WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee,introduced the Supporting Children’s Mental Health Care Access Act, which would reauthorize the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) program for another five years to better promote the integration of behavioral health and primary care for children. The PMHCA program supports state or regional networks of pediatric mental health care teams to provide tele-consultation, training, technical assistance, and care coordination for pediatricians and other pediatric primary care providers to diagnose, treat, and refer children with behavioral health conditions. The bill would also expand the types of providers who can be part of the care team and add new sites where the program can operate, such as emergency departments and schools.
“As a parent of two young kids, I know how tough the last two years have been, and there’s no doubt the pandemic has worsened the children’s mental health crisis we’re facing. Parents struggle to find the care their children desperately need because the health care system is overwhelmed and underprepared. Congress needs to act, and reauthorizing the PMHCA program would make sure more kids can access mental health care by better integrating behavioral health with primary care at their pediatrician’s office or even at school,” said Murphy.
“Following school closures and isolation, more young people than ever are suffering from mental health issues,” said Cassidy. “The Pediatric Mental Health Care Access program provides these children with the attention and support they need.”
“Pediatricians are witnessing the escalating mental health crisis facing young people in our clinics, practices and hospitals across the country. Tackling this crisis, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, will require comprehensive action to ensure all children can access mental health services where they are, including schools and their pediatrician’s office. The Supporting Children’s Mental Health Care Access Act will reauthorize the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program and make needed progress toward reaching children and teens with the care and services they need. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) applauds Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) for their leadership on addressing youth mental health and calls on Congress to pass this critical legislation without delay,” said AAP President Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP.
The PMHCA program was created in bipartisan legislation authored in 2016 by Murphy and Cassidy in the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act in 2016, which was signed into law by President Obama. Last fall, the senators solicited wide stakeholder input as they draft legislation to reauthorize the PMHCA and many other important mental health programs.
This legislation is supported by 30 national organizations: American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Mental Health Counselors Association, American Muslim Health Professionals, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Children’s Hospital Association, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action, Family Voices, First Focus Campaign for Children, International OCD Foundation, Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association for Behavioral Healthcare, National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National Network of Child Psychiatry Access Programs, Nemours Children’s Health, REDC Consortium, Sandy Hook Promise, School-Based Health Alliance, The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health, ZERO TO THREE.
It is also supported by 17 state organizations: Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Alaska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, CA Chapter 3, Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Wisconsin, Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Maryland Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, Nevada Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, New Mexico Pediatric Society, Oregon Pediatric Society, South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, United Way of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (WIAAP).
This press release was made possible by: