'Interesting Times' for Behavioral Healthcare

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New National Council Chair Sees Opportunity in Adversity

The behavioral healthcare industry will face many challenges in the coming year as states across the country slash their budgets to make up for revenue shortfalls. William Kyles, newly elected chair of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare's board of directors, knows that the organization will have its work cut out for it moving forward.

"We have to garner the public and political support, and put into the place the formal mechanism that will allow us to do the job we have promised to do for our citizens," says Kyles, who is also the president and CEO of Comprehensive Mental Health Services (CMHS) in Independence, Mo. "We're living in a very interesting time for behavioral health, one that presents tremendous challenges and tremendous opportunities."

As chair, Kyles says his first priority will be providing support to the Council's CEO, Linda Rosenberg, and public policy VP Chuck Ingoglia as they work to ensure that their 1 ,600 members have a place at the table during the ongoing healthcare reform debate.

According to Kyles, the group would like to see a designation for mental health organizations modeled on the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) pro- gram, and is supporting passage of the Community Mental Health Services Improvement Act, which would provide funding for workforce recruitment and retention and grants for co-locating primary and mental health facilities.

"Co-location is a huge issue for us, because our clients are dying about 25 years younger than the general population," Kyles says. "Right now there is a demonstration grant through SAMHSA that will fund 1 1 projects across the nation, but that's just a drop in the bucket compared to the needs we have."

Kyle's interest in mental health and addiction services stems from his own background. A runaway who was homeless on the streets of Kansas City for a time, Kyles spent his teen years at Father Flanagan's famous Boys Town in Omaha, which he describes as "the four best years of my youth. That profoundly shaped my life and my outlook," Kyles says. …