21 Aug 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by annmaries_hair_on_madison
Patch Instagram photo by annmaries_hair_on_madison

Report: State Mental Health System Needs Fixing

A new report cites the Newtown shooting as an example of why action is needed now to rectify the challenges people face in obtaining mental health services.

The state's mental health system is "fractured" and fails those with private insurance, according to a report released this week on the availability of mental health treatment to Connecticut residents.

"Findings and Recommendations: Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Services" was released Wednesday by the state Office of the Healthcare Advocate and paints a dismal picture of the accessibility of services in Connecticut.

"Eight years after the Report of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Mental Health, residents of Connecticut still face significant barriers to access to preventive and treatment services for mental health and substance use disorder in Connecticut," the report states.    

"The tragedy of the mass shootings in Newtown, CT. on Dec. 14, 2012, brings the need for such an effort into sharp relief," it states. "Health insurance coverage is not a promise of coverage.  

"Multiple state agencies with varying eligibility requirements provide services and/or oversight for residents struggling with mental health and substance use disorders, but these efforts are not well understood or coordinated as part of an overall vision for the state."

CT News Junkie reports that those with private insurance often find it more difficult to gain access to treatment than those who are uninsured or have public insurance because traditionally private insurance often does not incorporate mental health benefits. 

At a public hearing, parents testified that they weren't able to access the same level of services for their adult children with private insurance as were available to those on state insurance programs, the website reports.  

In order to do so, those with private insurance had to go through public programs to receive the same services, according to the report. For example, private insurance won't cover in-home psychiatric services, according to Dr. Laura Saunders, a child psychologist at the Institute of Living.

To gain those services, one must go through the  Department of Children and Families Voluntary Services division, she said.

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