The Governor of Georgia Nathan Deal https://gov.georgia.gov recently announced the release of the Commission’s Report on Children’s Mental Health”. The Commission created in 2017, includes state leaders, healthcare experts, and child advocates.to provide recommendations for improving state mental health services for children.
The report offers eight recommendations that focus on critical areas of behavioral health needs including suicide prevention, school-based mental health, and the need to increase the telemedicine infrastructure.
Although Georgia has made significant improvements in their children’s behavioral health system over the past few years, opportunities still remain for state agencies, providers, and communities to improve the delivery of children’s behavioral health programs and services.
Children’s behavioral health challenges continue to present in homes, schools, and community settings. Children and families particularly in rural areas of the state, still face difficulties in accessing basic and specialized children’s behavioral health services.
The closure of state hospitals coupled with an underdeveloped community-based provider system has led to gaps in the continuum of care. As a result, suicide rates are rising along with opioid abuse among the youth in Georgia and emerging adult populations are in need of advanced solutions.
Recommendation D discussing the topic of telemedicine, reports that despite having many policies in place supporting behavioral health services through telemedicine, many providers still lack a flexible telemedicine infrastructure to serve children and families.
The report suggests enhancing the existing telemedicine infrastructure, provide assistance for community based behavioral health provider organizations, and increase access to services including child psychiatrists.
Organizations need to also include public health departments, need to provide and expand school-based mental health services through the Georgia Apex Program for school-based mental health by collaborating with provider organizations. Available telemedicine services would add to further development of a network of telemedicine capable clinics and offices.
Go to https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2017-12-12/deal-announces-release-commission-children’smental-health-report for the December 2017 report.