The Kim Foundation Blog features insights, news and resources on mental health and suicide prevention. Check back often to stay updated and informed.
Nebraska has attracted some incredible talent in the field of mental health; people who understand the illnesses, who understand the effects on families, and who understand the need for the state to change and to move into a new realm of healing opportunity. Rather than embracing their knowledge and leadership; however, we often appear to dig into our comfort zone ignoring wonderful opportunities to make Nebraska a health leader in the nation.
Nebraska continually ranks close to the bottom in the provision of mental health care. We seem to lack the political will to develop community-based treatment centers that have proven so effective in other states. We seem to lack the motivation to invest in additional healing opportunities for children. We seem to believe that short-term residential treatment is ineffective, yet we are persuaded to enlarge the prison system.
Through our work at The Kim Foundation, we have had the privilege of visiting several service providers and consumer run programs these past two months. We are encouraged and pleased to see consumers continue to play an expanding role in determining the course of treatment for mental illnesses and we applaud those efforts. When the people directly affected by mental illness feel respected and confident, when they know their voices matter, they become more willing to share their stories, needs, and goals. Community service providers and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services then have the opportunity to respond by helping to implement appropriate community resources that meet those needs.
When a person is involved in a traumatic event, like a car crash, a team of surgeons work to fix the physical damage that may have been caused. But how is the emotional and mental damage caused by the event resolved? Scott Carlson, a mental health professional and Director of Heartland School says that like any other wound left untreated, trauma will continue to fester in a person and can show up in acting out behaviors like ADHD and oppositional defiance disorder, or depression.
Many Nebraska mental health care providers are asking “What is EPSDT, and how can it serve my clients?” It is not a new program; rather it is something that was established by Medicaid in about 1967. It is the child health component, known as the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program. Quoting from the Health Resources and Services Administration, “Federal law – including statutes, regulations and guidelines – requires that Medicaid cover a very comprehensive set of benefits and services for children, different from adult benefits. Since one in three U.S. children under age six is eligible for Medicaid, EPSDT offers a very important way to ensure that young children receive appropriate health, mental health, and developmental services.”
Since 2001, Ted E. Bear Hollow has provided a safe place to express emotions, to remember loved ones openly, and to learn ways to care for themselves in the sad times. Through support groups, day camps, retreats and a variety of programs, Ted E. Bear Holllow has helped thousands of children and their loved ones move beyond their grief of the loss of a loved one to death toward healing. Today, Ted E. Bear Hollow is the premier resource for grieving children, teens, and their families in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area.
It doesn’t seem so very long ago that words referring to mental illnesses were spoken in whispers and locating resources for individuals and families needing help, hope, and healing became a complex struggle. We still have room to grow, improve, change attitudes, and enhance resources, but we are proud of all the programs and opportunities offered today, as well as the resources available that are fairly recent concepts for Nebraska. We take pride in the opportunities to reduce stigmas and support some of the local organizations, like the following, doing wonderful things.