Press Release

May is Mental Health Month

Over 100 people crowded the Rhode Island State House on Thursday to kick off the “May is Mental Health Month” campaign sponsored by the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island (MHARI).

May 1, 2023, 10:01 am

By Steve Ahlquist

Over 100 people crowded the Rhode Island State House on Thursday to kick off the “May is Mental Health Month” campaign sponsored by the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island (MHARI). At the event Representative Jacquelyn Baginski (Democrat, District 17, Cranston) and Senator Joshua Miller (Democrat, District 28, Cranston, Providence) were recognized for introducing legislation (2022 S2469A, 2022 H7858) last session to establish Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) in the state.

The event was emceed by Laurie-Marie Pisciotta, executive director of MHARI. Barbara Morse from NBC 10 News was a featured speaker.

CCBHCs are specially designated clinics that provide a comprehensive range of mental health and substance use services. They qualify for an enhanced Medicaid reimbursement rate based on their anticipated costs of expanding services to meet the needs of these complex populations.

More than 430 CCBHCs are operating in 42 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Guam.

CCBHCs have dramatically increased access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, expanded states’ capacity to address the overdose crisis and established innovative partnerships with law enforcement, schools and hospitals to improve care, reduce recidivism and prevent hospital readmissions.

The legislation was included in the FY 2023 state budget.

“Although we’ve made a lot of progress, our state and our nation have a long way to go in terms of providing the level of support for mental health that our population needs,” said Senator Miller, who is chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. “I have always been proud to partner with the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island in efforts to make mental health care more readily available to every Rhode Islander, and I appreciate their support of last year’s bill to establish community behavioral health clinics. I will continue to work alongside MHARI to promote access to mental health care and to erode stigmas so that every Rhode Islander is able to get the mental health services they need.”

“It is an honor to be recognized by MHARI and it’s a privilege to work with them to ensure that Rhode Islanders have access to the mental health services they need. There is no question that our state is facing a mental health crisis that has been severely impacted by the pandemic,” said Representative Baginski. “Too many Rhode Islanders, young and old, are not receiving, or are unable to access, the mental health services that they need. Thankfully, these clinics will help correct this troubling trend, while also allowing Rhode Island to save crucial tax dollars through enhanced federal reimbursement for these clinics. This model of community-based mental health care is successful across the country and I am grateful Rhode Islanders will have the mental health care that they deserve.”