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The Mental Health Council of Arkansas (MHCA) is a nonprofit organization that has been working to improve the overall health and well-being of citizens in Arkansas since 1972. It was originally founded under the Federal Community Mental Health Construction Grant. The MHCA is composed of fifty psychiatrists and approximately 2,000 healthcare professionals and is governed by a board of directors. Its members provide comprehensive mental health services to Arkansans through the fourteen community mental health centers in Arkansas. The centers provide a variety of mental health services, such as individual and group psychotherapy and medication management; psychological, personality, forensic, and intellectual evaluations; emergency/crisis treatment; consultation/education programs; and partial hospitalization programs.
The MHCA is a member of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. This organization comprises state and regional associations. In addition, the MHCA works closely with the national council on public policy advocacy and practices improvement initiatives.
The purpose of the MHCA is to help members achieve the goal of mental and emotional wellness through comprehensive diagnostic, treatment, and wraparound services provided by the community mental health centers of Arkansas. According to its mission statement, MHCA “exists for the purpose of insuring that appropriate community-based mental and behavioral healthcare is available throughout Arkansas in a manner which is accessible, balanced, affordable, and quality driven.” Fundraisers are often held throughout the state to support MHCA.
The MHCA is based on the following guiding principles: a holistic approach to mental and behavioral health; quality-driven, balanced, and comprehensive mental healthcare that recognizes the dignity, rights, and strengths of the individual; and community governance of each regional mental and behavioral healthcare system. A conference/institute has been held in Hot Springs (Garland County) annually since 1972, at which training is provided to cover current industry issues. While attending this conference, mental health professionals can earn Continuing Education Units required for licensure, as well as network with other mental health professionals.
In addition to providing services through Arkansas’s community mental health centers, the MHCA supports public policy through legislation and advocacy efforts. The MHCA’s roles in healthcare reform are as follows: to advocate for financial reforms that will allow the use of mental health prevention/primary interventions to increase; to provide policy updates and training to members, consumers, and other stakeholders; to increase collaboration with other stakeholders (including health plans, Arkansas Department of Human Services and the Division of Behavioral Health Services, Medicaid, and the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement); to advocate for a reformed healthcare delivery system that includes recovery-focused mental health and substance abuse treatment as integral to overall health and wellness; to work with other organizations that demonstrate a commitment to service integration; and to participate nationally in policy development and legislative efforts that are dedicated to improving care and integrating mental health and substance abuse prevention into overall healthcare.
For additional information: Mental Health Council of Arkansas. http://www.mhca.org (accessed March 17, 2011).
National Council of Community Behavioral Healthcare. http://www.thenationalcouncil.org/cs/_overview (accessed April 7, 2011).
Ashley ChasonLittle Rock, Arkansas
Hillary R. HuntLittle Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated 7/29/2011
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