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6/13/2024 Assembly OKs bill to continue funding Psychiatry Resource Network
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Alana M. DiMario and Rep. Mary Ann Shallcross Smith that would provide funding for a psychiatric resource network for providers treating children and new parents.

The legislation (2024-S 2072A, 2024-H 7204A) now goes to the governor’s desk for his consideration.

The Rhode Island Psychiatry Resource Network (PRN) is a statewide teleconsultation resource for medical providers composed two programs: RI MomsPRN, which serves providers treating pregnant and postpartum patients, and PediPRN, which serves primary care providers treating children and adolescents. Both programs provide medical professionals with access to consultations with licensed mental health professionals to assist them in treating the mental health concerns of their patients.

New mothers facing postpartum mental health difficulties face numerous challenges reaching out to a psychiatrist, including finding a psychiatrist who accepts their insurance and is taking new patients, opening up to a total stranger during a difficult time and the challenge of fitting in a new appointment while caring for a newborn.

“Once the MomsPRN program launched, it meant that a postpartum person seeing their trusted provider could leave from that first appointment with resources for therapy as well as a prescription that could start providing immediate relief,” said Senator DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham), who has worked with new mothers as an outpatient mental health provider for over a decade. “The launching of this program was like a light turning on for so many women who previously were sitting alone in the dark.”

PediPRN works similarly for parents with children who are struggling, allowing them to access psychiatric support through their trusted pediatrician instead having to start from scratch finding a psychiatric provider who treats children and accepts their insurance.

“It can be especially daunting for children struggling with mental health issues and their parents to bring their concerns to a psychiatric provider who is a stranger to them – and that is if they can even find one in a timely manner,” said Representative Shallcross Smith (D-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket), the owner of Dr. Day Care and a longtime advocate for children’s mental health. “PediPRN allows parents and children to receive support and start the process of treatment with a provider who they know and trust without delay.”

PRN is currently funded by a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, which expires at the end of 2024. This legislation provides $850,000 in funding for the 2025 fiscal year from the Department of Health to keep PRN running. The department will provide a report to the Speaker of the House and the Senate President no later than March 1, 2025 on the use of these funds and recommendations about future funding beyond the 2025 fiscal year.

For more information, contact:
Tristan Grau, Publicist
State House Room B20
Providence, RI 02903