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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Lawmaker calls on governor to address pediatric mental health crisis with urgency

Rep. Domingo Torres García

By The Star Staff

In an effort to address the health of pediatric patients, Rep. Domingo Torres García asked Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia this week to address the situation with a great sense of urgency.

“Puerto Rico is facing a mental health crisis,” Torres García said in a letter sent to the governor. “According to a publication by experts from the Pontificia Universidad Católica entitled, ‘Mental Health in Puerto Rico: A Look at Statistics and Public Policies,’ it is noted that, according to data from the Family Department, in Puerto Rico there are 150,000 minors with mental disorders, and of these, 70,000 are diagnosed with a severe disorder.

The House District 25 legislator warned that these “data are alarming and demonstrate the imperative need to address this issue urgently.”

He also denounced the fact that severe pediatric mental health cases are treated only at Bayamón Hospital, which has only eight beds to care for patients between five and 12 years old. The lawmaker insisted that such sparse availability “does not respond to the need we have in our country.”

Torres García also called for compliance with the established public policy in Law 408-2000, which lays out specific provisions on the rights that exist to receive access to services, special considerations with children from birth to 12 years of age, hospitalization services and segregation of childcare, and stressed the importance of addressing and improving services to minors.

“In view of this, I urge the governor to address this reality and ensure that there is increased availability of beds to care for [pediatric] mental health patients in different hospital institutions, particularly in children from five to 12 years of age,” the lawmaker said.

“It is of utmost importance to diversify in different regions the services that are provided to mental health patients in Puerto Rico,” Domingo Torres said, including the island’s southern and western regions.

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