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BOISE — Changes are coming to Idaho’s behavioral health system with the release of a long-awaited strategic plan.

Members of the Idaho Behavioral Health Council in recent days presented the council’s first strategic plan to Gov. Brad Little, Idaho House and Senate leadership and the Idaho Supreme Court. The plan covers state actions through 2024 and is posted for the public to view at behavioralhealthcouncil.idaho.gov.

Created last year, the council is a joint effort of Idaho’s Executive Branch, Legislature and Judicial Branch and includes members from each. It is chaired by Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen and Administrative Director of Courts Sara Omundson.

Behavioral health issues affect Idaho’s corrections system, judicial system, hospitals, schools and local communities. The council is tasked with helping Idahoans who live with mental illness and addiction to receive the behavioral health care services they need, when they need them — improving quality of life, health and safety in this state.

The council worked with local governments, providers, community partners and consumers of behavioral health services and their families to create the new plan — a set of 34 recommendations to improve access to care, with nine identified as key priorities for the next three years.

Now, the council will oversee turning the plan’s advice into action. Agencies across state government will continue to collaborate on these steps, with full details on their planned implementation expected by Oct. 1, 2021.

“I am very pleased with the council’s work on this strategic plan. I am encouraged by the recommendations and action steps they have identified, particularly related to an adequate behavioral health workforce in both rural and urban Idaho,” Gov. Little said. “From my earliest days as Governor, I have maintained that my primary goal is for all Idahoans, now and in the future, to be able to enjoy the highest quality of life. I commend the council for its accomplishments in identifying solutions to improve Idahoans’ health, safety, and quality of life.”

“The Idaho Behavioral Health Council serves as a vehicle to make needed improvements to the behavioral health system in Idaho. We are grateful to have participated in the development of the council’s Strategic Action Plan and are pleased with the collaborative process used in developing the plan,” said Rep. Laurie Lickley, Rep. Brooke Green, Sen. David Nelson and Sen. Jeff Agenbroad, who each represented the Legislature on the council. “We are especially grateful for the tremendous amount of talent and dedication of both public and private behavioral health professionals across the state and they should be commended. We look forward to the next phases of the process and are committed to being a part of the continued stakeholder cooperation necessary for a successful implementation. We have confidence that implementation of this plan will lead to an improved behavioral health system for Idahoans living with mental illness and addiction.”

“This plan is more than a path to better health outcomes for Idahoans — it is a model for collaboration across Idaho’s government,” Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice G. Richard Bevan said. “I commend Directors Omundson and Jeppesen and the members of the council for the leadership they brought to this issue. The work is not over, and the Supreme Court will help to thoughtfully advance these recommendations and continue this important partnership.”

Anyone still wishing to submit feedback on the final plan can email IBHC@dhw.idaho.gov.

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