Press Releases: Biden's Gun Control Task Force Urged to Make Access to Mental Health Care Easier
For more information contact Meena Dayak, email@example.com or 301.602.8474.
Washington DC, Jan. 9, 2013—Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, today met with Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on gun control legislation to request support for a legislative agenda that will dramatically increase access to mental health services in the United States. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder were at the meeting.
Rosenberg urged the task force to take action to increase our nation’s ability to provide timely, high-quality mental health and addictions services to individuals in need by expanding opportunities for public education about mental illness and increasing the behavioral health system’s capacity to serve people desperately needing care.
The National Council urged support to allow Mental Health First Aid to be offered in every school district and college campus across the U.S. Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that can help communities understand mental illnesses, seek timely intervention, and save lives. The core program, delivered to more than 80,000 people across the country through a network of 2,500+ instructors, has already saved lives and brought hope to many. The youth version of Mental Health First Aid has just launched, providing an ideal forum to engage communities around mental illness among young people — and show neighbors, teachers, parents, and caring citizens how to help a child or teen in crisis or who is experiencing a mental health or substance use problem.
“Even when friends and family of someone who appears to be developing mental illness can tell that something is amiss, they may not know how to intervene or direct the person to proper treatment. Mental Health First Aid can help overcome these barriers and connect people to care,” observed Rosenberg.
Support has been growing on the legislative front for widespread Mental Health First Aid training for people of all ages. U.S. Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ), who survived the Tucson shooting last year that severely injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, sent a letter on Jan. 7 to Vice President Biden calling on the gun control task force to include the Mental Health First Aid Act (HR 5996) in its recommendations to Congress. The bill would provide the training to teachers, students, firefighters, police, emergency service workers and others in communities nationwide.
Rosenberg asked for Biden’s support in advancing the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which would provide a secure, steady funding stream for community-based mental health and addictions services provided by qualified organizations, to be designated as Federally Qualified Behavioral Health Centers.
“Now is the time to bolster access to mental health care and improve public safety for all Americans. The Excellence in Mental Health Act will enhance Medicaid funding for organizations, clinics, and health centers that offer community-based treatment and support for millions of low-income and vulnerable people with mental health and addiction disorders. I commend the National Council for their continued advocacy on this important issue,” said Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) who introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act in Congress.
The National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) is the unifying voice of America’s community mental health and addictions treatment organizations. Together with our 2,000 member organizations, we serve our nation’s most vulnerable citizens — the more than 8 million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. The National Council also pioneered Mental Health First Aid in the U.S. and has trained more than 80,000 individuals to connect youth and adults in need to mental health and addictions care and treatment in their communities. More at www.TheNationalCouncil.org.