The Biden administration announces $85 million allocation for children’s mental health

Key points

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allocated $10.7 million as part of the rescue plan of the American Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) allocated US$74.2 million to improve youth mental health services nationwide.
  • This additional funding is a positive step towards addressing stigma and increasing opportunities for mental health support.

Many parents are very concerned about their children’s mental health at this time. President Biden’s recently announced $10.7 million from HHS and $74.2 million from SAMHSA indicate that these needs can be met.

Although government officials have long been discussing children’s mental health issues, the $85 million in funding proves this commitment. The HHS awards incorporate mental health services into pediatric primary care, and the SAMHSA funds will train school personnel to support youth.

American Pediatric Mental Health Care Relief Program

HHS funding is part of President Biden’s U.S. rescue plan and will expand the pediatric mental health care access program to 40 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Chikso Nation, and the Red Lakes. Pewa Indians.

With a reward of at least $440,000, this funding can do a lot to solve the problem of inequality in children’s mental health. For example, the Chiksaw National (CN) Pediatric Mental Health Care Service (PMHCA) project will focus on meeting the needs of children aged 17 and under in 13 counties, increasing the chances of obtaining culturally qualified mental health support.

Elizabeth Senerchia, spokesperson for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), said: “The Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program addresses racial, ethnic, and geographic differences in pediatric behavioral health care. Increased access to mental and behavioral health through telephone or telemedicine Opportunities for services, funding to support providers in underserved areas.”

HRSA spokesperson Elizabeth Senerchia

In 2020, approximately 2,000 children and adolescents living in rural and underserved counties were served by pediatric primary care providers, who contacted the pediatric mental health team.

— HRSA spokesperson Elizabeth Senerchia

Senerchia explained how the program funds a statewide network of psychological and behavioral health care teams that can provide rapid response to pediatric providers via telephone or telemedicine consultation. It is hoped that by identifying, diagnosing, treating and referral of children with behavioral health problems, and helping families (including families living in underserved areas) obtain pediatric mental health care providers to solve direct psychological and behavioral health problems.

These service networks make it possible for families who would otherwise not have access to behavioral and mental health care services. Senerchia said: “In 2020, approximately 2,000 children and adolescents living in rural and underserved counties were served by pediatric primary care providers, who contacted the pediatric mental health team.”

Promote the health and resilience of education

SAMHSA funds will be used for Project AWARE (Promoting Health and Resilience in Education) National Education Bureau grants to raise school-age youth’s awareness of mental health issues. A total of 17 awards were awarded, and the winners included two Native American tribes.

With funding ranging from US$1,688,055 to US$5,335,636, recipients will be able to invest in training school personnel to better meet the mental health needs of young people. Some grant recipients include the State Department of Education, the Salish and Kootenay Alliance tribes, and the Small Wound School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Main obstacles to stigmatization and access

Anisha Patel-Dunn, DO, psychiatrist and chief medical officer of LifeStance Health, said: “Stigma and inaccessibility are the two major barriers to seeking mental health care. Harmonicare provides $85 million in funding, which is a positive step towards solving these two obstacles.”

Especially considering the amount of time young people spend in school and the impact this may have on mental health, Patel-Dunn found it encouraging to see grants specifically used to train employees in school settings to identify students at risk. “Starting a conversation about mental health as early as possible has the potential to significantly affect the young generation’s perception and understanding of mental health,” she said.

Stigma is often a barrier to seeking mental health support, which can have extremely adverse effects. That’s why Patel-Dunn said: “In general, I think this is a positive step forward to help eliminate the stigma of mental health care and ensure that the mental health of young people is as important as their physical health. .”

Patel-Dunn emphasized how the ongoing pandemic has a significant impact on the mental health of young people, because young people missed more than a year of social activities during a period of critical developmental importance, which would have an impact on mental health. “According to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatric suicidal thoughts and behaviors increased by 25% or more during the pandemic. Obviously, we need to invest resources to ensure that young people have the tools they need to solve mental health problems,” she said.

It is important to pay attention to how different people deal with challenges. Patel Dunn said: “Children may be more likely to struggle due to the lack of face-to-face social interaction and the sense of isolation caused by the pandemic. Coupled with the increase in screening time and the need to balance professional responsibilities with virtual school education. The parents’ requirements have increased, which may cause a very stressful situation.”

Anissa Patel Dunn, do

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatric suicidal thoughts and behaviors increased by 25% or more during the pandemic. Obviously, we need to invest resources to ensure that young people have the tools needed to solve mental health problems.

— Anissa Patel-Dunn, DO

For example, Patel-Dunn explained that young children may not fully understand why they cannot play on the playground or share toys with friends as usual, and this unexplainable change can lead to confusion, stress and uncertainty. “When the children return to the classroom this fall, they may now be dealing with untreated anxiety and stress, which may be exacerbated by changes in daily activities as they re-adapt to long-term school life,” she said .

What this means to you

This additional funding may expand the scope of services to support the mental health needs of children and young people after the pandemic. Since its focus is on improving pediatric primary care and mental health accessibility for school personnel, this funding can have a big impact. This is why Patel-Dunn said: “I think any initiative that aims to help people live healthier and more fulfilled lives while unifying their physical and mental health is a victory.”

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