INDIANAPOLIS – One in eight young people in Indiana needed mental health treatment or counseling last year, according to the Department of Child Services, but there’s only one doctor for every 750 kids in the state.
The goal of the Children’s Mental Health Initiative is to provide quick help for families with kids who are experiencing behavior problems or mental health issues – before they wind up in court. In the past, said Katie Connel, DCS service manager, a parent would call the state for help and get shuffled around so much they’d sometimes give up. Funding was then provided so referral agencies would always be close at hand.
“Those sites are now in every 92 counties so families now have an option,” she said. “They have a number to call if there are significant behavioral health needs or if there are some mental-health needs that are not being met.”
Connel said it started as a pilot program in 2012, and was moved to all of Indiana’s counties in March 2014. So far, she said, more than 800 families have been helped.
“We’ve been able to keep kids in the right system, and we’ve been able to help families navigate some of our big service-delivery systems that may be a bit scary to them or just a bit overwhelming,” she said, “so even with that communication in general, I think we’ve been successful with many families.”
The point, she said, is to keep kids at home while they’re getting help as opposed to sending them away.
Information on the CMHI is available at in.gov.