As our children return to school next month it is important that we equip them with tools to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. Since the beginning of COVID-19 our country, especially our children, have been forced to alter their lives and adapt.
Unfortunately, our children’s mental health suffered during and following the pandemic. Child psychiatrists warn that the pandemic may increase suicide risk in children. Doctors and psychiatrists argue that the pandemic has created additional stress and exacerbated the ongoing mental health crisis in teens and other vulnerable groups.
The pandemic has exposed gaps in our mental health programs. That is why I have made it a top priority to introduce and support bipartisan bills dedicated to improving mental health care for all.
Last month, my Supporting Children’s Mental Health Care Access Act of 2022 passed the House of Representatives. This bipartisan bill would reauthorize funding for children’s mental and behavioral health programs.
Additionally, this past week I joined my Republican colleagues in a letter to the CDC asking the agency to publish the 2021 child suicide data. Even though Congress is finally acting on needed mental health reform, bureaucratic agencies like the CDC are preventing Congress from receiving important data that is necessary to introduce legislation to combat the problem.
I am extremely proud of the work that Congress has done to create effective bipartisan solutions to begin combatting our struggling mental health problems. However, this is just the beginning, and more legislation and research are required to fully understand the toll that the pandemic has caused our youth.
I encourage parents both in Iowa and across the United States to take a moment to talk to their children about their emotional well-being and encourage children struggling with mental health to reach out to loved ones or seek professional help to receive care.