APA Praises House Passage of Mental Health Bills; Urges Senate to Follow Suit

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 12, 2021 – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a package of mental health-related legislation brought forth by the Energy and Commerce Committee. The package of bills, previously passed by the House in the 116th Congress, would help prevent suicide, expand diagnosis and treatment for substance use disorders, increase mental health screenings in the emergency room and overall, and support patients with mental health conditions and substance use disorders. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) applauded passage of the legislative package and urged the Senate to quickly follow suit.

The Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act (H.R.1475), introduced by Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and John Katko (R-NY), and strongly supported by APA, was included in the package. This bill is the first comprehensive federal legislation aimed at addressing increasing suicide rates and mental health disorders among Black youth.

APA endorsed several other bills that were included in the House-passed package, including:

  • H.R. 586 – STANDUP Act of 2021 (Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) – Energy and Commerce)
  • H.R. 721 – Mental Health Services for Students Act of 2021, as amended (Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) – Energy and Commerce)
  • H.R. 1205 – Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act of 2021 (Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) – Energy and Commerce)
  • H.R. 1324 – Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act of 2021 (Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) – Energy and Commerce)
  • H.R. 1480 – HERO Act (Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) – Energy and Commerce)
  • H.R. 2862 – Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act (Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) – Energy and Commerce)
  • H.R. 2981 – Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2021 (Rep. Katko – Energy and Commerce)
  • H.R. 2955 – Suicide Prevention Act (Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) – Energy and Commerce)

“These mental health initiatives have the potential to save lives,” said APA President Vivian Pender, M.D. “In particular, the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act is an example of how policymakers can help eradicate the systemic inequities that result from social determinants of mental health. Black communities are dealing with alarming rates of suicide in their youth, and this bill will set in motion tangible, evidence-based steps to help ease this crisis.”

“Passing such beneficial legislation is a meaningful way for the House to mark Mental Health Awareness Month,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We are pleased to see so many bills our members have supported move forward, including those that address health inequities, access to psychiatric care, and challenges for front-line clinicians. In the wake of the pandemic and its unfolding impacts on mental health, we urge the Senate to act as soon as possible.”

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,400 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.

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