Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force

The White House recently announced that the federal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force released its final report. The Task Force included a series of actions and recommendations to:

  • Help ensure better implementation of parity
  • Help consumers, providers, and plans understand how parity works
  • Ensure appropriate oversight and enforcement of parity protections.

These steps are based on input the Task Force received through a series of listening sessions held between March and October, and through the more than 1,100 public comments the Task Force received from individuals with mental health and substance use disorders, families, their providers, advocates, and other stakeholders.

To view the full report CLICK HERE.
To view the Consumer Guide CLICK HERE.

What is Mental Health Parity?

After years of NAMI advocates sending letters, making phone calls and visiting their members of Congress mental health parity is law. Now it’s time for you to make sure that the law is implemented and that you or your loved one get the treatment and supports you are entitled to. This infographic breaks down the basics of what mental health parity means, tells you if your plan has to follow this law, what plans have to do if they do have to comply and lets you know what you can do if the plan has to comply and doesn’t.

– See more at:

Early Bird Special Savings! 2015 Annual State Conference

Register now for big savings! Early Bird registration ends soon!

Friday and Saturday
August 21 – 22, 2015
Newport Beach, CA

Click here to take advantage of the lowest rates for the conference.


The Workshops will feature:

Transitional Aged Youth (T.A.Y.) Workshops will focus on strategies and best practices for educators, early identification and intervention, and reducing stigma and discrimination for ages 18-24.

Criminal Justice. Workshops will focus on strategies around incorporating and partnering with the law enforcement, the Justice system, and other criminal justice sectors.

Strengthening NAMI. Workshops will focus on best practices in Board development, organizational financial management, and expanding access to NAMI education programs through technology.

Consumer and Family Engagement/Recovery Practices. Workshops will focus on strengthening our voice as a unified organization of lived experiences, increase visibility and impact, and promote mental health wellness and recovery.

Advocacy. Workshops will focus on new and innovative ways to advocate, current policies and their impact on all levels (local, state and nation wide), and training tools to effectively utilize grassroots advocacy efforts.

Diversity. Workshops will be focused on strength-based approaches and best practices to engage diverse communities, increase access to programs and services, and reduce the stigma and discrimination among diverse populations.

Hotel information

The Marriott Hotel and Spa is located directly across from Fashion Island and only 10 minutes from the John Wayne Airport. CLICK HERE for special rates of $169, plus tax per night. To receive this discounted rate you must make your reservation by August 5th or call (877) 622-3056 to speak with reservations.

cfd0c7dd-8a24-48fb-a51d-842544bc1d32Marriott Newport Beach Hotel and Spa
900 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, California 92660

Parity in Mental Health “Don’t Take No For An Answer”

Historically, insurance companies and health care services plans have not provided equal coverage between physical health and mental health and substance abuse disorders. For people needing mental health treatment, there are fewer services, more restrictions on those services, and greater costs, both monetarily and for mental health wellness and recovery. Federal and state laws require insurance companies to provide mental health and substance use abuse benefits at the same level as physical health benefits. Few people are aware of these laws or how to advocate for equal coverage, and as a result do not get what they need.

Through funding from CalMHSA’s Stigma and Discrimination Reduction (SDR) Project, Disability Rights California trains on mental health parity laws and equips participants with tools and strategies to advocate for mental health and substance use abuse care. We can discuss individual mental health parity issues, provide counsel and advice, provide help filing complaints and in select cases raising systemic issues provide direct representation.

If you are interested in learning more about the project or want a training for your local NAMI chapter, please contact:

Robyn Gantsweg, CalMHSA SDR Project Coordinator and Senior Coordinator of Disability Rights California’s Peer/Self-Advocacy Program

  • Phone: (213) 213-8134
  • Email:

Laura Reich, lead Mental Health Parity Training Coordinator and Disability Rights California Attorney

  • Phone: (916) 504-5800
  • Email:

Disability Rights California is funded by a variety of sources, for a complete list of funders, go to this link.

The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) is an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Prevention and Early Intervention programs implemented by CalMHSA are funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). Prop. 63 provides the funding and framework needed to expand mental health services to previously under-served populations and all of California’s diverse communities.

