New York and Michigan Fight to Protect Scope of Practice

NBCC’s Government & Legislative Affairs Department is working with agencies and officials in New York and Michigan as they strive to protect and clarify their scopes of practice for counselors.

The NBCC team is offering assistance to amend and strengthen state licensure laws in areas such as a counselor’s scope of practice (SOP). SOP defines the services a counselor is lawfully able to perform in each state. The ability to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health issues is essential to providing core mental health services, and some states are still working to ensure this language is explicitly stated in legislation regarding the practice of counseling.

Since 2015, Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) from New York have been ineligible for employment by the Veterans Administration because the word “diagnosis” is not specifically included in the state’s SOP. New York LMHCs will be further impacted in 2022 when an exemption enabling counselors to diagnose in state agencies expires, closing the door on future counselor hires in state agencies such as the Office of Mental Health, Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, and Office of Children and Family Services.

LMHCs employed in these agencies prior to the exemption’s end will be allowed to remain employed and diagnose. New counselor hires, however, will need statutory diagnostic authority. This restriction will limit the types of jobs open to counselors in state agencies until the New York Mental Health Counselors Association (NYMHCA) and others are able to pass legislation giving LMHCs diagnostic authority.

During the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, NBCC worked with New York on legislation to add diagnostic authority to the LMHC SOP, and also increase clinical training requirements so they mirror those of Licensed Clinical Social Workers. Unfortunately, this legislation did not pass due to opposition from the New York chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

For the 2019 legislative session, NYMHCA and other state leaders are seeking a new Senate sponsor to reintroduce legislation that will allow LMHCs in New York to diagnose.

To aid in this effort, NBCC recently signed on to a “Memorandum of Support” with other national and state organizations to demonstrate full support of this initiative. In early April, Mary Alice Olsan, Director of NBCC’s Government & Legislative Affairs Department, and Jolie Long, NBCC’s Director of State Affairs, traveled to Albany to attend the NYMHCA Counselor Educator Meeting.

“Connecting with over 70 New York counselor educators and other state leaders and organizations furthered our understanding of how we can work together to make diagnostic authority a reality for New York counselors,” Long says.

NBCC is also tracking the Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association’s (MMHCA) efforts to protect its 30-year-old license and modernize the law that governs Michigan counselors. MMHCA is working to clarify training standards and codify into law existing diagnosis rules through House Bill 4325.

MMHCA’s main concern is that without legislation, their SOP is vulnerable to outside influences. This important legislation will clarify the licensure laws and enable counselors to continue providing valuable mental health services in the state.

NBCC actively seeks to promote the counseling profession and support counselors through state legislative and regulatory efforts. By working in conjunction with organizations such as NYMHCA and MMHCA, NBCC can bolster the profession and solidify the importance of counselors in the mental health arena.

NBCC’s Government & Legislative Affairs Department encourages all board certified counselors in New York and Michigan to join in these efforts by engaging with legislators and educating them about the vital services counselors provide.

Network Clinical Trainer Position Open in Jackson

Lifeways Community Mental Health has an open position available for a Network Clinical Trainer. This position plans, organizes, directs, coordinates, delivers and oversees training activities within LifeWays and its provider network. Plans, develops, and implements training program content within the goals, objectives, and philosophies of LifeWays to increase skill and knowledge level of staff. Works to incorporate best clinical practices in all areas of training completed. Participates in design and implementation of training programs developed by the agency. Develops clinical training as needed to ensure agency and provider network standards.

Click Here for more information on this position.

HR 82 Mental Health Awareness Month

A resolution to declare May 2019 as Mental Health Awareness Month in the state of Michigan.
Voice vote
Reps. Whiteford, Calley, Cherry, Chirkun, Clemente, Crawford, Garza, Gay-Dagnogo, Haadsma, Hood, Hope, Cynthia Johnson, Jones, Kahle, Kuppa, Liberati, Pagan, Rendon, Sabo, Shannon, Sneller, Sowerby, Stone, Webber, Wittenberg and Witwer offered the following resolution:
House Resolution No. 82.
A resolution to declare May 2019 as Mental Health Awareness Month in the state of Michigan.
Whereas, The month of May is designated as Mental Health Awareness Month by Mental Health America and its affiliates; and
Whereas, One in five adults in the United States have a mental health condition and half of those have a co-occurring substance use disorder; and
Whereas, Tens of thousands of Michigan residents live with mental and behavioral health illnesses every year and many of them struggle to get the care they need; and
Whereas, In any given year, around 336,000 adults in Michigan are documented as having a serious mental illness and 84,000 adolescents experience a major depressive episode with only 44% of all individuals receiving some form of treatment; and
Whereas, Recognizing the need for reform, the House of Representatives convened the bi-partisan House C.A.R.E.S. (Community Access Resources and Safety) Task Force in 2017 to discuss our state’s mental health system; and
Whereas, The House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force Report was published in January 2018 and contained several recommendations to better connect the state’s residents with access to care, treatment, and prevention to improve their quality of life; and
Whereas, Of these many recommendations, the report looked at addressing treatment and prevention in our jails and judicial system, training for individuals to recognize a mental health crises, expanding opportunities for individuals to be connected with care, filling the shortage of mental health providers, delivering care early to adolescents, and ensuring our veterans are connected with services; and
Whereas, The Michigan House of Representatives will continue to reduce the stigmatization of mental illness and work toward providing quality services to those that are living with mental health disorders and addictions; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives, That the members of this legislative body declare May 2019 as Mental Health Awareness Month in the state of Michigan.

Senator Stabenow Announces Bill to Expand Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Funding

Senator Stabenow introduced bipartisan legislation last week to renew and expand funding for community mental health and addiction services.

“About one in five people is affected by mental illness, and drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. These disorders do not discriminate. They affect each of us – our parents, our veterans, our friends, and our children,” said Senator Stabenow. “Our Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act is an important first step in getting more people the care they need at clinics close to home.”

Watch the announcement of the bill here.

“Important information for all counselors”
Please let Senator Stabenow that as an LLPC/LPC you support this legislation.
Copy on your support.