DHCS Virtual Services Platform Aims to Promote Accessible Behavioral Health Care for Children and Youth – State of Reform

On July 6, the Department of Health Services (DHCS) issued a Request for information (RFI)inviting potential vendors to provide information to DHCS to help inform the planning, design, development, and launch of the behavioral health virtual services platform for the Child and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI)

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According to the DHCS, the CYBHI was created as part of the Finance law 2021with an investment of $4.4 billion, and is a “multi-year, multi-departmental investment package” focused on “promoting social and emotional well-being, preventing behavioral health issues and providing equitable services, appropriate, timely and accessible for emerging and existing behavioral health needs (mental health and addictions) for children and youth 0-25 years of age.

The DHCS told State of Reform that the virtual behavioral health services platform will provide free app-based behavioral health services, including mental health and substance use disorder services, to children. , youth, parents and caregivers in California, regardless of insurance coverage. The platform will include interactive resources such as educational materials, interactive games and tools, designed to support regular automated assessments, screenings and self-monitoring tools to develop skills and improve the well-being of These persons.

The platform will also support the delivery of equitable, appropriate and timely behavioral health services, such as short-term counseling services, from prevention to treatment to recovery. The platform will also offer online consultation capability to give primary care providers and pediatricians the opportunity to consult and learn from licensed behavioral health care providers.

DHCS said CYBHI and the Virtual Behavioral Health Services Platform aim to ensure that all children and youth, whether insured or uninsured, are consistently screened, supported and served for emerging and existing needs. in behavioral health.

“Half of all cases of mental illness diagnosed in the lifetime begin at age 14 and three-quarters at age 25,” the DHCS said. “Historically, the adolescent substance use disorder system in California has been underfunded and under-resourced. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified already growing behavioral health issues among children and youth and meeting these needs is critical to California’s recovery.The platform is a population health model that will deliver and monitor behavioral health treatment so that the most effective, least resource-intensive treatment is available across the country. Condition for young people who may not need individual counseling, but need help dealing with stress and building resilience.

The department also highlighted how CYBHI will also work to improve behavioral health equity by providing and improving access to culturally relevant resources for historically underrepresented groups and those at higher risk. high in behavioral health issues such as BIPOC, LGBTQ+, tribal and rural communities.

In designing the implementation strategy for the virtual service platform, the ministry says it assembled a group of experts with a diversity of behavioral health expertise and experience (i.e. i.e. primary care, behavioral health providers, health plans, counties and community organizations), as well as lived experience or expertise working with BIPOC, LGBTQ+, rural communities and other special populations.

Responses to the RFI are due August 3. The initial launch of the virtual services platform is scheduled for January 2024.

Perry A. Thomasson