Mass.’ Failure to Measure Children’s Mental Health Care Underscores Lack of Parity
August 09, 2012
CMHNetwork Advisory Council member Lisa Lambert is part of the Massachusetts Children’s Mental Health Campaign. The Campaign just completed a report on children’s mental health care in Massachusetts and the findings are not good. In a nutshell, there is a paucity of outcome data for mental health care. How do we make a case for the types of services we know work for children and families if we don’t have the data to back it up? Are you listening researchers and funding administrators?
Children with mental disorders are found in every school and in every community. Public and private insurers are expending a billion dollars a year in providing mental health services for Massachusetts children and youth. However, while we are measuring outcomes for physical health care, we are not doing so for mental health care. No one knows whether our children are actually getting the care they need to get better.
The Children’s Mental Health Campaign released a new report today, “Measuring Children’s Mental Health Care: What Massachusetts Needs to Do to Raise the Grade,” and it is a sobering document. When the Campaign began this project, we intended to produce a “report card” that graded the state as a whole, including both its public and private sectors, on key system indicators such as service availability, access, integration of care, and outcomes. However, as we examined the available data, we found a lack of comprehensive, standardized and validated performance measures that would allow for objective comparison over time. We decided that it would be unfair to issue grades based on data of such uneven quality and scope. The only area the Campaign could grade with confidence was the Commonwealth’s capacity to evaluate its child mental health services, and in that area, the Commonwealth failed.
The Campaign is committed to addressing the need to measure the effectiveness of the child mental health system, and to ensure that children and youth receive the services they need on a timely basis. Thus, this report concludes with recommendations to the Commonwealth, which as a regulator, provider and payer for mental health care has the responsibility to lead and monitor efforts to evaluate and improve the mental health care provided for our children.
David R. DeMaso, MD, Psychiatrist-in-Chief & Chairman of Psychiatry Boston Children’s Hospital
Marylou Sudders, President and CEO Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director Health Care For All
Lisa Lambert, Executive Director Parent / Professional Advocacy League
Matt Selig, Executive Director Health Law Advocates