St. Luke's Charitable Health Trust has sponsored a strengths-based assessment of the public behavioral health system in Arizona to better understand Arizona's public mental health care system and to recommend changes that would further improve services for people with mental illness. The study is one of the first steps of a Trust-initiated five- to 10-year effort to improve the system of care in Arizona for persons suffering from mental illness or significant behavioral problems. St. Luke's Charitable Health Trust initiated the study in an effort to create a more enlightened public climate that would be receptive to appropriate treatment that ensures dignity and self-respect.

The elements of the study have included:

  1. Development of a template of behavioral health "best practices" relevant to Arizona's current system;1

  2. Completion of a strengths-based assessment of the current system as compared to the best practices template; and

  3. Formulation of recommended initiatives and strategies to improve the public behavioral health system in Arizona.

Two separate but over-lapping volumes have been prepared as the final products of this study. Volume I provides background information on the participants in the study and on the methodologies employed to complete the study. In that volume the findings and recommendations related to the Arizona public behavioral health system are presented in the context of brief discussions of best practice models and examples of best practice models within Arizona and in other jurisdictions. Volume I includes an overview of the current Arizona public behavioral health system, plus a discussion of issues and problems to be addressed in that system. The identification of current issues, plus the comparison of best practice models to current Arizona behavioral health models, led to the detailed strategic recommendations for changes and improvements in that system contained in Volume I.

As a companion to Volume I, this second volume provides greater detail and additional objective criteria related to best practice models. Volume II does not contain additional discussion of issues to be addressed in the Arizona public behavioral health system. Rather, Volume II is intended to serve as a sourcebook for all parities engaged in the change and improvement process in Arizona. As a sourcebook, Volume II is intended to guide implementation efforts, and provide examples that can be adapted to Arizona's special needs and conditions.

Volume II should also serve as a basis for continued movement towards best practices throughout the Arizona public behavioral health system as well as in other jurisdictions. The models and criteria for best practice included in this volume should be treated as starting points, not end points. In fact, a significant indicator of a system's adoption of best practices is that the system is constantly driven towards higher quality, better performance, improved consumer and family outcomes, and increased cost effectiveness. No matter how positive a practice model and approach may be today, if it becomes rigid or static it will also soon become obsolete. This is why both Volumes of this final report prioritize strategies that foster learning, growth, and change rather than strategies that rely on implementation of current service or administrative technologies.

1 "Best practices" are a set of realistic actions that are unique to a field such as a state behavioral health system. They are activities that, if followed, will ensure seamless, competent, and effective delivery of services and also positive internal management for care providers.

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