Thursday, March 5, 2009

From the Boston Bar Association

For Immediate Release
February 3, 2009

Contact: Bonnie Sashin, APR
Communications Director
(617) 778-1902

Boston Bar Updates Guide to Children’s Mental Health Services

BOSTON – Reaffirming its commitment to helping families gain access to the mental health services so desperately needed by many children in the Bay State, the Boston Bar Association (BBA) – in collaboration with Children’s Hospital Boston – today released the second edition of the Parents’ How-To-Guide to Children’s Mental Health Services in Massachusetts. The 2nd edition will debut as an
online publication available on web site of the BBA and also the web site for Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Boston.

"This new edition incorporates significant developments that have occurred since the Guide was first published in December of 2004," said Michael L. Blau, Editor-in-Chief, a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP, who advocated tirelessly on behalf of the BBA for passage of Chapter 321, omnibus legislation relating to children’s mental health services in Massachusetts. "This Guide reflects the collective wisdom and experience of many families and stakeholders – all of whom helped us build a more complete and useful picture of available resources and system deficits as well as issues and potential solutions."

Among the new developments reflected in the second edition of the How-To-Guide are:

I. Enactment of Chapter 321: An Act Relative to Children’s Mental Health ("Yolanda’s Law"), which:
  • promotes early detection and treatment of mental illness 
  • requires Massachusetts state agencies to identify and adopt best behavioral health practices 
  • requires coordination of services where a child is receiving services from multiple Massachusetts state agencies 
  • promotes collaboration between public schools and behavioral health providers to improve learning environment for children with behavioral health needs 
  • requires timely discharge to the most appropriate clinical setting of children hospitalized for behavioral health reasons.
II. Enactment of Massachusetts Health Reform, which:
  • requires everyone in Massachusetts to have health insurance 
  • establishes The Connector, through which low-income individuals can get subsidized health insurance and others can get more affordable coverage.

III. The Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative ("Rosie D."), which:
  • requires the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to comply with requirements for early screening and treatment for children with serious emotional problems.
Sprinkled liberally throughout the How-to-Guide are specific advocacy tips to help parents overcome obstacles to obtaining needed care as they navigate the system.

"We recognize that it will take a sustained effort of many people to materially improve the availability and quality of child mental health services in Massachusetts," added Blau. "By updating the How-To-Guide and monitoring implementation of the Chapter 321, we are demonstrating that our commitment to the cause is unwavering."

Blogger's note:  This book is fabulous, useful and 170 pages long, with a Flesh-Kincaid Reading Level of 11.8.  We clearly make it way too hard to access services, even with the reforms that are in place.

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