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The Bright Light of Advocacy

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Six years ago the Federal Department of Justice (DOJ) investigated Georgia's state psychiatric hospitals and declared them to be unsafe.  After long and difficult negotiations DOJ and the State of Georgia signed a Settlement Agreement which is now improving crisis services in the community for adults with mental illnesses. A recent article in The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that "hundreds of millions of dollars" have been pumped into upgrading these services.

This is something to rejoice about, but during the same six years children's services have languished.  It is now time to focus the bright light of advocacy on young people.  There are some hopeful signs.  Three pilot programs are in place to identify and provide early treatment and supports for youth, when symptoms of psychosis first appear.  There are some collaborative programs leveraging behavioral health services into school settings.  A legislative study committee is holding hearings to consider how to improve services for "our" children and youth and their families.  The Department of Justice has issued a letter of findings declaring that GNETS  (Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support) is not in compliance with Federal law. All of this is creating opportunities for service improvements.

Surely we can do better than this! 

FACT:

1 in 10 youth need mental health treatment.

FACT:

1 in 4 will be sick enough that their ability to succeed in school is hampered.

FACT:

Most of these youth will get ZERO help.

FACT:

For those who did get help, there is an average of 10 years from first symptoms to first treatment.

Stay tuned for updates.