National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Assists National Association Of Mental Health Planning And Advisory Councils (NAMHPAC)

Chris Marshall
For Immediate Release
2 Mar 99

Recently a NAMI representative described NAMI’s PACT Across America initiative at NAMHPAC’s National Train the Trainers Meeting. Planning council leaders from states with effective planning councils are preparing to act as peer trainers for councils that face specific challenges.

Background information on state mental health planning councils

Federal Public Law 99-660 established state mental health planning councils in 1988. Consumer and family membership on the councils (less than fifty percent of members can be providers of service and government agency representatives) is a noteworthy, breakthrough aspect of the law. Membership must include recipients of mental health services, family members of adults and child recipients of mental health services as well as representatives of state government agencies. NAMI was the driving force behind the creation of this important federal legislation.

Mental health planning council duties include:

  • Reviewing the state’s Mental Health Block Grant plan and making recommendations to the mental health authority;

  • Serving as an advocate for adults with a serious mental illness, children with a severe emotional disturbance and other individuals with mental illnesses; and

  • Monitoring reviewing, and evaluating—at least once a year—the allocation and adequacy of mental health services within the state. The trainers addressed best practices for mental health planning councils. Best practices include:

  • Holding regular planning council meetings;

  • Assisting consumers and family members in attending planning council meetings;

  • Addressing new issues such as managed care and juvenile and adult justice systems;

  • Developing education and training opportunities for council members, including consumers and family members;

  • Exerting greater influence over the state mental health administration;

  • Dealing with political and administrative changes;

  • Recruiting a diverse and culturally competent council membership;

  • Recruiting key people to be on the council;

  • Influencing state legislative agendas and budget decisions; and

  • Effectively monitoring the state mental health system.

Programs of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT)

Nearly all of the planning council leaders who will be trainers are from states that already have programs of assertive community treatment: TX, NJ, VA, CO, NY, CA, MO and ID. NAMI provided the NAMHPAC trainers with The PACT Model of Community Treatment for Persons with Severe and Persistent Mental Illnesses: A Manual for PACT Start-Up, a PACT Implementation Check-List and other PACT materials that are available on NAMI’s website at

The National Association of Mental Health Planning and Advisory Councils has selected 2 priorities for the year; they mesh well with NAMI’s efforts. NAMHPC’s priorities are: 1) develop more programs of assertive community treatment; 2) promote effective services for people with mental illnesses who are homeless.

Many state mental health planning council leaders are NAMI members. NAMI looks forward to working closely with the National Association of Mental Health Planning Councils on our shared goals of continually improving, publicly accountable mental health systems that provide recovery-oriented treatment, rehabilitation, and support services for people with severe and persistent mental illnesses.