Mental health legislation generally focuses on improving mental wellness in the highest-functioning. It should focus on delivering treatment to the seriously mentally lll. This page tracks national legislation on serious mental illness.
The Federal government should end ‘mission-creep’ and:
- Build more psychiatric hospitals (Eliminate the IMD Exclusion in Medicaid)
- Make more robust use of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT)
- Provide families of the seriously mentally ill relief from HIPAA Handcuffs that prevent them from helping loved ones
- Reform or eliminate SAMHSA so federal resources go to the seriously ill and science, not the worried well and pop-psychology.
- Reform PAIMI/P&A so families that want care for loved ones don’t have to fight federally funded lawyers.
- Build congregate housing with on-site support for seriously mentally ill.
3/2017: Congress is considering reforming ACA (Obamacare) plan that block grants Medicaid and allows states to not cover mental illness. We oppose.
2/2017: Congress made it easier for certain mental ill to buy guns. This was not a good idea.
2017: Representative Tim Murphy (R. PA) has indicated he will be introducing a bill to reform HIPAA. We support.
12/2016: The 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law incorporating provisions of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (HR 2646 text) which updated the 2013 version (HR3717). The Senate equivalents were the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 (S. 1945 text); and Mental Health and Safe Communities Act of 2015 (S 2002 text). We supported most.
Other Recent Legislation
2015. The Including Families in Mental Health Recovery Act of 2015 (HR 2690 text) would have directed HHS to develop HIPAA (patient privacy) regulations and funded HIPAA education.
2015. The Examining America’s Mental Health Services Act of 2015 (HR 826 text) would have studied gaps in services that increase violence and Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Rep. Murphy’s subsequent Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, as well as his amendments to “DocFix” bill addressed these.
2015. The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Act of 2015 (HR 1877 and S711) funded and required SAMHSA to promote MHFA. Because MHFA is not an evidence based program, and has not been shown to help the seriously ill or improve important outcomes we opposed. It was subsequently funded in 21st Century Cures Act.
2015. The Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act of 2015 (HR 1854 and S. 993) were introduced.
Federal Mental Health Legislation Ignores Serious Mental Illness
The $204 billion US Mental Health budget has been steered towards treating the 18% who have any loosely defined behavioral health “issues” rather than delivering treatment to the 4% (10 million adults) who are most seriously mentally ill. The mental health industry drives spending away from evidence-based programs to non-evidenced based programs.
Solution: Focusing resources on delivering evidence based treatments to the seriously ill would reduce violence, suicide, victimization, homelessness, hospitalization, incarceration and needless tragedies and save money by reducing the use of hospitals and jails.
Put another way, the problem is not that we don’t spend enough, it is that we don’t spend it efficiently.
Criminalization of mental illness by mental health industry
There are now two mental health systems in the United States. The one run by traditional mental health departments serves those well enough to volunteer and the mental health system run by criminal justice serves those too sick to volunteer. There are three times as many Americans incarcerated for mental illness as there are in psychiatric hospitals.
SAMHSA is largely responsible
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) directs federal mental health policy. See our SAMHSA website for information on SAMHSA funding anti-psychiatry, refusing to focus on the seriously ill, driving mental health block grants to people without serious mental illness, and certifying non evidence based programs as evidence based.
This page only tracks the more important bills and initiatives related to serious mental illness. Many other bills address ‘mental health.’ Thank you for your support of Mental Illness Policy Org.