Children's Mental Health In Mass.: An Examination

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On Monday in Washington, President Obama opened the White House Conference on Mental Health, calling for a more open conversation across the nation.  Specifically, he mentioned children:

Today, less than 40 percent of people with mental illness receive treatment — less than 40 percent. Even though three-quarters of mental illnesses emerge by the end of — by the age of 24, only about half of children with mental health problems receive treatment. Now think about it: We wouldn’t accept it if only 40 percent of Americans with cancers got treatment. We wouldn’t accept it if only half of young people with diabetes got help. Why should we accept it when it comes to mental health? It doesn't make any sense.

Here in Massachusetts, children's mental health care was in the news this month when Cambridge Health Alliance announced plans to shrink its acute mental health services for children and teens. The plan was to consolidate Cambridge Hospital's child assessment unit and adolescent assessment unit, effectively eliminating 11 beds. A passionate response prompted lawmakers to promise some potential short-term funding so Cambridge Hospital withdrew its plan. But is this just a band-aid? What is really facing children and their parents when it comes to mental health services in Massachusetts?  We take a closer look.


Lisa Lambert, executive director of the Parent/Professional Advocacy League

David Matteodo, executive director, Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems

Dr. Susan Swick, chief of child psychiatry, Newton Wellesley Hospital

This segment aired on June 3, 2013.


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