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By Nathan Miller

Every day in Tennessee because of a struggle with a severe mental health disorder, a life is lost, a family is separated, a child or spouse is abused, or the ugly consequences of addiction place a mark on another victim, just one of thousands who will be affected by abuse of alcohol, opioids, or other addictive substances.

There are hundreds locally who are impacted by mental illness including those who suffer from the sickness itself as well as their family members, friends and others.

In a number of cases those diagnosed with a mental health disorder don’t seek or get the help they need because they believe they cannot financially afford treatment.

However in Tennessee, there is a system in place to help the uninsured and indigent who suffer from mental illness.

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The program established by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health is recognized as the Behavioral Health Safety Net of Tennessee (BHSN of TN). According to those familiar with the program, many times mentally ill, uninsured and indigent people will qualify for this benefit even though they may not qualify for regular TennCare.

Volunteer Behavioral Health, the parent nonprofit agency that oversees Cumberland Mental Health, is an authorized agent by the State of Tennessee to accept applications for the Behavioral Safety Net program.

According to Volunteer Behavioral Health, if you are 19 years of age or older, have a serious mental illness, and have no behavioral health insurance, you may qualify for the Behavioral Safety Net program.

You must be a Tennessee resident, U.S. citizen or qualified alien, and have a qualifying mental health diagnosis, a household income at or below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and not be currently in an inpatient facility or nursing home.

Services provided by this program include assessment, evaluation, diagnostic, therapeutic intervention, case management, peer support services, psychosocial rehabilitation services, psychiatric medication management, labs related to medication management and pharmacy assistance, and coordination.

Individuals who have Medicare Part B and meet all other eligibility requirements for the Behavioral Health Safety Net program may be enrolled. Anyone who receives services from this program and is 65 or older will be treated as having Medicare Part B.

These two groups are eligible for four services: case management, medication training and support, peer support, and psychological rehabilitation services. If any individual is enrolled in Medicare Part B and has chosen a Medicare Advantage Plan, they may enroll in the program if they meet all other eligibility requirements, as long as their Advantage Plan doesn’t cover the four approved services or benefits of the plan have been exhausted for the year.

To enroll in the Behavioral Health Safety Net Program or for more information call Volunteer Behavioral Health Care toll free at 1-877-567-6051 or visit vbhcs.org.

Volunteer Behavioral Health, a provider of prevention, treatment and recovery services in 31 counties in Middle, East and the Upper Cumberland regions of Tennessee, is a recognized leader in behavioral health care.