Addressing the Need to Help Those With Schizophrenia

Much has been done recently to advance the standards of care for people living with schizophrenia. An initiative is taking place at 10 community behavioral health organizations nationwide and is designed to improve the daily functioning of people with schizophrenia and raise expectations for what is achievable.

Too many of the 2.4 million Americans with schizophrenia are left behind when it comes to their care, their inclusion in our communities and their recovery. It’s time to expect more. Luckily, the standard of care is being taken to a whole new level – one that focuses more effectively on improving how people function in their daily lives.

While most community behavioral health organizations recognize the benefits of the pilot program’s holistic and interactive approach, when it comes to helping people with schizophrenia, low expectations and limited resources have resulted in our treating the disease and not the person.

To address that shortcoming, the “Advancing Standards of Care for People with Schizophrenia” pilot program sites will work to help a person with schizophrenia feel more independent and accomplish the things he or she needs or wants to do on any given day, such as going to the library, visiting a local Y or sharing a meal with a friend. According to mental health experts, this improvement in day-to-day functioning is a critical first step towards more complete self-directed disease management.

To help each of the pilot sites shift towards a more complete evaluation of functioning, technical assistance will be provided that will draw on the expertise of an advisory panel of national thought leaders in behavioral healthcare. This approach will rely on a consistent use of the Daily Living Activities (DLA-20) tool – an interactive assessment that the mental health professional and patient will complete together to track how each individual is functioning.

Pilot sites in the program include:
AltaPointe Health Systems, Inc., Mobile, AL
AtlantiCare Behavioral Health, Egg Harbor Township, NJ
Cobb & Douglas Community Services Board, Smyrna, GA
Family Guidance Center for Behavioral Healthcare, Saint Joseph, MO
Gallahue Mental Health Services, Indianapolis, IN
Hill Country Community MHMR Center, Kerrville, TX
Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois, Springfield, IL
Recovery Resources, Cleveland, OH
Seminole Behavioral Healthcare, Fern Park, FL
Spokane Mental Health, Spokane, WA It is vitally important that we utilize every opportunity to strengthen and enhance the care that we can bring to people with schizophrenia, and though this is the first step in the right direction, I am confident of what the future holds when it comes to improving the lives of those with schizophrenia.