This March 2013 report from researchers at George Washington University and the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools identifies challenges and ‘bright spots’ in ensuring children’s access to mental health care based on a study of eleven states. The states included in the study were Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia. Virginia is facing many of the same challenges found in these states. We can also learn from some promising practices outlined in this report.
Common challenges identified in the study states include:
- The critical challenge to strengthening children’s mental health programs is funding.
- Services for seriously emotionally disturbed children and adolescents remain the primary focus of effort and funidng by state government.
- The complexity of child mental health service delivery systems and funding streams hampers integration and expansion of services.
- Court actions have varying impaxts on children’s access to mental health services.
- State action expanding insurance coverage for low-income children and families can lead diectly to increased service access.
- While legislative and judicial actions to improve children’s mental health care have been encouraged by community and family advocates, professional associations and clinical providers have also pressed for change.
- While most states have prioritized services to support seriously emotionally disabled children, at least one state (West Virginia) has implemented a comprehensive approach that links prevention and early intervention services to deep-end care.
- Locally-controlled school policies and prirorities may complicate implementation of state-funded, school-located child mental and behavioral health programs.
- While underfunding has limited the capacity of child mental health services across the nation, additional programming practices can be found in a number of states.
‘Bright spots’ identified in the study include:
- Connecticut has demonstrated the value of making emergency psychiatric services available to schools.
- Massachusetts expanded children’s access to mental health screenings through statewide health care reform.
- Minnesota is working to overcome professional shortages in rural area through telepsychiatry.
- North Carolina has demonstrated the power of partnership between mental health professionals and physical health providers.
- West Virginia has implemented a child mental health system that moves prevention and early intervention ot the forefront by creating a statewide school-based initiative.
Click here to view the full study. This report is also in the CBHI Knowledge Base.