The Arkansas Department of Human Services on Thursday announced the expansion of services to help people with mental health and addiction issues. The services include a telephone line with trained staff who will provide guidance for those seeking help with mental health and drug addiction, according to a news release from Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office.
The number of independently licensed providers certified to offer treatment for those with mental health challenges or drug addiction has risen from 31 in 2017 to 207 in 2019, an increase of 567 percent, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced today. The number of behavioral health agency sites has increased from 253 to 311.
Governor Asa Hutchinson also announced that the Department of Human Services is launching a helpline with trained staff who will provide guidance for those seeking help with mental-health issues and drug addiction.
“Too often, a night in jail is our answer for people who are suffering a mental-health crisis or are struggling with a drug addiction,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “With this encouraging growth in the number of providers, we are improving our ability to give our fellow Arkansans a hand up. This new helpline gives us the important option of offering people in great need professional guidance in navigating their obstacles rather than adding to their load with a criminal record or leaving them to fight through it alone. I commend DHS for creating this important tool.”
Under DHS rules that went into effect in July 2017, those with substance-abuse and mental-health issues have quicker and simpler access to treatment and counseling.
The new rules allow and encourage new providers to become certified to accept and bill for Medicaid beneficiaries who need outpatient mental health and substance abuse services.
Medicaid now covers the cost of many of the services, including treatment for drug addiction. Arkansas will cover the cost of certain counseling and treatment for those without Medicaid or private insurance.
“We expanded the services that Medicaid covers. Counselors now can house their practices in the same building with a physician,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This will increase access to addiction treatment by allowing doctors to send a patient directly to a counselor rather than hoping the patient will keep an appointment across town a week later.”
The trained helpline operators will direct callers to a provider who offers the services they need.
The helpline complements the state’s Crisis Stabilization Units. Law-enforcement officers who encounter someone in a mental-health crisis can take the person to a CSU rather than to jail or an emergency room. CSU staff are trained to assess the needs of those in crisis and guide them to appropriate help.
The services the helpline staff can recommend include:
Individual and Group Counseling
Substance Abuse and Addiction Counseling
Mental Health Crisis Counseling
Parent and Child Counseling for Children younger than four.
“The state has so many new mental health and substance abuse providers that we felt this was the right time to launch this helpline,” said Patricia Gann, assistant director of the DHS Division of Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services. “It gives Arkansans who are struggling with addiction or who love someone who is struggling a single point of contact to get the help they need.”
Mental Health and Addiction Services staff will answer the telephone line Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The number for the Mental Health and Addiction Services helpline is 844-763-0198.
Information about the Mental Health and Addiction Services Support line and other available mental health and addiction services is available at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/daabhs/mentalhealth.