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, 4th Floor,
P.O. Box 341431
Hartford, CT 06134
Recurring operating expenses - $587,694,583
Capital outlay - $5,504,583
Organizational structure - Offices of the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Medical Director, Administration and Finance, Community Services and Hospital, 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.
In addition to the Department’s overarching goal of building a Value-Driven, Recovery-Oriented System of Care, 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 nine implementation groups focusing on a wide variety of behavioral health practice areas. Key areas for implementation over the coming year are anticipated to include supported community living, medication algorithms, practice management, and core clinical skills for working with people with severe psychiatric and/or 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) continue to develop 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 Initiative – During the past year, DMHAS began a series of activities designed to develop a conceptual model for a recovery-oriented service system, build provider awareness and skills necessary to implement that vision, and identify exemplary programs that can be used to transfer innovations throughout the state. In addition to hosting a large Recovery Conference, DMHAS obtained technical assistance through the federal government, formed a Recovery Institute to offer training to providers, and designated nine Recovery Centers of Excellence. During FY 2003, over 1,700 people received training through the Recovery Institute. Many other activities are underway to promote a recovery-oriented system of care.
Community Mental Health Strategy Board – The Department continues to work closely with the Community Mental Health Strategy Board (CMHSB) to relieve “gridlock” in the system and increase the availability of community services. As a follow-up to last year’s activities, during FY 2003, the CMHSB approved a total of $3,399,056 in “Second Initiatives” funding to develop new capacity and strengthen existing Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams, Mobile Crisis Programs and Community Respite Services, Intensive Supportive Community Services with Housing Options, Early Intervention and Engagement for Young Adults and the Recovery Initiative.
Cultural Competence – Among the most important quality goals of the Department is to ensure services are provided in a culturally competent manner. DMHAS continues to stress the importance of cultural competence in a variety of areas including program development decisions, evaluation protocols and contracting requirements with private non-profit agencies. An array of culturally specific programs has been implemented to address the specialized needs of African Americans, Latinos/Latinas, Asian Americans and others.
Disaster Preparedness – In the aftermath of September 11, 2001 DMHAS 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 contracted with a private non-profit agency to assistance families of World Trade Center victims. DMHAS collaborated with the Department of Children and Families, Yale University, and the University of Connecticut to establish five Regional Crisis Response Teams consisting of over 300 volunteers to assist communities affected by disasters. During FY 2003, DMHAS continued to strengthen its emergency disaster capabilities.
Response to Layoffs and ERIP – During FY 2003, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), like other state agencies, faced difficult challenges due to Connecticut’s challenging budgetary outlook. In January and February 2003, a total of 256 DMHAS employees were laid off. By June, about 100 of these workers had been offered re-employment. Additional openings for laid off workers were created when the Department was permitted to refill two thirds of the Direct Care positions, and 25 percent of Support Services positions vacated by 439 retirees who left under Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP). A total of 298 Direct Care staff and 141 Support workers accepted the early retirement offer. In April 2003, at the direction of the Commissioner, an ERIP Steering Committee was formed to manage the impact of staffing changes on the service system. The Steering Committee continues to work closely with the facilities and key stakeholders to mitigate possible disruption to the public behavioral health system. As DMHAS continues to plan and implement its response, it will be guided by a clear sense of mission: DMHAS will build on existing cornerstones to achieve a recovery-oriented, value-based public sector behavioral health system that recognizes the extraordinary professionalism and dedication of its employees.
Operational Improvements – As part of a plan to adapt to budgetary realities, DMHAS will consolidate certain administrative and operational functions including Fiscal Services, Human Resources and Agency Police/Safety Services. In addition, DMHAS has made changes in its Health Care Services Unit that will facilitate implementation of the Behavioral Health Partnership, and will strengthen provider monitoring and accountability through the use of newly developed performance indicators, and systems designed to measure data timeliness, completeness and quality, and thorough enhanced critical incident reporting.
DMHAS Grants Development – During FY 2003, DMHAS was awarded over $8.6 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, and address the cultural and gender-specific needs of high-risk individuals (e.g., individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders who are involved in the criminal justice system). Additionally, the Department has over $32 million in pending proposals under federal review.