Just as important as our physical health and well-being is, mental health is usually a more sensitive subject and is therefore seldom brought up during conversations. Tackling this issue, the University of Arizona Camp Wellness and Workforce Development Program (WDP) signed a new contract with Banner University Family Care/AHCCCS Complete Care in June.
The UA Camp Wellness and WDP programs are both overseen by RISE (Recovery thru Integration, Support and Empowerment), a unit of the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine. This new contract will enable both programs to reach more adults with mental health conditions and substance use disorders because it covers people under the Banner University Family Care.
The two components of the RISE program are Camp Wellness and the Workforce Development Program, both of which have been around for over 10 years now.
The UA Camp Wellness program is a health and wellness program for adults with mental health conditions and substance use disorders, and has been active since 2009.
The Workforce Development Program is a program that teaches recovery skills and practices to other people with mental illnesses or substance use disorders to help them recover and seek employment. The program has been around since 2004.
"The state has made a concentrated effort to merge physical health and mental health services so people can have an all-in-one place to go where not only would their physical health needs be met, but also their behavioral health needs," said Dr. Randa Kutob, M.D., a faculty member at the Department of Family and Community Medicine.
The new contract allows people from Banner University Family Care to use the programs offered by both Camp Wellness and the Workforce Development Program. The members that use these programs receive them through Medicaid, also known as AHCCCS in the state of Arizona.
"A few years ago, the state went through the largest healthcare transition the state has ever seen. We went from having physical health and mental health being two separate entities and now, they are together and integrated. … That's the biggest change," said Adria Powles, the director of the Workforce Development Program.
Moving forward, the RISE program now has a larger group of individuals to provide its services for. RISE is now covered by an insurance plan that was previously unable to access the services offered by the program.
"Seeing the value of people with mental health conditions or substance use disorders working on their physical health and seeing the value of them going to work or returning to work — those are both so essential for people's ability to recover from mental illnesses," said Cheryl Glass, director of the UA Camp Wellness program. "That's something that was overlooked for years. We knew that we were recognized on the behavioral health side, but now we are being recognized on the physical health side, as well."
The new contract with Banner University Family Care is a step in the positive direction in terms of serving a greater percentage of the surrounding population. RISE offers its services in different cities throughout Arizona, including Tucson, Yuma and Casa Grande, among many others.
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