Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) leaders are seeking input from Louisiana citizens through a series of public meetings across the state as they prepare Louisiana's Plan for Access to Mental Health Care.

"Louisiana suffers from a lack of mental health services and I am determined to address this critical health area for the citizens of our state," Governor Blanco said. "These focused public meetings are important because they allow us to assess specific community needs and develop meaningful solutions. I encourage everyone to participate."

Louisianans are invited to attend stakeholder outreach meetings in 11 cities across the state. Members of Governor Blanco's policy team, LDH and other state agencies will join community stakeholders to help create Louisiana's Plan for Access to Mental Health Care, scheduled for release in spring, 2007. Attendees will receive an update on the "Roadmap for Change: Bringing the Hope of Recovery to Louisianans with Mental Health Conditions", a report prepared by national mental health experts at Governor Blanco's request. Participants will be asked to make recommendations for strategies for inclusion in the state's mental health plan.

The series of public meetings is sponsored through partnerships between Governor Blanco's Children's Cabinet and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Meetings will be held in the following cities: Hammond (Oct. 9), Jefferson (Oct.10), Shreveport (Oct. 24), Alexandria (Oct. 25), Lafayette (Oct. 26), Thibodaux (Nov. 2), Lake Charles (Nov. 6), Monroe (Nov. 7), New Orleans (Nov. 13), Belle Chasse (Nov. 14), Baton Rouge (Nov. 27). Individuals are able to R.S.V.P. for these meetings and access more information online at: www.dhh.louisiana.gov.

Louisiana's Plan for Access to Mental Health Care is scheduled to be released in Spring 2007. Through the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, Louisiana joined the nation in evaluating its mental health system. Governor Blanco issued an Executive Order directing LDH to lead 40 state departments in developing a plan to improve the quality and availability of mental health care in Louisiana.

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The Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation
Louisiana's Fund for Louisiana's People
www.louisianahelp.org 1-877-HELPLA1 (877-435-7521)