Tucson Is a Model for Expanding Mental Health Services

By Cash, Neal | AZ Daily Star, May 23, 2014 | Go to article overview

Tucson Is a Model for Expanding Mental Health Services


Cash, Neal, AZ Daily Star


Southern Arizona can be proud of the comprehensive and accessible behavioral health services right here in Pima County. In many ways we are leading the nation, and communities throughout the country look to Tucson as a model.

Community Partnership of Southern Arizona has led these groundbreaking and successful developments, working alongside community stakeholders, the criminal justice system and elected officials. Those partnerships have fostered some of the most innovative and effective programs to improve the lives of people challenged with mental illness.

At the forefront of our collective success, U.S. Rep. Ron Barber has always been a champion for behavioral health treatment and has stepped up again with the recent introduction of the HR 4574, the Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014.

Here in Pima County, our crisis safety net, including the Crisis Response Center, mobile crisis teams and the 24-hour crisis phone line, is among the most comprehensive in the country. Anyone can call 622-6000, 24 hours a day, seven days per week to access crisis care.

Barber's bill continues support for these critical services in our communities, like Crisis Intervention Training and Mental Health First Aid. These programs train teachers, first responders, family members and friends on how to interact with, de-escalate and help someone in a mental health crisis, avoiding unnecessary and costly incarceration or emergency room visits.

The Mental Health First Aid Act was one of the first bills Barber introduced. As a result of this bill, $15 million is going into local communities to fund Mental Health First Aid training now, and HR 4574 would help continue these programs for another five years.

Most recently, CPSA has been working with community-based care providers to establish integrated physical and behavioral health- care services that are now receiving the highest national recognition and accreditations. Barber's bill would help expand care integration across the country to further enhance quality of life and outcomes for individuals and reduce costs. …

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