION HELPLINE 888-629-6707


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