The Minnesota Mental Health Action Group (MMHAG) was a coalition of people and groups who worked on mental health reforms, led by a core group of influential public and private sector leaders who had vision and leadership roles within their own constituencies to effectively champion change. In 2007, the group helped pass the Governor’s Mental Health Initiative.
It is now time to act
More than $1.2 billion is spent each year on mental health services in Minnesota and there are hundreds of public and private mental health programs, activities and agencies. But despite all this money and activity the system is not working the way it should. Patients and their families are dissatisfied because their needs are not being met. The system is inefficient and often ineffective. There is little coordination between public and private services and between the health care and the social services systems. Both the state’s current fiscal crisis and the parallel crisis in private health insurance premiums are complicating an already complex situation. Employers and government are resisting continued growth in mental health costs even as patients and families feel the system is not meeting their needs. Ways must be found to better help families with existing resources, and quickly, or face the risk that patients will lose access to even currently available mental health services due to loss of health coverage or cutbacks in government programs. An abundance of mental health task forces, work groups, and reports have surfaced in the past several years. All of the groups that have examined Minnesota’s mental health system agree that the current mental health system is flawed and that change is needed. Most also agree on what needs to be done. Some groups have identified opportunities to improve outcomes and improve efficiency and have begun to take action. While there are pockets of activity, there is no organized effort to establish linkages between all those working on mental health system reform, to bring everyone together to coordinate their activities to achieve their common reform objectives, and to fill gaps where no progress is being made. The Minnesota Mental Health Action Group will fulfill this purpose.