Children and Adolescents

CSG Midwest

Iowa legislators have created a first-of-its-kind system to better meet the mental health needs of children. As part of HF 690, signed into law in May, an appointed state board will be created to oversee this new comprehensive, coordinated system.

Members of the board will include a mix of state executive branch leaders (in health and education), experts in child welfare and mental health, local school leaders, pediatricians and law enforcement. Legislators will serve on the board as non-voting members. Iowa’s new law also spells out the types of “core services” that the system must deliver to children. That list of services includes: early intervention, medication management, outpatient therapy, access to a 24-hour crisis helpline, mobile response teams, and the availability of community-based and residential services to stabilize behavioral health crises in children.
CSG Midwest
For his first job out of college, psychologist Mark Weist went to work at a mental health center, splitting his time between providing services at the center and a local school. The differences in the two settings were dramatic.
“At the mental health center, people weren’t showing up,” Weist, a professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina, said during a presentation at this year’s Midwestern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting. “We’d be scheduled to see six or seven families in a day, for example, and only somewhere between one and three showed up.
“But in schools, there was this tremendous pent-up need for services.”
That experience nearly 30 years ago has led Weist to become a national leader in efforts to bring the mental health system into the schools, allowing community practitioners to work alongside school psychologists, nurses, social workers and counselors. He listed multiple benefits of school-based mental health: better identifying students in need, improving service access and use, and reducing barriers to learning. 
CSG Midwest
By next year, school districts across Iowa must begin to provide at least an hour of annual training on suicide prevention and “postvention” — the coordinated school response following a student’s suicide — for all licensed personnel who have regular contact with students.
CSG Midwest
Wisconsin’s recently enacted state budget includes money for schools to improve students’ access to mental health services. Gov. Scott Walker signed the budget bill (AB 64) into law in September. For the first time, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers says, the state will provide funds for mental health training and partnerships between schools and community providers.
CSG Midwest
Right now in Iowa, it’s no sure bet that a child in need of mental health services is going to get them. Instead, access can depend on where his or her family happens to live. “There is no statewide system or network of care in place, and over the long term, we need to develop it because there are clear gaps,” explains Anne Gruenwald, president and CEO of Four Oaks, a Cedar Rapids-based nonprofit agency that provides a range of services for children in need.
“When you have those gaps, needs go unmet, or we have to rely on our adult system of care — and that’s not always a good fit.” Iowa appears to be taking some important first steps, thanks to the recommendations of a work group formed by the Legislature in 2015 and actions taken by lawmakers during their 2016 session. 

As we enter July, football programs across the country are ramping up efforts to prepare for the upcoming season. While this is business as usual for many coaches, this season will be the first after all 50 states have passed legislation pertaining to sports-related traumatic brain injuries.

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Newborns treated for drug addiction in Florida grew more than 173 percent for the 3 years ending 2009, and it’s not slowing down. Today, prescription drugs are largely the culprit, not cocaine as in years past. For the first half of 2010, over 600 Florida babies were tortured with this condition, exceeding the 2009 rate. The newborns experience extreme discomfort and are too difficult for many parents to manage, so hospitals are keeping some addicted babies for at least four weeks to gradually wean them off drugs. Florida has not implemented a prescription drug monitoring program, a policy solution adopted by 42 states to reduce the misuse of prescription drugs, and plans to institute a program in 2011 have now been waylaid. Another approach, cracking down on “pill mills”, has been discussed but is still not implemented, and the results are affecting other states like Kentucky. Like the neonatal nurse in the article above says, “Why isn't somebody doing something about this?"

Ten state legislatures have formed caucuses to educate legislators about  mental health policy issues.  Through these caucuses legislators and mental health champions work together on a variety of state mental health issues, such as funding, coverage and access and criminal justice.