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Gordon Urges Establishment Of Hub For Children In Need Of Mental Health Services

Asks State To Apply For Federal Funds To Assist in Creation

TRENTON – Senator Bob Gordon (D-Bergen) has introduced a Senate resolution calling on the state to apply for federal funds in order to help create a pilot program that would assist children in need of mental health services.

“The sad truth is that far too many children with mental health needs are not getting the kind of services they require,” said Gordon. “We need a centralized location where primary care physicians can reach out and acquire information that they can then pass on to children and their families.”

Approximately 70% of children and adolescents who need mental health treatment do not receive it. Those who do often receive it from their primary care physician. Often these doctors do not have the resources or means to adequately treat them. Moreover, there are fewer then 11 child psychiatrists for every 100,000 children. It is not uncommon for a child to wait six to eight weeks for a psychiatry appointment.

With the assistance of groups such as the New Jersey Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and many others, Senator Gordon has been advocating for the establishment of a pilot program in Bergen County to improve access to mental health services for children and adolescents. Specifically, the pilot program would provide primary care physicians with immediate access, through telephone or by some other electronic means, to a child psychiatric team that will assist primary care physicians in their assessment, diagnosis and treatment of child and adolescent mental health issues.

The federal government has grants available through the Department of Health and Human Services that would pay for full implementation of the pilot program, but a New Jersey state department or agency has to apply for the funding in order to receive it. The deadline to apply for funding is June 2.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of the state applying for these funds. The grant money available could help implement this public health measure at no additional cost to the taxpayer. It is a winning opportunity for everyone involved,” said Gordon.

The measure, SR-113, has been referred to the Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee.