News for the Week of February 3, 2014
Young Minds in the News:
Mental Health Hospitalizations Spike for California’s Youngest Residents
The Sacramento Bee – 2.2.14
Mental health hospitalizations for California’s youth increased 38 percent between 2007 and 2012, jumping from 34,000 to 47,000, according to analysis of state data by The Sacramento Bee and the Center for Health Reporting. Experts say the best explanation for the spike is that “California’s young people are not receiving adequate mental health services at two key junctures: before they spiral into crisis, and after they come home from the hospital.”
Young Minds’ President, Patrick Gardner, described mental health care in California as “a ‘bipolar’ system—with 50-minute therapy sessions and psychotropic medications available on one end, and hospitalization on the other.” He explained that the shortage of options in the middle for youth is driving up hospitalization.
“Where are they going to go?” Gardner said, referring to those who need the highest levels of care. “Those children are going to have to go somewhere. And typically where they go is emergency rooms, juvenile halls, or hospitals.”
In Other News:
Teen Health: Depression, Anxiety, and Social Phobias Rising in Kids, Educators Say
San Jose Mercury News – 2.6.14
Many schools in the California Bay Area have reported an increase in teen mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and social phobias. One educator explained, “We are seeing children who are coming in with greater needs around mental health, and also seeing them at an earlier age.” While reasons for the rise are uncertain, theories include: economic distress, dysfunctional families, absent and preoccupied busy parents, technology obsession, social media and extraordinary pressure on kids to excel.
Cristy Dawson, assistant principal at Los Alto High, explains that youth in the Bay Area especially deal with extremely high expectations. “They’re not expected to be great; They’re expected to be stupendous…This valley is all about getting ahead.”
Containing Health Costs is Good But Not at the Expense of the Mentally Ill
BLOG: The Huffington Post – 2.5.14
Howard Dean, Former Governor of Vermont and DNC Chairman, writes about how a new rule around Medicare Part D, recently proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), will negatively effect patients with mental illness.
Historically, Part D has existed to ensure patients have access to six classes of critical prescription drugs including antidepressants and antipsychotics. However, Dean explains that the changes to Part D in the new proposed rule would make significant changes to the availability of such medications, which he believes “will bring additional risk to an already vulnerable population…[and] will create another barrier to treatment for patients suffering from mental illness.”
Supervisors Move Forward on Recommendations for Child Protection
Los Angeles Times – 2.4.14
Los Angeles County Supervisors agreed Tuesday to study the financial feasibility of recommendations by the Blue Ribbon Commission to reform the child welfare system. The Commission recommended that the County’s system of clinics be used to screen all children entering foster care. According to the Los Angeles Times, “the clinics are designed to expertly detect child abuse and provide comprehensive medical and mental health assessments so that children receive the correct services in foster care.”
When Your Parent is the State, It’s Tough for Young Adults to Stay Insured
Kaiser Health News – 2.4.14
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) now extends Medicaid coverage for former foster youths until age 26, regardless of income or where they live. According to First Focus, an estimated 180,000 former foster youth nationwide are eligible and another 25,000 will qualify each year. However, foster youth advocates fear that many former foster youth will continue to be uninsured due to a lack of public education about the provision for both foster youth and enrollment workers.
Free health coverage is especially important for foster youth because studies show that they are “more likely than their peers to have physical and mental health problems, often as a result of abuse or neglect that caused their placement in foster care to being with.”