mental health

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

When Maria Montanaro took the reins of the state department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals, she inherited an agency with massive responsibilities, and major challenges. Among them, mounting costs and allegations of abuse at Eleanor Slater Hospital – the state psychiatric and long-term care facility for people with serious illnesses.

County Health Rankings 2015 / Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released its annual County Health Rankings, and Rhode Island's counties (Providence in particular) seem to be faring worse than the national average on a few measures, and much better on a few, too.

A technicality in the law has meant that children’s psychiatric hospitals could not compete for graduate medical education funding from the federal government. Other kinds of teaching hospitals, including general children's hospitals, have been able to apply for federal funding to train residents and fellows. But after years of trying, Rhode Island’s Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed have gotten the law changed.

Bradley Hospital’s academic director Dr. Greg Fritz says without the funding, the hospital might have to make cuts to its resident training program.

Executive Office of Health and Human Services

Since about 2007, the percent of all hospitalizations of kids 18 and under for a mental health reason has nearly doubled. According to state public health data, there have been a steady number of total hospitalizations - about 20,000 - for kids statewide. In 2002, the percent admitted for a mental disorder was between six and eight percent for kids with private insurance or Medicaid, and quite low for uninsured kids. Today it's between 10 and 12 percent across the board.

The Warwick Police department will be embedding a mental health professional on its force. The idea is to replicate a program in Providence, and there’s new data about how that program is working.

The Warwick program will be similar to the one in Providence, where a mental health team member rides along with cops to reach out to people in crisis and make an evaluation on the scene when needed. The so-called “community diversion clinician” tries to help people avoid jail when mental health treatment could be the better option.

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