Report Provides Guidance for School Districts and State Policymakers to Address Students’ Trauma & Mental Health Needs

It is described as a “framework to advance policy and strategic school district planning to more effectively address the mental health and trauma needs of students and promote student success.”  A new report, driven by research highlighting the connection between mental health and educational outcomes, is aimed at school districts looking to increase integration of student mental health services and supports. The 40-page report, developed by The Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut (CHDI), a subsidiary of the Children’s Fund of Connecticut, in partnership with the national Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland, provides a framework for policymakers and school districts interested in improving outcomes by addressing the mental health and trauma needs of students. The report indicates that “in a typical classroom of 25 students, approximately five will meet criteria for a mental health disorder but most of them are not receiving appropriate mental health treatment or support. Among those who do access care, approximately 70 percent receive services through their schools.”

Connecticut is cited as an example of how states can promote collaborations within and across the behavioral health, education, and juvenile justice systems to provide an array of trauma-informed, evidence-based, and tiered services for students.  It notes that school principals indicate that mental health is one of the most challenging unmet needs among their students and schools are increasingly seen as a critical setting for the delivery of mental health services.

The report provides “a blueprint and resources to guide state policymakers and school district leaders," including:

  • an overview of core components of the Comprehensive School Mental Health
  • Systems (CSMHS) model structured around family-school-community partnerships and the delivery of evidence-based mental health services within a multi-tiered system of supports;
  • examples of best practice strategies to develop, implement, and sustain CSMHS;
  • a model for a trauma-informed multi-tiered system of supports for school mental health;
  • creative approaches to advance policy and funding structures to sustain CSMHS; and
  • recommendations for state-level policymakers, districts, and schools to advance a comprehensive statewide system of school mental health to improve outcomes for all students.

“Approaching student mental health with a comprehensive lens that integrates health promotion, prevention, early intervention, and more intensive treatments leads to better school, student and community outcomes," said Dr. Sharon Hoover, Co-Director of the Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland and lead author of the report.

National prevalence rates indicate that approximately 20 percent of children meet criteria for a mental health disorder; however, many children’s mental health needs are not identified and the majority of children with identified challenges do not receive services, the report explained.  Among those who do access care, approximately 70 percent receive services through their schools. Linking children to services through their schools reduces many traditional barriers to care. School mental health services are also associated with higher completion rates than treatment delivered in traditional outpatient community-based settings.

The report uses Stamford Public Schools (SPS) as a” local model for improving outcomes by adopting a trauma informed approach to school mental health.” CHDI began working with SPS in 2014 to conduct a review of the district’s mental health system and to develop a plan to enhance trauma-informed mental health services district-wide.  That plan was subsequently implemented, and “lessons learned in Stamford are being used to engage other Connecticut districts to … integrate school and community-based mental health services, and promote quality and sustainability of these enhancements.”

“Schools are well positioned to promote wellness and social emotional competence for all students, as well as identify and address mental health concerns for students in need,” said Dr. Jeana Bracey, Director of School and Community Initiatives at CHDI and report co-author. “However, the responsibility is not on schools alone to integrate or fund these supports. This framework helps districts connect to and collaborate with Connecticut’s robust network of trauma-informed state and community-based services and programs so all students can be successful.”

The report concludes that a “systematic and streamlined partnership between families, schools, and communities to support a continuum of mental health supports in schools can lead to better behavioral health for all students, as well as increased access, earlier identification and intervention, and ultimately better outcomes for students with mental health challenges.”

[Visit to download the IMPACT report or to read more about CHDI’s work related to school mental health.]

Correctional Institutions or Institutions for the Mentally Ill? Governments Seek New Solutions

How to effectively respond to the fact that America’s prisons have rapidly become de facto institutions for the mentally ill is increasingly gaining attention in policy circles and the news media.  In recent days, The New York Times, Governing magazine, and other publications have focused both on the alarming statistics and some innovative approaches across the country. There are now 10 times as many mentally ill people in the nation’s 5,000 jails and prisons as there are in state mental institutions, according to a study last year by the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit group that supports expanded access to treatment, the Times reported.

In Connecticut, out of the 16,154 inmates in state prisons, about 3,423 have a serious mental illness, 21 percent of the total prison population, Michael Lawlor, undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning at the Office of Policy and Management, told the New Haven Register earlier this year. Just a few years ago, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimated that approximately 16 percent of the state’s prison population consisted of persons with mental illness.

