House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Releases Recommendations to Improve Mental Health and Public Education
Yesterday, a group of Democratic lawmakers tasked with crafting a response to the tragic Newtown shooting released their recommendations on reducing gun violence in the U.S. The recommendations included a section on mental health, which highlighted the importance of investing in prevention and public education around mental illness.
The mental health recommendations include an endorsement of Mental Health First Aid, a public education program that raises awareness of the signs and symptoms of mental illness and teaches participants how to reach out to someone experiencing a crisis. They also include a recommendation to expand community-based services through the creation of Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers. Congressman Ron Barber has introduced the Mental Health First Aid Act in the House, and a companion bill to the Senate’s Excellence in Mental Health Act is likely to be introduced soon.
Other mental health recommendations from the task force include:
- Fully enacting parity without delay;
- Funding school-based mental health programs;
- Funding mental health programs related to military service members, veterans, and minority communities;
- Funding and deploying effective jail diversion programs; and
- Addressing the shortage of mental health professionals.
The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force was convened by the House Democratic Caucus and led by Congressman Mike Thompson (CA). The 11 other members of the task force were: Ron Barber (AZ), John Dingell (MI), Elizabeth Esty (CT), Chaka Fattah (PA), Carolyn McCarthy (NY), Grace Napolitano (CA), Ed Perlmutter (CO), David Price (NC), Bobby Scott (VA), Jackie Speier (CA), and Bennie Thompson (MS).