Medicaid and CHIP Help Families Access Mental Health Services for Kids

Special to The Truth

The state of mental health among youth continues to be of public concern. According to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Survey, youth mental health problems have increased significantly over the past decade, reaching an all-time high.

For instance, from 2011 to 2021, the rate of female high school students saying they feel sad or hopeless increased from 36% to 57 percent; for male students this rate increased from 21 percent to 29 percent.

Stressors at school, home or elsewhere can cause mental health disorders to arise, leading to negative impacts on how children learn and build relationships with others. If your child may need mental health support and doesn’t currently have health coverage, you have options. Free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offers many benefits, including doctor’s visits, prescriptions, emergencies and the coverage of behavioral health services, including mental health services through pediatricians, mental health professionals, local community providers and organizations, as well as school systems. People who are pregnant or postpartum may also be eligible for this health coverage and mental and behavioral health services.

Who qualifies for Medicaid or CHIP? Eligibility varies by state and is determined by how many people are in a household and household income. For instance, in most states, a family of four with household income up to $60,000 per year may qualify for Medicaid, CHIP or both. To learn more about state-specific options, visit or call 1-877-KIDS-NOW. Enrollment is open year-round.

What if my child currently has Medicaid or CHIP coverage? Medicaid and CHIP coverage must be renewed annually. If you or your children have Medicaid or CHIP, it’s time to pay attention to your health coverage. Keep an eye on the mail for renewal information from your state. When it comes, complete the forms and send them back right away. Failure or delay in responding can result in you losing coverage, even if you are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. If you have lost coverage, go to to find quality plans and help paying costs.

What types of services are covered through Medicaid and CHIP? To help care for all parts of a child’s health, Medicaid and CHIP also cover routine health care visits, like preventive care, dental and vision checkups, specialist visits, physical, speech and occupational therapies, and emergency services. These programs also cover a wide range of mental health and substance use services such as counseling, peer support services, inpatient psychiatric services and case management services for needed medical, educational and social services. Services are covered through Medicaid for children and teens up to age 21 and through CHIP up to age 19.

States have flexibility to determine if services may be delivered using telehealth. These services are necessary to prevent, diagnose and treat a broad range of mental health symptoms and disorders, as well as substance use disorders.

Caring for mental health is caring for overall health. Early detection and intervention of mental health and substance use issues is crucial to the overall health of kids, teens and people during and after pregnancy, and may reduce or eliminate the effects of a condition if detected and treated early. Take the time today to explore coverage options through Medicaid and CHIP.

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Courtesy StatePoint