The State Department of Correction confirms that those defined as “seriously mentally ill” include 17 percent of the male population, 66 percent of the female population, and 20.8 percent of the overall prison population in the state.

According to the Council of State Governments, jails in the U.S. report that between 20 and 80 percent of their inmates suffer from a mental illness, Governing reported.   Today’s acute challenge has been decades in the making.  In the mid-1950’s, the publication indicated, more than 500,000 people were held in state psychiatric hospitals.  “By the 1980s that number had fallen to around 70,000.  During this period, the number of people with mental illnesses who were arrested and ended up in local jails surged.”

Chicago’s Cook County Jail, now referred to by local officials as the nation’s largest mental institution in the country, has 8,600 inmates – an estimated one-third of them suffering from mental illness.  The newly appointed warden of the facility is a clinical psychologist – underscoring “how much the country’s prisons have become holding centers for the mentally ill,” the Times reported.

imprisioned-mentally-illWriting in the Connecticut Law Review, Christina Canales observed that “Many supported deinstitutionalization because they believed that the mentally ill would benefit from being released from the state hospitals.  They believed that with the assistance of anti-psychotic medications, the mentally ill would be able to live independently in the community and that the community mental health centers would provide the additional care, treatment, and follow up services.

“Although a good plan in theory,” Canales concludes, “deinstitutionalization quickly became one of the main reasons for the substantial increase in mentally ill people in jails and prisons. Patients were ejected from state mental hospitals at a substantially faster rate than community mental health programs were created.”

The Law Review article, published three summers ago, concludes that “the United States faces a crisis in that prisons are among the largest mental healthcare providers. Some mentally ill individuals turned to crime after deinstitutionalization left them on the streets with no support system. Others wound up in prison because police officers lacked the proper training to identify persons as mentally ill and in crisis, or mistakenly believed that individuals receive adequate treatment in prison. The change in civil commitment laws also made it harder to commit the mentally ill, and society as a whole wants these individuals punished, mentally ill or not.”prison

Earlier this year, the Connecticut state legislature considered – but did not approve - a bill that would have established a pilot program to serve courts in New Haven, New London and Norwich to identify and track the mentally ill, along with homeless and addicted individuals entering the criminal justice system. The idea behind it was to get these individuals treatment and help as an alternative to incarceration and to prevent future arrests, according to published reports. The initiative also called for a formal assessment of its effectiveness.

In Chicago, the Times reported, “before becoming warden, Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia oversaw mental health care at the jail, and under her guidance, Cook County began offering services that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. All inmates upon arrival now see a clinician who collects a mental health history to ensure that anyone who is mentally ill gets a proper diagnosis and receives medication. The jail then forwards that information to judges in time for arraignments in the hope of convincing them that in certain cases, mental health care may be more appropriate than jail.”

According to a report by the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, 95 percent of the public psychiatric beds available in 1955 in the country were no longer available by 2005, the New Haven Register reported.  The Center recommends a minimum of 50 beds per 100,000 people, a standard that no state meets. Connecticut has about 20 public psychiatric beds per 100,000 people, according to the center’s website. Between 1995 and 2013, the number of inpatient psychiatric beds, at both public and private hospitals, decreased from 160,645 to 107,055 nationally, according to data from the American Hospital Association.

Connecticut, which recently approved a Second Chance Society Act proposed by Gov. Malloy that reduces some criminal sentences for nonviolent offenses and drug possession, is expected to reduce the number of people incarcerated for drug use, which officials expect will also reduce the number of mentally ill in prisons, “since drug use and mental health problems frequently coexist in a significant group” of the population.

The Governing article highlights a diversion system in Miami-centered Dade County in Florida, a post-booking alternative program that permits individuals arrested for “misdemeanor offenses and identified as having acute mental illnesses” to be transferred to mental health treatment facilities.  The results, according to the publication:

“About 80 percent of people offered the chance to participate in the program accepted it.  What was surprising was how many people stayed out of the system afterward.  An evaluation conducted soon after the program began found that recidivism rates one year out among participants who complete the program was just 20 percent.  In contrast, 72 percent of peers who did not participate in the program were back in jail within one year of their release.”



Prison System As De facto Mental Health Service Center Brings Personal, Fiscal Costs

The UConn Health Center, on the pages of its Correctional Managed Health Care website, points out that “the public health burden that jails and prisons bear is enormous. A disproportionate number of incarcerated individuals are medically and/or psychiatrically compromised.” Connecticut is one of only six states with an integrated jail and prison system.

