How to find mental health resources for children and families


Posted: May 26, 2021 | Word Count: 504

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offer free or low-cost health coverage for children and teens up to age 19. Coverage includes check-ups and regular doctor visits, immunizations, emergency care, dentist visits, eye exams and other care that children may need, including mental and behavioral health services.

Children as young as 2 can be diagnosed with a mental disorder. Mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day. Some examples of childhood mental disorders include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression. Mental health issues can shape how a child behaves and learns. And these issues can make managing emotions more difficult for the child.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of children experiencing mental health disorders. Prior to COVID-19, 1 in 6 kids in the U.S. from 2 to 8 years of age had been diagnosed with a mental disorder, developmental disorder or behavioral disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A Harvard University study found that children experienced more clinically significant symptoms of anxiety, depression, hyperactivity and inattention between November 2020 and January 2021. The good news is that once diagnosed, mental disorders can be treated and managed to improve a child’s everyday life.

There are resources available to help children and families who may need mental health support. Medicaid and CHIP coverage includes mental and behavioral health screenings and services delivered in-person or via telehealth. Eligibility is dependent on household size and income, and varies by state. On average, children in a family of four earning up to $50,000 a year or more may qualify for Medicaid or CHIP. Families can enroll in these programs at any time throughout the year.

COVID-19 has negatively impacted children’s mental health by changing their routines, how they learn and how they socialize, according to the CDC. Medicaid, CHIP or other insurance can help children access mental health support services to help them through these times.

Catch up on missed care

Now is also a good time to catch up on care and necessary preventive services your child may have missed because of COVID-19, like vaccinations, routine childhood screenings and well-child visits. With Medicaid and CHIP coverage, parents can schedule preventive visits for their children to make sure that children are growing and developing normally, including meeting important developmental milestones. Regular dental check-ups and vision screenings are also essential to a child’s overall health. It is especially important for school-aged children to get caught up on missed care, so they are ready for in-person learning. Your provider will tell you how to be safe and how to get important care to protect your child’s health now and for the future.

To learn more about Medicaid and CHIP, visit InsureKidsNow.gov or call 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669) to speak with an enrollment specialist.

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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