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January 14, 2019

Pediatric mental health programming in New Jersey just got a big boost

Federal funding will enable more providers to diagnose and treat mental health needs

Children's Health Mental Health
teens pexels George Dolgikh/Pexels

New Jersey will now be able to recruit and train nearly 2,000 more primary-care providers to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health and substance abuse issues in children and adolescents — an age group that is known to lack proper behavioral health care — thanks to new allocation of federal funds, NJ Spotlight reports.

NJ Spotlight continues:

A branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has pledged to provide the New Jersey Department of Health nearly $2.3 million, over five years, to enhance primary and behavioral healthcare with new telemedicine and education programs. The Nicholson Foundation, which supports health initiatives for underserved communities, is also contributing $109,000

With this new funding, the Pediatric Psychiatry Collaborative, a collection of local treatment programs that seek to properly screen and diagnose children with behavioral health needs and connect them with effective treatment locally, will be able to expand their reach to more children in need.

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“A child who is diagnosed and treated early will be on a better path toward a healthier lifestyle,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, New Jersey Health Commissioner, in a news release:

“An integrated approach to pediatric mental health care ensures New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents receive the best treatment they deserve in a coordinated way. The new telehealth component will enable families better access to more convenient healthcare. Mental illness and addiction often correlate with health risk behaviors such as tobacco use and physical inactivity, which lead to other chronic illnesses such as hypertension and heart disease. A child who is diagnosed and treated early will be on a better path toward a healthier lifestyle.” 

The new funding from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, will be allocated at $445,000 annually for the next five years, the release explains.

In addition to expanding the provider network, the new funding will fuel the development of an online referral database and other efforts to ease access to mental health services for patients and their caregivers, explained Department of Children and Families Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer in the release.

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