This 2013 Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR3717) was replaced by the 2015 Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR2646) which can be found here.

(However background info on this page is still relevant)

Testimony of Mental Illness Policy Org to Congressional Forum (5/29/14) (PDF Version with footnotes/attachments)


Background: HR 3717 Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

Video Presentation by: Rep. Tim Muphy: Patrick Kennedy; Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman (President, APA); Dr. Fuller Torrey in support of Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

Oral Testimony: Sylvia Thompson

Focus on treating the seriously mentally ill, not improving the mental health of all others.

HR 3717 attempts to end mission-creep by instilling mission control.

This is the best way to improve care, reduce violence, sucide, victimization, homelessness, hospitalization, incarceration and needless tragedies. It saves money by reducing the use of hospitals and jails to serve people who can live in less expensive community settings.

Put another way, the problem is not that we don’t spend enough, it is that we don’t spend it efficiently.

Why does HR3717, Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act Prioritize the Seriously Mentally Ill?

The US Mental Budget is largely spent to improve mental health (make people happier) not to provide treatment to the most seriously mentally ill. We send the worried-well to the front of the line for services and the seriously mentally ill to jails shelters, prisons and morgues. There has been intensive, massive, mission-creep as every life experience is medicalized. This intentional, disastrous and massive migration has caused our mental health system to be simultaneously expensive and disastrous and dangerous.


HR 3717 funds pilot Assisted Outpatient Treatment Programs.

AOT Reduces Violence
Meds Reduce Violence (WSJ)
Meds Reduce Violence (Study)
Learning from New York’s Kendra’s Law
Learning from California’s Laura’s Law
Learing from Florida’s Baker Act
Misleading AOT Fact Sheet from NYAPRS/NCMHR
Research on AOT

Patients support AOT
NY Kendra’s Law constitutional
AOT constitutional
AOT Related Provisions in HR 3717

Preserve enough psychiatric hospital beds for patients with serious mental illness who need them.

There is a nationwide shortage of at least 95,000 beds for people with serious mental illness. This is largely due to an obscure provision of Medicaid law called the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) Exclusion. It basically tells states, “if you kick someone with mental illness out of your state hospital, we (the federal government, through Medicaid) will pay half the cost of any community care you provide. So the states lock the front door and kick people out the back to make them Medicaid eligible, no matter how inappropriate the discharge is. HR 3717 makes two narrowly tailored exceptions to the IMD Exclusion, to remove the federal incentive to provide substandard care.

Removes HIPAA Handcuffs and Reforms FERPA so parents can get info they need to help provide care to seriously mentally ill loved ones.
Ensure mentally ill are not denied accessed to best medications and treatment.
Jail Diversion: Train Police and Establish Mental Health Courts
HR 3717 funds Police “Crisis Intervention Training” (CIT) on how to deescalate incidents and divert individuals to treatment prior to arrest
HR 3717 funds Mental Health Courts
Allocates resources to suicide prevention (Garett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Act)


Creates a Deputy Secretary for Mental Health to focus spending on serious mental illness

The new Deputy Secretary will coordinate and control mental health spending across all agencies with the purpose of eliminating duplicative and ineffective programs. It will then steer those resources to programs that help the most seriously ill the most. Importantly, the advisory board to the Asst. Sec. will include police, district attorneys, corrections and others. This is key because many policies embraced by mental health advocates (ex. closing psychiatric hospitals) increase incarceration. HR 3717 ensures the secretary can consider that.

Puts more criminal justice representatives on federal mental health policy boards
Ensure states have good civil commitment procedures.

The law in some states requires certain mentally ill to become ‘danger to self or others’ before they can be provided care. Laws should not require dangerous behavior, they should prevent it. HR3717 facilitiates that by requirong states that do not offer treatment to people in need of treatment to change their laws in order to access mental health block grants. federal funds.

Reform Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Programs.

PAIMII was enacted by Congress for the noble purpose of protecting the rights of individuals with “serious” mental illness living in institutions. Unfortunately, the program no longer focuses on ‘serious’ mental illness. Leaders have defined ‘rights’ to mean whatever they want, and now the program focuses almost exclusively on preventing the most seriously ill from receiving the treatments. HR 3717 attempts to reign in PAIMI and return it to its original mission of helping the most seriously ill.

Strenthens NIMH
Transfers some of the savings from counterproductive programs at SAMHSA to do valuable research at NIMH

Requires AG or FBI to collect data on serious mental illness



Media Support

Bloomberg News – Satel
National Review – Jaffe
Daily Journal (CA) – Chip Higgins
Union Trbune (CA) – Jaffe
Arizona Republic -Zoellner

Letters to Editors
New York Times
Lancaster Intellengencer
Baltimore Sun
Arizona Republic
Sacramento Bee
LA Times

Links to key source documents HR 3717 Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

Text of HR3717 (as introduced-PDF)
Most recent version of Text
Current Sponsors
Legislative Action

Sponsors’ Explanation
Mental Ilness Policy Org-Explanation

Key Oversight & Investigations Subcommitee documents

Oversight Committee

US Rep. Tim Murphy (opening statement: problems in SAMHSA)

Dr. Fuller Torrey (SAMHSA fails to focus on science or serious mental illness)

Dr. Sally Satel (SAMHSA Fails to Focus on Serious Mental Illness)

Joe Bruce (SAMHSA PAIMI Program led to wife’s death by own son)

Issues HR 3717 attempts to address that are largely ignored by mental ‘health’ advocates

Myths, Opposition, and Impediments to Reform

Myths about AOT
Psychiatry vs. antipsychiatry
Myths about consumers
Myths about medicines
Myths about stigma
Stigma not important
Coercion is Patient Centered
Opposition: NYAPRS
Opposition: We the people
Mental Illness Awareness Week
Big pharma buys psychiatrists
P&A (PAMII/PAIMI) lawyers
National Law Journal
Misinformed advocates
Not everyone recovers
Review: Mad in America
Mindfreedom, Scientology, CCHR

Family Tragedies HR 3717 may have prevented if enacted

Aaron Bassler (shot/was shot)
Jenna Ward (sibling)
Peter Earley (parent)
Pat Webdale (daughter murdered)
Morgan Claire (wife)
Karen and James Logan (son shot cops)
Michael Biasotti (police chief)
Brother deinstitutionalization



California Laura’s Law Home Page

DJ Jaffe is Executive Director of the non-partisan Mental Illness Policy Org., and author of Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill. He is a critic of the mental health industry for ignoring the seriously ill, and has been advocating for better treatment for individuals with serious mental illness for over 30 years. He has written op-eds on the intersection of mental health and criminal justice policy for the New York Times, Wall St. Journal and the Washington Post. New York Magazine has credited him with being the driving force behind the passage of New York’s Kendra’s Law and Congress incorporated ideas proposed by DJ in the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.