- The Biden Administration announced over $300 million in funding for programs focused on supporting the mental health of young Americans.
- Simultaneous announcements by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services pledged the money for critical programs over the next few years.
- The funding will go toward increasing the presence of mental health service providers in schools and hospitals, as well as training more professionals to fill these roles in the future.
On Monday, October 3, the Biden Administration announced over $300 million of funding for mental health services for students and young people. The funding was revealed in separate announcements made by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.
This continues the ongoing trend of increased awareness and support for the mental health of Americans and especially children, who have faced unique struggles over the last two and a half years. Research shows that an estimated 25% of adolescents have dealt with periods of depression since the beginning of the pandemic. Since 2020, rates of mental health issues have increased and remained high amongst children.
Building a Better Mental Health Pipeline
The Department of Education announced $280 million in funding in the form of two grant programs for which they’ll be accepting applications. The grant programs are geared toward boosting the number of credentialed mental health service providers in schools and training new providers to increase the supply of school-based mental health professionals.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said this funding “will help schools raise the bar for student mental health by recruiting, preparing, hiring, and training highly qualified school-based mental health providers.” He emphasized the need for increased support in underserved communities and for multilingual learners or individuals from low-income backgrounds and rural communities who may typically experience reduced access to mental health services.
Given the ongoing mental health crisis, professionals in this field have been overworked and overbooked, making it all the more important that investments are made in shaping a new generation of mental health service providers who can help bolster the ranks.
Expanding Pediatric Mental Health Care
Simultaneously, the Department of Health and Human Services announced awards of nearly $27 million to help strengthen mental healthcare for children in both hospitals and schools. More than half that money will be awarded as part of the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program to help expand the availability of school- and emergency room-based providers to help children in need.
“There should be no wrong door when it comes to children accessing the vital mental health services they need,” said Carole Johnson, Administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). “For that to happen, we need to support pediatricians and other health care providers in recognizing and treating mental health conditions.”
There should be no wrong door when it comes to children accessing the vital mental health services they need.
CAROLE JOHNSON, HRSA ADMINISTRATOR
“We are doubling down to invest in strengthening children’s mental health services in hospitals and schools,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Beccerra. “Our children are our future and they deserve expanded access to care.”
A Generation in Crisis
In August, a joint survey by Verywell Mind and Parents found that American parents are very concerned about their kids’ mental health. Over a third of parents said their children have had a harder time socializing, and 60% say their child’s mental health has at least somewhat been affected by the pandemic.
Nearly 90% of parents have either let their child take a mental health day or would consider it. A number of states have passed legislation allowing mental health days as a valid excuse for a school absence.
Simply taking a mental health day, however, is not always enough. Consistent and ongoing mental health support is needed in schools where kids spend most of their day. It is also what is often stressing them out the most.
“We know children and youth can’t do their best learning when they’re experiencing depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges,” Cardona said.
What This Means For You
The benefits of this new funding may not be felt for some time, but this is only the latest in a series of collective efforts geared toward improving the ways in which we support our kids’ mental health.
If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, research the resources that may be available in your school district and learn more about how to talk to your children if you think they may be struggling.
Read the full article here