State To Receive Federal Funding To Address Youth Mental Health Crisis

The mental health of Hawaii’s keiki has suffered as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to adjust to a new normal of socially distant living. New federal funding to the Hawaii Department of Health is planned to tackle this crisis head-on.

According to DOH officials, Hawai’i is one of 30 states to have received the Pediatric Mental Health Access Grant (PMHCA). Over the next five years, the state will receive $ 445,000 annually, for a total of $ 2.2 million, for pediatric mental health care for children and youth ages 3 to 21.

“During this critical time, children and youth continue to struggle with mental health issues under the unusual circumstances of COVID-19,” said Danette Wong Tomiyasu, deputy director of the Health Resources Administration at DOH. “This grant will help our state directly overcome some of the barriers to pediatric mental health care that Hawaiian families face. “

According to the University of Hawaii’s 2020 annual report, the pandemic has exacerbated the state’s shortage of primary care physicians and psychiatrists. Telehealth is a solution to help fill the gap in health care providers and achieve health equity related to racial, ethnic and geographic disparities in access to care.

The goal of the PMHCA program is to promote the integration of behavioral health into pediatric primary care using telehealth, which has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic to curb the spread of the disease and alleviate the burden on hospitals and doctors AA – Government offices.


The Department of Family Health Services at DOH, where the grant will be housed, is exploring how best to implement the PMHCA program at state and community levels. This may include pediatric mental health care teams who will provide teleconsultation, training, technical assistance and care coordination to pediatric primary care providers to diagnose, treat and refer children with behavioral health issues.


The PMHCA grant is part of the American Rescue Plan Act of the Federal Administration of Health Resources and Services (HRSA). To learn more about the HRSA Pediatric Mental Health Access Program, click here.

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