Children’s Hospital Association Statement on the Mental Health Reauthorization Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On behalf of the nation's 220 children's hospitals, we thank Senators Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., for introducing the Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S. 4170). This bipartisan bill is an incremental first step towards comprehensive legislation to expand pediatric capacity which is urgently needed across our national mental health system. We appreciate the inclusion of a set aside in the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant for prevention and early intervention services for children and adults. We also support the reauthorization of the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Grant Program and its expansion into emergency departments and school settings. Reauthorizing existing mental health programs is a start but our kids need expanded resources for pediatric health now.
An increased demand for mental health services across the continuum of care for children, but particularly for children in crisis, has stressed already inadequate and under-resourced systems, leaving far too many children waiting for needed mental and behavioral health care, frequently "boarding" in emergency departments until an appropriate placement becomes available.
Relying just on existing federal programs has clearly proven insufficient to address the scale of the national emergency in children's mental health. Children's hospitals strongly urge Congress to next move forward to authorize new programs at HHS which are purposefully designed to bolster the pediatric mental health professional workforce, invest in essential pediatric mental health infrastructure and improve the availability of a full continuum of pediatric mental health services in communities nationwide.