Mental Health Medicaid waiver

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may now allow for states to pursue Medicaid reimbursements for short-term inpatient treatment in mental health facilities despite a decades-old exclusion, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced.

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Mental Health American ranked Nevada the worst state for mental health resources. 

Health advocates say there's a mental health crisis across the nation and Clark County is no exception. 

The brain is part of the body and yet for a lot of people, it's easier to talk about a broken ankle than it is a mental illness. It's why Char Frost, chairperson of the Regional Behavioral Policy Board, said days like World Mental Health Day are crucial -- because it gets people talking. 

"Access to care is a huge issue," Frost said. 

Frost has spent the last decade helping valley families struggling with mental illness. Her son was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and later depression. 

"It didn't even occur to me when I first held this child in my arms the first time that he was going to end up with a mental health disorder that needed to be addressed in a way that I couldn't address at home," Frost said. 

She joked there's no manual. 

"I had to navigate this big scary system where I felt everybody was blaming me, and I wanted to make it better for other people," she said. 

Frost said Clark County needs more resources. In August, Southern Nevada's largest in-patient provider for kids was shut down. State regulators said Montevista Hospital failed to make improvements to bring it up to code. 

"The community needs access but they need access to quality services, quality providers." 

Frost said hundreds of valley families are forced to get help out of state. 

Since 1999, every state except Nevada has seen an increase in suicide rates. The American Association of Suicidology said Nevada still has the 11th highest rate in the nation. While overall suicide went down across the state, teen suicide in Clark County spiked. 

"I worry that the social media is so prevalent, and it's great in a lot of ways, but in other ways I think it can do -- and we've seen that it has done -- some damage," Frost said. 

In 2018, 90 percent more teens in Clark County took their own life than the year before. 

"The best we can do is continue talking about it. ... I want people to know that there's hope," Frost said. 

Frost said the Clark County Regional Behavioral Policy Board is working to get more people to work in the mental health field with proper training. She said the board is also looking at expanding a mobile crisis response team. 

Frost encourages community members to reach out to their legislatures or city officials to get more mental health resources. 

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the 24/7 suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Copyright 2019 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved

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