The Weekly MashUp is a recurring segment on Hear Me Out, the Young Minds’ Blog, highlighting the most pertinent local and national news for children’s mental health advocates. If you haven’t already, sign up to be on our email list to get the Weekly MashUp delivered to your inbox automatically, every Friday!
In Self-Produced Music Video, PACER Teens Speak Bravely About Life With Mental Illness
MinnPost – 11.12.14
Teen advocates have created a music video to explain facts and debunk stereotypes of mental illness. Part of the PACER Center, one of the nation’s first disability rights organizations, the Youth Advisory Board on Mental Health advocates for the rights of young people who have been diagnosed with mental illness, and its members all have mental health challenges themselves.
The Youth Advisory Board wanted to make the music video in order to explain life with a mental health challenge, debunk common misperceptions, and address the stigma that the board members often faced in their own lives. Conceived and executed entirely by the youth, the music video gave the group members their own voice to advocate for young people with mental illness.
Renelle Nelson, the PACER Center’s children’s mental health and EBD project coordinator, affirmed that speaking out can be a powerful tool in reducing bullying: “If a peer intervenes, the chances of further bullying drops significantly.”
The Youth Advisory Board is an avenue for these youth to pursue leadership skills along with a forum in which to discuss their own issues dealing with their mental health, and the music video is part of their advocacy efforts toward giving youth a voice to support their peers.
Lawmaker Seeks Better Access to Medi-Cal Care for Former Foster Kids
California Healthline – 11.10.14
California State Senator Jim Beall has called for all former foster youth to be automatically enrolled in Medi-Cal. Under the Affordable Care Act, youth who were in California’s foster care system at age 18 are eligible for Medi-Cal benefits until age 26 regardless of income, but many are not receiving coverage.
The number of former foster youth in California under age 26 is as high as 40,000, but less than 8,000 are currently receiving Medi-Cal benefits. To resolve this gap, State Senator Beall has asked the state to change its approach and automatically enroll these young people in Medi-Cal. Beall noted that the lives of former foster youth are complicated enough as it is and should not be further burdened by excessive state procedures.
Other advocates at the hearing agreed with this approach. Jessica Haspel, a senior policy associate at Children Now, argued that, since the state knows which youth have left foster care, the best course would be if the state used that information to ensure that those young people are enrolled. She also pointed out that most of these youth don’t realize their eligibility for Medi-Cal coverage. Former foster youth who apply for insurance through Covered California are not screened for or referred to Medi-Cal, something that could be changed by computer programming. “This is a vulnerable population. They’re entitled to immediate enrollment. . . . They don’t even need to apply, so why make them?”
California’s Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) noted that it works with counties, Covered California, and other parties to identify and provide Medi-Cal coverage to all former foster care youth. DHCS’s current efforts include data analysis to identify eligible youth, establishing outreach efforts, and launching both a social media campaign and a foster youth web page for DHCS’s website. A department spokesperson indicated that the state will be issuing guidelines soon that will direct counties on how to expedite the enrollment process for former foster youth.
Link Between Crime and Brain Injuries Prompts Push for Legislation: Bill would require state to increase screening for brain injury among at-risk youth
NJ Spotlight – 11.10.14
In response to studies linking early brain trauma and later criminal activity, a New Jersey bill proposes creating a program to screen children with signs of a brain injury or that have committed crimes. One report found that inmates may suffer head or brain injuries at up to 10 times the rate of the general population, which has led to assertions that criminal activity and psychiatric problems may be reduced if at-risk youth are diagnosed and treated more quickly.
The bill, A3453, would require the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) to develop a screening tool to identify brain injuries in youth between ages five and 21 who are either involved or at risk of involvement with the mental health or juvenile justice system. Additionally, professionals and advocates would be given basic training in how to identify and treat any affected youth.
While support for the bill is increasing, its cost remains an issue, estimated at $10 million annually. Supporters argue that federal grants may offset some of the necessary funding required to develop screening tool and program. Once developed, health insurance would cover medical screenings. Supporters also noted that long-term savings through a reduced crime rate may also occur. Some state legislators expressed concerns over incurring the cost of the program at a time when the state’s budget is tight, and approving a mandate that would require federal grants in order to be able to pay for it. The proposed bill passed New Jersey’s State Assembly, but has not yet been introduced in the State Senate.
Investigative Journalist Says Foster Youth Voice ‘Absolutely Vital’
The Chronicle for Social Change – 11.9.14
The Chronicle for Social Change’s interview with San Jose Mercury News investigative reporter Karen de Sá explores her series on psychotropic medication for foster youth. The interview includes stories of current and former foster youth. De Sá’s latest series has prompted an investigation by the California Medical Board.
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**News stories shared by Young Minds in the Weekly MashUp do not necessarily represent the views of the organization.