NACBHD Announces Partnership to Promote Online MH Resource

Sept. 6, 2004
Mental Health Weekly

Recognizing the importance of expanding access to critical behavioral-health information, the National Association of County Behavioral Health Directors (NACBHD) last month announced a public/private partnership to promote an online mental health information source nationwide.

NACBHD and Trilogy Integrated Resources, developers of the Web site, have entered into a strategic alliance to support the implementation of a nationwide information, education, advocacy, support and policy development Web-based network.

The Network of Care for Mental Health/Behavioral Health site has been recognized in the President’s New Freedom Commission Report on Mental Health as a model program that illustrates the goal of using technology to access mental health care and information.

The site, www.networkofcare.org, is a resource to help individuals, families and agencies access information about mental health services, current mental health legislation, mental health news, as well as communication tools and other features. For a fee, the site can be individualized to specific states and local communities. The site now serves counties in California, New York and Ohio.

The Washington, D.C.-based NACBHD is comprised of county/local behavioral health authorities with responsibility for the planning and delivery of mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services. NACBHD is an affiliate of the National Association of Counties (NACo).

The San Rafael, Calif.-based Trilogy Integrated Resources LLC is dedicated to improving information and communication in the health and social service fields at the community level.

“This is an unprecedented step for us,” Bob Egnew, NACBHD’s director of public policy, told MHW. “We believe it’s time to harvest technology for use in the mental health field. It’s a whole wealth of information right at your fingertips.”

The site is easy to navigate and helps people access answers to questions about mental health issues and locate available resources, said Egnew. ”We think that is of tremendous importance for people to know what’s available in their community.”

Egnew added, “NACBHD really believes lack of information and knowledge is one of the root causes of stigma” in mental health.

Egnew said NACBHD is working with its members to get the Network of Care program introduced. “We’re just in the beginning phase,” said Egnew. “We’re in discussion with several states at this juncture.”

NACBHD members, about 350 nationwide, are currently in 22 of 50 states, representing 70 percent of the U.S. population, said Egnew. County-sponsored behavioral health systems vary from state to state, he added.

A large number of case managers who use this site as professionals want to know what’s available in the community, noted Egnew. “This is a resource available to anybody,” said Egnew.

According to Trilogy, provider agencies can share their challenges, ideas, use the site’s private message board and create their own Web sites.

Network of Care Origins

The California Department of Mental Health commissioned Trilogy to develop the Network of Care’s mental health site. The inaugural site was launched in San Diego County in 2003.

“We see it as an innovative and user-friendly site,” Stephen W. Mayberg, Ph.D., Director of the California Department of Mental Health, told MHW. “I like it because it was designed with family members and consumers in mind, rather than a bureaucracy saying, ‘Here is what works for you.’”

Mayberg said the state Department of Mental Health contributed a couple of hundred thousand dollars for Trilogy to develop the mental health site. Trilogy’s previously established Web sites include Network of Care sites for the elderly, people with disabilities, and one devoted to children and their families.

At least a dozen states have e