60 Minutes Segment on Mental Health Parity

This past Sunday 60 Minutes aired a segment on how many people are denied treatment for their mental health issues.  It’s important to know that your rights with mental health parity allow for coverage for mental health issues.


When insurance companies deny the mentally ill the treatment their doctors prescribe, seriously ill people are often discharged, and can be a danger to themselves or others

You can read the full script and/or view the segment at 60 Minute’s site here. It is the very first segment of the show.

Mental Health Parity — Meeting Topic for April 21 General Meeting

James Preis, Executive Director, and Nancy Shea, Senior Attorney, of Mental Health Advocacy Services (MHAS) will speak at our regular monthly meeting (Monday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m., First Lutheran Church, 2900 Carson in Torrance) about mental health parity in insurance. Mental health parity is a critical issue. It is the recognition of mental health conditions as equivalents to physical illnesses. Under mental health parity laws, insurance companies will not be able to limit or treat differently benefits for mental health treatment.

The Affordable Care Act potentially affects benefits of health care insurance for persons with a mental illness. You don’t want to miss this meeting.

MHAS is a private, non-profit organization established in 1977 to provide free legal services to people with mental and developmental disabilities. MHAS is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, and the Mental Health Association in California. MHAS assists both children and adults, with an emphasis on obtaining WebBannerScaledgovernment benefits and services, protecting rights, and fighting discrimination. MHAS also serves as a resource to the community by providing training and technical assistance to attorneys, mental health professionals, consumer and family member groups, and other advocates. In addition, MHAS participates in impact litigation in an effort to improve the lives of people with mental and developmental disabilities. Our families have benefited greatly from their education and advocacy efforts on SSI and look forward to their support in ensuring there is mental health parity in insurance programs.

A Caring & Sharing support group for family members will be held in the Fireside Room at 6:30 p.m. before the general meeting.

Enhanced by Zemanta

NAMI Looks Ahead to 35 Years in 2014

by Courtney Reyers, NAMI Director of Publishing

Next year marks NAMI’s 35th anniversary. Recent years have seen landmark changes in health care reform, something NAMI has steadfastly worked toward throughout its history.

In 2013, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid expansion—which are still underway— were important steps forward for individuals and families affected by mental illness. But there are many more areas of growth and success that can be noted as we step into 2014.

NAMI’s signature education program, NAMI Family-to-Family, was officially declared an evidence-based practice this year, putting a seal of approval on what tens of thousands of families already knew: F2F really helps in learning to understand and cope with mental illness. NAMI also offers other education and support programs; the newest ones are NAMI Ending the Silence and NAMI Homefront, both launched since Nov. 20.

Another area of tremendous growth has been NAMI On Campus. Onset of mental illness often occurs in a person’s teens or twenties. Early intervention requires education and awareness as well as communities with resources to provide support to young people in need.

Throughout 2013, NAMI also has been engaged in the National Dialogue on Mental Health that flowed from the Sandy Hook tragedy approximately a year ago. It has included fighting for a broad agenda of initiatives. It also has included efforts to eliminate stigma and building new partnerships.

One outlet that fosters a great sense of community and inspires hope is NAMI’s story-sharing hub,You Are Not Alone. NAMI members and friends tell us regularly that the personal stories they read submitted by others who have experienced mental illness have helped them immensely. (Please feel free to share your own story if you would like!).

NAMI also offers a national, toll-free HelpLine, 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264) which fields more than 2,000 calls and sends out more than 100 packets of information and brochures each month. It is a critical service, staffed by trained volunteers, for individuals and families seeking information about mental illness and the mental health care system.

NAMI works every day to save lives. From battling stigma to addressing cultural disparities to reaching out to youth and advocating with policymakers, NAMI is there, fighting for and alongside the millions of Americans who face mental illness in their daily lives.

For all the progress made in 2013, we know the fight will continue. We also know we depend on the support of NAMI members, friends and readers to sustain our work. Thank you for your continued help. We look forward to working with you throughout the New Year, as part of a community dedicated to hope and recovery.