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Friday, April 29, 2022

Two SK state reps honored for their work to help those with mental illnesses

Dems Teresa Tanzi and Alana DiMario cited by Mental Health Association of Rhode Island

News releases from the State House news office

Mental Health Association of R.I. names Tanzi Legislator of the Year 

STATE HOUSE – The Rhode Island Mental Health Association has presented Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi with its 2022 Legislator of the Year award.

Calling her a “fierce advocate for the mental health community,” the association praised her years of work in supporting mental health initiatives as a member of the House of Representatives and in the community.

In the General Assembly, Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) has supported suicide prevention efforts and has helped to introduce and sponsor the Nathan Bruno and Jason Flatt Act each year since 2018 until its final passage in 2021. Representative Tanzi also helped to introduce the Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) legislation — often known as “red flag laws” — to empower families and law enforcement to prevent gun tragedies by temporarily restricting access to guns for individuals at an elevated risk of harming themselves or others. She is a former chairwoman of the House Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Services.

Representative Tanzi has sponsored the Mental Health Association’s legislation to increase reimbursement rates to behavioral health professionals as a means of rebuilding the broken continuum of care and increasing access to treatment.

Representative Tanzi is the recent past chairwoman of the Washington County Health Equity Zone, a state sponsored organization dedicated to ensuring equal access to quality health, education and recreation for all residents of South County. She has been a faithful member the South County Regional Prevention Coalition meetings and was a founding member of Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, which administers evidence-based programs to address a range of mental health and early childhood development topics. She completed the Crisis Intervention Team training with local police officers.

The association presented the award to Representative Tanzi at a State House event today to kick off Mental Health Month, which is marked each May. The award was presented by retired District Court judge Stephen Erickson. Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) is the association’s Senate honoree. 

Mental Health Association of RI names Senator DiMario Legislator of the Year for 2022

STATE HOUSE — The Mental Health Association of Rhode Island named Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) as Legislator of the Year during its “May is Mental Health Month” kickoff at the State House today for advancing mental health reforms through legislation.

“I am proud and humbled that the Mental Health Association would choose me for this award,” said Senator DiMario, a licensed mental health counselor in private practice. “The diverse and complex issues of mental health have always been very near and dear to me and I look forward to building upon the work we have begun in the General Assembly to address these issues with the voice and perspective of a mental health therapist when making policy decisions, especially around our mental health care system.”

Most recently, Senator DiMario has sponsored a host of mental health-related bills, including:

·         S2086: This bill addresses the practice of “clawbacks,” where an insurance company can come back to a provider up to 18 months later to dispute payment of a claim and take back the money that had been paid. S2086 reduces that time period to 12 months to help provide more stability for providers and keep them in network with insurance companies, increasing access for clients.

·         S2105: This bill would ensure that in cases of reported child abuse or neglect that the child receives the best possible support and outcomes if either the child's family or the perpetrator are involved with the military, and no one falls through the cracks due to lack of communication. 

·         S2120: Currently, children under 14 who have been the victims of sexual abuse can use a recorded video interview as their testimony for a grand jury. This bill would raise the age to 18. 

·         S2576: This bill empowers the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education to develop rules and regulations around using available external funding sources to pay mental health and social work students at public universities for their significant internship requirements. 

·         S2605: This bill would allow Rhode Island to enter into the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact, which would allow Rhode Island's psychologists to provide telehealth services across state lines with the 31 states that are already participating.

·         S2614:  This bill would create a plan for implementing best practices for children 0-6 and their caregivers to make sure we are identifying and intervening early where the impact on their future development can be the greatest. 

·         S2616: This bill would allow qualified graduates to see clients who have commercial/private insurance in addition to Medicaid which is already allowed. Making this change to a 2-tiered license structure would immediately increase access for Rhode Islanders needing counseling, and would increase income for new graduates. 

·         S2617: Creates parity with a 2-step licensure process that would match what is described in S2616, and also requires that the licensure exam for independent licensing be offered in languages other than English.

The Mental Health Association of Rhode Island is the watchdog of the mental health community. Through systems change, the organization promotes mental health, increases consumers’ access to treatment and services, and improves the lives of people touched by mental illness.