Alaska Needs More Mental Health Services

The pandemic created a mental health crisis among Alaska youth that isn’t going away. But

even before the impact of COVID-19, Alaska’s youth were struggling without enough

support. Juneau Youth Services and other mental health organizations do everything they

can but it’s not enough. Recent news articles have shed light on the lack of adequate

services.


Dealing with the mental health crisis among Alaska youth is a team effort. It requires the

education system, law enforcement, mental health providers, health care systems and state

leaders to work together. That includes having adequate personnel, training and funding

for necessary services.


Alaska’s 2022 legislative session is underway. JYS keeps track of bills that have the potential to have a positive impact on mental health services. House Bill 265 is one of these bills. The bill relates to telehealth services.


The ability to use telemedicine is critical to the care of Alaska’s youth in crisis. Alaska is

spread out. It’s not always feasible for patients to be seen in-person. However, with

increased access to internet and the growing practice of telemedicine, telehealth services are becoming increasingly popular.


If HB 265 is enacted, telehealth services would be treated the same as in-person services.

Health care providers would be able to see patients using telehealth without first

conducting in-person exams. Telehealth services would also be treated the same financially

as in-person exams.


During the pandemic telehealth allowed our providers to safely conduct mental health

assessments and provide treatment services like therapy. It’s an important tool that allows

us to help. This is just one example of how state leaders can help us provide important

services.


We look forward to a productive legislative session. We will continue advocating on behalf

of our clients to get them the help they need.