State Aims To Integrate Mental Health Care For Children

May 18, 2016

New Hampshire Hospital treats an average of 500 children with mental health issues each year, at a cost of $1350 per day. The state is hoping a "system of care" approach will streamline service to patients while lowering costs.
Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The state plans to streamline its mental health and substance abuse programs for children. 

A number of states, including Maine and Massachusetts, have turned to a so-called "system of care" model for young people with mental health issues in recent years.

New Hampshire has been studying the approach for several years, through a group called the New Hampshire Children's Behavioral Health Collaborative.

Last week the House sent Governor Hassan a Senate-backed bill directing the Department of Health and Human Services and other state agencies to better integrate care across agencies and make it easier for patients and their families to navigate the mental health system.

Now the state has announced the new Bureau of Children's Behavioral Health, which falls under the also new DHHS Division of Behavioral Health.

"Research has shown that earlier intervention can lead to better outcomes," DHHS Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers said in a statement to announce the bureau's opening. "The Bureau will work with other DHHS programs, providers, advocates and policy makers to ensure that a comprehensive system of care will  be implemented to get children and their families the help they need.”

Supporters say streamlining mental health and substance abuse care will improve service for patients while lowering costs for the state.