State Rep. John Galloway announced his bill to create a mental healthcare clearinghouse for children unanimously passed in the House.
His bill, H.B. 409, would create a mental healthcare services clearinghouse to help school personnel connect families to community mental health resources.
“Children’s untreated mental health issues are one of the most pressing issues our society faces,” said Galloway, D-Bucks. “Our schools lack the resources needed to provide care and services to their students. The clearinghouse would create a one-stop shop for mental health resources, saving schools time and resources and improving both the quantity and quality of mental health programming available to those in need.”
The mental healthcare services clearinghouse would be a publicly accessible registry of mental healthcare resources available across the commonwealth. The clearinghouse would help school personnel connect families to community mental health resources. In addition, this clearinghouse would allow school personnel to learn about and take advantage of existing programs and resources for their schools.
“Early detection and treatment of mental health issues literally saves lives, mitigates effects of illnesses and gives children the skills to cope with them,” Galloway said.
According to Galloway, the National Alliance on Mental Illness states that one in five youths under the age of 14 has a mental health condition, but less than half of these children with mental health conditions receive mental healthcare. For many students, families and school personnel, it’s very difficult to find quality mental healthcare resources. Schools have a difficult time providing the necessary care and services to their students, especially when Pennsylvania’s school counselor to student ratio averages 1 to 387.
“There’s a critical need for a network among schools, communities and health providers so that they can share information about mental healthcare resources and programs,” Galloway said. “The mental healthcare services clearinghouse would serve as an information link among these three communities.”
The bill is now on its way to the Senate for consideration. An earlier version of the bill, HB 2331, also passed the House unanimously on Sept. 30, 2020.