Thrive urges lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at improving mental health care

THRIVE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH executives and board members mingle with state lawmakers at a legislative breakfast held April 8 at Thrive’s Hillsgrove Clubhouse in Warwick. / COURTESY THRIVE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

WARWICK – Executives at Thrive Behavioral Health and members of its board of directors met with state lawmakers earlier this month to discuss Rhode Island’s growing mental health needs and challenges faced by those working in the behavioral health field.

Thrive also pushed state leaders to pass several proposed measures that it says would help alleviate the crisis.

“We have a dire situation here in Rhode Island right now when it comes to the behavioral health industry,” said Dan Kubas-Meyer, Thrive CEO and president. “The need is skyrocketing, yet our workforce is shrinking due to low reimbursement rates to pay our behavioral health care staff. For the first time in our 46-year history, Thrive’s Youth and Family program has had to stop accepting referrals from the community because our waiting list is so long and we do not have enough staff to serve additional clients.”

According to a needs assessment survey conducted by Thrive in February and March, 43% of Rhode Islanders have felt that there was something wrong with their own mental health within the past year, and 60% have felt that their child needed mental health care or have been unsure about their child’s mental health.

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Kubas-Meyer urged lawmakers in attendance to vote for H7858, a bill that would support the creation of certified community behavioral health centers across the state. In addition, he asked for the passage of H7627, which would authorize the use of $75 million in American Rescue Fund Act funds to create a revolving fund for the construction and renovation of mental health care facilities.

Thrive is also advocating for H7180, a measure that requires the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services to recommend rates for behavioral health services and continually review reimbursements for social services programs.

The event, held April 8 at Thrive’s Hillsgrove Clubhouse in Warwick, was attended by Sen. Michael McCaffrey, D-Warwick, Rep. Joseph Solomon Jr., D-Warwick, Rep. Carlos Tobon, D-Pawtucket, and Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson, D-Warwick.

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN contributing writer.

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