A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Children's Mental Health Forum

Children's Mental Health Forum

October 27, 2008

The Children’s Mental Health Campaign co-sponsored a legislative forum with Representative Pam Richardson (D-Framingham) last Friday morning. Several advocacy groups, clinicians, parents and school administrators gathered at Framingham Memorial Building to share their stories and experiences of navigating the state’s children mental health system.

Rep. Richardson opened and emceed the event sharing with the group that this was an issue she felt had not be given the attention that it deserved. Administrators from Framingham Public Schools talked about the innovation within their district before budget cuts and hoped that other cities and towns in the state could create strategies and a broad range of programs to support the needs of there communities. Again we heard from parents who experienced finger-pointing from state agencies who were glad to know that Chapter 321 calls for interagency collaboration as a means of increasing the efficiency of existing services. So many parents and mental health professionals expressed the need for increased support for parents, single parents, and siblings because this issue affects the entire family. A few individuals who wore the dual hats of parent and mental health professional echoed all of these sentiments and included anecdotes of how increasingly difficult it is to work with insurers as parents. A representative from Wayside Counseling Services announced that her new role within the organization as Community Liaison would allow her to act as a “one stop shop” for parents to get through the system to find the appropriate care for their children.

It is important to note that Chapter 321 – An Act Relative to Children’s Mental Health is just the first step in a much longer journey to expand programs and services for families and change the system so that it is easier to navigate. In order to do so, we must continue to advocate for children and families suffering from the effects of mental health disorders and ensure full implementation. For information about how you or your organization can join our campaign, please click here.

Please click here to read a fact sheet on the new children’s mental health law.
Jessica Hamilton