Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Secretary Becerra Highlight Investments of Administration and Congress in Latino Youth Mental Health Services
Los Angeles, CA - Yesterday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) held a roundtable discussion in Los Angeles to highlight the investments made by Congress and the Biden Administration in children’s mental health for Latino communities. Chair Nanette Barragán led the roundtable and was joined by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, CHC Vice Chair Tony Cárdenas, Congressional Black Caucus member Sydney Kamlager-Dove, and officials from Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA).
“Today’s roundtable is part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucuses’ initiative this Congress to take the Caucus on the road,” said Chair Barragán. “Part of that initiative is to partner with the Biden Administration to highlight investments Congress and the Administration are making in Latino communities. Today, we welcomed Secretary Becerra to Los Angeles to talk about investments made to help communities have greater access to care, and in particular, mental health services for young Latinos and Latinas.”
In the FY23 funding bill, Congress and the Administration increased funding for essential programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). More than half of Latino children get their health insurance coverage through these programs. Thanks to this bill, every child enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP will have 12 months of continuous, stable coverage when they enroll. These programs support and provide children access to essential health care services, including mental health services.
The CHC selected CHLA for this event because it is a top-ranked children’s hospital in California that has led on these issues, and has received support to provide training and services. For example, as a result of FY23 funding and HHS programs, the federal Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education Payment Program (CHGME) received $385 million to ensure that there are enough providers at children's hospitals across the country. CHLA received over $15 million of CHGME funding to support training pediatricians and pediatric specialists, as well as a five-year, $2.5 million HRSA grant in support of clinical training and research designed to address the growing mental health crisis among children and youth.
“Growing up in a Latino household, you often hear the phrase ‘los niños no lloran’ (little boys don’t cry),” continued Barragán. “We are told to keep our feelings to ourselves and ‘stay strong,’ especially because of the sacrifices our parents made to get here. We know mental health treatment for youth drastically improves outcomes for children and lasts into adulthood, yet Latinos struggle with cultural stigma, language barriers, cost, access, and other challenges that prevent them from getting the help they need. Our discussion today focused on the resources the Administration and Congress have provided to break down these barriers and help our children and their families get the support they need. We thank the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for hosting this important conversation, and to Secretary Becerra for joining us to reaffirm the Administration and HHS’ commitment to supporting the healthcare needs of our Latino communities.”
“If it were not for the members of Congress that are here, we would not have the resources to be working with Children’s Hospital to expand the services that are going to communities, especially the communities that are underserved. The greatest example is 988. As Congressman Cárdenas said, we need to listen,” said Secretary Becerra, when highlighting the nationwide suicide and crisis lifeline that is available in Spanish.
“Too many of our young people are struggling with mental health. As we see rates of depression and anxiety rise, we cannot allow our youth to suffer in silence. Over the last two years, Democrats accomplished so much for the American people to address the mental health crisis in America – from launching the 988 lifeline, to expanding access to mental health services. I’m proud to have led many of those initiatives and am committed to continuing our united mission addressing the mental health crisis this Congress,” said Congressman Cárdenas.
Cárdenas also highlighted his Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Act of 2021 (H.R. 1803) and the Strengthening Behavioral Health Supports for Schools Act both in coordination with SAMHSA to support mental health initiatives, training, and assistance in schools.
“Government works when government is listening and that is what the listening tour is all about – making sure that our elected officials are hearing what is happening on the ground,” said Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove. During the roundtable, the Congresswoman emphasized the importance of all the caucuses to continue working together for the causes that impact our communities, which are often the minority, so they can receive the resources and funding they need to benefit from these programs.