Gordon/Weinberg Resolution Urging Establishment Of Hub For Children In Need Of Mental Health Services Clears Senate

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Asks State To Apply For Federal Funds To Assist in Creation

TRENTON – A Senate resolution sponsored by Senators Bob Gordon (D-Bergen) and Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) that calls 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 has passed the full Senate.

“If we apply for and obtain this funding, the state can create a centralized location where primary care physicians can reach out and acquire information that they can then pass on to children and their families,” said Gordon. “This hub is greatly needed, as far too many children with mental health needs are not getting the kind of services they require.”

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, Senators Gordon and Weinberg have 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.