Mental Health Policy for Children in Poverty

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When relating mental health policies and children living in poverty, the availability of financial coverage for mental health illness is usually a barrier to care. Studies have proven that poor family access to mental health care is because of health policies that do not support access. For example, in a study done by Gyamfi, he points out that “despite receipt of Medicaid and SSI, poor families received fewer services in general. He pointed out that, although it is easier to participate in Medicaid than SSI due to eligibility criteria, it has been well documented that as welfare caseloads decline, so does enrollment in Medicaid, which in consequent means that many people are losing health insurance and not receiving services”. Therefore, state action expanding insurance coverage for low income children and families can lead directly to increased service access (Behrens, et al. 2013). An example of this is implemented in Massachusetts, where the children’s behavioral health initiative, a component of MassHealth, requires primary care providers to offer standardized behavioral health screens at well child visits. However, it is still unknown how many are identified as needing follow up services (Behrens, et al. 2013). It is clear across the board that policy implications include the need for expansion of health insurance coverage for all children and the need to achieve parity for mental health benefits in private health insurance, regardless of family income (DeRigne, 2010). However, parents of children with long-term emotional or behavioral conditions often struggle to access and afford mental health services for their children (DeRigne, 2010). In his article DeRigne (2010) pointed out an interesting fact, “that when a child has ... ... middle of paper ... ...Odar, C., Canter, K. S., & Roberts, M. C. (2013). Future Directions for Advancing Issues in Children’s Mental Health: A Delphic Poll. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22(7), 903-911. Stroul, B. A., Pires, S. A., Armstrong, M. I., & Meyers, J. C. (1998). The impact of managed care on mental health services for children and their families. Future of Children, 8, 119-133. Tolan, P. H., & Dodge, K. A. (2005). Children's mental health as a primary care and concern: a system for comprehensive support and service. American Psychologist, 60(6), 601. Tuma, J. M. (1989). Mental health services for children: The state of the art. American Psychologist, 44(2), 188. Yoshikawa, H., Aber, J. L., & Beardslee, W. R. (2012). The effects of poverty on the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children and youth: Implications for prevention. American Psychologist, 67(4), 272.

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