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What is the Behavioral Health Safety Net?

By Jennifer L. Foster, RN, Attorney-at-Law

What is the Behavioral Health Safety Net?  Last month, we recognized National Suicide Awareness Prevention Week. With permission from his family, this article is dedicated to the memory of Matt Moore who lost his battle with mental illness on August 24, 2017. If you are suffering from mental illness, please understand that you do not have to walk alone. The number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Help is available, and together we can end the stigma of mental illness.

Did you know that in Tennessee, we have a system in place to help uninsured and indigent people who suffer from mental illness? It is known as the Behavioral Health Safety Net of Tennessee (BHSN of TN). Many times, mentally ill, uninsured and indigent people will qualify for this benefit when they don’t qualify for regular TennCare.

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 BHSN. 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.

In order to qualify for the Behavioral Safety Net Program, you must have:
• a qualifying mental health diagnosis
• a household income at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level

and are:
• a Tennessee resident, 19 or older
• a U.S. Citizen or qualified alien
• not currently in an inpatient facility or nursing home
• not an inmate or incarcerated
• ineligible for VA benefits, TennCare, or have filled out a TennCare application
• lacking private health insurance which covers behavioral health benefits, or all behavioral health benefits have been exhausted for the year

Eligibility Requirements
As of September 2013, individuals who have Medicare Part B and meet all other eligibility requirements for the BHSN program may be enrolled. Anyone who receives BHSN services and is 65 or older will be treated as having Medicare Part B.

These two groups are eligible for 4 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 BSHN program if they meet all other eligibility requirements, as long as their Advantage Plan doesn’t cover the 4 approved services above or benefits of the plan have been exhausted for the year.

How To Apply
To apply for the BHSN, you need to contact one of the following Community Mental Health Agencies:

In West Tennessee:
Alliance Healthcare Services
3810 Winchester Road
Memphis, TN  38181

Carey Counseling Center
408 Virginia Street
Paris, TN  38242

Case Management, Inc.
3171 Directors Row
Memphis, TN  38118

Cherokee Health Systems
4095 American Way #1
Memphis, TN  38118

LifeCare Family Services
1407 Union Avenue, Suite 100
Memphis, TN  38104

Pathways of Tennessee, Inc.
238 Summar Drive
Jackson, TN  38301

Professional Care Services
of West Tennessee
1997 Hwy 51 South
Covington, TN  38019

Quinco Community MHC
10710 Old Hwy 64
Bolivar, TN  38008

The BHSN does not cover physical health issues and is not an insurance program. The BHSN does not cover the cost of prescription drugs, but many get assistance with Cover Rx. You can only have one provider at a time, but you can transfer to another provider upon request.

The disability process can be a very difficult and lengthy process. In the midst of a health crisis, you are dealing with enough; let me fight this battle for you! Contact the Law Office of Jennifer L. Foster, PLLC at 731-506-4006 or 901-866-9495 to discuss which legal strategies will get you the benefits you deserve, or visit us online at

The information in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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