THE CAMPAIGN'S ADVOCACY IN THE FISCAL YEAR 2022 STATE BUDGET REFLECTS OUR CONTINUED COMMITMENT TO SUPPORTING CRITICAL PROGRAMS THAT MEET THE NEEDS OF YOUTH WITH BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CONDITIONS.
Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids: DCF Line Item #4800-0200
FRCs report growing mental health needs of families living in communities most impacted by the global pandemic. MHAP for Kids is a highly sought after program forging pathways for at-risk children to difficult-to-access mental health treatment. It is currently situated in the FRCs serving families in Bristol, Essex, Hampden, Middlesex, Norfolk Suffolk, and Worcester counties.
The MHAP for Kids attorneys are highly qualified advocates who eliminate obstacles to mental health services. They aim to divert children from possible or further court involvement, help children thrive in school, and reduce family conflict while minimizing costly emergency department visits and inpatient mental health treatment. Learn more about MHAP for Kids HERE.
The proposed funding will maintain the program in the FRCs, currently serving 7 counties with support from a dedicated intake worker and paralegal, and it will expand the program to all counties not currently served.
RETURN TO SCHOOL “BRIDGE” PROGRAMS: DPH LINE ITEM #4590-0250
The focus of Bridge programs is to ensure that youth who have been out of school for psychiatric or other hospitalizations can successfully transition back to school. Many districts already have these innovative programs, which provide emotional and academic support to students who have missed 5 or more days of school due to a mental health crisis, hospitalization, or serious medical problem. 50% of US high school students with serious mental illness drop out of school. Bridge programs are changing that script for Massachusetts youth with a short-term intervention that reduces drop-out rates to 8%.
Throughout the pandemic, Bridge programs continue to help schools create effective and efficient structures for helping students struggling with serious mental health and other medical challenges achieve success. Bridge programs have been working with school and district leaders, and entire school faculties across Massachusetts, to integrate school wide strategies and supports to promote mental health and equity for all students and families.
The proposed funding will enable the continuation of direct support for students struggling with serious mental health challenges, made possible by supporting Bridge program staff in schools (clinicians and academic coordinators) in adjusting their roles and developing skills needed to work effectively during this period.
School-based behavioral health technical assistance centers: dmh Line Item (5042-5000)
The Children’s Mental Health Campaign successfully advocated for a $50,000 earmark in the DMH Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services FY21 state budget to "be expended to provide services to address behavioral health needs arising from the impact of COVID-19, including the impact of remote learning, and services to assist school districts with behavioral health support." The earmark specifically calls for the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health to partner with the BIRCh Center to develop a plan for establishment of a school-based behavioral health technical assistance center.
Proposed funding will be dedicated to planning and collaboration with community stakeholders and coordinating qualitative and quantitative data collection.
The Children’s Mental Health Campaign (CMHC) has advocated for these priorities for several years. We appreciate the legislature’s ongoing, consistent funding of these important programs.