Statewide, each of the 24,936 annual jail and prison “admissions” requires a medical and mental health intake health screening. Generally, the website notes, “one out of five requires prompt medical or mental health intervention.” Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, severe personality disorders, traumatic brain injury and addictive disorders are “overrepresented in this population,” the website indicates.

Mental health services aMental_Healthre available at all prisons and jails in the state, with comprehensive mental health programs at Osborn, Northern, York, Manson Youth, and Garner correctional institutions. Mental health services are comprehensive from admission to discharge, the website explains, and “focus on access to care and outreach, screening and assessment, identification, treatment planning, classification, provision of distinct levels of service and continuity of care upon discharge to the community.”

The mental health department includes approximately 14 psychiatrists, 17 psychologists, 10 mental health nurse practitioners, 19 psychiatric nurse clinicians, 69 social workers, and 15 professional counselors to serve the needs of approximately 19 percent of the inmate population, about 3,400 individuals.  The website indicates that as of June 2013, the prison population was 17,998 individuals (16,985 incarcerated and 1,013 in halfway houses).

A  recent The New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof posited that people suffering from mental illness often commit a crime in order to obtain treatment.  Because of the acute shortage of treatment facilities outside of prison, decades after the wholesale closing of mental health care facilities nationwide, prisons have become the nation’s de facto treatment centers.  Among the stark facts outlined:

  • More than half of prisoners in the United States have a mental health problem, according to a 2006 U.S. Justice Department Study.
  • Among female inmates, almost three-quarters have a mental disorder.
  •  Nationwide, more than three times as many mentally ill people are housed in prisons and jails as in hospitals, according to a 2010 study by the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Treatment Advocacy Center.
  • Forty percent of people with serious mental illnesses have been arrested at some point in their lives
  •  Taxpayers spend as much as $300 or $400 a day supporting patients with psychiatric disorders while they are in jail, partly because the mentally ill require mediation and extra supervision and care.
  • In 1955, there was one bed in a psychiatric ward for every 300 Americans; now there is one for every 3,000 Americans, according to a 2010 study.

Writing in the Connecticut Law Review, Christina Canales pointed out in 2012 that “Although a good plan in theory, deinstitutionalization quickly became one of the main reasons for the substantial increase in mentally ill individuals in prisons.  Many of the originally considered community mental health centers were never developed, leaving such individuals with nowhere to turn for treatment.”

The 2013 Legislation Report of the National Alliance on Mental Illness indicated that “Disproportionate numbers of people with mental illness are involved in the criminal justice system often as a result of untreated or undertreated mental illnesprisons. Thoughtful release planning and progressive probation or parole procedures increase the likelihood of successful re-entry for prisoners living with mental illness.”

In FY 2013, the UConn Health Center website details, there were 191,202 visits to social workers, psychologists and psychiatric nurse clinicians, including suicide risk assessments within DOC facilities. In addition, there were 20,056 visits to psychiatrists and 16,826 visits to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.

The Connecticut Health Investigative Team (C-HIT) has reported that in 2003, "an estimated 13 percent were considered mentally ill."  In 2003, Connecticut’s prison population was 19, 605, according to the Office of Policy and Management’s Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division.  That would have been approximately 2,549 individuals.

State Mental Health Budgets, Cut During Recession, Increase After Newtown Tragedy, Report Finds

State mental health budgets were gutted during the recession, according to a report issued by the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), and are only now beginning to return to previous levels in most states, even as mental health needs are becoming better known and growing.

“With reductions totaling $4.35 billion from FY2009 to FY2012, public mental health systems struggled to meet rising demand with diminishing resourcesnami,” the report indicated. Then, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on December 14, 2012 provided “a major impetus for lawmakers to propose legislation which would impact children and adults living with mental illness,” the 63-page report indicated.

Nearly 60 million Americans experience a mental health condition every year, according to the organization. Regardless of race, age, religion or economic status, mental illness impacts the lives of at least one in four adults and one in 10 children across the United States.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization.  NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raise awareness and build a community for hope for all of those in need.

“Realizing the risks of failure to provide adequate public mental health services, governors and legislatures in many states began the process of restoring state mental health budgets,” according to the report, “Trends, Themes & Best Practices in State Mental Health Legislation.”

The report concludes that “Dramatic changes in American healthcare finance and delivery systems combine with an improving economy and a growing array of best practices to provide a window of opportunity in the next few years to transform the mental health system and integrate care across systems.”

