Systems of Care Provide Hope and Opportunity for Children With Mental Health Problems and their Families

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Community-based mental health services, or ‘systems of care,’ improve the emotional state, social behavior and school performance of children with mental health problems. After two years in a system of care, 42 percent of children showed a significant reduction in symptoms of severe behavioral and emotional problems. After one year in care, the number of children with serious emotional disturbances who received average or above-average grades increased nearly 20 percent; among those in special education classes, the increase was almost 15 percent.

SAMSHA, which funds the systems, studied results from the outcome of roughly 40,000 children in 31 grant communities, which were established by the Children’s and Communities Mental Health Services Improvement Act of 1992. Grants seek to integrate family and community support in helping care for children with mental health problems, and nearly three-quarters of families with participating children said they were asked for suggestions and given options regarding their children’s care. SAMSHA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857. (301) 443-8956,