Intensive Community Mental Health Care

During the 2012 interim summer study committee hearings, the Department of Child Services (DCS) announced a new intensive outpatient mental health treatment pilot that was to roll out across Indiana by February 2013.  DCS did not meet that goal, but there is progress.  The service providers are the community mental health centers that cover every county in the state.

Some community mental health centers that are not in pilot counties have responded to the outcry for more resources.  In those cases, the child’s case is reviewed by a treatment team and a smorgasbord of services are suggested to the probation officer and family.  The services may include case management, individual therapy, medication management, home-based services, parenting classes, substance abuse classes, and anger management classes, in-school monitoring, and others.  A typical intensive plan may require the family to have contact with a service provider 30-35 hours each month.  While the number of hours involved may be a huge intrusion on the family, it does keep the child in the home and his/her community, which meets the goals of the juvenile code.  In addition, the intensive plan may be coupled with court interventions, such as home detention monitoring.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) published an overview of research, trends, and resources for avoiding out-of-home placements that is a good starting point for understanding the challenges.

If your community mental health center has not historically offered this intensive approach, challenge the status quo.  Contact the community mental health center administration.  Set up appointments between the center and the court participants to brainstorm options, which will help get a commitment from the courts to try this intensive approach during informal adjustments or dispositions.  Contact DCS administration for support in bringing the mental health pilot to your county.  Contact NAMI, which has community representatives throughout the state, as well as staff and attorneys in Indianapolis.  Keep trying.

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