A resolution co-sponsored in the state senate by Senators Bob Gordon (D-District 38) and Loretta Weinberg (D-District 37) that calls on the state to apply for federal funds in order to help create a pilot program that would assist children in need of mental health services has passed the full Senate.
The federal government has grants available through the Department of Health and Human Services that would pay for full implementation of the pilot program, but a New Jersey state department or agency has to apply for the funding in order to receive it. The deadline to apply for this funding is June 2.
With the assistance of groups such as the New Jersey Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and many others, Senators Gordon and Weinberg have been advocating for the establishment of a pilot program in Bergen County to improve access to mental health services for children and adolescents. Specifically, the pilot program would provide primary care physicians with immediate access, through telephone or by some other electronic means, to a child psychiatric team that will assist primary care physicians in their assessment, diagnosis and treatment of child and adolescent mental health issues.
Approximately 70 percent of children and adolescents who need mental health treatment do not receive it. Those who do often receive it from their primary care physician. Often these doctors do not have the resources or means to adequately treat them. Moreover, there are fewer then 11 child psychiatrists for every 100,000 children. It is not uncommon for a child to wait six to eight weeks for a psychiatry appointment.
“If we apply for and obtain this funding, the state can create a centralized location where primary care physicians can reach out and acquire information that they can then pass on to children and their families,” said Gordon in a statement issued this week. “This hub is greatly needed, as far too many children with mental health needs are not getting the kind of services they require.”
“By applying for these funds, the state can help implement a critical public health measure. Moreover, it would not cost New Jersey taxpayers a cent. That is why it is extremely important we apply for these funds,” said Weinberg in a statement.