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Omaha organization will use ARPA funding to expand mental health resources

Posted at 7:19 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 20:20:19-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The American Rescue Plan Act will soon make a difference in Omaha's mental health services.

Pre-pandemic, one in five children required mental health services according to Jyotsna Ranga, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at CHI Health.

"The number of child psychiatrists in our country, right now, is about 8,000 and we need about 30,000. And among the 8,000 child psychiatrists, more than half will be close to retirement age in the next 10 years," Ranga said.

She says the demand now is even higher and recruitment is low.

"I think the shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists, as well as other experts in the field of mental health really ties our hands in terms of what we need to provide for our youngest of the population," Ranga said.

Recruitment and retention are things the Child Saving Institute said it will use its ARPA funding for.

"Mental health has taken a priority, which is great. We want to meet that demand. We are noticing more demand within therapy. More kids, more adolescents (and) more adults (are) seeking services," said Andrew Powell, a therapist at Child Saving Institute.

CSI will receive nearly $300,000 over a two-year period, which will allow them to expand their program from 8 therapists to 11.

"We are now able to meet that demand within the Omaha community and help support our therapists and clinicians as well," Powell said.

Support he said is necessary for this field.

"With human services, social services and mental health we do see high burnout. High turnover rate and so the funding will help retain employees, retain clinicians. Which hopefully will create less transition and less barriers to receiving effective and adequate mental health services," Powell said.

He said this will ultimately help more children get the care they need, with less of a wait.

Many other organizations will see ARPA funding for mental health resources as well. The Nebraska legislature set aside $40 million of ARPA money to go towards behavioral health projects.

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