WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Children's Hospital Association CEO Mark Wietecha praised the introduction of the Helping Kids Cope and Children's Mental Health Infrastructure Acts of 2021 by Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. The Helping Kids Cope Act legislation would authorize grants to support pediatric mental health care programs in communities across the country, and the Children's Mental Health Infrastructure Act would provide grants to children's hospitals for increasing their capacity to provide pediatric mental health services.
"Children's hospitals commend Congresswoman Blunt Rochester's and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick's commitment to children’s mental health. Our nation's children and youth are in crisis. COVID-19 has exacerbated the pre-pandemic mental health epidemic facing children and highlighted our nation's acute shortage of mental health services," said Wietecha. "This legislation will provide much-needed help and support to children, their families and their communities. We look forward to continue to work in partnership with the bipartisan congressional sponsors and the Biden administration to help tackle the national children's mental health crisis."
From April to October 2020, hospitals nationally saw a 24% increase in the proportion of mental health emergency department visits for kids ages 5 to 11 and a 31% increase in the 12- to 17-year-old age group, compared to 2019, according to the CDC. In the last half of 2020, children's hospitals saw a 17% increase in suicide and self-injury cases (inpatient and emergency) among kids age 5-18 compared to the year before.