(WFSB) – Confusing, frustrating, hopeless.
Words parents used when speaking to Channel 3’s I-Team about Connecticut’s youth mental health system.
Tonight, the I-Team is here with a list of resources and services available to help parents navigate the system. You can find them listed below.
“He loves art, they used art at school to calm him down.”
For privacy reasons, we spoke to a local mother who didn’t want to reveal the name of her or her 8-year-old son.
But she wanted to share her struggle to find the right mental health resources in Connecticut.
“Frustrated is the word that keeps coming to mind.”
She says her 8-year-old son suffered from extreme emotional and behavioral problems last summer.
“Scream, scream, hit, kick, bite,” she says. “He’s a good hearted boy but he just fights with his emotions when he gets too deep in the red zone. It just can’t regulate itself and it won’t come down.”
But after two ER visits, multiple program screenings, and even more hours spent leaving voice messages for programs that might be a good fit, her son still doesn’t have an official diagnosis — or a next step.
“In the end I still have nothing for my poor son,” says the mother. “I think there’s just no clear plan on who to contact and how to offer these services to them.”
Mental Health Roadmap – 211 Mobile Crisis:
Many Connecticut professionals say the first step is to dial 211 and ask for their Mobile Crisis unit.
“We always tell families, if it’s a crisis for you, it’s a crisis for us, too,” says Tiffany Hubrins, licensed clinical social worker and director of Wheeler’s Children’s Outpatient and Community-based Services.
Hubrins is responsible for mobile crises at the Wheeler Clinic in Hartford, one of six agencies in the state offering this service, which provides immediate help to children and youth who are experiencing a behavioral or mental health condition or are in crisis.
In 2022, there were 17,591 calls to 211 requesting crisis intervention for youth and children. That’s around 48 calls a day.
Hubrins is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and says it’s her job to get a psychologist to the person who needs help in 45 minutes or less. You can also call and make an appointment for a later time.
“You can call us to anything beyond the sun. Typical behavioral health problems like depression and anxiety,” says Hubrins. “Sometimes everyday stress. It could be, “I can’t get Johnny to go to sleep tonight and I need some support.”
The same professionals create family safety plans, teach coping strategies, and connect the person who needs help with the right services before they leave.
“I like to call us the guru of referrals with referral sources,” says Hubrins.
LINK TO CARE WEBSITE/CARE COORDINATORS:
In addition to dialing 211, you can also learn about other services available on the site connecttocarect.org.
There you can search for services in your specific community as well as state.
You can also find licensed mental health professionals known as care coordinators if you don’t want to do this alone.
“We’re going to take a parent by the hand and say, okay, let’s hear what’s going on, and then that person will make the phone calls, make the connections, and make the connections,” says Michael C. Williams, the department’s deputy chief of operations for children and families.
These professionals can be found at local agencies, in some emergency rooms, and through Medicaid, and you can ask your health insurance carrier to coordinate care, Williams says.
“The time wasted calling the wrong place and going through the wrong door is sort of eliminated,” says Williams.
For children with severe emotional issues, mental illness, and substance use disorders, DCF Voluntary Care Management is another option.
In CT, DCF is responsible for child mental health resources, but you do not have to open a case with DCF to receive voluntary care from the state.
This used to happen before the state separated the two programs.
“We understood the fear that families had, the stigma,” says Williams.
If you’re concerned about the costs, there are two financial aid programs in Connecticut that you can apply for.
“One of these is a family support fund that provides families with financial support for activities, services, and interventions that they need or cannot afford,” says Williams. “Another fund is a social factor for health funds that’s really trying to address the root cause of some of the challenges that families and children face.”
As for the mother we spoke to, “I feel like I’m trying to work with a few different people in care management.”
Although she says care management can be helpful, her son doesn’t always succeed in attending the programs he needs. That’s why she thinks the state needs to do more.
“I would imagine it would be some sort of advocate to help you navigate the system, someone to guide you and persevere until you get what you need,” says Williams.
Now, DCF says it recognizes these programs don’t cover all mental disorders, but says they’re a good starting point for many families.
How to find the right program:
The I-Team is committed to coverage of CT’s Kids in Crisis and will continue to report on the issues affecting your children.
Here’s a list of the resources we’ve put together.
MOBILE CRISIS: You can access Mobile Crisis by dialing 211, pressing 1, and then pressing 1 again. You can also visit the website here: https://www.mobilecrisisempsct.org/.
CONNECTION WITH CARE: You can also find out about other available services on the website connecttocarect.org.
TRAUMA-INFORMED CARE: If you are looking for a network of trauma-informed, evidence-based mental health treatments for children, this infographic explains it in a bit more detail and includes a link to a searchable database of providers offering treatments in CT: www.chdi.org/ebt
Parents and caregivers can also find information and access the searchable directory at www.kidsmentalhealthinfo.com. The website was created for parents in CT.
For a summary of CT-specific behavioral health resources for families, visit the State of CT website: https://plan4children.org/resources/
Child First Expansions is a home visiting model aimed at families who have the greatest need. This service provides home assessment, family plan development, therapeutic parent-child interventions, and case management for education and care coordination for high-risk families with children under the age of six, including pregnant women, to reduce social-emotional and behavioral problems, developmental and learning problems, and abuse and neglect. You can call 211 to be connected: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DCF/Substance_Abuse/pdf/2022/Child-First-AIM-Fact-Sheet_rev2022.pdf
Grants for family support: Funding for families to cover the cost of prescription medications or treatments for child and adolescent behavioral disorders, or the cost of intensive evidence-based services to treat mental and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents, intensive in-home child and adolescent psychiatric services (IICAPS), and outpatient intensive care program services (IOP) if the costs are not covered by Medicaid or private insurance. You can ask DCF Voluntary Care about it.
Social determinants financial support: Provision of mental health services to children identified as having a social factor resulting in their inability to access the services. You can ask DCF Voluntary Care about this.
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