Remember those major mental health reform bills that were floating around Congress? Here’s a refresher:
The House bill, “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015,” came onto the scene last June (hence the ‘15) via Representative Tim Murphy. It wants to give the the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (aka SAMHSA) a big makeover so that it focuses more on serious mental illness. They also want to give more funding to programs that help people stay on their meds, and to make it easier for caregivers to bypass HIPPA when they need critical health information about their loved ones. Read more about it here.
Then the Senate bill, “Mental Health Reform Act of 2015,” was introduced last August by Senator Bill Cassidy and can be easily described as a watered down version of the House bill. Read more about it here.
Over this summer, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015” was approved by the House in a 422 to 2 vote. The co-sponsors of the bill said “The bill voted on today isn’t perfect, but the fact that it passed overwhelmingly is proof that there is broad, bipartisan support for fixing our broken mental health system ... We urge Senate leaders to take action and make this issue a priority before the 114th Congress comes to an end.”
And so the Senate took it to a vote immediately, right? Nope. They peaced out and took a long summer vacation.
They have been back in session since Labor Day and it’s starting to unlikely they will bring the bill to a vote before they take five weeks off to campaign before the election. So, Tim Murphy stood up on the House floor and sang NKOTB’s “Please don’t go, girl.” Or something like that.
Now it’s our turn. If you want this bill to get a vote, call or e-mail your senators and ask them to vote for Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015. Preferably in 2016. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a letter writing widget makes it easy for you to email your senators (even if you don’t know who they are) in just a few minutes.