The Children’s Mental Health Campaign (CMHC) grew out of an initial collaboration between Boston Children’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC). In 2006, they published a study entitled “Children’s Mental Health In The Commonwealth: The Time Is NOW” which examined the system of care for children with mental health needs in Massachusetts.
MSPCC and Boston Children’s Hospital joined together with the Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL), Health Law Advocates, and Health Care for All to form CMHC in 2007.
From these five members of the executive committee, the CMHC has grown over the years to include a diverse coalition of over 200 endorsing organizations, families, advocates, health care providers, and educators who are dedicated to ensuring that every child in the Commonwealth receives the highest quality mental health care.
In 2018, the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) joined the Campaign's executive committee.
To learn more about the history of CMHC, click the image below!
The Campaign has converted its credibility and influence into several major policy accomplishments which have redefined the landscape of children's mental health system.
In 2008, the Campaign was instrumental in securing passage of two landmark laws:
- An Act Relative to Children's Mental Health (Chapter 321) creates a structure for enhancing early identification, treating children in the most appropriate setting, enhancing coordination among state health care agencies and establishing mechanisms for oversight of and input into the state children's mental health system.
- Chapter 256 strengthened the state's mental health parity law by expanding the categories of disorders for which health insurance plans must provide mental health benefits.
In 2011, the Campaign scored another major legislative victory when it led the drive to replace the state's CHINS (Child in Need of Services) system for coping with children with serious disciplinary issues (many of whom suffer from behavioral health challenges) with the new FaCES (Families and Children Engaged in Services) system which offers families access to community-based mental health treatment, special educational assistance and other services to keep children in school and out of the juvenile justice system.
In 2012, following efforts by the Campaign, the Massachusetts Legislature passed Chapter 224, a massive payment reform law to control health care cost growth through increased price transparency, adoption of alternative payment methods, investments in wellness and prevention, and an expanded primary care workforce. This law created the Behavioral Health Integration Task Force to examine services provided for behavioral health, substance use disorder, and mental health treatment and reimbursement practices for these services.
In 2014, the Campaign advocated for the inclusion of the Safe and Supportive Schools framework in Chapter 284 of the Acts of 2014, which focused on gun control. The provision requires schools to develop an action plan for creating safe and supportive environments and establishes a commission to assist schools through recommendations, grant programs, and technical assistance..
In 2019, the Campaign's legislation on increasing consumer transparancy about insurance provider networks passed as part of Chapter 124 of the Acts of 2019: An Act Relative to Children's Health and Wellness.
One factor key to the Campaign's success has been its determination to hold key stakeholders accountable. This work seldom garners headlines but is vital to ensuring compliance and effective regulation. The Campaign has earned a permanent seat at the table in mental health policy deliberations. The Campaign also has succeeded in securing the necessary funding for preserving critical state services and the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative. While remaining focused on effective implementation, the Campaign has preserved the flexibility to respond to emerging issues (such as its strong resistance to major cuts in inpatient pediatric mental health beds).
The Campaign's work has seen important changes at the system-level (e.g., reducing by half the number of children boarded in inappropriate inpatient units); state level (e.g., improved interagency communication and institutionalization of the Children's Behavioral Health Advisory Council); provider level (e.g., improving early screening of behavioral health challenges); and in the community (e.g., assessing school capacity for identifying and responding to behavioral health challenges).