The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), held a hearing this morning (Thursday, April 3rd) to focus on the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, introduced on December 12th, 2013 by Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA).
Please contact your Senators and Representative, urging them to use this as an opportunity to create legislation that is in the best interest of ALL families and consumers. (Contact information for your Senator and Representative can easily be found by visiting: http://www.
contactingthecongress.org/.) LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!
While the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health applauds Congressman Murphy's inclusion of provisions that would reauthorize the Mental Health First Aid Act (S.153/H.R.274), the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (S.116/H.R.2734), the Children's Recovery from Trauma Act (S.380), the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2013 (MIOTCRA;S. 162/H.R.401) and the Behavioral Health IT Act (S.1517, S.1685/H.R.2057), we decry provisions that would effectively reverse the progress made in mental health treatment and support over the past 30 years.
For decades, organizations such as the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health have been working to add a more balanced approach to mental health services and treatment. The National Federation advocates for the rights of children, youth and young adults who experience mental health challenges. As family members, we feel it is important that our loved ones are able to receive the support they need while remaining at home and in the community. We realize that mental illness does not affect just one person, it is something that the entire family experiences; therefore, it is crucial that initiatives are in place to support the entire family unit.
Rep. Murphy's bill magnifies the stigma of mental illness by creating an extremely biased link between mental illness and violence. Countless studies have determined that the relationship between mental illness and violence is minimal and that individuals experiencing mental health challenges are 11 times more likely to be the victims of violence than the general public.
The National Federation rejects the expanded use of involuntary outpatient commitment (IOC) and urges Congress to champion practices proven to be effective in facilitating a holistic approach to treatments and supports for children and youth who are experiencing mental health challenges and their families.
Finally, the National Federation strongly opposes legislation that threatens to essentially dismantle key efforts and programs of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which functions as the lead public health agency dedicated to mental health and addiction treatment, services, and supports. Transferring authority away from SAMHSA and decimating significant activities within the Department of Health and Human Services are not in the best interest of our most vulnerable citizens who are striving to be participating members of their communities.
The details in this bill reflect the continued, urgent need for a national conversation with individuals who experience mental illness, their families, and their communities to facilitate the creation of systems and networks that support maximal health, safety, and welfare for all community members. We urge Congressional leaders to take this opportunity to create legislation on behalf of their constituents that solidifies a bond among all stakeholders that highlights the dignity, respect, and self-determination of all individuals.