|The Vermont Association
for Mental Health is a citizen's organization working to promote
mental health and mental health services.
We are primarily supported by 1,000 members
who represent a broad spectrum of Vermonters.
six decades, Vermont Association for Mental Health has worked to
promote "mental wellness" in Vermont.
Since 1981 when VAMH hired its current director, Ken Libertoff,
the organization has expanded its vision and increased production
in areas ranging from public educational activities, conferences
and seminars, to provision of referral services and the dissemination
of timely and relevant published materials.
More dramatically, the Association has made a concentrated effort
to become a true citizen's voice, a public and pronounced
voice, on all critical mental and behavioral health issues.
VAMH has worked hard
to become an active player and public voice in the creation and
implementation of social policies
and in the promotion of advocacy efforts.
For the past decade and a half, the Association has been engaged
in many important legislative initiatives
that have emanated in and around the Statehouse. They include the
promotion of funding support for self-help programs for consumers
and parents, access to quality community-based services for Vermont
citizens, a reduction in reliance on the Vermont State Hospital
and expanded funding for all major components of public mental health
systems. The expansion of children's mental health services has
always been an important priority with dramatic improvement since
the mid-1980's. In more recent years, the Association has assumed
a leadership role in health care reform efforts, particularly in
the field of mental health.
In 1994, VAMH successfully
promoted one of the first mental health managed care regulatory
bills in the country, when Vermont passed the Mental
Health Utilization Review bill. This measure mandated that
all mental health utilization review agents be registered with the
state, created a responsive grievance procedure for consumers and
practitioners and established an independent review panel composed
of seven mental health practitioners who are empowered to make final
decisions on unresolved grievances appeals.
After more than a decade-long
civil rights battle to end discriminatory practices against consumers
seeking mental health treatment in the commercial insurance marketplace,
the Vermont Association for Mental Health, beginning in the Fall
of 1996, successfully lead a campaign to establish parity between
physical and mental health benefits, including substance abuse.
On June 10th of 1997, when Governor Dean signed the Mental Health
and Substance Abuse Parity
Bill, Vermont's law became the new national standard for equal treatment
of both the brain and the body. The passage of the bill means
that beginning in 1998, insurance plans in Vermont no longer have
arbitrary lifetime limits, high deductibles or co-payments, or arbitrary
day limits on outpatient or hospital visits. The Vermont Association
for Mental Health's Parity Coalition,
composed of consumers, parents, family members, practitioners, advocacy
groups and concerned citizens all worked cooperatively to craft
and promote this historic, comprehensive bill.
In addition to these other
activities, for over four decades, VAMH has administered
and operated Camp Daybreak,
the state's only special residential camp project designed to
young Vermont children who are coping with serious mental health
problems. The camp not only provides campers with a safe and
secure summer camp environment, but it affords nearly 45 high
age volunteers with a remarkable experience. These volunteers serve
as big brothers and big sisters to the campers, working one-on-one
with the young children who range in age from 8 to 11 years. For
parents, Camp Daybreak
represents an important time of respite during the long summer
months. With financial backing from many diverse sources, not
of which are individual contributors, state agencies and The Turrell
Fund, the Camp is recognized as a special state resource.
With the passage of Vermont's
parity law, the Association
has become engaged in improving social policy and social services
for Vermonters who cope with alcohol and drug addictions.
In 1998, the Association was selected to be the host agency
for the Friends
of Recovery - VT project, an effort to build a statewide
coalition of people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction
and its effects. Sarah Munro is leading this project (please
visit their website). We are now working to improve treatment,
prevention and recovery services in Vermont as a key player
in a broad coalition effort.
Ken in the office
The Vermont Association for Mental Health resides at 43 State
Street in the heart of Montpelier. Ken Libertoff is the Executive
Director and Penny Dowen is the Office and Fiscal Manager, completing
the staff roster of two. No one would confuse VAMH with a large
In order for the Vermont Association
for Mental Health to grow and expand, we invite you to join
one thousand other folks who are loyal VAMH members. Working
together, we can and will make Vermont a state of mental health!
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