HHS invests $27M to expand pediatric mental healthcare

HHS is awarding nearly $27 million to improve and expand mental healthcare for children.

The funds will help pediatric patients get the mental healthcare they need and strengthen pediatric mental health services in emergency departments and schools, according to an Oct. 3 news release. 

The Health Resources and Services Administration Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program facilitates pediatric primary care providers' virtual consultations with pediatric mental health specialists to better diagnose, treat and refer pediatric patients to mental health services. 

Forty-eight Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program awardees will each receive $300,000. Three national organizations also will receive a total of $3.2 million to provide technical assistance to grantees to expand and improve behavioral health services in pediatric practices, schools, and emergency departments. In addition, new programs will be launched with multiyear American Rescue Plan funding totaling nearly $9 million.

"Thanks to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the American Rescue Plan, we are doubling down to invest in strengthening children's mental health services in hospitals and schools. Our children are our future and they deserve expanded access to care," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

Rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts in children are rising. The most recent CDC data indicates that up to 1 in 5 U.S. children aged 3 to 17 have a mental, emotional, developmental or behavioral disorder. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues with increased isolation, disrupted learning, and interrupted relationships and routines. More than 40 percent of high school students struggle with persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, according to the CDC. 

View a list of Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Programs.

View a full list of the award recipients

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