News & Announcements

Promoting Social & Emotional Well-Being for Children and Youth Receiving Child Welfare Services

Posted: April 26, 2012

The Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF) is promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and youth who have experienced maltreatment and trauma and are receiving child welfare services. To focus on social and emotional well-being is to attend to children's behavioral, emotional, and social functioning—those skills, capacities, and characteristics that enable young people to understand and navigate their world in healthy, positive ways. This approach can significantly improve outcomes for children while they are receiving child welfare services and after their cases have closed.

ACYF has released the Information Memorandum Social and Emotional Well-Being for Children and Youth Receiving Child Welfare Services to provide guidance to child welfare agencies looking to expand their capacity to make meaningful and measurable changes in social and emotional well-being for children who have experienced maltreatment, trauma, and/or exposure to violence. The document:

  • Articulates the impact of maltreatment on the health and well-being of children.
  • Demonstrates opportunities in the current policy framework and current available resources for attending to well-being.
  • Suggests strategies for transitioning child welfare systems toward promoting social and emotional well-being.
  • Emphasizes the use of screening, functional assessment, and effective interventions.
  • Provides a listing of Federal resources to aid states, tribes, and territories in this work.

Download the report (pdf).

Eliminating Behavioral Health Disparities by Integrating Behavioral Health & Primary Care Services

Posted: April 24, 2012

The goal of integrating health care for racial and ethnic minority populations and people with limited English proficiency is to improve their health and behavioral health status while eliminating disparities in care. To examine the role and impact that integrated health care can have in promoting health equity and eliminating health disparities, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health partnered with the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to convene a two-day expert meeting on Nov. 7-8, 2011 in Austin, Texas.

National experts in the fields of health, mental health, substance use and addiction, integrated health care, and cultural and linguistic competency were invited to share best practices, insights, strategies and tools for creating a framework for national models that can improve integrated health care for racial and ethnic minorities and people with limited English proficiency.

The consensus statements and recommendations listed in the meeting highlights were identified by the national experts as being critical components of a successful strategy to eliminate health care disparities through integrated health care. They are provided to inform a broad audience of health and behavioral health care providers, educators, advocates, consumers and their families, researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders with an interest in eliminating behavioral health disparities.

Download the meeting highlights (pdf).

AHRQ National Healthcare Disparities Report Highlights Challenges for Racial & Ethnic Minorities

Posted: April 23, 2012

The 2011 National Healthcare Disparities Report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) shows that access to health care was not improving for most racial and ethnic groups in the years 2002 through 2008 leading up to enactment of the Affordable Care Act. The congressionally mandated disparities and quality reports, which AHRQ has produced annually since 2003, are based on over 40 different national sources that collect data regularly. The reports, which include about 250 health care measures, show the persistent challenges in access to care faced by most racial and ethnic groups. Fifty percent of the measures that tracked disparities in health care access showed no improvement between the years 2002 and 2008, while 40 percent of those measures were getting worse.

Specifically, for 2002 through 2008, Latinos, American Indians and Alaska Natives experienced worse access to care than Whites on more than 60 percent of the access measures, while African Americans experienced worse access on slightly more than 30 percent of the access measures. Asian Americans experienced worse access to care than non-Latino Whites on only 17 percent of the access measures.

The 2011 National Healthcare Quality Report  tracks the health care system through quality measures such as the percentage of adult smokers who received advice from a provider to quit or the percentage of children who received recommended vaccinations. Based on the same data and measures used in the disparities report, the congressionally mandated quality report found that overall health care quality improved slowly for the general population between the years 2002 and 2008. Both reports will serve to track progress on the Affordable Care Act in the future.

View the National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report. In addition, AHRQ's NHQRDRnet is an online query system that allows you to access national and State data on the quality of, and access to, health care from scientifically credible measures and data sources.

Read more on the AHRQ website. Download the 2011 National Healthcare Disparities Report (pdf 5.6 MB). Download the 2011 National Healthcare Quality Report (pdf 5.2 MB).

Mental Health, Substance-abuse Problems Lower among LGB Adults Accepted by Parents

Posted: April 22, 2012

Receiving emotional support and acceptance from parents benefits the long-term health of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults, according to a study tittled Parents' supportive reactions to sexual orientation disclosure associated with better health: results from a population-based survey of LGB adults in Massachusetts. The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Homosexuality

About three-quarters of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults aged 18 to 64 surveyed in Massachusetts said they had revealed their sexual orientation to their parents, typically when they were about 25 years old. About two-thirds said their parents were supportive. Rates of mental health and substance-abuse problems were significantly lower among those who received support from their parents than among those who felt rejected, the study found. For example, gay and bisexual men who felt rejected by their parents had a six to seven times increased risk of binge drinking and serious depression, while lesbian and bisexual women whose parents did not support them had a fivefold increased risk of serious depression and an 11-fold increased risk of illicit drug use.

Read more on the MedlinePlus website. Read the abstract of the study.

Open for Comment: Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Suicide Prevention Quality Measures

Posted: April 21, 2012

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is accepting public comment on a proposal to adopt as many as 12 suicide prevention-related quality measures that are part of the incentives program to encourage the adoption of electronic health records by health care providers and hospitals nationwide. The Action Alliance encourages those in the suicide prevention community to submit comment on these measures. 

One of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention's priorities is the integration of suicide prevention into health care reform. The CMS is currently considering adopting as many as 12 suicide prevention-related quality measures that are part of the incentives program to encourage the adoption of electronic health records by health care providers and hospitals nationwide. CMS is currently accepting public comment on the proposal to incorporate these quality measures. To submit a comment, click on the "submit a comment" box on the link below. Comments may be typed into the web page or uploaded as files. Deadline for submission is May 7, 2012.

Read more. Submit comment.

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