Families and advocates gather at State House in support of children's mental health reform
October 8, 2007
Families of children suffering mental illness will join with mental health reform advocates and state legislators in support of children's mental health bill
Thursday, October 11, 2007
State House, Nurses Hall, 2nd floor
The families of children with mental illness from across the state will speak about their experiences in trying to access a "system" that annually deprives an estimated 100,000 children of the mental health services they need.
Representative Ruth Balser and Senator Steven Tolman, lead sponsors of "An Act to Improve Children's Access to Mental Health Services," will be joined by Senator Karen Spilka and supporters of the bill from Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC), Children's Hospital Boston, Health Care for All, Parent Professional Advocacy League, Health Law Advocates, and community organizations and health care providers in urging the legislature to pass this reform bill.
The bill, which has been reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, would enhance early identification of mental health problems in children, expand access to mental health care, and improve the ability of schools to work with children with mental illness.
Since the legislative hearing in May, the bill has been further strengthened with language that would:
- Create a state Children's Behavioral Health Council and an appeals process to improve provision and coordination of care by state agencies;
- Evaluate the capacity of schools and recommend policies to promote effective delivery of behavioral health services; and
- Strengthen consumer protections and require insurance companies to reimburse mental health providers for "collateral services," which would help them to work with parents, teachers, and physicians in providing mental health care to children.
The provisions of the bill are based on recommendations proposed by MSPCC and Children's Hospital Boston in their November 2006 report, "Children's Mental Health in the Commonwealth: The Time is Now."
Founded in 1869 as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is the nation's leading pediatric medical center, the largest provider of health care to Massachusetts children, and the primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. In addition to 377 pediatric and adolescent inpatient beds and comprehensive outpatient programs, Children's houses the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries benefit both children and adults. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, nine members of the Institute of Medicine and 10 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. For more information about the hospital visit: www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom.