Department of Health receives $2.2 million federal grant to address pediatric mental health in Hawai’i

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The American Academy of Pediatrics has released new mask guidelines for kids after the U.S. saw a %90 increase in COVID infections in children.

HONOLULU (KHON2) — For the next five years, the Department of Health (DOH) will receive $445,000 a year, as part of the $2.2 million federal Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) grant they are receiving to help address pediatric mental health care for children and youth ages three to 21 years old.

The DOH says, the two main reasons for the existence of this program is to promote behavioral health integration in to pediatric primary care using telehealth and to lessen the burden on hospitals.

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“During this critical time, children and youth continue to struggle with mental health issues under the unusual circumstances of COVID-19,” said DOH’s Health Resources Administration’s Deputy Director Danette Wong Tomiyasu. “This grant will help our state to directly address some of the barriers to pediatric mental health care that Hawai’i families are facing.”

The 2020 University of Hawai’i Annual Report pointed out that the state of Hawai’i experienced a shortage of primary care physicians and psychiatrists since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

According to DOH, telehealth (virtual appointments) is one solution to help fill the healthcare provider gap and achieve health equity related to racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities in access to care.

DOH’s Family Health Services Division is where the program will be implemented out of and they are currently brainstorming the best way to share this new program with the state and the different neighbor island communities.

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DOH said the PMHCA grant is part of the American Rescue Plan Act from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

For more information on HRSA, click here.

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