Disclaimer: Moving Health Care Upstream is a collaborative effort originally co-led by Nemours Children’s Health and the Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities at the University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA). The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Nemours, UCLA or the Moving Health Care Upstream initiative.
On Monday, August 1, 2022, Nemours Children’s Health hosted a Pediatric Mental Health Roundtable at the Nemours Estate in Wilmington, Delaware. Special guests included U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-At-Large), Delaware’s Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, and other community and business leaders, state officials, and area youth and families. This post describes key policy recommendations highlighted throughout the event in several areas, including pediatric mental health workforce, infrastructure, telehealth and school wellness.
The day started with a closed-door Patient and Family Roundtable and then transitioned to a Community Solutions Roundtable. Speakers addressed key challenges, including the increased need for behavioral health services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of available providers and treatment options, low provider reimbursement rates, ongoing stigma related to discussing mental health challenges, inadequate funding for pediatric mental health research, and impact of social factors such as community violence and poverty.
Below are a few bipartisan bills highlighted during the Roundtable to address these challenges:
- Helping Kids Cope Act of 2021 (H.R.4944), proposed legislation that would support pediatric behavioral health integration and workforce training.
- Children’s Mental Health Infrastructure Act of 2021 (H.R.4943), proposed legislation that would improve the capacity of children’s hospitals to provide pediatric behavioral health services.
- Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a recently passed public law (P.L. 117-159) to reduce gun violence, make investments in child and family mental health services, and promote school safety. The law also included significant portions of the TIKES Act (S. 1798/H.R.1397) to help facilitate greater access to telehealth.
Other speakers highlighted future policy opportunities, including expanding school-based mental health services such as School-Based Wellness Centers, enhancing the number of bilingual mental health providers across the nation, and incorporating the voices of youth into policy and community responses.
Following the event, HHS Secretary Becerra noted, “I had a great discussion at Nemours Children’s Health to learn how Nemours and Delaware’s Congressional delegation are working to address the mental and behavioral health needs of children across the state. As part of the HHS National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health, I’ve had the chance to travel across the country and hear stories from people from all walks of life, and they all say the same thing: ‘we need help.’”
We appreciate the involvement of all our speakers and guests. Please see below for a few related resources:
- Click here for more event details, including pictures and a video.
- Click here for a summary of policy recommendations from the Children’s Hospital Association.
- Click here for additional policy recommendations from Delaware’s state and federal delegations.
- Click here for a blog post in The Hill from Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-At-Large) and Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Executive Vice President and Chief Population Health Officer for Nemours Children’s.
Author: Josh Ogburn, Manager of Policy, Nemours Children’s Health