Children`s Mental Health Issues

Children’s Mental Health Issues
Despite common misconceptions, children do develop mental illnesses. In Minnesota law they are
referred to as having an emotional disturbance or a serious emotional disturbance. We know that
early identification and treatment can make all the difference in a child’s ability to succeed in
school and develop healthy relationships with peers and family.
Much progress has been made in identifying the best treatment interventions for children and
adolescents. However, limited funding and problems with accessing treatment remain barriers for
many families and children. A shortage of qualified mental health professionals who specialize in
working with children and families is a particular issue in greater Minnesota.
Access to Residential Treatment
Families of children who need residential treatment must wait for approval from both the county
and health plan if they are covered by PMAP. Having a consistent time frame for decisions would
help children access these services in a more timely fashion or allow families to appeal if their
request for services is denied.
Day Treatment
Day treatment consists of group psychotherapy and other intensive therapeutic services that are
provided for a minimum two-hour time block by a multidisciplinary staff under the clinical
supervision of a mental health professional. Day treatment may include education and consultation
provided to families. The services are aimed at stabilizing the child's mental health status, and
developing and improving the child's daily independent living and socialization skills. Funding for
day treatment programs is inconsistent around the state and many of the services provided are not
eligible for medical assistance reimbursement.
The education services that are offered to youth in day treatment and residential treatment
programs are governed by the local district’s school year which means that summer school is not
available for most of these young people. We know that children who have mental illnesses are
frequently behind in school and benefit from extended school days and summer school. Studies
show that the further behind a student is in his/her academics, the more likely it is that he or she
will drop out of school. Students in day treatment and residential treatment should automatically
qualify for summer school.
Bills of Interest:
HF 2665 (Mullery) The bill would require the Departments of Human Services and Corrections to work together to
develop discharge plans for juvenile offenders at Red Wing who have a serious mental illness or and emotional
SF 2177 (Rest) /HF 2714 (Peterson) Increases the safe schools levy which can be used for a number of things,
including paying for social workers, psychologists, and counselors.
HF 664 (Welti)/SF 1531(Torres Ray) Directs the Commissioner of Education in consultation with mental health
organizations to establish a model mental health curriculum for middle school and high school teachers
HF 2515 (Mullery and Carlson) Establishes crisis intervention team training for school liaison officers.