Congress Takes Steps to Prioritize Youth Mental Health

Recognizing the pressing want to enhance entry to psychological well being and substance use providers for younger folks, Congress is taking important legislative steps to strengthen the federal authorities’s response to the nationwide surge in melancholy, nervousness, suicides and overdoses. 

On Wednesday, the U.S. Home of Representatives Power and Commerce Committee authorised the bipartisan Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act (H.R. 7666) to reauthorize greater than 30 psychological well being and substance use dysfunction applications inside the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Companies Administration (SAMHSA) and the Health Sources and Companies Administration (HRSA). These applications, set to expire this September, help psychological well being consciousness, training, prevention initiatives, care and disaster providers, and behavioral well being workforce recruitment, retention and coaching efforts. H.R. 7666 additionally establishes a pediatric telehealth entry grant program for colleges and emergency websites and strengthens current psychological well being parity legal guidelines in order that psychological well being advantages aren’t handled much less favorably than bodily well being advantages.

Associated developments within the U.S. Senate this month reinforce Congress’ dedication to this problem and, importantly, enhance the chance of a accomplished bipartisan and bicameral effort on behavioral well being this 12 months. Senators Invoice Cassidy (R-LA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) launched the Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act (S. 4170) that additionally would reauthorize expiring federal psychological well being and substance use dysfunction applications. This complete laws addresses key measures corresponding to psychological well being and substance use dysfunction parity legal guidelines, group psychological well being providers and the psychological well being workforce. Notably, S. 4170 expands entry to pediatric psychological well being care via enhancements to HRSA’s Pediatric Mental Health Care Entry Program and by making a set-aside inside HRSA’s Main Care Coaching and Enhancement Program to give attention to coaching for clinicians caring for pediatric populations.

Whereas the Cassidy-Murphy invoice has been referred to the Senate Health, Training, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the Senate Finance Committee is engaged on a parallel observe to draft and take into account a bipartisan psychological well being bundle this summer time. In March, the Finance Committee issued a report entitled, “Mental Health Care in the United States: The Case for Federal Action,” that summarized findings from legislative hearings and integrated stakeholder feedback. The report indicated that forthcoming laws would give attention to the federal applications inside the committee’s jurisdiction, which embrace Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. Moreover, the committee’s work has been knowledgeable by 5 inner psychological well being working teams that debuted earlier this 12 months: workforce, care integration, parity, telehealth and youth.

Connecting younger folks with the providers they want shouldn’t be solely a precedence for Democrats and Republicans in Congress; the White Home can also be taking steps to elevate problem consciousness. First Girl Jill Biden and entertainer Selena Gomez not too long ago hosted a forum that includes advocates who shared their tales to encourage different younger folks to search help and interact acceptable sources. The discussion board comes on the heels of a latest study launched by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) – the primary nationally consultant survey of highschool college students’ psychological well being and well-being in the course of the pandemic – that finds COVID-19 faculty closures and online-only instruction negatively affected adolescent psychological well being.  

Consideration of behavioral well being coverage options will proceed this 12 months forward of the mid-term elections as lawmakers look at how to enhance the federal authorities’s response to psychological well being and substance use challenges. Whereas the psychological well being wants of youthful populations stay a high focus, a broad and multifaceted group of psychological well being and substance use dysfunction stakeholders are weighing in with Congressional leaders, proposing options to bridge gaps within the nation’s fragmented behavioral well being care system. 

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