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HHS Announces $14.2 Million from American Rescue Plan to Expand Pediatric Mental Health Care Access

Funding Will Expand Use of Telehealth to Integrate Mental and Behavioral Health into Pediatric Primary Care

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced the availability of $14.2 million from the American Rescue Plan to expand pediatric mental health care access by integrating telehealth services into pediatric primary care.

The funding will expand Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) projects into new states and geographic areas nationwide, including tribal areas. These new state and regional networks of pediatric mental health care teams will provide teleconsultations, training, technical assistance and care coordination for pediatric primary care providers to diagnose, treat and refer children and youth with mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Currently, there are 21 PMCHA projects in the country. 

“Children are struggling with a range of emotional and behavioral challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those in families with lower incomes or who face other obstacles to health care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This program harnesses the power of technology to make mental and behavioral health care more accessible and equitable for our nation’s children, and links pediatric care providers to children and their families who need that specialized care.”

Research demonstrates an increased need for pediatric mental and behavioral health care. In the United States, about 22 percent of children ages 3 to 17 are currently affected by some type of mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral condition. Only about 20% of children with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders receive care from a specialized provider.

“Now more than ever, families need mental and behavioral health care for their children, but significant disparities in access to this treatment continue to exist,” said Acting HRSA Administrator Diana Espinosa. “The expansion of the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program paves the way for more children to receive necessary mental health services, especially those in underserved communities.”

Pediatric mental health care teams will include child and adolescent psychiatrists, licensed mental health professionals, and care coordinators. Pediatric primary care providers can include, but are not limited to, pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and care coordinators. Teams will use telehealth to consult with pediatric primary care providers.

To learn about eligibility and to apply for the American Rescue Plan Act - Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) – New Area Expansion Notice of Funding Opportunity, visit https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=333181. Applications are due July 6, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Applicants should contact Madhavi Reddy with any questions.

Learn more about HRSA’s Pediatric Mental Health Care Access program.

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