At the Senate Appropriation’s Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing on the President’s proposed FY23 Budget, mental health and the new 988 crisis and suicide prevention hotline were raised multiple times.

Chairwoman Patty Murray, in her opening remarks, noted that “the kids are not okay,” as over 200,000 kids have lost a parent or caregiver due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in Washington state, the menta health workforce is only able to meet 17% of need for children’s mental health services. Murray expressed for the support for school-based services, early childhood mental health services, community health centers, and the 988 line in the President’s budget.

In his testimony, Secretary Becerra also highlighted the administration’s mental health investments, including the launch of the 988 crisis line, extending care and support for postpartum mothers, and funding for home visiting programs.

Senators Reed (D-RI), Baldwin (D-WI) and Moran all mentioned the funding intended for the 988 crisis line in their questions for the Secretary. Senator Reed said that it was necessary to adequately fund the infrastructure necessary for the line, as this is an “opportunity to get it right.” Overall, committee members were supportive of funding for this important new service, which will help increase access to crisis services around the country.

Other issues pertaining to the health and well-being of children that were highlighted during the hearing were child care, substance use treatment, and pandemic funding.