HHS expands commitment to school-based healthcare

May 4, 2022

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded nearly $25 million to improve and strengthen access to school-based health services in communities across the country.

Awards will support local partnerships between schools and health centers to provide children and youth the comprehensive physical and mental healthcare they need.

“When students are healthy, they are able to learn, grow, and thrive,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Our nation’s youth have endured many challenges navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are committed to ensuring they have the support they need. We’re investing in school-based healthcare to meet families where they are and make sure children have easy access to care – including mental health support.”

The awards were made to 125 HRSA-funded health centers that deliver comprehensive, high-quality primary healthcare services to individuals and families through school-based sites in underserved communities.

Health centers will use this funding to reduce disparities and improve access to care by increasing the number of young people receiving essential healthcare, including mental health services. Health centers will also use these funds for activities such as community and patient outreach, health education, and translation support.

A recent HRSA study published in the American Medical Association’s journal JAMA Pediatrics exit disclaimer icon found that between 2016 and 2020, the number of children ages 3-17 years diagnosed with anxiety grew by 29 percent and those with depression by 27 percent. As HHS recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month in May, this investment will help provide critical mental health services directly to students on site at their schools.

“There is no doubt that the last two years have been challenging for our kids and we need to do all that we can to support their health and well-being,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “By expanding our support for school-based health services, we are creating more opportunities for young people to get the help they need to address both physical and mental health needs that have been overlooked for too long.”

The $25 million that’s been awarded builds on the $5 million investment in school-based care that HRSA awarded to health centers in September 2021 to expand access to school-based services.

One in nine children in the United States accesses primary healthcare through a HRSA-funded health center. In 2020, 41 percent of health centers provided services to children and youth at over 3,200 school-based sites.

HHS release