Occupational therapy is now included in new federal regulation as a mental health service that must be available in participating community mental health centers providing Medicare partial hospitalization services. According to Heather Parsons, AOTA’s director of legislative advocacy, “It’s the first time in decades that the federal government has defined what quality community mental health should look like, and occupational therapy is included.”
A message from David Merlo, via AOTA’s mh-sis listserv:
The United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA) recently joined the growing coalition of consumers, family members, advocates and professionals to support the Occupational Therapy Mental Health Act (HR 3762, see text below) by signing a letter to Congressman Paul Tonko. As most of us are already aware, HR 3762 is important because it will make occupational therapists eligible for loans and scholarships through the National Health Service Corp (NHSC) as mental health and behavioral health professionals. But perhaps more important, the act will increase recognition of OT as a core mental health profession.
Tonko can be contacted through his website at tonko.house.gov.
USPRA recognizes that OT practitioners serve a critical role in the recovery process, addressing day-to-day life function issues, such as self-care, faced by persons living with severe mental illnesses. It is so critical to our profession to be recognized and valued by those outside of our own OT associations and organizations. It is great that USPRA has publicly expressed their value and support!
House Resolution 3762, the Occupational Therapy Mental Health Act, was introduced in Congress in December 2011. This bill has importance to occupational therapy and practitioners who wish to support client-centered practice and legislation. H.R. 3762 is proposed as a two-word amendment to the Public Service Health Act. H.R. 3762 adds occupational therapists to existing legislation as behavioral and mental health professions for the purpose of serving clients under the auspices of the National Health Service Corps. By providing student loan reimbursement to practitioners as incentive to pursue mental health occupational therapy, this bill supports elements of AOTA’s Centennial Vision and returns OT to its mental health roots. This bill needs bipartisan support as well as 50–150 more co-sponsors to move through committee (has 6 Democrats as of this writing).
CASRA, the California Association of Social Rehabilitation Agencies, is calling for presenters for its spring conference to be held at the San Mateo Marriott on April 27–28, 2011.
The deadline for submission (for presentation proposals) is January 28, 2011.
More information about the workshop and institute, including the full announcement, can be viewed on their website at http://www.casra.org/docs/presentations.pdf.