Stories about: Children’s Mental Health Week

Children’s Mental Health Campaign

David DeMaso, MD

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is May 6 though 12. In honor of the occasion David R. DeMaso, MD, psychiatrist-in-chief at Boston Children’s Hospital, addresses the work of the Children’s Mental Health Campaign in Massachusetts.

What is the state of children’s mental health in the Commonwealth?

The good news is that we’ve come a long way. Massachusetts is a national leader in children’s mental health. Since 2006, when Boston Children’s and Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC) released a joint report on children’s mental health, children are now more likely to receive timely care, delivered in the right setting, than six years ago. However, the system continues to be fragmented, which creates barriers to care. We still need to take important steps to expand access to effective, high quality and well-coordinated care for all children with mental health needs.

What is the Children’s Mental Health Campaign? What have been the most significant achievements of the Campaign to date?

Launched by Boston Children’s and the MSPCC, the Campaign also includes the following founding partners –Health Care for All, Health Law Advocates and the Parent Advocacy League. Since 2006 it has grown into a diverse coalition of more than 140 organizations with expertise in mental health, healthcare, law, child welfare, family advocacy and policy—all working together to advocate for systemic change of the children’s health care system.

Through the Campaign’s efforts, the landscape for children’s mental health in the Commonwealth has changed significantly. Three landmark laws have been enacted: the Children’s Mental Health Omnibus law of 2008, the Mental Health Parity reform law of 2008 and the Autism law of 2010.

These laws have improved access to care, spurned early identification of children with mental health needs, highlighted the importance of increasing schools’ capacity to address the mental health needs of students, expanded insurance coverage for children in need of mental healthcare services and reduced by more than 60 percent the number of kids “stuck” in inappropriate care settings.

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Children’s takes multifaceted approach in support of childhood mental health

David DeMaso, MD
David DeMaso, MD

This week marks Children’s Mental Health Week and here in Massachusetts we’ve made great strides in ensuring that children and their families have access to high quality mental health care. The passage of 2008’s landmark Act Relative to Children’s Mental Health was a significant step forward in addressing the unmet needs of an estimated 100,000 children who do not receive the mental health care they need. There’s still a lot of work to do, including improving the coordination of care between mental health professionals and families, teachers, pediatric providers and other adults who regularly interact with at-risk children.

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