**6/30/16 update: The House bill, HR 2646, is headed to for a vote just after the Independence Day holiday. A summary of recent updates to the mental health care reform bill is here. Now is the time to contact your Rep!**
It doesn’t take a Washington insider to know that the election year is causing extra gridlock on Capitol Hill, including the need to address the huge mental health reform disparities that continue to persist in the United States today.
While Congress has been renaming post offices, the NIMH reports that 64% of youth with a lifelong mental disorder do not receive treatment. However, this relatively quieter moment in Congress may be our best opportunity to ignite action on mental health reform legislation that has been stalled for years.
Right now, bipartisan reform bill S.2680 is gathering steam in the Senate, awaiting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring it to a vote. An updated House bill, H.R.2646, is looking promising as well, awaiting full Energy and Commerce Committee markup this month. The National Council’s fact sheet provides a good primer on the issues, while this piece provides context on the key players in Congress and what needs to happen next.
In short, we believe that as advocates there has never been a better time to this raise our voices in support of higher-quality, accessible, and affordable care for all — and actually be heard.
Please join us in reaching out to your representatives. Send an email, letter or – even better – pick up the phone. If we let them know that it’s important to us, our representatives will realize that it’s important to them.
Together, we can make a difference!
Dear [Representative Name],
For my family, Mental Health Awareness Month has become an annual reminder of the continued failure of Congress to adequately fund, reorganize, and repair our broken mental health care system for the 1 in 5 people who face a mental illness. Nearly 10 million Americans live with serious mental illnesses, one third of whom never find the support they deserve and face devastating – and preventable – downstream effects of untreated illness: unemployment, homelessness, suicide, and a shortened lifespan.
NOW is the time to come together to push for mental health reform that supports and funds:
1. Early intervention and prevention
2. High-quality community-based care with a focus on recovery
3. Integration of primary care and mental health care
4. The removal of barriers to services and services, including pathways to treatment rather than incarceration
It is critical that congress takes action in short order, finalizing legislation that would take us a long way toward ending this national crisis.