KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has appropriated $2.48 million to the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Inc. to expand and improve mental health care for youth across Kansas.
The KU School of Medicine-Wichita, which oversees the Addressing Youth Mental and behavioral Health Illness in primary care program, will use the investment to “train pediatric primary care resident physicians to screen, identify, diagnose, treat and prevent mental illness in youth and young adults,” according to a press release.
“With the shortage of pediatric mental health experts in Kansas and the increased number of youth struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental illness, primary care physicians and clinicians are called upon more and more to diagnose and treat these diseases, but they need additional training,” said Kari Harris, M.D., associate professor in pediatrics at KU School of Medicine-Wichita and co-project director of Addressing Youth Health and behavioral Health Illness, in a press release.
Approximately $245 million in Bipartisan Safer Communities Act funding was distributed across the country to address a growing concern of mental health in youth, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The bipartisan legislation, which President Joe Biden signed into law in June 2022, focuses on gun safety and violence prevention, but also includes substantial provisions for expanding mental health care.
The act calls for improving access to mental health services for children and families through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and to mental health services for children and families through telehealth. It also funds programs that train in mental health, suicide prevention, and crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.
The Addressing Youth Mental and behavioral Health Illness program will enhance its “primary care education in trauma-informed care, substance use disorders and effects of violence,” according to a press release.
“I voted for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to keep our children safe, and that certainly includes making sure Kansas youth have access to life-saving mental health care services,” said U.S. Representative Sharice Davids in a press release. “Like me, the University of Kansas Medical Center team understands that mental health is health. I am proud of the work they do to create healthy, resilient communities in Kansas, and am looking forward to the real differences this funding will make here at home.”