TEXAS (KIAH) – A recent study revealed more than three in five children do not receive mental health services within six months of experiencing a firearm injury. But evidence gathered by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows better outcomes for kids who get early identification and timely connection after a firearm injury.

In “Timing of Mental Health Service Use after a Pediatric Firearm Injury,” published in the July 2023 Pediatrics, researchers found children with prior mental health service use or with a mental health diagnosis detected during the firearm injury encounter had higher odds of accessing mental health services. 

Here are the keys points of the study:

  • It looked at data on children ages 5-17 who had a firearm injury between 2010-2018.
  • The children were enrolled in Medicaid. 
  • 958 of the 2,613 (36.7%) children used mental health services within six months of the firearm injury.
  • Of those, 39.5% had no prior mental health service use. 
  • About 40% of that group had not used mental health services previously.
  • White children had higher odds of using mental health services than Black children.
  • Just over half of children seeking outpatient mental health services did so within a month of their injury.

Dr. Christina Johns, a leading pediatric emergency care physician, spoke to CW39 Houston’s Idolina Peralez to give parents insight on the importance of early intervention.