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2024 will see the expansion of access to mental health care due to new regulations in Arkansas



Little Rock, Arkansas – A few new laws will go into effect in Arkansas on January 1, 2024, when the new year arrives in a few days.

Some of the largest aim to give the millions of people who live here improved health care coverage, with an additional focus on mental healthcare for certain groups.

Two of the statutes are expressly designed to assist new mothers and public safety professionals.

Act 316 mandates that physicians examine new mothers for depression beginning on January 1st, and insurance companies are required to pay for the screening.

Natasha Thorne is a new mother and a certified therapist, so she is aware of the significance of postpartum mental health treatment.

“Those middle of the night moments, those, you know, up by myself, or just those times where the baby’s upset… all of these things go into the mental health of moms,” Thorne said.

According to Thorne, these prerequisites have long been necessary and might significantly alter the experience of new mothers in Arkansas.

“Screening is your first line of defense,” she said, “Some moms may not even recognize it as such, they may not even realize that, ‘Oh, what I’m going through is is depression,’ or that there is help available.”

Another law that goes into effect next week aims to increase access to mental healthcare in the state. Act 537 mandates that public employers provide counseling services to their public safety employees following a distressing incident while they are on the job.

First responders, such as Battalion Chief Jeff Bennett of the North Little Rock Fire Department, will have access to the resources.

“There are certain runs that hit us a little bit harder than others; kids, children, people losing their homes, they’re having their worst day of their life and we go experience that with them,” Bennet said.

In addition to firefighters, other public safety personnel such as police, probation officers, surveillance officers, and juvenile detention officers will also need to have access to these services.

“Mental health is something that takes its toll on you. No matter how strong you are, it can take its toll on you,” Bennet added.

Law enforcement and fire personnel are more likely to commit suicide than to pass away while performing their duties, according to the CDC.

Bennett believes that increased accessibility to mental health treatments and a reduction in the stigma associated with the issue will benefit those in need.

“We look out for each other. But having a professional to be able to reach out to makes a big difference,” he added, saying this could be a lifesaver.

Next week, a new healthcare law will increase coverage for ambulance rides. After a complaint is filed, healthcare providers will have to reimburse visits scheduled via telemedicine with a physician or behavioral specialist.


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