Illinois launches a new mental health program for youth

SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) – The Pritzker administration announced Tuesday that Illinois is rolling out a new $ 2.5 million federally funded program to help pediatricians and other healthcare professionals meet children’s mental health needs. The program will strengthen mental health services in schools and emergency wards by focusing on increasing the volume of counseling services provided throughout the state.

The administration said the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Department of Health and Family Services, the Department of Human Services, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics they will work together to provide more mental health education and training opportunities for doctors and other healthcare professionals. They hope the program will also improve the mental health resource network and accessible referrals to providers and patients. There is also the option of direct provider-patient telemedicine service programs for children.

“The past few years have been challenging for all of us and this is especially true for our children,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “With these new dedicated resources, Illinois will better identify children who suffer from mental health problems and ensure they receive treatment and therapies that work, while also addressing inequalities in access to mental health treatments.”

The Expansion of Access to Pediatric Mental Health Care in Illinois will be funded by the U.S. Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration through the American Rescue Plan and Safer Communities Act. Both proposals were approved by Congress this year.

Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton said children deserve the resources that will help them become happy and healthy adults. She noted that access to mental health services is essential for those who struggle.

“An African greeting asks: ‘Are the children okay?’ We know that when our children are well, our communities are strong and our future is bright, “Stratton said.” Illinois is committed to ensuring that children are doing well by initiating collaborative programs between agencies to strengthen services. health care, schools and general support for children and families across our state. “

The administration said this program will support pediatricians, family medicine doctors, nurses and medical assistants. The program will also support school health workers and emergency room employees who are often on the front lines when children need care.

“As a pediatrician, I have seen the unprecedented behavioral health challenges our children in Illinois have faced in recent years,” said IDPH director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “This trend was evident even before the emergence of COVID-19 and was exacerbated by the pandemic, which disrupted learning and relationships and increased isolation for countless children. This new program will allow providers to have more resources to meet the needs of children by improving mental health education and training opportunities. “

UIC’s DocAssist program is a free psychiatric counseling service for primary care providers who need help screening, diagnosing, and treating mental health and substance use problems in children, adolescents, and perinatal women. The DocAssist program is managed by the UIC College of Pharmacy through an inter-agency agreement with the university’s office for innovation Medicaid and HFS. DocAssist is comprised of child psychiatrists, social workers and administrative assistants from the UIC Department of Psychiatry who work to help providers diagnose and treat mental health problems in children.

DocAssist Medical Director Dr. Diane Misch said the state’s new project is an important step in addressing the mental health crisis for Illinois youth.

“The Illinois DocAssist program was created to address inequalities in the mental health treatment of vulnerable Illinois populations and this partnership helps improve our ability to bridge the gap between primary and specialist mental health care,” he said. stated Misch. “We estimate that with the launch of the partnership, pediatric mental health consultations are expected to increase by more than 40% and we expect to see better outcomes for young people at risk of race, ethnicity, gender, geographic location and socio-economic status. “

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