WASHINGTON [9.13.22] –Today, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that Minnesota will receive at least $800,000 in youth mental health grants. The grants – aimed at addressing increasing youth mental health conditions – are made possible through funding from the American Rescue Plan, which Sen. Smith helped pass earlier this year.
“As we continue to address the impacts of COVID-19, another crisis has emerged – the crisis of youth mental health. When I experienced depression, resources were there for me. But right now, too many people don’t have access to the mental health care they need,” said Senator Smith. “These investments in youth mental health programs will help expand access to mental health services and ensure our kids have the resources they need. I’m proud of our efforts to pass the American Rescue Plan, which made these investments possible.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the ongoing youth mental health crisis. A recent survey showed that among adolescents ages 12-17, 12% said they had serious thoughts of suicide, 5.3% made a suicide plan, and 2.5% percent attempted suicide in the past year. Those who experienced a major depressive episode reported they were more likely than those who did not to feel that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected their mental health “quite a bit or a lot.”
These grants will go towards enhancing the capacity of mental health organizations to support family members and caregivers who are raising kids with serious emotional disturbance (SED). Funding will also be directed to train school personnel, first responders, veterans and others to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental disorders.
As a member of the Senate Health and Education Committee, Senator Smith is leader in the fight to make mental health care more affordable and accessible. As part of the American Rescue Plan, Smith passed bipartisan provisions with Senator Murkowski to provide expanded access to community based mental health care and harm reduction services. She has also introduced a host of bipartisan legislation aimed at increasing mental health services for students, improving integrated care, increasing access to tele-mental health, and investing in the mental health workforce. Last year, she introduced the Medicaid Bump Act to expand access to mental health services for low-income families and children, older adults and people living with disabilities. Smith has also spoken on the Senate floor and regularly shares her story about her personal experience with depression in an effort to destigmatize talking about mental health.
988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline), and is now active across the United States. When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.