Our Fiscal Year 2022 budget priorities reflect this comprehensive approach of home, school, and community:
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 statewide.
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.
This funding will maintain the Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids in the FRCs statewide with support from two paralegals.
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 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.
Funding will be dedicated to planning and collaboration with community stakeholders as well as further qualitative and quantitative data collection to support the development of a school-based behavioral health technical assistance center.
The FY21 budget included $10M for a new grant program within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services dedicated to the rapid creation of inpatient mental health acute care beds with priority given to the creation of beds specifically for children and adolescents. The Children’s Mental Health Campaign proposes an expansion of this fund through the creation of a $50M Innovation Fund that can address emergency department boarding and create better systems for supporting children in crisis.
This funding would maintain the original intent of the fund to stand up new inpatient acute psychiatric beds, while providing additional resources to ensure children’s needs are being met, including: increasing CBAT capacity, specialized safety training for staff, and ensuring children have access to comprehensive care before, during, and after a crisis.
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.