April 22, 2009
Far too many families in our nation face tremendous barriers in accessing mental healthcare for their child because of a critical shortage of child and adolescent mental health providers. Families routinely report being forced to wait months before their child can be seen, having to drive hours away for their child to see a mental health professional, or simply not having access at all for a child that requires mental healthcare. This crisis must receive immediate attention. The magnitude of the workforce shortage and the toll that it takes on children, families, and communities has been well documented over a number of years in the media and in multiple national reports. The time is long overdue to address the workforce crisis and the toll it takes on children and families.
NAMI applauds Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Susan Collins (R-ME), for introducing The Child Healthcare Crisis Relief Act (HR 1932), federal legislation to help end the national shortage of children’s mental health professionals, including school-based mental health professionals, by encouraging more individuals to enter the field.
The bill includes a number of financial and educational incentives designed to help end the workforce shortage, including federal support for scholarships, loan repayment programs, clinical training grants, and specialty training programs. Children’s mental health professionals covered by the bill include child and adolescent psychiatrists, behavioral pediatricians, psychologists, school psychologists, school social workers, school counselors, psychiatric nurses, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors.
This is a first step in the right direction; however more must be done to address this crisis. NAMI calls on Congress to enact The Child Healthcare Crisis Relief Act, federal legislation designed to help end the severe shortage of child and adolescent mental health providers.
Contact your House members and urge them to cosponsor The Child Healthcare Crisis Relief Act (HR 1932) using NAMI’s Legislative Action Center. NAMI will send out an alert when the companion Senate bill is introduced and will ask NAMI leaders to contact their Senators to co-sponsor the Senate bill.
To learn more about The Child Healthcare Crisis Relief Act, read about the bill on the NAMI website.