Indiana children will receive better mental health care through a new program called the Children’s Mental Health Initiative. The program was put into place in 50 counties in Indiana last year. In the past, families who could not afford to get help for their child or adolescent because of the prohibitive cost would have to get help from Child Protective Services. Many times, a parent would admit to being neglectful just to get mental health services. This occurs in many states at this time, but Indiana found a way to get real about mental health challenges.
Bonnie Raine, systems of care coordinator for Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties in Indiana, said that it was a real help to serve kids who normally would fall through the gaps. Mental health care for those who do not have private insurance or Medicaid are paid for through the federal government.
The Department for Children Services (DCS) in Indiana uses the Children’s Mental Health Initiative to help those families who have a teenager that is a danger to himself or to others. School principals, local police services and probation services for youth will be a part of the reporting network to refer children to mental health services in one of Indiana’s community mental health centers.
The site evaluates the severity of each child’s case and recommends treatment options. If there is a less difficult case, it is referred to DCS, who can then get assistance for the child through a community mental health center. They have pledged $25 million to help children in Indiana.
DCS pays for each child’s treatment. One of the greatest advantages of the initiative is that the majority of children continue to live at home. This saves a lot of government funds, since foster care is not necessary under most circumstances. For those who are assessed with more severe mental health diseases, the child would be placed in a treatment center.
The program is designed to avoid court intervention in the lives of children who suffer from mental disorders. It is a help to families who are dealing with runaway children or violent episodes. Families are not penalized for admitting that they can no longer control their child.
There is a concern that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, seeks to treat mental health issues the same way that they treat physical medical diseases. However, the problem lies not in coverage, but in private companies turning down national insurance that may not pay as much as private insurances. In cases of rejection of the national insurance, parents would have to pay out-of-pocket for care for their children. Tara Bishop, Associate Professor of Public Health and Medicine at Cornell Medical College, said that only 53 percent of mental health workers accepted insurance from 2009 to 2010. This compares to 89 percent of medical physicians who did accept insurance.
For Indiana youth, the initiative to give quality mental health care will override these concerns. Perhaps Indiana’s Children’s Mental Health Initiative will stand as a model for other states to develop plans that keep the maximum number of children in their homes while being treated for mental disorders.
Indiana children will receive better mental health care through the Children’s Mental Health program. This is just a start helping families whose children are suffering mental issues.
By Lisa M Pickering