On February 6th, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) unveiled an innovative tool to provide data and analysis on behavioral health services for children in North Carolina. The Child Behavioral Health dashboard is publicly available and focuses on three key indicators among 5 to 18-year-old, Medicaid-insured children in the state.
One of the primary indicators assesses the percentages of children diagnosed with depression, ADHD, and substance use disorder. Another indicator tracks metrics related to emergency departments, mobile crisis services, and psychiatric residential treatment facilities. The third indicator provides survey data on children’s self-esteem, sadness, and hopelessness, along with information on babies born with low birth weights. These factors contribute to risk factors for ADHD, depression, and other health issues later in life.
The dashboard also considers various demographic factors such as geography, race, ethnicity, age, and gender. According to Hanaleah Hoberman, the director of child and family strategic initiatives at the NCDHHS, these contribute to identifying and addressing gaps and disparities in healthcare access. Different communities experience behavioral health challenges at varying levels which is critical information for stakeholders in the field.
The data from 2022 revealed that a total of 33,902 children were diagnosed with clinical depression. Out of this number, 5183 were from the Research Triangle Park area including Wake Durham and Orange counties. Jameca Cotton a school counselor at River Park Elementary in Hillsborough emphasized that limited availability of school counselors could be a challenge for students seeking temporary resources until they can receive proper support from school-based therapy through this tool can help them find those resources quickly.
Overall this dashboard will help identify gaps in behavioral health care services for children in North Carolina by providing valuable data analysis tools for stakeholders in the field of child behavioral health care providers policy makers parents educators teachers community leaders healthcare advocates researchers public health officials etc