If you missed access to a copy of the September 21,2021 the Senate Finance Committee asking for public comments on ways to address substance use and mental health services due to last week’s faulty link in the Children’s Monitor you can link to the full letter: here.  Committee is asking members of the behavior health community and other interested parties about how the committee can best address behavioral health challenges especially in light of the pandemic.


Specifically, they said they are looking for evidence-based solutions and ideas to advance behavioral health care in a) strengthening the workforce, b) increasing integration and coordination and access to care, c) ensuring parity between behavioral and physical health care, d) furthering the use of telehealth, and e) improving access to be health care for children and young people.  The letter adds specific questions under improving access for children and young people they ask:


  • How should shortages of providers specializing in children’s behavioral health care be addressed?
  • How can peer support specialist community health care workers, and non-clinical professionals, and paraprofessionals, play a role in improving children’s behavioral health?
  • Are there different considerations for care integration for children’s health needs compared to adults’ health needs?
  • How can federal programs support access to behavioral healthcare for vulnerable youth populations such as individuals involved in the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system?
  • And what key factors should be considered with respect to implementing and expanding telehealth services for pediatric populations?


In drafting comments here are some important sources of recommendations:

Child Trends has issued a 2021:  A National Agenda for Children’s Mental Health.


The paper says that “Efforts to promote children’s mental health are often spread across multiple agencies that operate independently of one another, leading to fractured efforts that have resulted in the education, child welfare, and juvenile justice sectors serving as a de facto mental health system for children and youth.”  An important point since some critics blame child welfare systems for not fixing mental health and substance use treatment needs that should be addressed through behavioral health systems. Another important resource is a 2019 report by the National Academy of Sciences: Fostering Healthy Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Development in Children and Youth: A National Agenda (2019).