On Tuesday, May 6, Representatives Ron Barber (AZ-2), Diana DeGette (CO-1), Doris Matsui (CA-6), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), and Paul Tonko (NY-20) rolled out legislation Tuesday that would take a comprehensive approach to mental health issues.
The Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014renews a commitment to improving the lives of individuals and families impacted by mental illness by maximizing access to and increasing the impact of community-based services, making new investments in prevention and early intervention of mental illness, and advancing research into mental health.
“This plan represents the future of mental health care in the United States,” the representatives said in a joint statement. “The challenges we face in closing the critical gap in mental health services can only be overcome by serious and sustained investments in existing programs that have shown to improve the lives of those afflicted with serious mental illness and robust research into new and innovative ways to treat and prevent mental illness. Those affected cannot be separated by party lines and our response must be equally nonpartisan.”
"We must do more to improve access to community-based services for individuals with mental illness. This is not a partisan issue. I am proud to introduce this legislation that will strengthen our mental health system – asking more from existing programs and better outcomes for individuals and families impacted by mental illness," said lead sponsor of the legislation, Congressman Ron Barber.
John Madigan, Vice President of Public Policy for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), welcomed the introduction of the legislation. “AFSP applauds the introduction of this milestone legislation that will truly strengthen access to mental health care in all of our communities across America. We urge all members of the House to work together to find a common ground so Americans can get the mental health services and programs that they need and deserve. We thank representatives Barber, DeGette, Matsui, Napolitano, and Tonko for moving this conversation forward,” said Madigan.
AFSP staff was also in attendance for a press conference and group photo with other mental health advocates including Metta World Peace and Brandon Marshall on Wednesday, May 7. AFSP looks forward to working with all parties in moving legislation forward that would improve mental health and suicide prevention services and programs across the country.