ACT NOW: Tell Congress to invest in youth mental health

Written by: Children's Campaign
Date Posted: September 9, 2022

Despite surging mental health challenges among youth, the number of residential treatment facilities for people under the age of 18 across the U.S. fell to 592 in 2020, from 848 in 2012 – a 30% decline according to the most recent federal survey. Hospital emergency department rooms have become the de facto boarding environment for children and adolescents whose struggles are too severe for them to go home. This trend runs against recommended best practices. However, there is currently an extreme shortage of inpatient beds – considered a much better alternative. Colorado alone has lost 1,000 residential beds serving various adolescent populations since 2012, due in part to low Medicaid reimbursement rates.  

Children’s Hospital Colorado is leading efforts to advocate for federal legislation which addresses the youth mental health crisis. This includes urging improvements regarding access to community-based pediatric mental health services. The recent Bipartisan Safer Communities Act increased funding and support for school-based mental health services and mental health integration. However, with nearly 40% of Colorado youth reporting feelings of depression in the past year, our legislators must do more to ensure adequate mental health care for children. The following two federal bills have been introduced in the U.S. Senate to support children’s mental health infrastructure by strengthening the workforce and ensuring better Medicaid reimbursement for mental health services: 

  • S. 4472, the Health Care Capacity for Pediatric Mental Health Act of 2022, would establish three new grant programs focused on urgent pediatric mental and behavioral health care, including expanding training and support for pediatric mental health professionals, improving access to community-based pediatric mental health services, and investing in infrastructure.  
  • S. 4747, the Investing in Kids’ Mental Health Now Act of 2022, would incentivize increased state payment rates for pediatric mental health services covered by Medicaid by providing enhanced federal matching funds.  

Ask your U.S. Senators to prioritize the youth mental health emergency by cosponsoring these two bipartisan pieces of legislation. Join the action alert here.  

 

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About Children's Campaign

The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit www.coloradokids.org.