When a child or teen has a mental disorder, it doesn’t just affect the diagnosed, but all members of the family, and all aspects of family life. And if the mental health problems are chronic, the situation only becomes exasperated. With one in five children in Bexar County experiencing mental illness, the chances are high that you know a family that’s currently dealing with this all-encompassing issue.
Children or teens living with chronic mental health issues may experience multiple costly and disruptive hospitalizations. If the issues persist, they may experience out-of-home-placement. And in the worst-case scenarios, the parents may have to relinquish custody because they have reached or exceeded their financial, health care or emotional resources. This of course, causes more traumas for both the child and family.
While the scenario described above is a bleak one, it’s very real.
So is there another, better way for these children and families dealing with chronic mental health issues? Thankfully, Yes.
The Yes (Youth Empowerment Service) Waiver Program is a welcomed alternative. The Yes Waiver is for children ages 3-18 and it permits the state to furnish an array of home and community-based services that assist Medicaid beneficiaries to live in the community and avoid institutionalization. Lucille Gotanco, M.D., and Assistant Medical Director at Clarity Child Guidance Center says the goal of the Yes Waiver is to, “Prevent or reduce inpatient psychiatric admissions, out-of-home placements and to improve the clinical and functional outcomes of the child or adolescent.”
The Yes Waiver Program include services such as, respite, adaptive aids or supports, minor home modifications and non-medical transportation. Specialized therapies like equine therapy, art therapy, music therapy may also be included. Dr. Gotanco has seen the program in action and the benefits, “One patient that experienced multiple hospitalizations and spent more time in the hospital than at home was accepted into the Yes Waiver program. Since then, he’s gone a year and a half without hospitalization and is functioning much better and looking forward to graduating from high school.”
The Yes Waiver is providing hope and desperately needed services and care to children and families that were unsure about their future. And thankfully, it’s available to those who qualify and seek it out.
The only downside that Dr. Gotanco mentions is an accessibility issue, “The number of counties that the Yes Waiver is offered in is still limited.” To see if your Texas County participates in the Yes Waiver, you can access the list at https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mhsa/yes/.
For more details, read our follow-up post: Yes Waiver. Next Steps.