I-Team: Children and adults highlight the problems of finding mental health services in CT

The Channel 3 I-Team continues to highlight the problems children and adults face finding mental health services in Connecticut.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 8:17 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, Conn. (WFSB) - The Channel 3 I-Team continues to highlight the problems children and adults face finding mental health services in Connecticut.

“I’m here today because my family has been in need of help for quite some time and this system has failed us,” said Billie Jean.

At a children’s mental health forum at the capitol Thursday, lawmakers were not in the spotlight, parents were.

Parents who shared their experiences navigating a so-called “broken” mental health system.

“Sorry, I’m going to get emotional,” Tanya said.

Tanya’s 14-year-old son Rylan has autism and other behavioral issues.

Despite being in social work herself, she says it’s still incredibly difficult to find him the right kind of help.

She recalled a time she was told to leave him at a psychiatric hospital, despite another social worker admitting it wasn’t the right place for him.

“She said, ‘I know, but it’s all we have.’ I shouldn’t have to settle for ‘that’s all that we have.’ None of us should have to settle for ‘that’s all that we have,’” Tanya said.

Billie Jean expressed the same frustrations finding help for her adopted daughter who suffers from reactive attachment disorder, a rare condition where children don’t form an emotional bond with their caretakers.

“CT as a state has failed us. They don’t have the services our child needs and I’ve been told that statement time and again,” Billie Jean said.

The speakers spoke of long waitlists and staffing shortages that they say are hurting children.

Children like Kristin’s son, whose been involved in the system since he was two years old.

“While on waitlists for appropriate services and interventions, my son’s symptoms did increase resulting in many 211 calls and hospital admissions which ultimately traumatized my son and I,” Kristin said.

They are asking lawmakers to continue to give increase funding to mental health programs year after year.

Programs like ICAPS, intensive in-home child and adolescent psychiatric serviceS, which Corae says saved her life.

“It was very much helpful, them being able to motivate me to go to school, take me to my appointments, making sure I didn’t miss nothing that I didn’t need to miss,” said Corae.

The I-Team found ICAPS currently has 559 families on their waitlist and does not have any coverage in New London or Windham counties due to staffing difficulties.

“Our system is broken, and we have to get angry together to get this fixed,” added Melanie Rossacci.

The I-Team found that less than half of the $300 million lawmakers set aside for children’s behavioral health services has been spent.

Much of that funding is only good through 2024.