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Children's National Calls for Improved Pediatric Mental Health Treatment

Washington, DC – The White House announced recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden’s  task force on gun violence today that included 19 executive actions to address anti-bullying measures and additional training for school counselors and mental health professionals. In response, Kurt Newman, MD, a pediatric surgeon and President and Chief Executive of Children’s National Medical Center, issued the following statement:

“As a father and pediatric surgeon, I am hopeful that today’s actions by President Obama will raise awareness that mental health is a children’s health issue. Our nation needs a powerful strategy for improving pediatric mental health care, one that includes identifying and treating the disease early.  And that means increasing access to mental health services by ensuring there are enough mental health professionals to treat those in need – particularly for our nation’s children. It’s unforgivable and unacceptable – as evidenced by the horrific tragedies that have occurred recently in our schools, movie theatres and shopping centers– that only one in five of children in the United States will receive medical treatment for their mental health condition. Today, there are only an estimated 8,000 practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists in the United States; we need closer to 30,000. Our nation can no longer ignore these statistics; children and families urgently need better ways to get necessary support. On behalf of Children’s National Medical Center, I urge our leaders in Washington to continue to work with mental health professionals, educators and parents to thoughtfully address how we as a country ensure the mental health and well-being of our children.” 

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