Three New Jersey school-based health center programs will get almost $1.5 million in Obamacare funding to expand their services to more students.  School-based health centers provide not only primary and preventive care, but also mental health and counseling services.

Candles are lit among mementos at a memorial for victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School (Mario Tama, Getty Images)

"The horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut is forcing our nation to confront not only the epidemic of gun violence, but the fact that mental health services – especially for at-risk children – are understaffed, underfunded and therefore too often underutilized by those who need them,” says U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). “But because of these Affordable Care Act grants, we are expanding the reach of school-based health centers so that more kids have access not only primary and preventive care, but the mental health and counseling services they need.”

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), almost two-thirds of teens with a lifetime mental disorder fail to get professional help and those with severe mental disorders get treatment even less often. According to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors in the past three years, states have cut their funding of mental health services by $4.3 billion.

U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) says, “Too often, children in need of preventive health care and mental health services fall through the cracks, with potentially disastrous effects for themselves and our society. Thanks to Obamacare, thousands of children in New Jersey will have better access to basic primary care—including mental health services, nutrition education, and substance abuse counseling—at school-based health centers.”