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Children’s Mental Health Spotlight in Congressional Briefing

Briefing_Poster.jpgThis past Friday the Congressional Children’s Health Care Caucus held a briefing titled “Children’s Mental Health: The Importance of Early Identification and Intervention” for congressional staff at the Capitol Visitor’s Center.

During the 90-minute session, Tamar Magarik Haro of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Finza Latif, MD, of Children’s National Health System and Mario Hernandez, PhD., of the University of South Florida (bios) made sure to acknowledge that children aren't “little adults” and spoke about the importance of a pediatric mental health policy, specifically one that focuses on integration of mental health and primary care services.

Some startling statistics presented to the 100+ crowd:

  • One in 5 children younger than 18 years old has a diagnosable mental disorder, yet , only 21 percent of those affected receive necessary treatment. 
  • Fifty percent of mental health conditions diagnosed in adults begin before the age of 14.
  • Currently, there are only 9,500 of the needed 30,000 child and adolescent psychiatrists in the United States.
  • Due to the shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists, the typical wait time to see a mental health professional is 12 months.


Recognizing that this is a very important, yet complex, issue, the speakers discussed current initiatives at both the federal and local levels aimed at bridging the gaps in pediatric mental health services. They highlighted that there is much more to be done to bring such initiatives to scale and achieve highly accessible and effective mental health treatment for children and adolescents. The complete PowerPoint presentations can be found here.

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