Saying that "understanding our mental health system is a challenge, and
navigating it can at times prove frustrating for parents of children with mental
health issues," the Boston Bar Association (BBA) today announced the publication
of the third edition of the Parents'
How-To Guide to Children's Mental Health Services in Massachusetts.
"This Guide reflects the legal talent, experience and public-spiritedness
of our Health Law Section," said BBA President Lisa Goodheart. "Kudos to Michael
Blau, the Guide's Editor-in-Chief, and also to our wonderful partner in this
effort, Children's Hospital Boston."
This newest edition expands the Guide to address developmental and autism
spectrum disorders, broadens the discussion of school-based and special
education programs, and adds many new references to the Resource List at the end
of the Guide. This edition also updates the Guide to incorporate recent
developments which include:
- The Patient Protection and Affordable Health
Care Act of 2010 - our national health reform legislation - which, among other things,
extends health insurance coverage to children through age 26.
- New coordination of care initiatives, such as Unified
Planning Teams, that bridge programs and Departments within the Executive
Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), and the Children's Behavioral
Health Initiative, which establishes a new coordinated system of
community-based mental health services.
- New anti-bullying legislation that protects children
who may be suffering from mental illness from being bullied at school.
- New federal behavioral health parity protections.
- New programs, and changes to existing programs, offered by various state
agencies within EOHHS, as well as by the Commonwealth's education and
The genesis of the Children's Mental Health Guide goes back to 2001,
when the BBA Health Law Section, became concerned about (1) reports that children and
adolescents were being forced to wait in emergency rooms and hospitals without
mental health services because appropriate treatment facilities were full, and
(2) reports that families with children in need of mental health services were
facing widespread problems of access to services, funding for services,
coordination of services and responsibility for care.
Working with a broad coalition of state and private players in the mental
health arena, the BBA Health Law Section convened a summit that led to a renewed
focus on helping parents navigate the mental health system to obtain the
services they need for their children. The first Guide was published in 2004,
and last updated in 2009.