The Senate Appropriations Committee report is now available and the news is good for the Child Mental Health Initiative. The Committee is rejecting the Administration proposal to slash funding for children’s mental health services by 28 million and is instead, recommending that the 2012 level of 117 + million be maintained for 2013. Excellent work, Network faithful! You and countless others spoke out and your voices were heard. But this is only the beginning of the long march to ensuring that SAMHSA maintains a strong focus on supporting a network of community-based services for children and adolescents with serious emotional, behavioral, or mental disorders and their families. Read the pertinent text from the report here:
Children’s Mental Health Services (from the report)
The Committee recommends $117,315,000 for the children’s mental health services program. This amount is the same as the comparable fiscal year 2012 level. The administration request is $88,557,000. This program provides grants and technical assistance to support a network of community-based services for children and adolescents with serious emotional, behavioral, or mental disorders. Grantees must provide matching funds and services must be coordinated with the educational, juvenile justice, child welfare, and primary healthcare systems.
The Committee rejects the administration’s proposed cut to this important program. The Committee notes that in the United States every year 5,000 young people between the ages of 14 and 24 commit suicide, and 600,000 make an attempt that is serious enough to require an emergency room visit. Furthermore, the Committee understands that 75 percent of psychiatric illness occurs before the age of 24. This public health crisis is exacerbated by the fact that there are only 7,500 child and adolescent psychiatrists and 3,500 child psychologists nationwide to treat this vulnerable population.
The Committee encourages SAMHSA to seek innovative means to increase the number of children’s mental health professionals, including efforts to develop bachelor’s degree and master’s level training curricula focusing on evidence-based interventions.
Next steps This is an important victory for the Child Mental Health Initiative but only a beginning step in a very long process. This is not the time for complacency. The House discussion will begin any day now. We need everyone to get involved and share your voice with your elected representatives. Read Morning Zen to learn how.