This Week’s Top Stories for Children’s Mental Health Advocates
The Weekly MashUp is a reoccurring segment on Hear Me Out, the Young Minds’ Blog, highlighting the most pertinent local and national news for children’s mental health advocates.
Young Minds in the News
New Funding Scheme Complicates Mental Health Provision
The Chronicle of Social Change – 3.19.14
The Chronicle for Social Change recently interviewed Young Minds’ President, Patrick Gardner, about the effects of the 2011 Realignment on the availability of EPSDT services for Medicaid-eligible youth in California. “I think one of challenges with a realigned system that is evolving, while there are some strengths to it, is that it creates an uneven level of care across jurisdictions,” he said “And I’m not sure that’s how the federal entitlement with Medicaid was meant to be administered.”
The Early Periodic, Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit is a federal entitlement program for Medicaid-eligible children that provides comprehensive and preventative healthcare services, including mental health services and supports. In California, EPSDT specialty mental health services are delivered by county mental health agencies through a managed care approach.
The article also included insight from Alex Briscoe, Alameda County Health Care Services Agency Director and Young Minds board member. Briscoe explains that prior to Realignment, counties were reimbursed for EPDST services according to how much they spent on allowable services. This reimbursement plan, Briscoe says, “heavily incentivized counties to increase spending,” and by extension, expanded services to eligible youth. However, since 2011, each county receives an advanced allocation of money for EPSDT services from special state tax revenues with a subsequent federal match. Any additional costs for services delivered, that exceed this up-front allocation, must now be covered by county funding.
For at least two counties, the annual Realignment allocation fell significantly short in covering actual costs incurred by mental health agencies. In 2013, Alameda County overspent its EPSDT allocation by $2 million, while Los Angeles County exceeded its allocation by $20 million.
Under the new funding scheme, counties have shifted from EPSDT expansion “to simply holding the line in the wake of Realignment.” According to Briscoe, “We have enough other sources of revenue that we can cover these
In Other News
Youth Advocating for Abolishing Mental Health Stigma
The Chronicle for Social Change – 3.18.14
Haydee Cuza is a youth advocate with Youth In Mind, a non-profit that improves the lives of young people impacted by the mental health system through authentic youth engagement. She recently sat down with Chronicle for Social Change’s Teddy Lederer to discuss her experiences watching youth trying to promote change.
Cuza has found that policy makers are not always willing to listen to those impacted by the mental health system. “I often sit in policy meetings and I know the youth voice is wanted, but is not necessarily honored in a way that I feel is very important for the work we are doing,” she says. “I think when the most work gets done is when the folks are ready to go into action and they just need some guidance and that guidance comes directly from people who have been impacted by the system.”
Listen to the full interview here.
OP-ED: Compassion, The Gateway to Curing Mental Illness
Huffington Post Blog – 3.18.14
Huff-Post Blogger Chantel Garrett writes about the need for a “more empathic standard of care” for young people and adults with mental illness. Garrett is all too familiar with the shortcomings of the mental health system. She has watched her brother, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, struggle to find appropriate treatment over the last 15 years. She says “Getting appropriate, preventative care for young people with brain disorders is remarkably difficult, and in order for that to change, we have to move away from viewing mental illness as a battle between ‘crazy’ and ‘normal,’ or ‘us’ and ‘them.’” She believes that the new standard for care should “comprise evidence-based, multidisciplinary, empowering treatment options, with the aim of remission of symptoms and an expectation of leading a fulfilling life.”
Read more by Chantel Garrett here.
Study: Mental Health Hospitalizations Increasing in Children
U.S. News & World Report – 3.17.14
A new study by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) finds that mental health hospitalizations among youth with mental illness has increased by 24 percent between 2007 and 2010. According to the report, nearly 1 in 10 children who are hospitalized have a primary diagnosis of a mental illness. The most common conditions associated with such hospitalizations are depression, bipolar disorder, and psychosis. The report also found that hospitals charge nearly as much for treating youth who are hospitalized for depression ($1.33 billion annually) as they do for inpatient care of children with asthma ($1.5 billion annually).
Despite growing rates of hospitalization, researchers found significant racial disparities in children’s access care. African-American and Latino children showing symptoms are less likely to be diagnosed or hospitalized for a mental illness. Dr. Naomi Bardach, a professor of pediatrics at the UCSF School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, says their findings show that “in general we’re not doing a good enough job of delivering mental health services to minority children.”
News From Around the Country
CT: Newtown Struggles to Meet Mental Health Demand 14 Months After Tragedy
The Washington Post – 3.16.14
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**News stories shared by Young Minds in the Weekly MashUp do not necessarily represent the views of the organization.