HHS expanding mental health services in schools

March 16, 2023

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has announced the availability of approximately $25 million to expand primary health care, including mental health services, in schools. For the first time, applicants will be required to add or expand mental health services to receive school-based funding. HRSA-funded health centers currently operate more than 3,400 school-based service sites in schools across the country.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to improving and expanding behavioral health services. President Biden named mental health a key pillar of his Unity Agenda and released a comprehensive strategy to address the nation’s mental health crisis, prioritizing mental health in the President’s budget, making major investments in the nation’s mental health workforce, and proposing reforms to health coverage to include mental health care.

“President Biden recognizes that mental health is fundamental to the overall health and well-being of our country’s children and young adults, and he has been supportive of HHS programs and policies to expand youth mental health services,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Ensuring that children can access the care they need in schools, including mental health services, is a critical way we can support their healthy growth and development.”

“At the Health Resources and Services Administration, we are using all available levers to expand access to mental health care,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “We want to ensure that there is no wrong door to young people finding help. That’s why we are investing in expanding mental health care in schools to help kids get the support they need. We look forward to a robust applicant pool in response to this exciting funding announcement.”

School-based service sites provide convenient access to primary health care for children and adolescents. HRSA-funded health centers will use this funding to expand access to general primary medical and mental health care through both new school-based sites and expanding existing sites. HRSA anticipates funding 70 awards.

The $25 million funding opportunity for health centers announced today builds on the $30 million HRSA has awarded since September 2021 to increase access to health center services in schools. Further, it advances Secretary Becerra and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s shared commitment to expand school-based health services, as outlined in their joint letter to Governors. In addition, this funding is part of the ongoing Administration-wide effort to strengthen our nation’s mental health.

HHS release