Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Prevent Unnecessary Tragedies and Support Mental Health Reform

The tragedy at the Navy Yard is yet another wake-up call to both citizens and lawmakers that the United States needs legislative reform.

The Navy Yard, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Fort Hood, Tucson, Virginia Tech, Columbine, and several other unnecessary mass murders all had one strong, undeniable detail in common- mental health disorders.

Placing the blame on firearms regulations will not stop mentally ill persons from attacking and hurting others. The root of the problem is the mentally ill, not the tool the person chose for their attack. The real problem lies with sick persons who were not treated for mental illnesses adequately.

The time has come to raise awareness of mental health disorders in the public square and provide more resources to help ill persons. All individuals need to learn and identify the mentally ill among them, and help the sick and afflicted get help. Schools need to be given more resources to identify and serve mentally ill students.

The stigma of mental awareness needs to be lifted so that the ill will not be afraid to admit their sickness and reach out for help.

I urge you to support the mental health funding levels in the Senate FY2014 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill (S.1284) and to cosponsor and enact the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 689).

There has been a cut in state funding for mental health services and supports of nearly $5 billion over the last three years.  The Senate funding bill includes a roughly $107 million increase for much-needed, critical mental health services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and would fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at FY2012 levels. 

S.1284 makes important strides in investing in "upstream services" such as suicide prevention, consumer programs, Project AWARE, etc. to begin to address the treatment chasm (80 percent of children and 66 percent of adults that need treatment do not receive it).

In the wake of the the Navy Yard shooting, the Sandy Hook tragedy, Aurora, and all of the other national crises, bi-partisan legislation was introduced by Sens. Tom Harkin and Lamar Alexander to assist states and local communities in addressing mental health needs ("upstream" services). 

The Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 689) was passed by an overwhelming vote of 95-2 in April as an amendment to a legislative vehicle that has since been pulled from the Senate calendar.

I urge you to support the funding levels in the Senate FY2014 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill (S.1284) in any future spending package or Continuing Resolution and to urge the Senate to have the House consider the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 689). These important bills will help address the mental health and addiction needs in our state and communities.

You can show your support for this bill by contacting your Senator (click here to find your senator and her/his email address), and sending her/him the text in bold above.

Share this message on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Help spread the word, and encourage everyone to not just "like" the post, but SEND THE MESSAGE TO THE SENATE TO SUPPORT SENATE FY2014 LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AND EDUCATION AND APPROPRIATIONS BILL (S.1284) AND THE MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS AND IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2013 (S.689)!

You can learn more about this legislation on the Mental Health America website. 

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