Although many public assistance recipients suffer from depression, few receive consistent treatment. This report on a telephonic care management program in Rhode Island that tried to encourage depressed parents who were receiving Medicaid to seek treatment from a mental health professional presents results through 18 months –– six months following a one-year intervention. Called “Working toward Wellness,” the program represents one of four strategies being studied in the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation to improve employment for low-income parents who face serious barriers to employment. The project is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the Department of Labor.
In Working toward Wellness, master’s-level clinicians (“care managers”) telephoned the study participants in the program group to encourage them to seek treatment, to make sure that they were complying with treatment, and to provide telephonic counseling. The effects of the program are being studied by examining 499 depressed Medicaid recipients with children, who were randomly assigned to the program group or the control group from November 2004 to October 2006. Participants were given a list of mental health professionals in the community from whom they could receive treatment.