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National Council program improves daily lives of people with schizophrenia

November 5, 2010
by Press Release
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Washington, DC — The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council) today announced a new eight-month pilot program designed to advance standards of care for people living with schizophrenia. This initiative at 10 community behavioral health organizations nationwide is designed to improve the daily functioning of people with schizophrenia and raise expectations for what is achievable.

“Too many of the 2.4 million Americans with schizophrenia are left behind when it comes to their care, their inclusion in our communities and their recovery. It’s time to expect more,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council. “This program will take the standard of care to a whole new level—one that focuses more effectively on improving how people function in their daily lives.”

Rosenberg said that while most community behavioral health organizations recognize the benefits of the pilot program’s holistic and interactive approach, “when it comes to helping people with schizophrenia, low expectations and limited resources have resulted in our treating the disease and not the person.”

To address that shortcoming, the “Advancing Standards of Care for People with Schizophrenia” pilot program sites will work to help a person with schizophrenia feel more independent and accomplish the things he or she needs or wants to do on any given day, such as going to the library, visiting a local Y or sharing a meal with a friend. According to mental health experts, this improvement in day-to-day functioning is a critical first step towards more complete self directed disease management.

To help each of the pilot sites shift towards a more complete evaluation of functioning, the National Council will provide ongoing technical assistance that will draw on the expertise of an advisory panel of national thought leaders in behavioral healthcare. This approach will rely on a consistent use of the Daily Living Activities (DLA-20) tool—an interactive assessment that the mental health professional and patient will complete together to track how each individual is functioning.

“The ‘Advancing Standards of Care’ program brings a real opportunity to strengthen and enhance the benefit we can bring to people with schizophrenia,” said Megan Griggs, clinical director of adult outpatient services at AltaPointe Health Systems, one of the 10 sites selected for participation. “We’re confident that even these basic changes, if applied consistently, can lead to meaningful improvements in the lives of people with schizophrenia and their caregivers.”

Pilot sites in the program include:

• AltaPointe Health Systems, Inc., Mobile, AL
• AtlantiCare Behavioral Health, Egg Harbor Township, NJ
• Cobb & Douglas Community Services Board, Smyrna, GA
• Family Guidance Center for Behavioral Healthcare, Saint Joseph, MO
• Gallahue Mental Health Services, Indianapolis, IN
• Hill Country Community MHMR Center, Kerrville, TX
• Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois, Springfield, IL
• Recovery Resources, Cleveland, OH
• Seminole Behavioral Healthcare, Fern Park, FL
• Spokane Mental Health, Spokane, WA

Sunovion Pharmaceutical Inc. provided financial support for the Advancing Standards of Care pilot program.