INTRODUCTION Once every two years, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) conducts a priority setting process that is meant to engage and draw upon the existing and extensive planning, advisory, and advocacy structures across the state. Regional Mental Health Boards (RMHBs) and Regional Action Councils (RACs) form the basis of the regional priority setting process facilitating grassroots input and independent viewpoints. In this role, RMHBs and RACs promote interaction across a broad spectrum of stakeholders to:
Determine unmet needs and identify emerging issues.
Gain broad stakeholder input on service priorities, needs, and solutions.
Foster ongoing dialogue regarding identified unmet needs in the regions.
The 2008 priority setting process is the fourth since the initiation of this coordinated planning process in 2002. In the intervening years (odd numbered years), RMHBs and RACs provide â€œupdatesâ€ to inform DMHAS of progress made in addressing the identified unmet needs and to alert the department to any emerging issues. In conducting these regional assessments, the RMHBs and RACs have utilized DMHAS service data, local needs assessments, and other planning documents to reach the conclusions found in their regional priority reports. Through various assessment methods, RMHBs and RACs collect information on: 1) root causes of identified problems and unmet needs; 2) solutions and resources that may be required, including those which may be low- or no-cost; 3) gaps and barriers to implementing proposed solutions; and 4) needed cross-system collaborations.
The purpose of the 2008 Priority Setting Process was to produce one integrated, relevant planning document that would inform the development of Connecticutâ€™s Community Mental Health Services Block Grant application, assist in the departmentâ€™s development of a biennial (state fiscal years 2010 and 2011) budget, and reduce duplication of effort across RMHBs and RACs. In 2008, the RACs were aided in their efforts by the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) grant. The SPF process enabled RACs to enhance their capacity to perform more formalized local assessments using town and subregional data to guide their findings. Also two community surveys were conducted as part of the regional assessments. First, in several regions, a web-based survey asked respondents to rate both mental health and substance abuse treatment service needs, identify system strengths, and suggest ways to address service gaps. Second, as part of the SPF, a Community Readiness Survey was e-mailed to a wide range of stakeholders in all RAC communities and included a number of questions on perceived needs and resources in local communities.
The 2008 regional priority reports and findings were presented to DMHAS staff at regional meetings from which this document, Report on Statewide Priority Services - (Priority Report), highlighting common themes across regions was created. Findings and recommended solutions were shared and discussed with the Adult Mental Health Planning Council, the Mental Health and Addiction Services State Board, and the Commissionerâ€™s executive group. Individual regional priority reports can be found on the DMHAS web site.