Friday, July 22, 2011

NAMI Breakfast Event Takes on Challenges in Mental Health System

Significant changes are needed for a more effective mental health system, but this comes during a time of great uncertainty. To address this issue, NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania hosted a breakfast event this morning called Current Challenges and Future Opportunities: A Breakfast Discussion on our Public Mental Health System.

Leaders in the mental health field and government officials convened at Pittsburgh's Sheraton Station Square at 8 a.m. A panel of regional, state and national experts (see below) discussed challenges and opportunities facing Pa.’s publicly funded mental health system as Congress and state governments look to transform Medicaid and plan for the implementation of healthcare reform.

Moderated by NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania's Executive Director Christine Michaels, an impassioned discussion ensued that Board Member Dick Jevon called "an eye opener" and others cited as the best presentation on the topic they had seen.

Our esteemed panelists were Ron Honberg, JD, National Director of Policy and Legal Affairs, NAMI, Arlington Va.; Valerie J. Vicari, Director, Division of Western Operations, Office of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services, (OMHSAS) PA Department of Public Welfare; Patricia Valentine, Executive Deputy Director for Integrated Program Services, Allegheny County Department of Human Services; Lynn Keltz, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumer's Association, Harrisburg, Pa.; Kathy Yarzebinski, Director of Behavioral Health, Family Services of Western PA; and Joan Erney, JD, (former Deputy Director, OMHSAS) Chief Business Development Officer, Community Care Behavioral Health Organization. 

We are incredibly grateful to our event sponsor Janssen, represented by its Healthcare Policy and Advocacy Director Chris Herbine. Special thanks to the esteemed panelists who presented an informative, thought-provoking and inspirational discussion.

NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania's Dick Jevon, Board Member;
Christine Michaels, Executive Director; Sharon Miller, Director of
Education and Community Relations; and Ron Honberg,
National Director of Policy and Legal Affairs at NAMI.

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