How The Biden Administration Plans To Provide Kids With Better Mental And Physical Health Care

The Biden administration has announced new plans to prioritize kids' physical and mental health by offering more services they can access through their schools, according to CNN. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued new guidance on Thursday to provide quality and comprehensive healthcare for millions of children across the country by urging states to expand school-based healthcare, especially mental health services. According to a statement from HHS, the department also issued guidance highlighting the existing mandate that schools must cover behavioral health services for children with Medicaid. The goal is for schools to start using every resource to help improve kids' mental health

Despite the fact that not all children are on Medicaid, health experts point out that all school children can benefit from the guidance since it would allow schools to use Medicaid funds to gain more resources all children could use, like hiring more nurses and counselors (via CNN). This is all part of the Biden administration's plan to address the nation's mental health crisis and its impact on school-aged children. "As we begin the school year, a top priority of the Biden Administration is to ensure all children have access to the full range of care and support they need to stay healthy and thrive — including mental health services," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in the statement.

Why kids really need the help

Although the nation's mental health crisis is affecting people of all ages in the U.S., data show that kids are being disproportionately impacted. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 26% to 37% of high school students had persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness before the pandemic started. But in 2021, that rate increased to over 44% (via CNN). The American Academy of Pediatrics also declared a national emergency for children's mental health that same year.

The new HHS guidance, however, seeks to remedy this by providing schools with the funding needed to provide better access to psychological assessments, vaccines, counseling, and screening services for eyesight and hearing, among others. Rochelle Davis, the president and CEO of the Health Schools Campaign, tells CNN that the guidance will be transformative, stating, "This is good for students. It's good for schools, and it's good for the public because it is using federal resources very efficiently."