It is estimated that there are 3.5 million children and
adolescents in the United States who are affected with severe emotional disorders (SED). SED is a term used by educational systems to describe students who have any type of behavioral, emotional, or mental
health disorders. These disorders can range from mental health problems such as mild depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder to developmental disorders
such as autism. There are a variety of services available for children who experience emotional and behavioral challenges related to these disorders, including those from various educational and state
agencies. However, research has shown that the most effective way to help children with SED is through a service model that is comprehensive, collaborative, and coordinated-in other words, a service model that
focuses on the child and family, includes different types of services from many different agencies, and includes providers from different fields who work together to address the needs of each child
individually. Services provided in this manner (sometimes called "wraparound services") are effective in attaining desired outcomes, such as reducing the number of out-of-home placements and
psychiatric hospitalizations experienced by the child. Research has also shown that the caregivers of children with SED experience considerable strain related to coping with children's many needs. Family
members should have available to them services they need to combat depression, fatigue and frustration with service systems which often are uncoordinated. Therefore, these caregivers also benefit from a wraparound
or collaborative service model.
Children and adolescents who do not receive the services they
need often have continued difficulty functioning as adults. According to statistics from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, less than half of youth with SED obtain a high school diploma or equivalency
degree. Youth who do not receive appropriate services are also predisposed to a lack of employment options, reliance on public assistance, incarceration, and homelessness.
The MHSRP is currently involved in projects designed to
evaluate services provided to children and adolescents with SED. One, the Coordinating Center for the Managed Behavioral Health Care in the Public Sector: Children and
Adolescents with SED Study, seeks to identify how managed care financing arrangements affect service use, service costs, outcomes, and satisfaction with care. The MHSRP also is involved in evaluating the
implementation of the Children's Wrapraround Services Program in the State of Mississippi.