Department of Health receives $2.2 million federal grant to address pediatric mental health in Hawai’i

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Over the next five years, the Department of Health (DOH) will receive $445,000 per year as part of the $2.2 million Federal Pediatric Access to Mental Health Care (PMHCA) they will receive to help addressing pediatric mental health care for children and young people aged 3 to 21.

The DOH says the two main reasons for the existence of this program are to promote the integration of behavioral health into pediatric primary care using telehealth and to reduce the burden on hospitals.

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“During this critical time, children and young people continue to struggle with mental health issues under the unusual circumstances of COVID-19,” said Danette Wong Tomiyasu, deputy director of DOH’s Health Resources Administration. “This grant will help our state directly address some of the barriers to pediatric mental health care that Hawaiian families face.”

The University of Hawaii 2020 annual report pointed out that the state of Hawaii has been suffering from a shortage of primary care physicians and psychiatrists since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

According to DOH, telecare (virtual appointments) is a solution to close the gap between health care providers and achieve health equality related to racial, ethnic and geographic disparities in access to care.

DOH’s Family Health Services Division is where the program will be implemented and they are currently brainstorming how best to share this new program with the state and the various neighboring island communities.

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DOH said the PMHCA grant is part of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) American Rescue Plan Act.

For more information about HRSA, click here.

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