New Focus on Early Intervention and Psychiatric Care

From the research committee meeting on January 16th:

After meeting with six local care providers and mental health organizations, our research committee has identified two reoccurring and urgent problem areas:

Psychiatric Care

Individuals have trouble accessing quality affordable psychiatric care for their children regardless of their income. There is a shortage of child psychiatric care in our area and many providers do not accept insurance and require private payment; limited providers accept Medicaid payments.

  • The average wait time for a psychiatric assessment through Region Ten is three months.
  • Region Ten only provides 9 hours of child psychiatric care each week for Charlottesville and Albemarle. They conduct only 3-8 psychiatric evaluations a month.
  • Care providers and mental health organizations shared that many kids are getting access to medication through their primary care physicians. Psychiatric medications are often outside their areas of expertise, and routine management is often outside their scope of service.
  • Anecdotal evidence from both our listening process and research visits alike has shown that there is a major lack in coordination between counselors and psychiatrists

Early Intervention

In the past, individuals have had trouble accessing preventive counseling services and do not know where to begin when they feel they are in need of help. Access to care and counseling early on is essential, seeing as one-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; three-quarters by age 24.

  • 910 students utilized Student Assistance Program (SAP) counselors in public schools last year, which provide counseling for direct mental health problems (such as depression) as well as issues connected to mental health (such as bullying, family issues, or substance abuse).
  • SAP counselors are able to act as a central entry point in public schools, referring to 55 different mental healthcare providers and organizations.
  • Due to a loss in grant funding, the number of counselors in area schools will be reduced from 9 to 5 counselors in the 2014-2015 school year.

Last night’s committee meeting raised more specific questions about these two areas that we will continue to pursue in the coming weeks.