Durbin Participates in Mental Health, Violence Prevention Roundtable With HHS Secretary and U.S. Rep. Jackson

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today participated in a roundtable with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Representative Jonathan Jackson (D-IL-01) to discuss mental health and how gun violence has impacted the community.

“Across the country, gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children,” said Durbin. “These shootings have ripple effects on those who are hit by gunfire, those who witness it, and those who grow up surrounded by it — changing the way they see and interact with the world. With a helping hand we can help children cope with these traumatic experiences. I’ll continue working on a bipartisan basis to increase our investments in trauma-informed care in schools and communities.”

Durbin, U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D-IL-07), U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) established a new “Trauma Support in Schools” grant program at SAMHSA by passing into law provisions from their Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act in 2018. Durbin and Davis also led efforts to appropriate funds for this grant program, including $12 million in the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus appropriations bill and $28 million in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Building upon that work, Durbin and Capito have introduced the bipartisan RISE from Trauma Act, which would enhance the trauma-informed workforce and expand community, school, and hospital-based services to identify and support children who experience trauma.

In 2018, Durbin convened CEOs of the 10 largest hospitals in Chicago—called the Chicago HEAL Initiative—on ways to reach into the community and collaborate to address the upstream, root causes of violence. Together, they have committed to local hiring, school/community prevention programs, sharing data, and delivering trauma services to victims of violence to prevent re-injury.

Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)—such as witnessing a shooting—puts children in “fight or flight mode”, which can harm healthy brain development and increase the risk of chronic diseases, suicide, opioid misuse, and academic delays. These emotional scars can fuel the cycle of violence.