Access to Services

Receiving the proper services can greatly improve the lives of children with mental health conditions. However, accessing and paying for these services are often difficult for parents. The Children’s Mental Health Campaign is working to ensure that all children are able to receive the treatment they need. 

Pediatric Psychiatric Boarding

The CMHC has received a grant from the C.F. Adams Charitable Trust for a project whose goal is to develop a better understanding of psychiatric "boarding," a problem facing children and adolescents with mental health disorders, their caregivers, health care providers, and hospitals across the Commonwealth. Boarding occurs when a person in mental health crisis requires inpatient psychiatric care, but there are no clinically appropriate resources, leading to prolonged stays in hospital Emergency Departments (EDs) or on medical units. The CMHC is gathering qualitative and quantitative data and compiling research in order to develop and advance a set of strategic policy recommendations which, when implemented, will address the underlying causes of boarding and facilitate access to care for children with serious mental illness.

Mental Health Parity

State and federal parity laws require most health insurers to cover mental health and substance abuse treatment for children under the same terms and conditions as they cover other medical services. However, problems persist. Families report that denials of coverage, burdensome health plan approval processes, inadequate behavioral health provider networks, and other issues continue to block their access to appropriate care. CMHC advocates to improve oversight and enforcement of these important laws. If you feel that your rights under the parity law have been violated, you please contact Health Law Advocates.

Mental Health Payment Reform

In 2012, the Massachusetts Legislature passed Chapter 224, a massive payment reform law which aims 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. The Children's Mental Health Campaign is now working to ensure that the behavioral health system of care is strengthened by Chapter 224. This law also 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.