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Research continues to show that children of color have less access to quality mental health services, which too often results in poor academic performance and pushes them through the school-to-prison pipeline.

New York City announced on Wednesday the launch of a $4.6 million mental health initiative for children under six and their families, The New York Daily News reports.

The city’s Early Childhood Mental Health Network begins operating in October at seven new clinics. Under the initiative, nearly 400 pre-K and daycare staffers will receive additional training and resources on early childhood mental health, and be allowed to refer children to the seven clinics, according to The Daily News.

New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray has spearheaded the city’s mental health reform efforts. Indeed, she is making mental health her signature issue, according to New York-1.

“It is easier to grow a healthy child than to mend a broken adult,” said McCray, according to The Daily News.

She added:

“By acting early to help our youngest New Yorkers understand and manage their emotions, we can better equip them to handle stress, prevent or lessen the severity of future mental health challenges, and set them up for success.”

A study posted on the National Institute of Health’s website found that children of color are disproportionately exposed to mental health risk factors, such as exposure to violence and food insecurity.

There are psychological consequences when children fear for their physical safety and see an empty food pantry at home.

Untreated mental health problems can manifest in aggressive or disruptive behaviors, which often result in school suspensions and ultimately referrals to the juvenile justice system.

The Daily News said more than 3,000 children and their families are expected to participate in the initiative. But the ultimate goal is to make mental health services available to any of the city’s 100,000 universal pre-K and daycare students.

SOURCE: NY Daily News, National Institute of Health, NY-1| PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter

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