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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Maternal and Child Health

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Mental Health and EPSDT

Both the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant and the Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) component of Medicaid recognize mental health as an integral aspect of children’s health care, and research demonstrates the value of early identification and intervention to address children’s needs.  In Title V, the definition of children with special health care needs (CSHCN) includes social-emotional and mental health needs.

From screening, to diagnosis, to treatment, and systems of care, Medicaid and EPSDT are critical to financing evidence-based mental health services for children. (Howell & Teich, 2008) Federal law requires comprehensive well-child examinations with screening services through EPSDT, including screening for potential developmental, mental, behavioral, and/or substance use disorders.  EPSDT also finances diagnostic and treatment services, if medically necessary, for these conditions.

Partnerships among and between Title V, Medicaid, and Mental Health Agencies and families, providers, and managed care organizations are important to ensuring access to needed services for children with social-emotional and mental health conditions. (Sarvet et al, 2010; Bell et al, 2010; Cooper & Knitzer, 2008; Silow-Carroll, 2008; Hutchinson & Foster, 2003)