Children’s Behavioral Health: Priorities to Build Back Better in 2021

Issue Reports & Briefs

December 20, 2020

After nearly a year of anxiety, isolation, loss of loved ones, disconnection from school, and economic insecurity, New York’s children need a coordinated and comprehensive approach to meeting their behavioral health needs. Between March and July, 2020, 4,200 children in New York suffered the loss of a parent or guardian to COVID-19, with Black and Hispanic children experiencing loss at twice the rate of Asian and white children. An additional 325,000 children have fallen into or near poverty due to this pandemic.
The pandemic has led to declines in critical mental health screenings and access to services, even as rates of anxiety, depression, substance use, and suicidal ideation have risen. Children are facing unprecedented emotional distress, yet are unable to access adequate primary and preventive services, resulting in stark increases of psychiatric distress, hospitalizations, and families waitlisted for services. This has created a perfect storm that is impacting all children, and disproportionately impacting low-income communities and families of color.
Without an immediate commitment to address these challenges, New York will see the repercussions of adverse childhood experiences affect families for generations to come.

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