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Tim M.
Republican PA 18

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  • The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

    by Representative Tim Murphy

    Posted on 2013-12-12

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    MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, in a couple of days we will have a moment of silence in respect and memory of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary. We need to take those moments to pause, reflect, and pray.

    However, afterwards, we cannot be silent on the need to get something done, on the need to pass comprehensive and meaningful legislation, and the need to help the mentally ill.

    Has the world changed since Newtown and the other tragedies? Sadly, little has been done to get those who need help the help they need. In the past few decades, this Nation has moved forward in knowledge of what it takes to help, but has moved backward in getting the help done. And where there is no help, there is no hope.

    We have fewer psychiatric hospital beds, fewer outpatient treatment options, restrictions on the use of medications that can and do help those who are mentally ill, too few psychiatrists and psychologists and clinical social workers, especially child and adolescent specialists, and especially ones who are trained and specialize in treating the seriously mentally ill.

    We have too many barriers that prevent doctors from communicating with parents of the sons and daughters with persistent serious mental illness.

    We have Federal barriers that block treatment, Federal dollars that go to grants for programs that do not work. The National Institute of Mental Health has insufficient money to engage in needed research.

    First responders who are called to deal with mental health crises have little or no training on what to do, and they miss critically important actions.

    Treatment delayed is treatment denied; and where there is no help, there is no hope.

    Today, I am introducing the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. It increases access to trained professionals at community health centers and community mental health centers, and refocuses the government spending on programs that work and gets to the people that need it in communities and not remain in bureaucracies.

    It reforms government spending to eliminate redundancy and waste and refocuses us on getting evidence-based help. It brings scientific objectivity to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    It opens up the door of communication between doctors and parents and legal guardians of those with mental illness. It increases inpatient treatment options and availability. No more being told that there are no more beds. Take your son or daughter home, no matter how much they are at risk of hurting you or themselves.

    It increases outpatient treatment options. It increases pharmaceutical treatment options. It reduces the warehousing of our persistently and seriously mentally ill in jails or homelessness.

    It improves communication between primary care providers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and licensed mental health practitioners. It increases mental health courts. It provides training for first responders, and it gathers essential and critically important information on the relationship between mental illness and violence and victimization.

    Bottom line: if we want to change these trends in victimization of the mentally ill and the persistently mentally ill; if we want to reduce the high number of suicides, homicide and assaults; if we want to get people treatment, not jail time, and not abandonment; if we want to help the tens of millions of people with mental illness and the hundreds of millions of friends and relatives who are emotionally and financially strained by the untreated problems of mental illness; if we want to prevent the Newtowns, Tucsons, Auroras, Pittsburghs, and Columbines, we have to do something comprehensive, research based, and we have to do it now.

    What we need is not only for Congress to act, but during these next few weeks, while Congressmen and -women are back home, we need to hear from every doctor and first responder and teacher and parent and patient and consumer that we must act thoroughly and thoughtfully and must act now.

    Those who need the help the most have the most trouble getting the help they need, and where there is no help there is no hope. We can and must and we will take mental illness out of the shadows of ignorance, despair, and neglect, and into that bright light of hope.

    So I ask my colleagues to support this bill, the Helping Families and Mental Health Crisis Act, because treatment and action delayed is treatment denied.

    Let us help American families get the help they need because where there is no help, there is no hope.


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