APA Applauds House Passage of Mental Health Reform Bill, Urges Senate to Take Up Legislation

ARLINGTON, Va. – Today the American Psychiatric Association (APA) praised the House of Representatives for passing bipartisan mental health reform legislation H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. The APA is calling upon the Senate to approve this legislation by the end of the year.

“Comprehensive mental health reform is urgently needed in our country, and this bipartisan legislation helps address this critical need,” said APA President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D. “We now strongly urge the Senate to take up mental health reform legislation that will make care more available to those who need it, especially patients and families living with serious mental illness. We look forward to working with members of both parties to pass mental health reform this year.”

Introduced by Reps. Tim Murphy (R- Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act has 197 cosponsors, including 141 Republicans and 56 Democrats, and it unanimously passed in the House Energy and Commerce Committee in June. Similar bipartisan comprehensive mental health reform legislation has been introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D., (R-La.).

The APA has firmly endorsed efforts in both the House and Senate to reform our nation’s mental health system. Mental illness is widely prevalent in the U.S. — more than 68 million Americans have experienced a psychiatric or substance use disorder in the past year. Despite recent gains in medical research and public awareness, many people with mental illness or substance use disorders do not get the treatment they need. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act is an important step in addressing this need.

“We are grateful to Reps. Tim Murphy (R- Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) for their leadership in introducing the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and moving this legislation forward over the past two years,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “It is their dedication to improving the lives of people with mental illness and their years of persistence in advocating for change that has brought us close to achieving much needed comprehensive mental health reform.”

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose 36,500 physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders.

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