Friday, June 5, 2015

Reps. Murphy, Johnson Reintroduce House Mental Health Reform Bill

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) reintroduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 2646) yesterday. The revamped bill builds upon the previous bipartisan version introduced last year.

“It’s not just a new bill, but marks a new dawn for mental health care in America,” Murphy (pictured above during address to the APA Assembly last year) said in a statement. “We are moving mental health care from crisis response to recovery, and from tragedy to triumph. I am tremendously proud of the work we’ve accomplished and so encouraged about our nationwide grassroots support involved in advancing our legislative vision to help families in mental health crisis.”

According to a summary of the bill prepared by Murphy’s office, the bill seeks to address, among other issues, the following:

Innovation. Establishes a National Mental Health Policy Laboratory to drive innovative models of care and develop evidence-based and peer-review standards for grant programs and dedicates funding for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

Improving Transition From One Level of Care to Another. Requires psychiatric hospitals to establish clear and effective discharge planning to ensure a timely and smooth transition from the hospital to appropriate post-hospital care and services.

Shortage of Crisis Mental Health Beds. Provides additional psychiatric hospital beds for those experiencing an acute mental health crisis and in need of short-term (less than 30 days) immediate inpatient care for patient stabilization.

Mental Health Workforce. Requires the assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders to study and recommend a national strategy for increasing the number of psychiatrists, child and adolescent psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals; includes child and adolescent psychiatrists in the National Health Service Corps; and authorizes the Minority Fellowship Program.

Early Intervention and Prevention Programs. Authorizes, for the first time in federal law, the Recovery After Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE), an evidence-based early intervention program, and launches a new early childhood grant program to provide intensive services for children with serious emotional disturbances in an educational setting.

Alternatives to Institutionalization. Incentivizes states to provide community-based alternatives to institutionalization for those with serious mental illness, such as assisted outpatient treatment and other assertive-care community approaches.

APA leaders hailed the introduction of the bill as a critical step toward mental health reform. “The nation’s mental health system needs reform and investment—especially on behalf of patients and families living with serious mental illness. We applaud Reps. Murphy and Johnson,” said APA President Renée Binder, M.D. “Among the many important provisions of this bill are strengthening enforcement of mental health parity, enhancing the psychiatric workforce, ensuring better coordination of federal resources, and improving research and treatment for persons with mental illness, including substance use disorders.”

Added APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A.: “We look forward to working with Congress to pass this bill this year."

A summary of the bill is posted at For more information, see the Psychiatric News article “Author of House Mental Health Bill Addresses APA Assembly.”

(Image: David Hathcox)


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