Press Releases: Congress to Biden's Gun Violence Taskforce: Take Up Mental Health First Aid and Excellence in Mental Health Act
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Several members of Congress this week urged Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on gun control legislation to support two important pieces of legislation that will increase access to mental health services in the United States: the Mental Health First Aid Act and the Excellence in Mental Health Act.
The Excellence in Mental Health Act 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.
“As the president stated, now is the time to bolster access to mental health care and improve public safety for all Americans. We urge you to include the Excellence in Mental Health Act in the multi-agency task force recommendations to the U.S. Congress.”
— Representatives Doris O. Matsui, Eliot L. Engel, Lois Capps, Paul D. Tonko, WM. Lacy, Dave Loebsack, and David N. Cicilline in a letter sent January 9 to Vice President Biden
“We urge the multi-agency task force you are leading to increase access to mental healthcare and improve the quality of care available to patients. The task force can do so by including three fully ready initiatives in its recommendations to Congress: passage of the Excellence in Mental Health Act…which we plan to re-introduce in the coming weeks, addresses our fragmented mental health system by expanding access to care though America’s Community Mental Health Centers and holding the system accountable through higher standards.”
— Senators Debbie Stabenow and Jack Reed in a January 9 letter to Vice President Biden
Support has also been growing for widespread Mental Health First Aid training for people of all ages. The Mental Health First Aid Higher Education Act (HR 5996) would provide the training to teachers, students, and campus staff in communities nationwide.
“I urge you to endorse common-sense, bipartisan proposals like the Mental Health First Aid Act. We have failed to give the mental health care needs of Americans due attention for too long — and we have paid too high a price for this neglect.”
— U.S. Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ), who survived the Tucson shooting last year that severely injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in a January 7 letter to Vice President Biden
Vice President Biden mentioned today in a meeting aired on CSPAN that his task force met with Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, to inform their recommendations to Congress. In the meeting, Rosenberg reiterated the importance of Mental Health First Aid in communities nationwide, and the difference passage of the Excellence in Mental Health Act would have on individuals with mental illnesses and addictions in communities across the nation.
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.