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Expanded Medicare is helping to reverse a child mental health crisis. But many parents don't know about the extra resources

mental health scared eyes
Image by Nabiru Alby from Pixabay

Mental health professionals say the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge of children in emergency rooms seeking psychiatric care. But federal COVID relief funds are helping provide resources to cope.

The Child and Family Guidance Center in Bridgeport provides out-patient mental health services to more than 4,000 children. CEO Michael Patota said waiting lists for their services used to be as long as six months. But with expanded Medicare now providing more funding that’s no longer the case.

“So the longest you are going to have to wait for an appointment based on need is two weeks, so you’d either be seen in an emergency case in two hours, an urgent case two days, or two weeks in a routine case,” Patota said

Unfortunately many parents are not aware of this, said Fairfield State Senator Tony Hwang.

“COVID just exacerbated the shortfalls and the gaps in care in so many different areas. And in this case it was youth mental health. And we’ve seen it have a devastating effect on an entire generation of young people that could be prevented with supportive services,” he said.

Hwang said the pandemic has highlighted a youth mental health crisis.

“To acknowledge the problem, as we said earlier in the program, an opportunity for us to really address this issue that has always existed but now has been unfortunately really exposed,” he said.

Patota and Hwang spoke at a forum on youth mental health crisis in the age of COVID-19. It was organized by Hwang at the Sacred Heart University Community Theater in Fairfield.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.