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Improving Access to Mental Health Services for Youth in the United States

Janet R. Cummings, PhD; Hefei Wen, BA; Benjamin G. Druss, MD, MPH
JAMA. 2013;309(6):553-554. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.437.
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In the wake of the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, a public dialogue emerged about the accessibility of mental health care in the United States. Policy makers have called for a more critical examination of the mental health treatment system, and advocates are rallying around federal legislation that would strengthen community-based mental health services—especially for children and adolescents.1 Although the implementation of recent federal policies (ie, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act) will expand insurance coverage for mental health disorders among many US children, these expansions will not improve access if communities lack a sufficient infrastructure to serve those in need of care.

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Figure. Percentage of US Counties With Outpatient Facilities Providing Mental Health Specialty Services to Youth
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Adapted from data from the 2008 National Survey of Mental Health Treatment Facilities.2

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