Bills target mental health effects of COVID-19 on youth and adults

Lawmakers want to expand telehealth options for children, cognitive research.

Children’s mental health care and research into the effects of COVID-19 on brain function would receive more federal attention and funding through new legislation.

New bipartisan Medicaid ensuring needed telehealth is available long term (Mental Health for Kids and Underserved Act would direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide guidance to states on improving access to mental and behavioral health services and treatments via telehealth under Medicaid and its program of health insurance for children (CHIP). The bill is needed to address the “major disruptions” the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to children’s development, the sponsors said.

“Due to the pandemic, children across the country – especially those in underserved communities – have faced major disruptions in their educational and behavioral development, and schools have not had the resources they need. “Senator Sherrod Brown said in a press release. . “We need to expand behavioral telehealth options for students, and it’s a common-sense, bipartisan step to get there.”

Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, introduced the bill with Senator John ThuneR-South Dakota, and Senator Ben CardinD-Maryland.

The bill would seek guidance on how states can provide school-based behavioral services and treatment and best practices for inclusion. It focuses on those most at risk, including underserved Americans and school-aged children, according to lawmakers’ offices.

brown, with Senator Bill Cassidy, MDR-Louisiana, and Senator Tammy DuckworthD-Illinois, co-sponsors the Brycen Gray and Ben Price COVID-19 Cognitive Research Act. It would authorize the National Science Foundation to fund research into mental illnesses associated with short- and long-term COVID-19 infections in adults, children, and adolescents.

“The pandemic has shown us the need to prioritize mental health and support those who are suffering,” Cassidy said in a press release. “Our bill increases research on the short- and long-term impacts of COVID on mental health and effects on the brain.”

Lawmakers said they named the bill for Illinois native Ben Price and Ohio native Brycen Gray, who both had no history of mental illness but took their own lives after suffering from COVID-19.

Duckworth called it a tragic loss. His announcement included a statement from Jennifer Price, widow of Ben Price.

“The importance of this bill cannot be overlooked,” Jennifer Price said in a press release. “The neurological impact of COVID is significant and has touched and devastated many families like mine. If I had known about COVID psychosis and the neurological impact that COVID had on the brain, my husband would be here today. knowledge is power but without action it is useless We need action to help save more lives.

Representative Anthony Gonzalez, a Republican from Ohio, sponsored accompanying bipartisan legislation in the US House of Representatives.

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