Presentation to Attorney General’s Mental Health Task Force:
What Happens When Families Seek Help for Their Children?
In July 2016, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health contracted with Families as Allies to learn what happens when families access services for their children in the mental health and education systems. Families as Allies spent the next year gathering data from over 400 families throughout the state via phone interviews, surveys and town hall meetings.
On Thursday, January 25, Henry Moore, who facilitated the Town Halls, and I presented the findings to Attorney General Jim Hood’s Mental Health Task Force. Sandra Parks from the Department of Mental Health then shared how the department plans to use the information.
The most striking and persistent theme from the data was that families value school-based services and want them to be both coordinated with mental health care and also focused on helping children do well in school.
This emphasis on real world outcomes and putting services where people are is consistent with national trends of integrated care and building a system of care for mental health rather than focusing on a singular system.
Other notable findings were that families want to be partners in their children’s care, including policy development. They also want more information about psychiatric diagnoses and medications and better support when their children are in crisis.
Families as Allies has spent the past three years enhancing our data capacity. We are committed to being data-driven and using evaluation to improve our own work as well as that of the systems that serve our children. We welcome partnerships from like-minded organizations and state partners. Our children’s lives are too precious and resources too scarce to not work together to ensure a responsive and efficient service system.
To read the report that was presented to the task force, click here.