AG report: Link between gun violence, lack of mental health coverage

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Mental Health Caucus Chairman Democrat Mike Schlossberg, along with Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, hosted a bipartisan discussion Wednesday on the link between gun violence and lack of mental health coverage.

The goal is to expand access to mental health care to curb both gun violence and suicides.

A recent study by the Auditor General shows the states mental health care workforce gap is worse than the national average. In Pennsylvania there is only one mental health professional for every 600 residents. 

"[We can] expand the telehealth reimbursement that can help cover reimbursements for mental illness in counties across the state. Especially in areas with a lack of mental health providers." Schlossberg said.

For Bucks County Representative, Republican Wendi Thomas, the goal is to expand mental health accessibility in elementary schools, not just high schools.

"Really about giving them the tools so they can be mentally healthy in their teen years," she said.

However, when it comes to funding Schlossberg says mental health has been mostly flat, and many areas are still feeling a 10 percent cut back in 2011-12.

With budget season looming, the question for legislators is if this can be an agreed on bipartisan issue to increase funding.

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