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September 29, 2021
Pediatric Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Health: Federal Policy Recommendations for Congress and the Executive Branch

Nemours Children’s Health and Mental Health America (MHA) have developed a comprehensive slate of federal policy recommendations that, if acted upon, will improve pediatric mental, emotional, and behavioral health. The proposals seek rapid actions to improve current policy regarding the mental health and overall well-being of children in the U.S. in light of the many stressors they face during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the pandemic began, mental health-related emergency room visits have increased by nearly 25% for children ages 5-11 and more than 30% for youth ages 12-17. Many more children require immediate and intensive treatments, hospitalization, and longer hospital stays.

U.S. children have experienced changes in their routines, a disruption in the continuity of their learning and health care, missed peer socialization and life events, and encountered an overall loss of their security and safety. Moreover, the well-being of children has been affected by the intense COVID-related stressors on their parents and guardians. Throughout these recommendations, Nemours Children’s and Mental Health America highlight the urgency of intervening quickly, at a time when the detrimental effects of the pandemic may still be fully reversed.