The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has launched a new tool that provides data and analysis on behavioral health services for children in the state. This publicly available dashboard, unveiled on February 6th, focuses on three primary indicators among 5 to 18-year-old Medicaid-insured children in North Carolina.
One of the indicators assesses the percentages of children diagnosed with depression, ADHD, and substance use disorder. Another utilization indicator tracks metrics related to emergency departments, mobile crisis services, and psychiatric residential treatment facilities. Finally, a risk 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 NCDHHS has also considered various factors such as geography, race, ethnicity, age, and gender when designing this dashboard. Hanaleah Hoberman, the director of child and family strategic initiatives at the NCDHHS explains that these contribute to identifying and addressing gaps and disparities in healthcare. Different communities experience behavioral health challenges and access behavioral health services at varying levels.
According to the dashboard data from 2022, a total of 33,902 children were diagnosed with clinical depression in North Carolina. Out of this number 5183 were from Research Triangle Park area including Wake Durham Orange counties Jameca Cotton a school counselor at River Park Elementary in Hillsborough pointed out the limited availability of school counselors she emphasized that the dashboard could help students find temporary resources until they can receive proper support from school-based therapy.