THOMAS A. KIRK, Jr., Ph.D., Commissioner
Arthur C. Evans, Ph.D., Deputy Commissioner
Kenneth Marcus, M.D., Medical Director
Established - 1995
Statutory authority - CGS Sec. 17a-450
Central office - 410 Capitol Avenue,
Hartford, CT 06134
Recurring operating expenses - $568,453,699
Capital outlay - $6,905,869
Organizational structure - Offices of the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Medical Director, Administration and Finance, Community and Hospital Services, Community Education and Recovery Affairs, Forensic Services, Human Resources Management, Information Systems, Legislation and Policy, Multicultural Affairs, Program Analysis and Support, Quality Assurance, and the Division of Safety Services.
The mission of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) is to improve the quality of life for Connecticut residents by providing an integrated network of comprehensive, effective and efficient mental health and addiction services that foster self-sufficiency, dignity and respect.
DMHAS measures its accomplishments in terms of progress made toward achievement of its four strategic goals. In the sections below, each of the goals are presented, followed by a few examples of the many initiatives DMHAS is pursuing to fulfill these goals.
Evidence-based Practice – DMHAS is constantly striving to ensure that public sector behavioral health services are provided in accordance with the latest scientific and experiential knowledge. The Office of the Medical Director (OMD) at DMHAS has initiated a comprehensive process designed to identify, disseminate and maintain the use of evidence-based practices throughout Connecticut. Under this program, OMD has established twelve workgroups focusing on a wide variety of behavioral health practice areas. Development of preferred practices in several key areas is already underway including: 1) Psychological trauma, 2) Women’s services, 3) Person-centered planning, 4) Self-help initiatives, 5) Prevention of substance abuse, 6) Strengthening families and, 7) Integrated treatment for co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders.
Collaborations and Partnerships – DMHAS takes pride in the many interagency initiatives and public/private and academic collaborations that are helping to improve care for thousands of people in Connecticut. The list of collaborations is far too extensive to be described here, but can be found on the DMHAS website at www.dmhas.state.ct.us.
Recovery Healthcare Plan for Adults – The Departments of Children and Families (DCF), Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), and Social Services (DSS) have formed the Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership to plan and implement an integrated public behavioral health service system for adults, children, and families. The overall goal of the Partnership is to provide enhanced access to a more complete and effective system of community-based behavioral health services and supports and to improve individual outcomes. The Partnership includes two components, 1) Connecticut Community KidCare and, 2) the Recovery Healthcare Plan for Adults (RHPA). Under RHPA, adults with psychiatric and substance use disorders would have access to a wider array of Medicaid funded rehabilitative services than are presently available to state residents.
Recovery Policy – The Department is in the process of rethinking and re-engineering its service system to introduce the concept of recovery into every aspect of DMHAS operations. Recovery involves a process of restoring or developing a positive and meaningful sense of identity apart from one’s condition and then rebuilding one’s life despite or within the limitations imposed by that condition. A recovery-oriented system of care identifies and to the extent possible, builds upon each individual’s assets, strengths, and areas of health and competence to support achieving a sense of mastery over his or her condition while regaining a meaningful, constructive, sense of membership in the broader community. Over the next several years, DMHAS will change the entire public behavioral health system for adults to bring it into alignment with this broad vision of recovery.
First Initiatives – As a means of relieving “gridlock” in the service system (e.g., the inability of people to move between levels of care because of gaps in the service system), DMHAS has worked closely with the Community Mental Health Strategy Board (CMHSB) to expand access to critically needed services. A total of $5.35 million has been allocated in FY 2002 to expand service capacity for adults in the following areas: 1) Supportive Pilots Housing ($1.5 million), 2) Discharge from hospital and residential care through wrap- around support ($685,000), 3) Acute care inpatient beds for people in hospital emergency departments ($200,000), 4) Increased residential capacity ($1.185 million), 5) Enhanced outpatient services ($900,000) and, 6) Expanded Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams ($875,000).
Cultural Competence – Among the most important quality goals of the Department is to ensure that care provided to people using public sector services is culturally competent. Cultural competence has a direct influence on access to care and subsequent treatment retention, which in turn are directly related to outcomes for service recipients. In order to address this issue, DMHAS has created an emphasis on cultural competence that pervades program development decisions, evaluation protocols, contracting requirements with private non-profit agencies and has established an array of specialized programs designed to address the needs of African-Americans, Latinos/Latinas, Asian-Americans and others.
Disaster Preparedness – In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, DMHAS and other state agencies began developing capabilities to address the threat of terrorism and to help Connecticut communities recover in the aftermath of major disasters. Using federal funds DMHAS established two significant behavioral health initiatives, 1) the Department contracted with Family and Children’s Agency, Inc., in Norwalk to provide direct assistance to families of those who died in the World Trade Center Disaster, and 2) in collaboration with the Department of Children and Families, DMHAS established a partnership with Yale University and the University of Connecticut that led to the development of the Center for Trauma Response/Recovery and Preparedness (CTRP). Working with CTRP, DMHAS and DCF have formed and trained five Regional Crisis Response Teams consisting of over three hundred volunteers to assist communities affected by major disasters.
Streamlined Contracting/Reporting and Enhanced Fiscal Analysis – In order to achieve administrative efficiencies and reduce the burden on providers, DMHAS has completely revamped its contract renewal process for existing grantee agencies. In addition, the traditional quarterly fiscal reporting process has been replaced by eight month and year-end reports, thereby cutting the provider-reporting burden in half. Finally, a newly developed contract-database has greatly enhanced the Department’s fiscal analysis capabilities.
Consolidation within Healthcare Operations – As a means of streamlining its internal operations, DMHAS has consolidated its Managed Care Unit and Regional Monitoring Teams into a single operating unit. The new division will help ensure that lessons learned from the highly successful General Assistance Behavioral Health Program (GABHP) help to inform the evaluation process, and programmatic and policy changes in other service areas.
DMHAS Grants Development – During FY 2002, DMHAS was awarded over $13 million in new federal funding to support the implementation of innovative enhancements to Connecticut’s behavioral health system. These funds enable the Department to increase our prevention and treatment capacity, enhance recovery-oriented services, establish a crisis-related behavioral health response infrastructure, and address the cultural and gender-specific needs of high-risk individuals (i.e., individuals with co-occurring disorders who are homeless and/or involved in the criminal justice system).