Biden admin announces more than $300 million in funding for mental health in part of bipartisan gun bill

The Biden administration announced more than $300 million in new funding for mental health Monday, through prizes and grants, with much of the money coming from of the bipartisan law against gun violence passed this summer by Congress.

The Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is distributing approximately $314 million for health professionals in schools and emergency departments.

The new funds earmarked in annual appropriations, as well as the bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which was passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in June, are intended to help create healthier, safer learning environments for children, with the The DOE awards about $280 million in competitive grants to schools to help mental health staffing, it said Monday.

The DOE said it is dedicating $144 million a year for five years to a grant program to increase the number of mental health professionals in schools, as well as $143 million a year for five years to a grant program to “boost the portfolio of mental health professionals” around the schools that need it most.

Notices inviting applications for both grant programs will open Monday morning and in the federal register on Tuesday.

Roberto Rodríguez, the education department’s undersecretary for planning, evaluation and policy development, touted this spending in important terms, calling the administration’s response to mental health “historic.”

“We have never seen an effort of this magnitude in relation to the challenge that we have around mental health,” Rodríguez told ABC News, adding: “We have also not seen this level of investment at the federal level, more specifically in mental health. “. health professionals, so we are making a big commitment to support, attract, develop and retain our school psychologists, social workers [and] counselors to really work in support of our students.

HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson said HHS will also award nearly $27 million for a pediatric mental health access program for emergency department providers, training pediatricians to treat “mental health conditions and at [provide] teleconsultation to provide mental health expert support,” the government said, is an important step that will have “substantial impact.”

Johnson told ABC News that pediatric primary care providers, with this new money, will receive support and training to analyze mental health conditions. Virtual training sessions with mental health care specialists will help a variety of providers, including family medicine physicians, diagnose and treat children before referring them for mental health services, Johnson said.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden addresses a Cabinet meeting at the White House on September 6, 2022.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on September 6, 2022.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

“[If] If the pediatrician is better equipped to identify mental health issues and treat them, then that’s going to make a big difference for that family,” Johnson told the Right Place, that’s going to make a big difference for the kids, too.”

HHS already provides $300,000 per recipient in additional resources to most state recipients, as well as tribal organizations and Washington, DC, and nearly $9 million to new recipients through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), officials said.

Johnson stressed that the government believes the new funding will help reduce the burden on families and extend the “reach” of the mental health workforce to help those in need.

“Our goal here is that there is no wrong door to connect children with mental health services and pediatricians so that they are part of that solution,” Johnson said. “As part of this project, [one can] call what we call a teleconsultation line where the project supports, in each of our beneficiaries, a teleconsultation service that allows pediatricians to connect directly with mental health experts. It could be psychiatrists or psychologists, social workers and care navigators who really help bring that mental health expertise to the pediatrician’s office so they can help, in real time, manage mental health care needs.”

Rodríguez, the undersecretary for education, said the department’s mental health funds target school districts in underserved areas.

“We are looking at communities that have high concentrations of poverty, communities where they may disproportionately lack access,” Rodríguez said. “That includes not only our urban communities, but also our rural communities, as well as suburban communities. What we’ve allowed here is the opportunity for states to apply on behalf of Local Education Agencies (LEAs, for high-need as well, so if school districts don’t have the capacity to gather requests, states can work closely with school districts to provide a more comprehensive response.”

the administration funding commitment It comes as several districts have sounded the alarm about their ability to handle mental health issues in their schools this year. The most recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that mental health professionals are one of the five most underreported staffing positions reported in schools.

Among a general shortage of educatorsRodríguez said that the Department of Education is also focusing on the next generation of mental health professionals by working with higher education programs. These are partnerships between K-12 and colleges and universities, he said, to train mental health service providers in schools.

The new spending helps President Biden move a little closer to his goal of “doubling” the number of mental health professionals in schools. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy wrote in an advisory about protect the mental health of young people that students lost access to teachers, counselors, and mental health professionals when measures related to COVID-19 forced schools to close for in-person learning in 2020 and 2021.

The BSCA, which Biden signed in June, will invest an additional $1 billion over the next five years to support mental health in US schools, according to the White House.

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