On September 22, APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in a hearing titled “Putting Kids First: Addressing COVID-19's Impacts on Children.” The goals of the hearing were to address misconceptions that COVID-19 has had no effect on children; discuss the indirect impacts of the pandemic, including on children’s mental health; and identify opportunities for Congress to take action in the future.
- The importance of understanding the unique behavioral health challenges facing young people.
- The value of using a population health approach to ensure an effective strategy for addressing the behavioral health needs of children and adolescents.
- The benefits of integrating physical and behavioral health interventions.
- The need to boost school-based mental health services.
Evans urged Congress to act now to protect our nation’s youth, stressing the importance of making long-term federal investments, beyond a temporary, COVID-centered response, to ensure that early intervention and mental health literacy for families and educators are universal elements of how behavioral health is addressed in the future. To build the infrastructure and workforce necessary to meet the needs of children post-COVID, Evans called on Congress to pass legislation that would grow the number of psychologists and other mental health providers, including in school-based settings; increase Medicaid funding to schools; and permanently extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
In concluding his remarks, Evans offered hope for the future by reminding the subcommittee that children are mentally resilient and “have the ability to bounce back, but we as adults have to put in place policies that allow that to happen.” Rep. DeGette (D-CO), the subcommittee chair, thanked Evans for his continued commitment to pediatric mental health and welcomed his continued involvement.