Mental Health Reform in the 114th Congress

Use your voice to advocate for mental health reform. 

 

APA is joining forces with several other allied groups in a coordinated grassroots effort during the week of November 14, urging Congress to pass mental health reform before it adjourns at the end of this year.  

 

APA members are strongly encouraged to contact their Members of Congress by Twitter, E-mail, or Phone beginning on Tuesday, November 15.

 

 

Why We Need Reform

 

Mental illness is widely prevalent in the United States. Over 68 million Americans have experienced a psychiatric or substance use disorder in the past year - more than 20% of the total U.S. population. Despite recent gains in medical research and public awareness, ensuring treatment for psychiatric and substance use disorders remains a challenging task for physicians and patients alike, unnecessarily complicated by wide-ranging factors that include fragmented delivery and reimbursement systems, regulatory barriers, workforce shortages, and the enduring stigma surrounding mental health and substance use disorders. 

 

What’s at Stake: H.R. 2646 and S. 2680

 

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Tim Murphy, Ph.D. (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) ,and in the Senate by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), address many of these challenges by promoting:

 

  • Evidence-based psychiatric care and research activities, 
  • Ensuring better coordination of federal mental health resources, 
  • Addressing the critical psychiatric workforce shortage, and 
  • Improving enforcement of mental health parity.

 

H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015, and S. 2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, would bring critical improvements and investments in our mental health system by:

 

  • Implementing key structural reforms, notably clinician leadership, across federal departments and agencies that ensure science-driven and evidence-based approaches to care of individuals with mental illness and/or substance use disorders.
  • Establishing new and supporting existing efforts centered on how to address the critical shortages of psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners, and grow the next generation of mental health practitioners.
  • Supporting funding for innovative models of care that have the power to reduce long-term disability for individuals with severe mental illness including the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) program, which helps individuals with schizophrenia to lead productive, independent lives while aiming to reduce financial impacts on public systems.

 

House Bill 2646 passed the House with near unanimous support in July, and S. 2680 is ready for consideration by the full Senate, having been unanimously passed out of the Heath, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee earlier this year.

 

As the 114th Congress begins to wind down, the months of November and December become a crucial period in which sponsors of these bills will work with House and Senate leadership towards passage and enactment. APA will continue to lead stakeholder efforts that call for enactment of mental health reform in 2016.

 

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