Dr. Tom Tarshis, Bay Area Children’s Association
September 2016 1st NAMIWalks Silicon Valley in San Jose
As most mental health consumers are aware,there are drastic differences in the ability of youth and families to receive mental health treatment as compared to treatment for other illnesses. The mental health system is a confusing, fragmented and hard-to-access system that has been nationally recognized as being in acrisis state since 1999 when the surgeon general’s report on mental health in the U.S. was released. This care disparity led to the formation of the Bay Area Children’s Association (BACA) in 2007.
Dr. Tom Tarshis will describe the mission and challenges that BACA has had, and continues to have, in the attempt to deliver excellent care to all consumers in our current state of mental healthcare on national, state and local levels.Dr. Tarshis has a BA in Zoology, an MPH in Epidemiology and an MD. He is board certified in both psychiatry and child psychiatry.
In terms of mental health treatment, we know that there are drastic differences in the ability of youth and families to receive care as compared to other illnesses. This disparity led to the formation of the Bay Area Children’s Association (BACA). Dr. Tom Tarshis, founder of BACA, with a BA in Zoology, MPD in Epidemiology and MD in Psychiatry, is striving to make a difference.
There is a crisis in the mental health system when the fourth leading cause of death among youth ages 5 to 24 is from suicide. Half of all mental illness begins before age 14, and three-fourths before age 24. Yet, the average delay before treatment occurs is 8 to 10 years. The wait time, lack of resources, lack of insurance and screening problems have led to inadequate mental health care for youth. Care fragmentation in the current system for children and parents in school and social services results in inadequate coverage. BACA is beginning to address these issues through continuity of care (school and home). The best model of care should include: Child Individual Treatment , Family Treatment, Caregiver Treatment (Individual/Couples), School Interventions, and Primary Care Collaboration.
In the U.S. today, there are 8,000 practicing child psychiatrists, and we need more than 30,000. In the Bay Area, 3,000 are needed, but there are only 1,000. According to Dr. Tarshis, the solution to this shortage is to involve other mental health clinicians: psychologists, therapists and social workers. Currently, BACA has 13 child psychiatrists on staff.
Advice for Parents: Ask questions; speak to your mental health providers about best scientific methods to treat your child’s symptoms; challenge insurance companies; become familiar with the term “Evidence-Based Medicine” (EBM) and challenge care providers to deliver the best EBM possible, meaning scientific, integrated care in one setting.
Advocacy: It is morally and ethically wrong for youth with mental illness to not receive the same quality and level of care as youth with other illnesses.
Schools: Fight against old policies and demand that schools provide harassment-free environments for learning as required by law.
BACA has two locations. In Santa Clara County, BACA is located at 1175 Saratoga Avenue #14, San Jose. For info, you can go to www.baca.org.