Saturday, June 04, 2005

Mental Health Screening Plan Coming to Illinois

Here's a follow up regarding the outcome of the IL Childrens Mental Health Act in the June School Reform News published by the Heartland Institute.
Parents express concern about program’s assumptions, reach
Written By: Fran Eaton

some scattered excerpts:
According to the ICMHP, a group of mental health advisors in the state, one of every 10 children in Illinois suffers from a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, "severe enough to cause some level of impairment”.

The state, they said, is no longer assuming children are mentally healthy--with this program, it will presume all children need mental health services unless tests prove otherwise. That paradigm shift concerns parents who don't believe psychiatric evaluation is an appropriate part of a local public school's mission.

"Therein lies the problem," said Karen Hayes, associate director of Concerned Women for America-Illinois. "Those setting this new system up don't like to admit this, but in order for them to determine what 'mental health' is, they need to define what 'mental illness' is. That's where they get into dangerous territory."

Below is a quote from B Shaw in this article, but what she says about the intentions is not what is documented in the ICMHP or the New Freedom Initiative. She's not the only one to do this. Truth is good.
"Our biggest concern is that all children and expectant mothers have access to good mental health care," ICMHP Director Barbara Shaw said.

Sounds good...followed by the big whoops
"We have no intention of setting up a mandatory system of screening. We just want the 20 percent of children who need mental health care to get what they need."

Disputing that comment is one of the ICMH Plan's priority recommendations (to be carried out in 1-2 years) which stated:
Screen all women for depression during pregnancy and following the birth of a child up to one year post partum, and provide necessary follow-up treatment services.

And the short term recommendations' importance was clarified by Karen VanLandeghem, speaking at the Assoc of Maternal & Child Health Programs 2004 Conference,who, as a speaker, sent regrets from B Shaw and stated:
one big challenge is moving from broad recommendations to concrete action steps. Again, we have these 50 recommendations and we're really trying to hone in on what are those ones we want to do in the next two years in terms of changing the system.

And check out the Report on pages 10 and 11 under Key Findings and Principles, in particular the early prevention and intervention efforts.

More excerpts from the article:
That far-reaching system is already being put into place: By the end of 2004, the ISBE had incorporated social and emotional developmental measures into the Illinois Learning Standards.
While the state's current fiscal crisis may prevent the plan from being fully implemented as soon as it's presented to Blagojevich at the end of June, some aspects will be initiated this year. Most funding for the plan will follow children deemed in need of assistance through federal health care programs such as Medicaid and Kidcare.

It has already followed many of these children. At a Fee-For-Service Initiatives Committee hearing in Springfield last month, I listened to the Dept of Public Aid spokesperson mention that all Illinois children that are in the Medicaid
system are now screened for 'mental health'. Representative Mary
, who voted against the Children's Mental Health Act asked some very pointed questions about this information. She ‘gets it’ and was pretty awesome in speaking her mind.

Also in the Plan, one of the strategies listed was to “research the existing barriers that keep women from being screened during pregnancy and post birth of a child in Illinois”.
One last article excerpt:
The Illinois Children's Mental Health Act of 2003, which focuses on early intervention and prevention of mental health problems, calls for a plan to link the state Office of Mental Health with the Department of Public Aid, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and every school district statewide. Under the law, a final plan to do so must be on the governor's desk by June 30.

They’re poised and ready to roll July 1st. Here's only part of what's listed in the Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health Index regarding future plans. The State Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Initiative (SECCS)led by the Illinois Department of Human Services/Office of Family Health is looking at all Illinois Children birth to five for the goal of implementing a comprehensive system of services for families with young children through collaboration with the Birth to Five Project and the Illinois Early Learning Council.
The Office of Family Health has a State Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (SECCS) Initiative that is funding training in 2005 for front-line providers (WIC, FCM, TPS, PTS, HFI, HCC-IL) on screening and referring for perinatal depression and social emotional delays in development.

It's a Brave New World unless we stop this craziness.

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