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Medi-Cal: The importance of mental health

Medi-Cal: The importance of mental health
Given the importance of mental health, Medi-Cal seeks to expand services and address the needs of residents as a comprehensive form of health care.

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California's Medi-Cal program provides coverage to 1 in 3 Californians, approximately 15 million people, and is currently seeking to expand services and address the mental health needs of residents as a comprehensive form of health care.

As the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) continues to transform Medi-Cal, the state is addressing behavioral health needs such as mental health care and substance use disorder services through healthcare, experts said during a reality briefing by Ethnic Media Services.

Paula Wilhelm, acting deputy director of Behavioral Health Services at the California Department of Health Care Services, commented that mental health is as important as physical health, which is why they are looking to provide support in the area, as well as in substance use.

If someone is experiencing postpartum depression, dealing with anxiety and stress due to school or work problems, or needs help dealing with drug or alcohol addiction, they are provided with health education and access to services including screening and mental health evaluation with outpatient and community treatments, as well as individual, group or family therapy.

?We want to improve the quality of care we provide in the United States and create a more people-centered delivery system for all services in an equitable manner. This includes the recently updated Behavioral Health Services Act that was approved by California voters as Proposition 1?, Wilhelm commented.

Autumn Boylan, deputy director of DHCS's office of strategic partnerships, spoke about Governor Gavin Newsom's master plan for children's mental health, announced in August 2022.

It seeks to ensure that children use mental health services and support for emerging and existing behavioral health conditions, as unfortunately for more than a decade children and young people of all ethnic backgrounds have been getting worse.  

In California, specifically, nearly 300,000 clients are dealing with major depression, and 66 percent of those young people are not getting access to treatment and care the way they should; Young people are stressed, the pandemic contributed to and exacerbated some of these feelings.

Young people are bombarded with information about the world around them, including climate change, school shootings and other circumstances that contribute to the stressors they face today, and as their developing brains confront all of these different challenges in the world, we are working closely with county offices of education, school districts and schools across the state to strengthen the support network available in school settings, he said.

Within the program, he explained, a Digital Health strategy is being focused, taking into account that children and young people spend a lot of time on screens, which is why it seeks to reach more children through this medium.

At the same time, he explained that two Mental Health Centers have been launched regardless of the health insurance status, therefore, it is not necessary to have one to access these services.

Boylan said that for all children in California there is the Bright Life Kids app, available for young children and parents, as well as another that provides free mental health counseling support, as well as a wealth of resources for teens and young adults. from 13 to 25 years old.

Jennifer Oliphant, director of the Hope for Tomorrow Program at Two Feathers Native American Family Services, said she works with eight federally recognized tribes and a few more that are not, thus caring for a large indigenous population.

He highlighted that they have a special plan for adolescents and young people that seeks to involve and support young people to be part of the workforce and the community, a project that began two years ago to involve and develop socio-emotional skills among young people.

Tricia Nguyen, CEO of Southland Integrated Services (formerly Vietnamese Community of Orange County), explained that they were established in 1979 as a support agency for the Vietnamese, where 300,000 people belonged to this agency.

Over time, he stressed, work has been done to provide more and better support, integrating medical, dental and behavioral health; In 2008 they did not have any mental health programs, but with the pandemic, addressing mental health became a necessity.

Currently, he stressed, parents have to deal with social networks constantly, so it is necessary to get parents to communicate with children, because they feel that they do not have real communication; To this end, there are Family Centers where emotional support and advice is provided to the community so that they can seek specialized medical attention for their needs. 

You may be interested in: Medi-Cal: A Necessary Service Helping Californians

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