On February 6, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) launched a Child Behavioral Health dashboard that offers data and analysis on behavioral health services for children in North Carolina. The dashboard focuses on three primary indicators among 5 to 18-year-old, Medicaid-insured children in the state: percentages of children diagnosed with depression, ADHD, and substance use disorder; utilization metrics related to emergency departments, mobile crisis services, and psychiatric residential treatment facilities; and a risk indicator that provides survey data on children’s self-esteem, sadness, and hopelessness, along with information on babies born with low birth weights.
According to Hanaleah Hoberman, the director of child and family strategic initiatives at the NCDHHS, these factors contribute to identifying gaps and disparities in healthcare. Different communities experience behavioral health challenges and access behavioral health services at varying levels. This is critical information for stakeholders in the field who can use this data to improve healthcare outcomes for children.
The dashboard also considers other factors such as geography, race, ethnicity, age, and gender. These factors play a crucial role in identifying disparities that need addressing to ensure equal access to healthcare for all children.
Jameca Cotton, a school counselor at River Park Elementary in Hillsborough pointed out how limited availability of school counselors can impact students’ mental health. She emphasized that the dashboard could help students find temporary resources until they can receive proper support from school-based therapy. Overall, the launch of this dashboard marks an important step towards improving mental health outcomes for children in North Carolina by providing valuable data and insights into behavioral health services for children aged 5 to 18 years old with Medicaid insurance coverage.