The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is using new data to improve services.
A new report assesses the needs of those with mental health and addictions.
Sheri Dawson, DHHS Behavioral Health Division director, says there needs to be more awareness and discussion of the problems.
“Whenever I go talk to a community group, I talk about the opportunity for us to make mental illness and addiction the same dinner table conversation as we would if we were talking about Aunt Suzy’s breast cancer or what doctor Uncle Charlie went to,” Dawson tells Nebraska Radio Network.
She thinks the more people treated for mental health or addiction would talk about their experience, the more it would help lessen the stigma of the illnesses.
The independent needs assessment also points to better collaboration as a way to improve the system.
Dawson says there is collaboration, but admits it could be refined.
“I think the opportunity we have is to really look at where those dots or great things are happening and be able to collect them in a statewide approach in a better way,” she says, “so people can access the services they need.”
Data sharing is a specific area the department is looking at with new care coordination among Medicaid vendors.
Access to care is another area DHHS wants to improve, such as telehealth options to help rural Nebraskans.
Capacity constraints within the division can be addressed by expanding existing partnerships, according to administrators.
“To develop memorandums of understanding and share data will give us a better feel for capacity,” Dawson says, “so we maximize and leverage resources.”
Dawson says the division’s new centralized data system will capture capacity and wait list information in a better way.
She says that will improve treatment options for those with a mental illness or addiction.