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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 14, 2022 02:55 PM
From: Senator John I. Kane
To: All Senate members
Subject: Children’s Mental Health Ombudsman
Pennsylvania’s youth are experiencing a mental health crisis. We saw evidence of this before the pandemic, and that trend has been exacerbated ever since. Mental health has been cited as the leading cause of disability between the ages of 10-24 years old. Furthermore, depression rates among young people have doubled in the past decade, with the sharpest uptick over the past two years. Due to historical inequities, challenges with youth mental health are even greater in minority communities. These issues will only continue unless we take systemic action to address it. The good news is that research shows that increasing rates of mental health issues are treatable with the proper support and resources.
To give our younger generation a better shot at success, we must improve youth mental health services in our Commonwealth. My bill would be a companion bill to Rep. John T. Galloway’s H.B. 404, which creates a statewide children’s mental health ombudsman. The ombudsman would have authority and duties to:
  1. Advocate on behalf of children with mental health issues;
  2. Identify barriers to effective mental health treatment;
  3. Monitor compliance with laws pertaining to children’s behavioral health services; and
  4. Receive, investigate and attempt to resolve complaints regarding violations by regulated entities and government agencies that may have an adverse impact upon the health, safety, welfare or rights of children.
With every challenge comes an opportunity. The pandemic has forced us to address issues that have long been simmering beneath the surface. With this bill, we can take a major step in the right direction of providing more support for youth across Pennsylvania.
Please join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB1269