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Mental and Behavioral Health

Behavioral health is an umbrella term that includes mental health and well-being. Examples of behavioral health conditions include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Substance use disorder

Behavioral health conditions can affect us across our lives.

  • Nearly 1 in 5 children have a mental or behavioral disorder.i
  • Fifty percent of all lifelong mental disorders begin by age 14.ii
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-24.iii
  • Over 60% of adults have experienced trauma or adversity during childhood. This can have long-term effects on health, well-being, and opportunity.iv
  • According to data from Maternal Mortality Review Committees in 36 states, mental health conditions are the leading cause of pregnancy-related death. v 

Our approach to mental and behavioral health

The COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the mental health crisis we face. The more we can train our Maternal and Child Health (MCH) workforce to screen, intervene, treat, and provide referrals for our MCH populations, the more we improve their health and well-being.

We have responded to the tremendous toll COVID-19 has taken on mental and behavioral health by investing

  • $80 million from the American Rescue Plan to expand the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program
  • $15 million from the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to increase telehealth access and infrastructure for providers and families to help prevent and respond to COVID-19; this includes funding to address access to mental and behavioral health services

With our committed partners we are:

Improving access to quality services

  • Linking women and families to treatment and supports through screening and referral, direct service, and telehealth to prevent and treat behavioral health disorders

Advancing equity

  • Providing patient-centered, culturally and linguistically appropriate, community-based services
  • Eliminating racial and geographic health disparities by addressing systemic and social inequities

Strengthening the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) workforce

  • Training the MCH workforce to integrate culturally and linguistically appropriate, equitable, and trauma-informed best practices

Maximizing impact through leadership, partnership, and stewardship

  • Promoting mental, emotional, and behavioral health and healthy development in infants, children, and youth through education, consultation, outreach, and policy innovation

Our investments

At the provider level

Direct services

Clinical guidelines

At the workforce training level

At the systems level

At the patient and family level

At the policy and innovation level

Gathering data and tracking progress

Nationally, we track improvements in mental and behavioral health through:

ii Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62(6):593-602

iii CDC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). (2020) Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

iv (PDF - 68 KB).

Pregnancy-Related Deaths: Data from Maternal Mortality Review Committees in 36 US States, 2017–2019


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