A Healthy Blog

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

Children's Mental Health

Watch, and then Call: "There's Nothing More Hurtful And Regressive Than A Budget Cut"

First, please watch the video below, highlights from today's inspirational, packed "Stop The Cuts" rally at the State House. The speakers include Harris Gruman of SEIU and the Stop the Cuts Coalition; Lisa Wong, Mayor of Fitchburg; John Bennett of Mass Senior Action; and Lynn Norris of Neighbor to Neighbor. Next, call your State Senator (not sure who that is? look it up here) and urge him or her to support expanded revenues and HCFA's key budget amendments to restore critical health care programs. The Senate will be starting its budget debate on Tuesday. Among the Senate budget amendments... Read more »

Rosie D.: Systemic Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight

The Rosie D. v Romney lawsuit, settled in 2006, laid the groundwork for significant overhaul of the way Medicaid-eligible children with mental health needs receive services in Massachusetts. For many families, the change promised by the suit couldn’t come soon enough. Nearly three years later, some of the systemic reforms are beginning to happen: Universal Behavioral Health Screenings in pediatrician offices are being given to more than 50% of children, doubling the rate of identification of behavioral health concerns; and 32 Community Service Agencies have been contracted to provide... Read more »

House Budget - Amendments Strengthen Health Programs

The House started the week with a budget with appropriations at $27.44 billion, with $19.53 billion from taxes. On Monday, the House voted to increase the sales tax from 5% to 6.25%, bringing in an additional $900 million. They voted to allocate $205 million of those additional funds towards local aid. The left over amount has been used throughout the week for consolidated line item amendments. HCFA’s coalitions continued to advocate for vital state funded programs. The week had both good and bad news. On Tuesday, the House recognized the importance of children’s mental health by... Read more »

Impact of the Cuts: Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee to Hold Oversight Hearings Tomorrow

Late last year, when we were just beginning to grasp the scope of the economic crisis, Governor Patrick warned legislators, advocates, and the public that the cuts he would have to make would not be fat. He would be cutting muscle. Barely 6 months later, the pain of these cuts are being felt, particularly by individuals and families served by the Department of Mental Health. Disproportionately impacted by reductions both through 9c cuts and House 1, DMH clients have seen a loss of residential treatment beds, day and work programs, as well as 25% of the total number of caseworkers. Tomorrow... Read more »

Kids Hurt the Most during Budget Cuts

Last Thursday, the Children’s League of Massachusetts hosted a State House briefing on the effects of the state’s recent budget cuts on vulnerable children. The Children’s League is a non-profit statewide network of over 60 organizations, advocates, and consumers whose mission is to promote the well-being of children and their families through the effective use of the public policy system. Read more »

Children’s Mental Health: Work Still Needs To Be Done

Earlier this week, the Joint Coalition on Health for Central Massachusetts released a needs assessment for mental health and substance abuse. The Coalition’s findings were troubling, but in many ways unsurprising. The report showed that despite a strong network of providers, there remain significant unmet mental health needs among children in North Central Worcester County. There are troublingly high rates of young people who have contemplated or attempted suicide, engaged in risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug use, and have been involved with the juvenile justice system. Still, none... Read more »

Mental Health Consultative Services – A BRYT Idea

Since the creation of the Children’s Mental Health Campaign in 2006, a consistent theme that has been heard from parents, teachers, and policy makers is the need for more school resources to give students with mental health needs every opportunity to succeed. On Thursday, representatives Ellen Story and Kay Khan, co-chairs of the Mental Health Caucus at the State House, hosted a briefing on one program that has achieved remarkable success in addressing the needs of students with mental health concerns. The Brookline Resilient Youth Team (BRYT) Program utilizes the resources of two clinicians... Read more »

“Why on God’s green earth does it take all that to get help?”

Judith Warner’s piece in the New York Times has lit up the email lists of children’s health advocates. In the span of less than an hour this morning, several colleagues sent me the article independent of each other. Insight into systemic problems often come from the most unlikely places: very few could have ever predicted that a Nebraska law intended to prevent new mothers from abandoning newborn infants would expose troubling shortcomings in the ability of the health care system to address mental illness. Read more »

Mental Health Rally against 9C Cuts

On Tuesday, a couple of hundred consumers and providers in the mental health community gathered at the Grand Staircase in the State House to protest cuts made by the Governor earlier this fall. The Governor, using his 9C authority, made what some in attendance at the event called disproportionate cuts to mental health programs and services. The press conference was sponsored by prominent mental health advocacy groups including NAMI-Massachusetts, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition, the local chapter of the National Association... Read more »

Children's Mental Health Forum

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. Read more »

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