For Immediate Release
Contact: Rob Grant, Communications Director
202.966.7300, Ext. 119
AACAP Applauds Congress for Important First Steps to Address Gun Safely and Bolster the Mental Health Safety Net
Washington, DC, June 24, 2022 – The American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) applauds Congress for passing decades-awaited gun safety legislation and for bolstering the healthcare safety net to protect the wellbeing of our nation’s children, families, and communities.
“We are pleased to see Congress respond to the call to act in two critically important, yet distinct, issue areas – gun safety and mental health,” notes AACAP President, Warren Ng, MD. “With more than 3500 children and adolescents dying in gun-related incidents annually, including over 1200 deaths by gun suicide, gun violence is a public health crisis that is increasingly affecting America’s children.”
Earlier this month, AACAP submitted testimony to the Committee on the Judiciary asking Senators to act and pass legislation that will “work to immediately safeguard our children, families, and communities from gun-related violence while also setting a foundation for addressing America’s mental health crisis.”
“The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is an important and notable first step in advancing gun safety reforms,” Ng said. “AACAP is eager to work with Congress on additional gun policy reforms related to the purchase, ownership and storage of firearms and public education about gun safety and prevention of gun-related violence,” he added.
Ng notes that the legislation also makes critical investments into mental health and school safety. “AACAP has long advocated for increased funding for school-based Medicaid programs; aid to state Medicaid, local and school-based entities to provide medical assistance; and support for the community behavioral health clinics program.”
Among important demonstration extensions, the legislation also includes funding for pediatric mental health; expansion of early and periodic screening, diagnostic, and treatment (EPSDT) benefits for children younger than 21; and bolstering of the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access program including training and assistance to emergency departments and others. Other investments would bolster the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, due to become operational next month, and strengthens the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, among many other AACAP priorities.
“AACAP welcomes these important investments in mental health, especially for children and adolescents, and calls on Congress to continue its work to advance a package of comprehensive mental health reforms before the end of 2022,” Ng emphasized.
For more information, view AACAP’s Policy Statement on Children and Guns. AACAP’s Resource Library on Guns and Violence provides additional resources for families and clinicians.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry promotes the healthy development of children, adolescents, and families through advocacy, education, and research. Child and adolescent psychiatrists are the leading physician authority on children’s mental health. For more information, please visit www.aacap.org