The Senate Just Took a Big Step Toward Expanding Mental Health Care While No One Was Looking
Let’s hope Congress also appropriates the funds for this.
Thursday’s development represents the biggest step that Congress has taken to expand mental health care in nearly a full year since Sandy Hook. If passed, the bill will “establish criteria for certified community behavioral health clinics to ensure the providers cover a broad range of mental health services — including 24-hour crisis care, increased integration of physical, mental, and substance abuse treatment so they are treated simultaneously rather than separately, and expanded support for families of people living with mental health issues,” according to a press release from Stabenow’s office. The version passed in committee today would set up federally-funded pilot programs in 10 states to expand access to mental health care along those lines.
“Our bipartisan bill expands access to care and improves quality of care so people living with mental illness can get the treatment they need,” said Stabenow in a statement. “Instead of merely talking about this issue in the wake of tragedies, it is time for Congress to finally take action.”
Other bipartisan federal legislation such as the Mental Health First Aid Act and Mental Health In Schools Act are still stuck in Congress. On Thursday, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) — a former psychologist — introduced his own legislation aiming to boost outpatient mental health care, make it easier for Americans in rural regions to get treatment, and create behavioral health awareness programs for teens to reduce the stigma of mental illness among young people.