“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, especially children,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement. “This critical funding will not only improve the livelihoods of children and their families, but also secure the future of our country,” Becerra continued.
“We will continue to make investments that ensure our youngest Americans grow up strong and healthy,” he added. With an eye toward addressing such gaps, the $10.7 million will go toward broadening the reach of the Pediatric Mental Healthcare Access Program, a Health Resources and Service Administration initiative that promotes behavioral health integration into pediatric primary care with telehealth.
Unfortunately, says HHS, only about a fifth of those children receive care from a specialized provider – with youth of color less likely to receive adequate services for symptoms of anxiety, depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Launched in 2018, the program supports networks of teams providing tele-consultation, training, technical assistance and care coordination for providers to diagnose, treat and refer youth with mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 20% of children living in the United States experience a mental or behavioral health condition in a given year. WHY IT MATTERS
In addition, it also provides support to two tribal areas: the Chickasaw Nation and the Red Lake Band of the Chippewa Indians. The expansion announced this past week broadens the Pediatric Mental Healthcare Access Program’s reach to 40 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Republic of Palau.
THE LARGER TREND Experts have pointed to virtual care as a way to address behavioral health’s supply-and-demand issue, which has only grown more dire during the pandemic. “Primary care providers strive to address the many mental health challenges children and families are experiencing due to the pandemic, but they need more support,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa in a statement.
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