Spectrum News: Calls grow for strengthened mental health services for kids


May 11, 2021

As children face ongoing mental health struggles amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a group is calling for 50% of federal stimulus funds for mental health to be directly sent to services that benefit kids.

In a statement Tuesday, The Campaign for Health Minds, Healthy Kids pointed to the pandemic creating a year of loss and uncertainty for children, ranging from disruptions in learning to the financial distress a family be experiencing and the possibility of losing a loved during the crisis.

“The harms of this pandemic to children’s emotional and mental well-being are widespread and undeniable. Fewer children are able to access care, even as more children are experiencing mental health crises at younger ages. The result has been a surge of children on waitlists or entering Emergency Rooms and hospitals in severe psychiatric distress,” the group said in a statement.

New York has received a Mental Health Block Grant from the federal government meant to provide aid for mental health and substance use services. Half of that money should be directed to children and adolescents, and that money should be spent broadly, the group said.

“Given the influx of federal funding and considering the urgent and pressing behavioral health needs of our state’s children, we believe New York has a moral imperative to make substantial and long-lasting investments in behavioral supports for children and families,” the campaign said in a statement. “Children have historically been last and least when it comes to funding for mental health and substance use services, and our state is now facing a shrinking behavioral health system for children.”

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