The new Safer Communities Act helps clinicians connect patients to mental healthcare. Hopefully, this will reduce youth gun violence, including suicide.
Lifelong Learning in Clinical Excellence | August 1, 2022 | 1 min read
By Katherine Hoops, MD, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Monique Burke, MD, President, MD Chapter of the AAP
The Safer Communities Act signed into law by President Biden on June 25, 2022, marked a major step forward in efforts to prevent gun violence. One of the most important provisions for clinicians was the billion-dollar investment in community behavioral health centers, school-based trauma and mental health services, telehealth services, and clinician training. This law provides primary care pediatricians with better access to telehealth consultations with expert teams. Much of child mental healthcare is currently provided by primary care pediatricians, and this will improve pediatricians’ ability to identify and better care for children with mental health concerns. Mental health encounters now make up about a quarter of daily visits in many practices, and often these patients are currently unable to obtain an appointment with a mental health professional.
This new legislation ensures that pediatricians will continue to have access to high quality pediatric mental health services, both to aid management in primary care settings and help triage patient referrals for virtual and in-person mental healthcare. These are critical resources to address the mental health crisis facing children and youth and to prevent youth suicide.
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.