Children’s Hospitals’ Statement on New Funding to Expand Access to Pediatric Mental Health Care
WASHINGTON, DC—The availability of $14.2 million in new funding to expand Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) projects through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) comes at a critical time for children as they struggle with a mental health crisis made worse by the pandemic.
From 2016 to 2019, admissions to children’s hospitals for suicidal ideation or self-harm doubled among children 6 to 12 years old. Even as the pandemic kept families from seeking routine health care, mental health visits increased significantly in 2020 as a proportion of overall children’s hospitals’ inpatient and emergency room admissions.
Our fragmented mental health care infrastructure is failing children. Families face barriers to diagnosis and treatment due to a lack of mental health providers, long waits for appointments, inadequate insurance coverage, inability to pay for services and the stigma surrounding mental health.
By building a new and different mental health infrastructure for children with more direct and coordinated investment along the continuum of care—from counseling through clinics and community-based organizations to acute-care services in hospitals and residential treatment facilities—we can help all children better access mental health services when they need them.
Children’s hospitals look forward to working with Congress and the administration to provide additional resources to support and improve pediatric mental and behavioral health care.