The Urgent Need to Address the Children’s Behavioral Health Crisis

Testimony & Public Comments

October 29, 2021

By: Alice Bufkin

Alice Bufkin, CCC’s Director of Policy for Child and Adolescent Health, submitted testimony on behalf of the Healthy Minds Healthy Kids campaign to US Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho for input on how congress can enhance behavioral health care.

CCC wrote that even prior to the pandemic, suicide was the second leading cause of death among children age 15-19, and roughly half of children with a behavioral health condition did not receive treatment or counseling.

The need for services has only increased during the pandemic.

Between March and July of 2020, 4,200 children lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19 in New York, and approximately 325,000 children were thrust into or near poverty; those numbers have only increased since then. Nationally, more than 140,000 children have lost a primary or secondary caregiver due to the pandemic. Children have experienced over a year of profound personal loss, economic instability, housing and food insecurity, and unprecedented educational disruption.

Alice highlighted key areas that could be supported to help alleviate the shortage in services including:

  • Addressing the behavioral health workforce shortage
  • Supporting care integration, access, and coordination efforts
  • Improving oversight, data reporting and enforcement of mental health parity laws
  • Expanding access to telehealth services for behavioral health care

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