Just a few weeks ago, we shared the news that Arizona, New Jersey, and South Dakota have all seen addition of walk-in mental health centers in various communities. Now New Jersey state legislators are aiming to put state resources into ensuring such opportunities become more readily available—with existing urgent care centers a key part of the plan. As reported by NJ.com, one of six bills being proposed takes aim at the high number of patients who present to emergency rooms in the grip of a mental health crisis, only to wait days before seeing a provider. A prospective new law would see the launch of a pilot program to link those hospitals with regional health hubs that would hook the patient up with a mental health professional in a more timely manner. Another pilot would evaluate the viability of helping urgent care centers adapt their model to provide 24/7 mental health care. One of the sponsors of the prospective legislation, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, noted in the NJ.com report that “ERs are not the best settings to handle mental health issues,” and that they” are also the most expensive option for a patient”—a view that is familiar to those who have seen the urgent care industry grow and thrive over the past few decades.
At Least Some Lawmakers See Urgent Care as a Resource for Improving Mental Health Care