Valley Parents Want More Mental Health Services for Kids

By: Karen Campbell Email
By: Karen Campbell Email

A new study finds the state of Virginia lacks several mental health services for kids, and more money is needed to help those families in need.

Parents who have children who suffer from a mental illness agree that something needs to be done to better serve those in need in the Valley.

Kim and Roger Joralemon have a nine-year old son named Anthony who suffers from a mental illness.

"I think there should be more services in this area," says Roger.

"You feel like you're very alone and you feel like you're the only family going through this," adds Kim.

The Joralemons are not alone. In fact, the group Voices for Virginia's Children finds too few services are available.

The study also found that community services boards, which help provide treatment, aren't doing enough.

In addition, researchers found children who need help don't qualify for Medicaid or other programs to help cover the cost of care.

"Children who have a third-party payer, such as Medicaid, adequate reimbursement rates or sometimes eligibility criteria for receiving the services of today's managed care environment is certainly a challenge," says Lacy Whitmore, executive director for the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Community Services Board.

He says he hasn't reviewed the entire study yet but agrees that more funding is needed for adequate patient care.

"We feel good about the quality of services. Would we like to provide more services? Absolutely," comments Whitmore.

Whitmore says one way the community lacks is having only a couple of psychiatrists in the area that can prescribe medications to kids.

CSB treats about 3,000 patients. The number of children it serves is unknown.

CSB provides outpatient therapy, a licensed therapist, psychiatric services, including medication management, case management, emergency services and more.

The Jorelamans say they doubt this one study will have much of an impact, but they will continue to do what they can to get by.

"When your child suffers from mental illness, it's something that a lot of people are uncomfortable with, and don't really want to talk about. It's something that kids need services now for, so they don't end up in a bad place as adults," says Kim.

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