May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to note that many children with special health care needs also require mental health care services. Yet a 2017 survey of families and care providers by the National Health Law Program identified mental health treatment as one of the most difficult services for CSHCN to obtain. Similarly, respondents in a 2015 survey of pediatricians who care for CSHCN indicated that referrals to pediatric psychiatry and psychology services were the most problematic.
The California Legislature has proposed several bills that address children’s mental health, from funding parity and early prevention to increased training and peer supports. Two current bills worth noting:
This bill establishes professional standards and certification for health providers known as “peers,” with having lived experience in mental illness or substance use disorders. Research studies show peer support can reduce hospitalizations, improve client functioning and satisfaction, and alleviate depression and other symptoms. A hearing is scheduled for May 25, 2018.
This bill creates financial parity for children’s mental health and adult mental health funding. It requires at least half of all funds allocated to the Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission under the Investment in Mental Health Wellness Act of 2013 be used to expand mental health services for minors. A hearing is scheduled for May 25, 2018.
By Alice Chiang