WSHU Radio Discusses Children's Mental Health with CHDI's Jeffrey Vanderploeg (2022)
Children's mental health was a key issue this legislative session as the state emerged from the pandemic. Over the past several years, Connecticut has seen an increase in emergency department visits for children's behavioral health issues and youth are experiencing more frequent and more acute mental health issues. To address this increased need, the legislature allocated significant funding (approximately $200 million) for children's mental health in this year's state budget.
Tom Kuser, host of the The Full Story on WSHU Public Radio, talked with Jeff Vanderploeg about the increased funding for children's mental health and what he hopes to see as a result. They also discussed Jeff's recent CT Viewpoints article, "Reimagining Connecticut's Behavioral Health System for Children," which outlines three key issues he urged lawmakers to address during this session to improve Connecticut’s system of behavioral health services:
- Support the behavioral health workforce
- Expand key services
- Invest in quality
Jeff said the legislature got off to a very good start this session with investments in a system that has long been underfunded. He was pleased to see provisions to support the behavioral health workforce as the field struggles to attract and retain clinicians.
The legislature addressed current gaps in care by establishing a peer-to peer mentoring program and new behavioral health crisis stabilization services (urgent care), however he noted that the foundation of our behavioral health system - outpatient care - is also in critical need of investment. In terms of improving the quality of care, there are already a number of good infrastructure elements embedded into Connecticut's current system, but this is an area that will need future attention from the legislature. Issue of equity and access are also areas we need to continue to track and address. We know that evidence-based treatments work for all kids, and reduce disparities in outcomes for children of color.
The interview is the fourth segment in the May 6, 2022 show, "The Connecticut state budget is finalized. What's in it for residents?"
Listen to the show.