Mental Health Initiative Aims To Get Hoosier Kids The Help They Need

Posted On February 17, 2016

By Veronica Carter, Indiana News Service

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – The Department of Child Services says one in eight young people in Indiana needed mental health treatment or counseling last year, but there’s only one doctor for ever 750 kids in the state.

The goal of the Children’s Mental Health Initiative is to provide quick help for families with kids who are experiencing behavior problems or mental health issues – before they wind up in court.

Katie Connel, service manager with the DCS, says in the past, a parent would call the state for help and get shuffled around so much they’d sometimes give up. Funding was then provided so referral agencies would always be close at hand.

“Those sites are now in all 92 counties so families have an option. They have a number to call if there are significant behavioral health needs or if there are some mental health needs that are not being met,” said Connel.

Connel says it started a pilot program in 2012, and was moved to all of Indiana’s counties in March of 2014. She says so far over 800 families have been helped.

She says parents can call for help as soon as behavior problems begin instead of waiting until it gets out of control.

“We’ve been able to keep kids in the right system, and we’ve been able to help families navigate some of our big service delivery systems that may be a bit scary to them or just a bit overwhelming, so even with that communication in general I think we’ve been successful with many families,” said Connel.

She says the point is to keep kids at home while they’re getting help as opposed to sending them away.