Opportunities to enhance mental health care for children in CT

Earlier this month, a coalition of more than 40 student-run political groups and mental health advocacy groups across Connecticut urged state Senate leaders to adopt two amendments to Senate Bill No. 2. The bill is a comprehensive children’s health bill that will be voted on by state legislatures. The Senate plenary session will be held in the next few weeks.

The coalition—the largest youth-led group calling for statewide mental health reform in recent memory—announced its primary advocacy in February, when the language of the priority bill was still being drafted. I was in tune with their call. In both cases, our call was met with little serious recognition by congressional leaders and an opportunity to address the mental health awareness and care gaps facing some of the most vulnerable youth in the state. Abandoned for no apparent reason.

Our coalition’s proposed amendment to SB-2 would add two new sections to the bill. The first of these additions (as classified by the DC:0-5 diagnostic classification system widely used in the United States) to promote the social and emotional well-being of the infant from birth to her 5th birthday establishes a task force tasked with developing a statewide plan for clinical practice), those covered by the state Medicaid program (HUSKY Health). This plan identifies developmentally appropriate screening, assessment, diagnosis, treatment modalities, qualified treatment professionals, and support programs that operate in a variety of child care settings.

The second of these additions will be to the existing State Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)-Related Services, to expand its reach to underrepresented populations, and to strengthen the existing State Advisory Board on ASD Early Screening and Intervention. state guidelines to consider updating.

The potential for these reforms to benefit children overlooked in past mental health efforts cannot be overemphasized. For example, approximately 16% of infants and young children under the age of 6 experience clinically significant mental health problems, which manifest as dysregulation of affective or behavioral patterns at about the same rate as older children. increase. These children often respond well to therapy and family support provided under what is known as the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) intervention model.

The first amendment, modeled after legislation approved in Rhode Island, could have been covered by the state Medicaid Early and Scheduled Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefits, but currently does not. It effectively directs the Task Force to identify additional IECMH services that are not covered by the IECMH and include the specific services. Programs related to prevention and child-rearing support.

IECMH services have been found by leading child advocacy groups, such as the Children’s Health and Development Institute (CHDI) in Connecticut, to improve outcomes for children in distress, but insufficient reimbursement options have led to hindered. In response, CHDI called for “examining current Medicaid billing options to assist in augmenting and paying for enhanced services.”

More than a third of children in Connecticut are insured through Husky A & B, and the introduction of this amendment would reduce thousands of children with reasonable access to mental health services covered by existing Medicaid benefits. , will benefit from enabling well-informed, financially-assisted access.

No task force similar to the task force specified in our original amendment currently exists. Task Forces convened under Public Laws 21-35 (2021), 21-171 (2021) and 22-81 (2022) are tasked only with investigating school-based services. bottom. No specific focus on mental health of children under 6 years old. Many of these children are not yet of K-12 school age and may instead rely entirely on dual therapy, home visit programs, and other outpatient care when available. I have.

Our proposals also address the impact of rising ASD diagnoses nationwide among Black and Hispanic children, and address some of the barriers to access and lower likelihood of ASD. It enacts a comprehensive response to the racial disparities in identifying children on the spectrum caused by it. Recognition of symptoms by family members.

The Second Amendment, modeled after a bill approved in New York, instructs Connecticut’s Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Committee (ASDAC) to provide ASD-related services to members of racial minority groups. It is charged with advising the Secretary of Social Services on strategies to improve coordination. ASDAC is also tasked with reviewing recommendations for developmental screening of children 3 years of age and younger that explicitly conform state “best practice” screening protocols to ASD-specific standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

We ask Senators to introduce and adopt these amendments when SB-2 reaches the floor. The added provisions most directly achieve the objective stated in the bill, which is to “improve children’s access to mental, physical and emotional health services” would be worth considering. We hope that state leaders continue to take the appeals of Connecticut’s youth seriously. If a bill that primarily affects us, our brothers, co-workers, and thousands of children across the state fails to meet our stated needs, who exactly is it and what is it? is it written for

Wilton resident Vignesh Subramanian is a student at the State University of New York at Stony Brook College and a child mental health advocate.

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