Orchard Place Blog

The Stigma of Childhood Mental Illness: An Integrated Approach (Infographic)

Mental illness in the United States is often stigmatized, and those who experience it are often made to feel that they are somehow broken or inadequate. Parents who get an inkling that their child may be acting differently than other children their age often ignore the warning signs of mental illness in fear that there maybe something “wrong” with their child. Each year, only 20 percent of children with a mental disorder are identified as having a disorder and receive treatment. Some of these disorders include schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Integrated Health Program | Orchard Place

As a parent, ignoring the signs of a mental health disorder is one of the worst things you can do. It’s time to break the stigma. There are almost 4 million children and adolescents in the U.S. that suffer from a severe mental disorder. Just like cancer or diabetes, mental health issues are a disease. If your child had a condition like that, would you be ignoring the warning signs? No. Early identification is essential to preventing significant long-term disability from mental disorders. Sonni Vierling, the Vice-President of the Integrated Health Program at Orchard Place, wants parents to know that it’s okay:

“People are often reluctant to seek help for mental health issues, for many reasons. Parents who want the best for their children should know seeking help is normal.”

In Iowa, around 16,000 children ages 3 to 17 who are covered by Medicaid have been diagnosed with a mental, behavioral or emotional health disorder. You are not alone, and the Integrated Health Program at Orchard Place can help.

How Can the Program Help Me?

The Integrated Health Program at Orchard Place has been around for a year and a half, serving children in Polk and Warren Counties. It takes every facet of a child’s medical care and brings them together so that the well-being of the child as a whole is considered. Not only does this program help children who are dealing with mental health issues, but it also combines physical, emotional and social health as well.

With this program, families decide what is best for their child. They can decide how much or how little they want to be involved in the program as well.

The goal of this team is to connect all of a child’s health care providers into one network so that everyone is on the same page. Not only that, but this program offers a chance for family members to meet other families who have gone through the same thing.The Integrated Health Program Team is made up of a care coordinator, a nurse, and a family peer support specialist and can also include a child’s regular doctor, mental health provider, and school personnel. 

The Mental Health Landscape is Changing

Studies have shown that people who suffer from mental illness are more likely to suffer from other chronic diseases in adulthood. This connection creates a higher percentage of ER visits and hospitalizations in those who deal with both. The Affordable Care Act has a provision that is pushing for a centralized approach to help those who suffer from mental illness and chronic disease stay out of the hospital and stay healthy. 

Out of all 68 million Medicaid users in the U.S., around 5 percent of them use 60 percent of the money. Fifteen states, including Iowa, have created centralized mental health programs through Medicaid to keep every part of every person healthy with a team approach. Missouri was one of the first states to begin the team-oriented health approach. After one year, the program saved almost $3 million by reducing hospital and ER visits.

The Integrated Health Program works with children and families to keep both physical and mental health in check and help reduce the chances of adulthood chronic illness or help children manage other physical problems. 

Will This Help?

The program intends to help children succeed at home, in school and their community. So far, more than 1,400 children have been helped since the program began at Orchard Place only a year and a half ago. Children who are enrolled in Medicaid can stay with their current medical professionals. The program only keeps the pathways of communication open from all areas of health.

Learn more, or request more information today, about Orchard Place’s Integrated Health Program. Every child deserves a chance to be healthy!

Orchard Place is a nationally recognized leader in children's mental health and juvenile justice services.