In addition, NAMI recommends that “advocates and policy makers should continue the work of building the mental health system of the future, one in which mental illness is identified as it emerges and an array of proven, cost-effective services are available as needed to provide children, youth and adults with the mental health care they need to stabilize, recover and live healthy lives.”

Looking ahead to the 2014 state legislative sessions, NAMI issued a series of recommendations including: mental health budgets

  • Actively engage in outreach and enrollment
  • Increase integrated care
  • Increase the mental health workforce capacity
  • Identify mental illness and intervene early
  • Build the bridge from Medicaid to private health coverage
  • Increase access to supported employment services
  • Increase housing with supportive services
  • Increase justice system diversion strategies
  • Comply with mental health parity
  • Expand Medicaid

Most states either increased or maintained state mental health authority budgets at current levels during 2013 legislative sessions. Of special note, the report indicated, is Texas which allocated a $259 million increase over the previous biennial budget, the largest mental health budget improvement in the state’s history. South Carolina reversed previous cuts to its mental health budget while Illinois restored $32 million that had been cut in 2011 due to an administrative error. In California, an additional $143 million was allocated to create crisis and triage positions throughout the state.

The report stated that “A tipping point on the heels of several recent mass shootings, the Newtown tragedy shaped the debate about the lack of access to mental health services and the barriers that many families and individuals face in light of the nation’s fragmented and grossly inadequate mental health system.”

After the Newtown tragedy NAMI advocated for policies supporting early identification and intervention, training for school personnel, families and the public, mental health services in schools and increased access to care.

The report highlights actions by states in 2013 in areas including mental health system monitoring, early identification and mental health screening, services for transitional youth, school mental health training and services, mental health facilities and suicide prevention.  Also included are elements of state legislation in law enforcement areas such as juvenile justice, incarceration and the courts.  A final section looks at stigma reduction efforts in the states.

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.  Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder.

Connecticut resident Marilyn Ricci, a past president of NAMI Connecticut, serves on the national NAMI Board of Directors, and is on the board of NAMI Farmington Valley in Connecticut, which she helped found in 2004.  Kevin Sullivan, a former Connecticut Lieutenant Governor currently serving as Commissioner of Revenue Services, is a past Board member of the organization. The state legislative report was issued on October 28, 2013.

Hartford Hospital Will Devote Annual Fundraiser to Mental Health

The call to action regarding mental health awareness and treatment, which intensified in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders a year ago, now has a strong local voice for the New Year.  Hartford Hospital is kicking off a campaign to end the stigma of mental illness at the annual Black & Red Gala on January 25, 2014 at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford. The goal is to obtain 5,000 pledges, spreading the message that changing attitudes can begin to change minds.

Proceeds raised at this year’s Black &Red will benefit the Institute of Living (IOL) at Hartford Hospital. The IOL will be better able to respond to this national call to action with improved access to mental health care for adolescents and young adults –a critical need not only in Connecticut, but throughout the nation. Support will help carry out critically needed research, offer increased shhMainLogoSubervices and treatments, and provide much needed education to those impacted by mental illness.

An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time.

Mental health stigma can be divided into two distinct types, according to the Hartford Hospital website:

  • social stigma is characterized by prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals with mental health problems as a result of the psychiatric label they have been given.
  • perceived stigma or self-stigma, is the internalizing by the mental health sufferer of their perceptions of discrimination and perceived stigma can significantly affect feelings of shame and lead to poorer treatment outcomes.StopTheStigma_WordsMatter

The annual gala – Hartford Hospital's lead fundraising event - will feature entertainment by Barenaked Ladies, winner of two American Billboard Music Awards and two Grammy nominations.

Individuals attending the event will be asked to sign a “pledge” to...

  • Show compassion by reaching out to those in need of help. I will not let anyone suffer in silence.
  • Have the courage to speak up and challenge stereotypes and attitudes. I will not tolerate or perpetuate stigma.
  • Teach by sharing my own experiences with mental illness and encouraging others to share their stories with me. I will learn in order to change.
  • Demand a change in how we view and address mental illness. I will help lead the way.

The pledge, and additional information about mental illness and the Hartford Hospital initiative, is now available on a new webpage on the Hospital’s website, at   Individuals do not need to attend the event in order to sign the pledge – that can be accomplished directly on the website.

 “We will be looking to our employees of Hartford Hospital and across the Hartford HealthCare system to take the pledge. As a healthcare leader in the community and the state, it is our duty to set the example and stop the stigma associated with mental illness. Together, we can do it,” said Stuart Markowitz, M.D., President Hartford Hospital and Hartford Region, Senior Vice President Hartford HealthCare.

