Last year, we joined with the National Council on Behavioral Health (National Council) to convene a group of housing, homeless and treatment experts from around the country for a frank dialogue on new service approaches for people with substance use disorders. This convening, which was supported by the generosity of the Melville Charitable Trust, concluded that states and communities can improve services and outcomes for people with substance use disorders by integrating housing with treatment and recovery support programs.
We've now released the expert findings and recommendations in a new report from The Substance Use and Housing National Leadership Forum.
My colleague, Becky Vaughn, who is the National Council's Vice President for Addictions, sums up best why housing and treatment integration makes sense:
Over the past decade, addiction treatment providers across the U.S. have shifted to treatment plans focused on self-management skills with a goal of lifelong recovery. There also is growing knowledge that housing status is a determinant of all health, and we need to ensure those seeking treatment for substance use disorders have access to both (housing and services) to underpin their stability and progress.
Janette Kawachi, CSH Director of Innovations and Research and Vaughn's co-author of the report, noted: "Medicaid expansion, health homes and other initiatives arising out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are creating unprecedented opportunities to finance integrated models of housing and recovery support services for individuals with substance use disorders. ACA provisions have expanded Medicaid to provide benefits for individuals with low incomes experiencing homelessness and substance use disorders. All of this is moving the discussion on integration forward."
In addition to key recommendations for policymakers, the report features observations on:
• Opportunities and challenges facing the integration of housing, treatment and recovery support, including finding a common vision, aligning goals and securing funds/adequate resources
• Promoting housing as a platform for recovery
• Understanding and establishing the proof, including defining, disseminating and making evidence accessible
• Ensuring community involvement in future research and outcome measures
The National Council and CSH will co-host a free webinar focused on the report on October 20, 2015. Those interested in registering for the webinar can do so by clicking on this link to cshevents or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for further information.
This week, the National Council is holding the annual Hill Day (October 5 & 6), where hundreds of behavioral health providers, administrators, board members, consumers, and community stakeholders visit Washington, DC for a day of sessions and workshops on federal behavioral health policy, followed by visits with their elected officials on Capitol Hill to advocate for better resources for mental health and addictions treatment in our communities.
All of us who care about improving our nation's mental health and addictions treatment programs should be supporting the work of the National Council and its partners.