Children’s mental health is a critical building block for future adult health and a strong economy. CAMHI4Kids advocates to fix the patchwork of services that puts children’s well-being at risk by providing adequate, predictable, and sustainable funding for the Children’s Mental Health System in Iowa.
Iowans want a funded system.
For many years, Iowans have been asking our state leaders to fix the patchwork of services that cause families to struggle to know where to turn when they need help and to access the same array of services regardless of where they live. Adequate and sustainable funding for the Children’s Mental Health System would allow families to have the right services, at the right dose, at the right time and place, which can prevent significant illness later on. A funded system includes the services featured in this pyramid.
As Iowans, if we truly value a healthy workforce to drive our economy, then our health care system should include comprehensive and accessible mental health care across the lifespan, with specific prevention and early intervention services for children.
Our kids cannot wait.
Adequate and sustainable funding for the Children’s Mental Health System would ensure Iowa remains strong as we emerge from the pandemic. Schools are providing needed stability and structure, but families need greater support after experiencing incredible stress and isolation this past year.
- From April-October 2020, the proportion of children’s mental health-related emergency department visits among all pediatric emergency department visits increased 24% for children aged 5-11 and 31% for children aged 12-17, according to the CDC.
- The Iowa Poison Control has noticed a major increase in 11- to 14-year-old girls attempting suicide (February 2021).
- Many families working in the agriculture industry especially are struggling with multiple stressors over the past year that have increased mental health concerns for the entire family.
Children have unique needs.
Kids are not little adults. The first years of a child’s life are a critical opportunity for social, emotional, and cognitive development and skill-building on making decisions, interacting with others, and managing emotions—all of which can help prevent significant illness in adulthood. Exposure to significant adverse experiences, like those caused by the pandemic, can damage a child's developing brain and disrupt their healthy development. By providing services early on, we can build a strong foundation for future health and well-being.
Iowa leaders should choose to invest in a strong economy.
Our state leaders have a choice: They can sufficiently fund the entire Children’ Mental Health System or continue to have a patchwork of services across the state. Investing in the whole system now will lead to substantial savings over time as many costly health issues are rooted in childhood. Families are more desperate for mental health services than ever before. A patchwork system will continue to increase costs for substance abuse treatment, child welfare services, and lost productivity as Iowa’s children grow up in our state and stay here.
As Iowans, if we choose to invest in a fully funded Children’s Behavioral Health System, we are choosing to invest in the things that make our economy and communities stronger now and in the future.
1. Ensure adequate, predictable, and sustainable funding for Iowa’s mental health system across the lifespan.
- Ensure sustainable regional funding for mental health services across the state.
- Establish a regular, ongoing Medicaid reimbursement rate review process. Competitive, regularly reviewed reimbursement rates ensure that Iowans have better access to essential services and address workforce shortages.
2. Improve access to behavioral health telehealth services that acknowledges the unique needs and challenges of children and families
- Ensure commercial telehealth payment parity continues after the state’s emergency measures expire, allowing rural families and those with other access challenges to continue to receive medically appropriate telehealth services.
- Invest in technology infrastructure, including equipment purchases, software purchases, broadband access, and equity investments like cell phone minutes or home internet costs that many families cannot access or afford for health and mental health services.
- Ensure that all children receive EPSDT-covered screenings and treatment.
- Expand programs that have proven successful and cost efficient, such as the 1st Five Healthy Mental Development Initiative and System of Care.
For more information, please contact Erin Drinnin, co-chair of the coalition.