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This Kids Count report examines issues related to children's mental health in Virginia. The report discusses the effects of children's mental illness, presents risk and protective factors, and describes the incidence of children's mental health problems. Information specific to Virginia is presented, including the prevalence of youth suicide, mental illness in incarcerated youth, and risks among children witnessing violence. The report also describes Virginia's service delivery system, details the system of care framework for mental health services, and describes the requirements of the Comprehensive Services Act of 1992. Issues affecting the availability and accessibility of services are examined, including lack of insurance parity, complexity and limits of Medicaid regulations, lack of public funding for services, and the stigma of mental illness. The consequences of stigma and scarce resources for children's mental health services are identified as designation of funds for specific limited populations, the lack of a continuum of services, forcing parents to relinquish custody of their children in order to access treatment, children committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice to access treatment, and the lack of prevention and early intervention efforts. The report concludes with the following recommendations for mental health services: (1) increase public awareness and knowledge of children's mental health issues; (2) increase the effectiveness of advocacy for children's mental health services; (3) increase the focus on prevention and early intervention services; and (4) establish community-level and state-level commitments to the system of care model. (Contains 106 endnotes.) (KB)

Descriptors: Adolescents, Child Health, Children, Delivery Systems, Drug Use, Incidence, Mental Disorders, Mental Health, Mental Health Programs, Program Descriptions, Psychiatric Services

Action Alliance for Virginia's Children and Youth, 701 East Franklin Street, Suite 807, Richmond, VA 23219. Tel: 804-649-0184; Fax: 804-649-0161; e-mail: actionalliance[at]; Web site:

Autor: Nimmo, Margaret L.


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