A new study by the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) has revealed that teenagers with disabilities are up to 5% more likely to suffer from emotional, mental and behavioural health disorders in comparison to adolescents without disabilities. According to researchers, care coordination services assist these young people in obtaining the medical and social resources they require to maintain their health.
Current care coordination systems, on the other hand, rarely include mental health therapy or preventive mental health activities. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has funded UIC researchers $7 million to see if integrated behavioural health care coordination, which includes a tailored mental health treatment component, delivers better outcomes than a normal state agency care coordination programme.
Professor Kristin Berg, the co-author of the study, stated that individuals with disabilities are disproportionately affected by mental health inequities, and there are few preventive interventions or therapies available to help this vulnerable population. He further stated that early detection and treatment for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families through a single point of service entry would be an ideal public health opportunity to prevent the onset of mental health disorders and improve health and vocational trajectories for this historically underserved population.
The researchers hope to enrol as many as 780 teens aged between 13 to 20 years with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They plan to also include their families in the study, which will follow their health and experiences within the health care system for 24 months. Teenagers from both urban and rural locations will be recruited, and all racial and ethnic identities will be represented.
The state agency will provide conventional care coordination to all participants, but half of them will also receive the CHECK behavioural health component. The CHECK programme, which was created to help Medicaid-eligible families and children with chronic health conditions achieve better long-term health control, bring community health workers and health care providers together to better serve the whole person by addressing social determinants of health, according to researchers.
According to Michael Gerges, executive director of CHECK, this allows patients to receive expert help in both health and social determinants of health at the same time. In order to know how teens health behaviours and how they feel, the researchers will keep track of anxiety and depression, health habits, functioning, ability to manage health care, and self-efficacy throughout the five-year study. The team will also keep track of how happy teenagers, parents, and healthcare providers are with the care coordination process.