Readout: HHS Leaders Host Roundtable on Maximizing Federal Resources to Strengthen Children’s Mental Health

As part of National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health, HHS hears from providers on ways to collaborate and enhance mental health and crisis care systems for children, youth, and families.

On Wednesday, May 25, 2022, as part of the National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health, leaders from agencies across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) held a roundtable discussion following their call for states, tribes, and jurisdictions to maximize their efforts to strengthen children’s mental health and well-being. Earlier today, in a joint letter signed by the heads of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and the Administration for Community Living (ACL), HHS outlined department-wide plans to support and facilitate state-level coordination across federal funding streams to advance and expand mental health services for children.

Especially as National Mental Health Awareness Month nears its end in May, HHS is committed to keeping a focus on this issue and continuing the work of connecting children, youth, and families to services and supports – at the state, local, tribal and federal levels.

The agencies hosted the roundtable to hear directly from representatives of organizations providing mental health and substance use services on their experiences getting their patients and clients connected to the behavioral health care they need. Participants were invited to join the roundtable to discuss their work in the field as it relates to the mental health needs of children and families, behavioral health workforce, and integration of mental health and substance use across primary care and social services and supports. Feedback from participants will help inform HHS’ future work around behavioral health and identify collaboration opportunities among government and non-government organizations to best strengthen the mental health and crisis care systems across the country.

Participants, who represent counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, social workers, nurses, and health system leadership are listed below:

  • Community Clinic Inc.
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • New Hope Health Services LLC
  • Unity Health
  • Kennedy Krieger Institute
  • Arundel Lodge
  • Children’s National Hospital
  • Arlington County Board
  • Sheppard Pratt
  • Foster Care Unplugged
  • Georgetown University
  • Regional Center for Border Health
  • University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix
  • UC Davis Family Medicine/Psychiatry
  • University of California San Francisco
  • Rainbow Babies at University Hospital in Cleveland
  • Whitman-Walker Clinic
  • Mary’s Center
  • UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and MacDonald Hospital for Women
  • Whitman-Walker Health
  • University of Maryland
  • Community of Hope
  • Healthy Native Communities Partnership, Inc
  • U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

According to data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, the number of children ages 3-17 years diagnosed with anxiety grew by 29 percent and those with depression by 27 percent between 2016 and 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, there was a 21 percent increase in children diagnosed with behavioral or conduct problems. Given these increases, HHS agencies are encouraging state, tribal, and jurisdictional recipients of their largest investments to coordinate on using these funds to create meaningful and equitable approaches to children’s mental health needs and to expanding access to high quality pediatric mental health care.

Today’s announcement is part of HHS’ ongoing efforts to support President Joe Biden’s whole-of-government strategy to transform mental health services for all Americans—a key part of the President’s Unity Agenda that is reflected in the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget. Following the President’s State of the Union in March, Secretary Becerra kicked off the HHS National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health to address the mental health challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including substance use, youth mental health, and suicide. Since kicking off the tour, Secretary Becerra and HHS leaders have been traveling across the country to hear directly from Americans about the mental health challenges they’re facing and engage with local leaders to strengthen the mental health and crisis care system in our communities.

Watch HHS agency leaders’ opening remarks at the roundtable here.

Read the full letter sent to states, tribes, and territories here.

Learn more about the National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health here.

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