Massachusetts Integrates Services and Improves Mental Health Care for Youth

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Boston, coordinated a pilot project to integrate medical, mental health, social support and non-traditional services for children and adolescents who had serious emotional disturbances within a traditionally organized system of care.

The project staff collaborated with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a health maintenance organization, and worked in partnership with families. The project built on the families—and the youth's—strengths to support the youth's functioning and add to the family's natural support system.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Mental Health Services Program for Youth Replication.

Key Results

  • Project staff established pilot sites in the cities of Cambridge and Somerville. The pilot project ran from December 1998 through December 2000.
  • The pilot enrolled 39 children Medicaid managed care children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances.
  • After six months in the pilot, the enrollees' scores improved on a number of tests measuring symptoms, problem behavior, and ability to function.
  • There was a three-fold reduction in hospitalizations. For the 12 months prior to enrollment, the rate of inpatient hospitalization was 0.15 days per member/per month. For the 12 months since each enrollee's enrollment, the rate fell to 0.05 days per member/per month.
  • There was almost a three-fold reduction in the use of residential care.
  • There was almost a three-fold reduction in the use of foster care.