Harold (Hank) Schwartz, M.D., Hartford HealthCare Regional Vice President, Psychiatrist in Chief, Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital, says for some people, a mental illness iol_logo_300x175may be a lifelong condition, like diabetes. “However, as with diabetes, proper treatment enables many people with a mental illness to lead fulfilling and productive lives. By helping combat the stigma associated with mental illness, we can help increase the number of people that seek treatment.”

Examples of common mental illnesses include bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, OCD, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, ADD/ADHD, autism and Asperger’s.  CT by the Numbers has previously reported on research underway at the Institute of Living.

A year ago, over $1,000,000 in net proceeds was raised at the Black & Red gala for Hartford Hospital’s transplant services.

Connecticut Well Represented in National Mental Health Dialogue

Keeping a commitment made in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders last December, President Barack Obama launched a national mental health dialogue at the White House Monday aimed at increasing understanding and awareness of mental health, and Connecticut organizations are involved in the efforts from the outset.

Among the initiatives announced during the day-long conference was a new national website,, and a series of public meetings to be held around the country under the “Creating Community Solutions” rubric.  Two of those community conversations will be in Connectwhite hosueicut – in Hartford and Norwalk – and one of the six national organizations coordinating the initiative has its headquarters in East Hartford.

The Center for Civic Engagement at the Hartford Public Library will organize the Hartford event as part of the National Dialogue on Mental Health. In response to unprecedented need for civic engagement, Hartford Public Library created the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE). The CCE aims to create a community change process, foster development of a community vision, contribute to a stronger, more successful community, and establish a civic engagement model.

The dialogue in Norwalk will be co-sponsored by the Fairfield County Community Foundation and the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board.  The Fairfield County Community Foundation promotes philanthropy to build and sustain a vital and prosperous community where all have the opportunCCSity to participate and thrive.  The Southwest Regional Mental Health Board is dedicated to ensure a quality system of comprehensive, recovery oriented mental health and addiction services that enhances the quality of life and well being of all residents of Southwest Connecticut.

The Creating Community Solutions initiative will allow participants to learn about mental health issues - from each other and from research - and to develop plans to improve mental health in their own communities, according to officials.   The national dialogue is to include young people who have experienced mental health problems, members of the faith community, foundations, and school and business leaders.

Among the six national “deliberative democracy” organizations involved in developing the Creating Community Solutions program is East Hartford-based Everyday Democracy, according to federal officials.  Everyday Democracy helps people organize, have dialogues, and take action on issues they care about, so that they can create communities that work for everyone. Its ultimate goal is to contribute to the creation of a strong, equitable democracy that values everyone's voice and participation.    Details about Everyday Democracy's role in the initiative and how partner communities and organizations can get involved will be available on the organization’s website in the coming dEDLOGOays.

Details regarding the date, location and registration information for the Hartford and Norwalk sessions will be available on a new website, at  The site is part of the national mental health website, which was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.   Thus far, community dialogues have been scheduled in New Mexico, California, Alabama, and Arizona, and an additional 29 sites – including the two in Connecticut – are making plans.   A Facebook page,, has also been launched.

Materials to support the conversations are being developed and will shortly be available for download, including an Information Brief, Organizing Guide and Discussion Guide.  In addition to Everyday Democracy, the organizations working together to design and implement Creating Community Solutions are America Speaks, Deliberative Democracy Consortium, National Issues Forums, the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, and the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

In addition, a number of national associations are asking their members or affiliates to organize local events. These groups include the United Way, American Bar Association, National League of Cities, YWCA, National School Public Relations Association, 4-H, Grassroots Grantmakers, Alliance for Children and Families, National Physicians Alliance, Association for Rural and Small Libraries, and the International Association for Public Participation, among others.

Early Identification of Mental and Behavioral Health Issues Critical, CT Study Finds

A recent report by the Connecticut-based Center for Children’s Advocacy revealed that early warning signs of mental and behavioral health problems are often not identified until middle school years, but could be uncovered much earlier. In any given year, the report noted that “about one out of every five Connecticut children (87,500 to 125,000) struggles with a mental health condition or substance abuse problem. More than half receive no treatment.”

