Our Department is a strong, active advocate, nationally, regionally and locally, for the highest quality mental health services for children and families. Our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Advocacy Initiative (CAMHAI) is an office that works with community groups, consumer advocates, healthcare providers, educators and policy makers to improve mental health services and access for children and families through public policy and through community-based solutions. We consider it important that our residents be exposed to child mental health advocacy.
Therefore, they all receive instruction in advocacy issues and efforts through seminars given by the staff of our CAMHAI. In addition, we encourage residents with specific interests in this area to directly participate in our ongoing advocacy efforts (e.g., Children’s Mental Health Campaign (CMHC) and Boston’s Thrive-in-Five School Readiness Initiative).
CMHC was successful in introducing legislation in Massachusetts that incorporates elements of each of the coalition’s recommendations. The legislation calls for changes that will: 1) Identify mental illness earlier in children by reaching them in familiar and easily accessible settings, especially schools, early education programs, and pediatricians' offices, 2) Ensure that when identified, the illness is treated in the least restrictive, appropriate setting, 3) Improve insurance coverage for children with mental health needs, and 4) Restructure the oversight, evaluation and provision children's mental health services administered by the state.
Boston’s Thrive-in-Five School Readiness Initiative is a second major advocacy challenge taken up by our Department that involves collaboration with the Mayor’s office of the City of Boston and the Boston Public Schools in an effort to address factors known to contribute to the academic achievement gap noted among poor, inner-city children.
This process involved the creation of a coalition of experts and leaders from the public and private sectors of Greater Boston in the fields of childhood education, early childcare, community service delivery, child development, and child and family mental health.
After nearly two years of meetings dedicated to identifying key causal factors and potential solutions, Thrive-in-Five is now in the process of implementing specific recommendations made to the Mayor’s office, and setting up mechanisms to oversee and evaluate the impact of this action plan designed to improve the school readiness of poor, inner-city children.