October 2022

In This Issue:
  • First Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarship Awardees Named!
  • We Are All Olmstead!
  • We All Need Community -- a note from MHARI board member Judy Fox
  • MHARI appointed to OHIC's Social & Human Service Programs Rate Review Advisory Council
  • We Scored An Ace!
  • BHDDH Needs Your Input!
  • Voter Guide: Help in asking your candidates where they stand on mental health and substance use issues
  • Trainings for Mental Health Professionals
First MHARI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarship Awardees Named!
Melissa Mejia Montero
Kimberly Bello
Melissa Mejia Montero, a clinical mental health counseling student at RI College and Kimberly Bello, a student in the college’s School of Social Work have been named the first recipients of MHARI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Behavioral Healthcare Scholarship Program. Each will receive a tuition award of $10,000.

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarship Program is a partnership between MHARI, the United Way, and Rhode Island College to help increase the availability of mental health providers from diverse backgrounds practicing in Rhode Island.
On being named an awardee, Melissa Mejia Montero stated, “It is difficult for me to put into words how much this means to me. I decided to go into the field of mental health because of the lack of diversity, the lack of access, and to hopefully de-stigmatize mental health as a whole in my community. To give people from my community, that look like me, the encouragement that they may need to seek treatment or pursue a career like this. Therefore, this scholarship means more than just paying for my tuition, it means that my goals for the future are one step closer."
Kimberly Bello, a student in the Rhode Island College School of Social Work, also shared, “I am honored to have been selected for MHARI’s Bridging the Divide: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Behavioral Healthcare Scholarship. With this help, I will finish my MSW and become an LCSW in May 2023." Kimberly added, "I plan to continue my education and research autism spectrum disorder to receive my Ph.D. My experiences with mental health and trauma have empowered me to provide the same help I received as a child to other children and families. I hope to be able to represent and push forward diversity and equity principles for the future of social work."
We Are All Olmstead!
MHARI appointed to new Olmstead Planning Committee

Recently, Governor McKee formed an inter-agency Olmstead Planning Committee to draft an Olmstead Plan. Olmstead v. L.C (1999), known as the Olmstead decision, was a landmark Supreme Court case decided in favor of two plaintiffs who wanted to improve their lives by seeking the necessary support to live outside an institution. The court ruled that states have a legal obligation to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the chance to live, work, and receive services in the community in the least restrictive setting permitted by their disabilities. Olmstead plans include a statewide needs assessment of affordable and supportive housing and other resources; a plan to address unmet needs; and funding sources needed.

For three years, the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island has led a coalition of community organizations calling for an Olmstead Plan in Rhode Island, one of only six states yet to do so. As of today, MHARI is honored to be the only community based organization to serve on the Olmstead Planning Committee, joining various state departments and agencies. In time, however, the Committee will include several other community based organizations representing populations who have a stake in Olmstead. 

Every Rhode Islander will be affected by our Olmstead Plan. Everyone stands at the precipice of potential disability because of accident, health crises, or advancing age. The Olmstead decision’s emphasis on personal choice and individualization of support allows each of us to live rich and full lives. We are all Olmstead. 

We All Need Community
A note from MHARI board member Judy Fox
I am writing on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, the most solemn holiday for Jews. This is the day Jews fast and spend the day in temple surrounded by community. I want to share an emptiness I feel today. I am not with a community on a day that matters.
While I strongly identify with my Jewish culture, I am not part of any formal group in Rhode Island. I have remained connected to my Jewish heritage because it nurtures me and provides a sense of spirituality. A few days ago on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I gathered with old friends from a Jewish education parent cooperative my family participated in for many years. We shared food, rituals and stories about ourselves and family.
As a child of first generation Eastern European Americans, I learned the importance of family. Jews in Rhode Island in the 1950s formed tight communities, replacing biological families lost to the holocaust or living far away. Neighbors watched out for each other’s children. We ran and played with abandon in the open spaces surrounding our houses.
My husband and I shared our love for community with our daughters. We nurtured our family connections and created friend circles through religious and public schools, mothers’ groups, camping, book groups, food and sports. A weekend on the road with the sports team was a family event, sharing food, childcare and laughter. This month I will be gathering with the mothers of the now defunct mother’s group to celebrate another 70th birthday.
In my last job, I learned that community is essential to good mental health.   Defining mental health, as SAMHSA does, to include “health, home, community and purpose” is simple and logical. We need each other to feel whole. We need each other to feel we matter.
So, I invite you to join with me in the upcoming months and seek out community for what is missing in our lives. It seems much harder in 2022 but it is even more important. We must counteract negativity by reinforcing networks that make us strong and healthy inside.
Calling All Professionals!

OHIC’s Administrative Simplification Work Group needs your input

Our healthcare system is complicated. This Fall, the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC) will reconvene the Administrative Simplification Task Force, a diverse group of stakeholders, to develop processes, standards and guidelines to streamline healthcare administration. This year's focus will be on prior authorizations. The Task Force will gather input and make recommendations on insurers’ prior authorization requirements and processes. To learn more, visit OHIC. 

The meetings are open to the public. See details below to participate. Contact Courtney Miner to be added to the meeting list. Courtney.Miner@ohic.ri.gov 

Upcoming meetings:
  • October 18th AM
  • November 9th 8AM
Location: State of Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, 1511 Pontiac Avenue, Building 73-1, Cranston, RI 02920-4407
We Scored An Ace...
at our 3rd annual tennis tournament!

The October 8th event was co-hosted by MHARI and the U.S. Tennis Association Rhode Island chapter – two organizations that understand the importance of exercise to mental health.

We are particularly grateful to our generous sponsors:
Ace Sponsor

Advantage Sponsor

Love Sponsor

Betsy Brenner
Special thanks to Dave’s Marketplace and Seven Stars Bakery for in-kind donations. And, we are very appreciative for MHARI Board Member Terry Charles, who organized the event and made it a success. Thank you, Terry! 

BHDDH Needs Your Input!

What do you think about RI’s behavioral health system?

The RI Dept. of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH) is seeking YOUR input. They want to hear from patients, clinicians and family members of people seeking mental health and/or substance use disorder services. Please tell BHDDH about your experience. Your feedback will help the state identify gaps in our continuum of care. The survey ends on January 15, 2023. Click here to take the survey. 
Trainings for mental health professionals!
The Substance Use Mental Health Leadership Council (SUMHLC) offers a number of useful trainings for providers. Click here for a listing of training opportunities available, and check back periodically as new classes are added. 
The Mission of the
Mental Health Association of RI (MHARI) is to promote and nourish mental health through advocacy, education, and policy development.

Our website is filled with resources to help those living with mental health challenges. Please feel free to visit the site as often as you need. Your shares of relevant pages on your social media could offer just the help that someone needs. Thank You!
The MHARI Team
Laurie-Marie Pisciotta
Executive Director
Karen Malcolm
Project Manager, RI Mental Health Parity Initiative
Eunice David
Bridging the Divide: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Mental Healthcare
Program Coordinator
The Mental Health Association of RI (MHARI) is a private, 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is 100% funded by grants and donations.
Won't you consider supporting MHARI today?