THOMAS A. KIRK, Jr., Ph.D., Commissioner
Arthur C. Evans, Jr., 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
Number of employees full and part-time - 3,751
Recurring operating expenses - $564,724,205
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 – 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. As part of an initiative of the Office of the Medical Director (OMD) at DMHAS, the system has made strides in incorporating practices identified by its nine preferred practice workgroups. These include illness management and recovery for people with psychosis, motivational interviewing for difficult to engage clients, opioid agonist treatment for clients with opioid dependence, and supported employment. Additional practices will be added in the coming year.
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.
Performance Measurement – Significant effort over the past year has been devoted to ongoing development of provider performance measurement. This initiative meets the informational and management needs of multiple stakeholders. Program performance measures have been developed in four domains: Data Quality, Utilization, Access and Outcomes. Web-based reports are accessible at anytime to providers to access their agency’s data as well as to state system management to access performance measures across all state-operated and funded agencies. Trainings for all providers and system managers on how to use the reports and promote and improve data quality have been conducted over the past year. These measures and web-based reports allow for transparency of data used to assess providers in terms of data quality, service utilization/ provision, and information used to monitor contract performance as well as offer opportunities to identify areas in need of quality improvement initiatives and to monitor progress.
Recovery Healthcare Plan for Adults – The goal of the initiative is to create a seamless child and adult behavioral healthcare system by bringing together various funding sources and managing them with common infrastructure and policies. It involves DMHAS working collaboratively with the Departments of Children and Families (DCF) and Social Services (DSS). During the 2004 legislative session it was decided that the Husky A and B (health plans for adults and children) should move forward as planned. However, additional adult populations may not be converted at this time. Discussions on how to implement these programs are continuing. Planning for the Medicaid Rehabilitation Option to support mental health group homes is moving forward and is expected to be implemented on or after January 1, 2005.
Recovery Initiative – During the past year, DMHAS continued to implement the Recovery Initiative by hosting policy retreats for over 130 executives from private non-profit agencies and by holding meetings with community agency boards of directors to familiarize them with the initiative’s goals and to solicit their advice and assistance. DMHAS also identified nine “Recovery Centers of Excellence” where innovative, recovery-oriented programs are being tested and implemented. These Centers are to be joined by an additional set of seven new Centers during FY 05. The Centers will also serve as technology transfer sites where innovative ideas are refined and made available throughout Connecticut. The DMHAS Recovery Institute and the DMHAS Division of Education and Training provided technical assistance to agencies, and training to over 1,000 staff from state-operated and private non-profit agencies involving 13,000 training contact hours. For more information about the recovery initiative please visit the DMHAS website at www.dmhas.state.ct.us/disasterbh.htm.
Community Mental Health Strategy Board – The Department continues to work closely with the Community Mental Health Strategy Board (CMHSB) to increase the availability of community services. The Second Initiatives funding was reallocated through the work of the Finance Subcommittee to ensure that they would continue to be funded through FY’05. The initiatives: Assertive Community Treatment Teams, Mobile Crisis and Respite Services, Young Adult Program, Supportive Housing with Wrap Around Services and the Recovery Initiative will remain operational. In addition, DMHAS used Second Initiatives funding to establish a 15-bed residential facility to assist with hospital discharges.
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, using federal funds, DMHAS began developing its capability to address the threat of terrorism and to help Connecticut communities recover in the aftermath of major disasters. DMHAS collaborated with the Department of Children and Families, Yale University, and the University of Connecticut to create the Center for Trauma, Response/Recovery and Preparedness (CTRP) and to establish five Regional Crisis Response Teams consisting of over 300 volunteers to assist communities affected by disasters. During FY 2004, DMHAS continued to strengthen its disaster capabilities. Training and functional exercises have been key to this effort. DMHAS also has been actively involved in linking planning efforts and coordinating with the American Red Cross, the Office of Emergency Management, the Department of Public Safety – Division of Homeland Security, the Department of Public Health, the Homeland Security Education Center, and the state’s two Bioterrorism Centers of Excellence involving general hospitals throughout Connecticut.
Workforce Issues – As of the fiscal year end, DMHAS employed 11 percent fewer workers than it did on November 1, 2002. Although adjusting to this reduction represented significant challenges, operations have now been stabilized at a lower workforce level. Recruitment of qualified healthcare professionals - essential for quality care and accreditation of all DMHAS facilities - is a major focus of human resource development efforts. Recently, tangible progress has been made in the hiring of registered nurses.
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 – In a move to enhance efficiency and save on costs, DMHAS has consolidated certain administrative and operational functions including Fiscal Services and Human Resources. In addition, DMHAS has expanded utilization of cost effective ambulatory detoxification, provided funding to establish a 10-bed Recovery House in eastern Connecticut, requested proposals for an additional 10-bed Recovery House, established two new acute care contracts with general hospitals to ease emergency room overcrowding, and hired five new Intensive Case Managers to work with persons with mental illness who have had either long hospital stays or multiple admissions to psychiatric hospitals.
DMHAS Grants Development – During FY 2004, DMHAS was awarded over $5.3 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. Additionally, DMHAS, in partnership with local community providers, other state agencies, and academic centers, has over $71 million in pending proposals under federal review.
Merging the former Department of Mental Health (established 1953) with the Addiction Services component of the Department of Public Health and Addiction Services.