Mental Health Policy

CHOP is part of a growing regional partnership of state and local officials, behavioral health providers, crisis centers and other hospital providers who have come together with the goal of building a more robust system to respond to children and families in crisis. The group works to address insurance coverage for mental and behavioral health, the shortage of inpatient psychiatric beds for children, and the shortage of mental health providers and social services for children and families. 

Unfortunately, the Southeastern Pennsylvania region lacks the capacity to serve the growing number of children and adolescents with mental and behavioral health conditions without accompanying medical diagnoses. On too many occasions, children with conditions including diagnosed and undiagnosed autism, bipolar disorder and depression experience a behavioral health crisis and end up arriving in hospital emergency rooms without the pediatric mental healthcare providers to care for them.

To address the shortage of pediatric mental and behavioral health providers, particularly in rural areas, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is developing the capability of serving patients remotely by using telemedicine.

Read more about federal legislation supported by CHOP and Hospital programs that aim to improve the lives of children impacted by mental health conditions.

Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

In late 2016, Congress passed the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, an end-of-year healthcare package of bills. The Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2016, aims to:

  • Improve coordination of federal mental health resources
  • Address psychiatric and mental health clinical workforce shortages
  • Authorize $4.8 billion over 10 years to the National Institutes of Health (including $1.5 billion for the Brain Research Through Advancing Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative)
  • Strengthen enforcement of mental health parity
  • Address criminalization of individuals with mental illness and continue support for mental health courts and crisis intervention centers
  • Authorize $1 billion over two years to combat the opioid epidemic

While the bill authorizes Congress to designate funds for these programs, it does not guarantee that such funds will be appropriated. The Office of Government Affairs, Community Impact & Advocacy continues to monitor legislation that would provide support for these initiatives.

Learn more about the 21st Century Cures Act.

Children’s Intensive Emotional and Behavioral Services (CIEBS)

CHOP CIEBS provides comprehensive psychiatric partial hospitalization services in a trauma-informed, behaviorally-based setting to children in the Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean Counties of New Jersey.

The program is for children between the ages of 5 and 13 who have significant emotional, behavioral and social needs. This program, funded primarily by Medicaid dollars, has been instrumental in preparing children to be successfully integrated back into a school and community setting.

The Government Affairs team at CHOP continues to advocate for funding for Medicaid to sustain important programs such as CIEBS.