1) I have been in general pediatric practice for a long time in Massachusetts, and have worked with a lot of families who have had kids with mental illness. I have watched families bang their heads (figuratively) against the walls of the mental health system, trying to find services that will help them help their child maximize his or her potential. I have been frustrated in my ability to be helpful on many occasions. I want to do better.
2) Massachusetts is ready for change, due to a new governor, new legislation in the works, and a court order to Masshealth ordering them to do better ( the Rosie D. case). Change is happening, even as we speak. The
3) Over the past 3 years, I have been working with Health Law Advocates, a statewide legal services agency, to develop a Network of advocates, parents and service providers to affect change. The Network sponsored a successful conference on Mental Health access in the Spring of 2006, and and has since served as a clearinghouse for ideas on how we can better collaborate to serve children and families. This year, we have sponsored a Mentoring and Technical Assistance Visit through the American Academy of Pediatrics by Larry Wissow MD, a child psychiatrist and pediatrician from Johns Hopkins, and are planning a series of forums in Central Massachusetts on the impending changes in the system.
4) I am very persistent. Working in Pediatrics for 17 years has taught me that change is developmental, that change takes time and that one can influence ongoing events with calm persistence and bit of luck.
So, there you have it. A quixotic quest, perhaps, but one that will be of benefit to many of my patients and their families in South Worcester County. I'll try to update this regularly, and share some of my thoughts along the way. I hope that you all comment on my quest- the good, the bad and the ugly. Your thoughts will go a long way to helping us devise a real answer to the question: "What do we want a child mental health system to look like?"
I will write more later.