Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $10.7 million from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to expand pediatric mental health care access by integrating telehealth services into pediatric care. The awards were made through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
"I'm proud to announce nearly $11 million in grants to expand access to pediatric mental health care through telehealth, made possible by President Biden's American Rescue Plan," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. "The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, especially children. This critical funding will not only improve the livelihoods of children and their families, but also secure the future of our country. We will continue to make investments that ensure our youngest Americans grow up strong and healthy."
The Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program supports state and regional networks of pediatric mental health care teams. These teams provide tele-consultation, training, technical assistance, and care coordination for pediatric primary care and other providers to diagnose, treat, and refer children and youth with mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
The expansion announced today broadens the program's reach from 21 awards in 21 states to 45 awards in 40 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Republic of Palau. It also provides support to two Tribal areas – the Chickasaw Nation and the Red Lake Band of the Chippewa Indians.
Currently, nearly 22 percent of children ages 3 to 17 in the United States are affected by a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral condition. Only about 20 percent of children with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders, however, receive care from a specialized provider.
"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. "Expanding the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access program offers new opportunities for providers to offer families the mental and behavioral health services they need but that often aren't easily accessible."
To learn more about HRSA's Pediatric Mental Health Care Access program, visit: https://mchb.hrsa.gov/training/pgm-pmhca.asp.
For a list of awards, visit: https://mchb.hrsa.gov/maternal-child-health-initiatives/mental-behavioral-health/arp-pediatric-mental-health.