With a grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation, Dr. Andrea Spencer, dean of the School of Education at Pace University and educational consultant to the Center for Children’s Advocacy, examined children’s educational records to identify how early these warning signs appear.  The report, issued in September 2012, documents the direct link between undiagnosed and unaddressed mental health issues with increases in school suspensions, expulsions and entry into the state’s juvenile justice system.  It also noted that:

  • Over 70% of students diagnosed with mental illness and behavioral health problems by middle school exhibited warning signs by second grade.
  • Almost 25% exhibited red flags during pre-Kindergarten years.

Early indicators, according to the report, included developmental and health issues, adverse social factors and exposure to trauma. The report, entitled “Blind Spot,” found that 25 percent of the children studied had documented traumatic experiences in their records  It recommends implementation of a series of initiatives:

  • Improve screening for mental health risk factors
  • Improve referral to early intervention services (mental health and special education)
  • Improve collaboration between service providers
  • Improve community and parent education about risk factors and support available
  • Improve training and accountability for school staff and other providers

“Red flags for mental and behavioral health problems are often clear before the end of second grade,” said Dr. Spencer. “It is imperative that we improve screening and identification so support for these children can be provided before their academic careers are at risk.”

As a result of this report, the Center for Children’s Advocacy - a Connecticut nonprofit that provides legal support for abused and neglected children - introduced a statewide policy initiative to improve the quality and standard of care for children insured through the Connecticut’s Medicaid (HUSKY A) plan.

In addition, the Center noted that the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) has agreed to convene a task force that includes representatives from the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Department of Children and Families, Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, Office of Policy and Management, Value Options (contracted provider of mental health services under HUSKY/ Medicaid), American Academy of Pediatrics (CT Chapter), Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists (CT Chapter), Head Start, developmental pediatricians, Birth to Three Program, Department of Education, and the Connecticut Health Development Institute.

The task force is to review current regulations, make recommendations regarding screening and treatment protocols, and provide recommendations on reimbursement rates for pediatric providers, according to a news release issued by the Center.



CT's Mental Health Services Ranking is Good, But "Citizens Deserve Better"

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in its ranking of states in 2009, placed Connecticut as among the top six states in the nation, along with Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oklahoma.  However, it described Connecticut as “a state of paradoxes” in mental health care and treatment, stressing that “Connecticut’s citizens deserve far better.” The state ranked 31st in the prevalence of mental illness, with 108,730 individuals, according to the organization, which pointed out that even in states with solid grades, “there is no doubt that many of their residents living with serious mental illnesses are not receiving the services and supports they need.”

Connecticut’s overall grade was “B,” according to the report, “Grading the States 2009.”  The Alliance graded states in four categories:  

  • Health Promotion and Measurement,
  • Financing & Core Treatment/Recovery Services,
  • Consumer & Family Empowerment, and
  • Community Integration and Social Inclusion.

Connecticut received a “C” in Community Integration and Social Inclusion, an “A” in Consumer and Family Empowerment – the only state in the nation to receive the top grade – and a “B” in the other two categories.

Three “urgent needs” were noted for Connecticut:  Increase community-based services, housing as an alternative to more restrictive placements, and ending nursing home warehousing.

In the days after the mass killings of 20 first-graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, questions have been raised about the role of mental health services as part of a state and national response to the tragedy.

Overall, NAMI gave the United States a grade of “D.”  In the 2009 report, NAMI reviewed progress made since the organization’s previous state-by-state report in 2006, and found state mental health agencies “making valiant efforts to improve systems and promote recovery despite rising demand for services, serious workforce shortages, and inadequate resources.  Many states are adopting better policies and plans, promoting evidence-based practices, and encouraging more peer-run and peer-delivered services.”

However, NAMI reported that “these improvements are neither deep nor widespread enough to improve the national average. The grades for almost half the states (23) remain unchanged since 2006, and 12 states have fallen behind.”

Nearly 60 million Americans experience a mental health condition every year, according to data cited by NAMI, which  is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for Americans affected by mental illness.

The 2009 report concluded that “Without a significant commitment from our nation’s leaders—in Washington, among governors, and in state legislatures—state mental health agencies will continue to struggle to provide even minimally adequate services to people living with serious mental illnesses.”

Specifically, the report noted that as a nation, “We have too few psychiatric beds, treatment services, and community-based supports for those who need them; people with mental illnesses are neglected until they reach the point of crisis, and are then dumped onto other systems. Across the nation, people with mental illnesses are unnecessarily incarcerated, homeless, out of work, and unable to access needed medicines. On top of it all, we have an extremely limited capacity to monitor and measure our own efforts—the very foundation of effective reform.”

See NAMI video