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“Supporting Families, Changing Futures:” Children’s Mental Health Week 2018

“Supporting Families, Changing Futures:” Children’s Mental Health Week 2018

May 4, 2018

In just a few days, children and youth, families and advocates will light up the Commonwealth in green to celebrate Children’s Mental Health Week (CMHW). This year’s theme is Supporting Families, Changing Futures. The Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL), the Massachusetts Family Voice for Children’s Mental Health, explains the crucial interconnection between supporting families and improving children’s futures: data shows that children do better when they are with their families, in their communities and that supported families have access to more resources, advocate for their children’s needs more effectively, and enhance their skills as unique and talented caregivers. Finally, PPAL reminds us that by treating and keeping children in their communities, we can support families more effectively and change children’s futures for the better.

Improving access to mental health care for children and youth is a central component of Health Care For All’s work to create a Commonwealth in which everyone has the equitable, affordable, and comprehensive care they need to be healthy. While we can be proud that Massachusetts has the highest rate of children enrolled in health insurance coverage of any state in the nation, too often children and adolescents remain unable to access the mental health care they need when and where they need it. As a result, barriers to effective and appropriate treatment and care persist:

  • One in five youth (ages 13-18) have, or will have, a serious mental illness.
  • About 50% of students age 14+ living with a mental health challenge drop out of high school. This is the highest dropout rate of any disability group.
  • 71% of youth and young adults with substance use disorders also experience a co-occurring mental health disorder
  • African Americans and Hispanic Americans use mental health services at about half the rate of whites in the past year and Asian Americans at about 1/3 the rate

Health Care For All (HCFA) is proud to serve on the Executive Committee of the Children’s Mental Health Campaign (CMHC), working alongside the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC), Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH), the Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL), Health Law Advocates (HLA) and the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) to reform the children’s mental health care system in Massachusetts and lay the foundation for a comprehensive and coordinated system of evidence-based mental health prevention, diagnosis and treatment that is accessible to all children, adolescents and families.

To mark CMHW 2018 next week, HCFA will welcome a guest blogger from each of these organizations to highlight the challenges and opportunities in children’s mental health and the work we are doing individually and collectively to increase access, support families and change futures.

Please join us as we promote awareness about children’s mental health and work together to reduce stigma!

 

This blog is part of HCFA’s Children’s Mental Health Week series.

By Natalie Litton, Policy & Project Coordinator, Health Care For All